Shakespeare Country

London, the Thames, Stratford
a region awash in our British heritage



stratford ontario The Shakespeare Country is located right in the heart of the Southwestern Ontario region. It proudly exhibits its British heritage with place names such as London, Stratford and Perth and with rivers such as the Thames and Avon. Located amidst rolling farmlands this beautiful countryside makes for a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon or two.

For the most part the City of London is the hub of Shakespeare Country and sits at its centre, yet it is a large area that stretches from approximately the City of St. Thomas in the south to the City of Stratford in the north and from the City of Woodstock in the east to the Town of Strathroy in the west. In between there are a number of small towns and hamlets sitting aside slow moving rivers and streams that have quaint historical downtowns that beckon visitors to make a short stop or two.

The City of London is by far the largest metropolis in the region with almost 400,000 people yet is still very much has a small town feel to it. This is probably attributable to the fact that it sits at the centre of some of the most fertile farmland in the country. It proudly demonstrates its ties to England as it sits astride of the Thames River and runs daily double-decker bus tours through the city centre in the summer months.

The much smaller City of Stratford sits astride the Avon River and has become internationally famous for its annual Stratford Shakespeare Festival. One of the largest of its kind anywhere in the world it draws spectators from around the world with many actors of international fame gladly agreeing to partake in its productions.

The only other semi-large population centres in the region are:
  • City of St. Thomas, population 38,000
  • City of Woodstock, population 38,000


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Map of the Shakespeare Country


rideau canal route



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Getting to the Shakespeare Country region:

By Car:

Highway 401, the main east-west transportation corridor in the province bisects Shakespeare Country as it passes through Woodstock and London.

For the most part you will travel on Highway 401 until reaching the appropriate highway heading either north or south to reach your final destination, for instance:

  • To Stratford: Highway 401 to exit 278 near Kitchener to Highway #8 West into Stratford.
  • To St. Thomas: Highway 401 to Highway #30 South into St. Thomas
  • To Strathroy: Highway 401 to Highway 402 to Highway # 81 West into Strathroy

By Air:

The only airport of any significant size is London International Airport but even at that it really doesn’t handle international flights, it mainly serves as a commuter airport offering daily flights to major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary.

It is however serviced by United Express which connects to Chicago’s O’Hare International airport and also by Air Canada which flies into Toronto Pearson International Airport so it is possible to fly into London from almost anywhere in the world via a connecting flight.

As London is located less than 2 hours away from Toronto most visitors would simply fly into Toronto then catch a connecting flight or find some other means of transportation to reach the city.

If coming from another destination such as Ottawa a flight directly into London is a great option.


By Public Transport:

By Rail:

Quite a few of the Shakespeare Country communities are serviced by Via Rail as they are located along either the Toronto to Sarnia or Toronto to Windsor lines. You can reach the following by train:
  • Woodstock
  • Ingersoll
  • London
  • Glencoe
  • Stratford
  • St Mary’s
  • Strathroy
Visit www.viarail.ca for information as to schedules and fares.

By Bus:

Most of the larger communities in the region are serviced by Greyhound Canada bus services, visit www.greyhound.ca for more information.

Northlink also provides services to a few communities in the region, visit northlink for more details.

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river thames ontarioThe Shakespeare Country region of Ontario Canada is probably one of the least visited in the Southwestern Ontario area as it doesn’t have the big city attractions of Toronto, the natural marvels of the Golden Horseshoe or the stunning landscapes and beaches of the Bruce Peninsula, West Coast of Ontario or the Lake Erie North Shore yet it still has much to offer a potential visitor.

I myself try to visit the area a few times a year as it has some very picturesque communities and unique attractions. Taking a leisurely stroll along the Thames River in downtown London or sipping a coffee in a riverside café along the Avon in Stratford are experiences that cannot be enjoyed anywhere else in the province. Best of all, most of the area is within a 2 hour drive from downtown Toronto.

While I wouldn’t put the Shakespeare Country on the top of my list when planning a trip to Ontario Canada I would definitely keep it into consideration for a day or two, especially if you are planning on seeing a particular attraction or event such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Insider Tip: The main route into the region is along Highway 401. This is also the main commuter route into and out of Toronto, be wary of traveling during rush hours as you can expect long delays and lots of traffic.

To find out more about all the attractions and events that the Shakespeare Country has to offer visit my pages bellow.


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Shakespeare Country Attractions




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