Fryfogel Tavern

"The Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an Agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. With $100 million in annual funding from the province's charitable granting initiative, the Foundation provides grants to eligible charitable and not-for-profit organization in the arts, culture, environment, social service sectors, sports and recreation."

A Brief History of the Tavern

Fryfogel Tavern was a 19th century stagecoach stop and resting place for incoming settlers to the Canada Company's Huron Tract. The Canada Combany arranged to have taverns at intervals along the Huron Road of which this is the sole survivor. Fryfogel Tavern was built by Perth County's first settler, Sebastian Fryfogel, in 1844-45. It replaced a log shelter build in 1827 at the time the Canada Company's Huron Road was being surveyed in 1827-28.

In time it became a Fryfogel family duplex, when some alterations were made. Through the years it also served as a cheese factory and rented quarters until 1938, when two sisters from Stratford converted it to a restaurant at their own expense. Thus the Tavern has also been known as Green Acres or the Old Homestead, and was owned by the Fryfogels until the 1960s.

It is presently owned by the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation, which hopes to see the building restored to its original purpose as a wayside-stopping place. However, this takes a great deal of money. The building is steeped in history. To date there has been extensive research on the walls and floors and the original state has been determined.

Recent work at Fryfogel Tavern has turned up evidence of a beautifully decorated building, which must have appeared a marvel to local native Canadians and the last post of civilized elegance for settlers heading into the bush. Picture this building surrounded by forest, with a corduroy roadbed twelve feet lower than the present highway. It flourished as a tavern until about 1856, when the railway was built a short distance behind it, causing business to dwindle.

A Brief Description Of Fryfogel Tavern

A wooden stoop ran three-quarters of the way across the front of the building. The entrance to the right led into the bar room, which occupied the north half of the west (right hand) side. Behind this was the dining room. There is a central hall. On the left was the hotel parlour. Behind the parlour was the proprietor's office, with linen closet.

The kitchen, containing an enormous fireplace, was located in the basement, beneath the parlour side of the building. There are five other fireplaces in the building.

The second floor on the west side contains a large ballroom, and a small back bedroom. The ballroom doubled as a men's dormitory. On the east (left) side was a large bedroom with two rooms leading from it and a small storeroom at the back.

The attic is one large area. The little attic windows indicate that the building was erected by a German house builder, but it is known that the doors and windows were hung by a Scottish immigrant school teacher.

The graves in the yard were moved from a family plot in the middle of a field across the road. The three stones are those of Sebastian Fryfogel, his father Jakob and a son who died at an early age. Sebastian's wife is buried elsewhere. The stone cairn was erected in 1928 when the Huron Road (Hwy. 8) to Goderich was paved 100 years after its survey.

During archaeological work and research in the 1970's, two murals came to light under many layers of wallpaper. There is an idyllic mountain scene in the ballroom above the mantel and a view of Niagara Falls in the main bedroom.

The first log building was probably 3.8m x 7.5m, set back a fair distance from the road and Tavern Brook. The year when it was replaced by the present building is not known exactly, because Sebastian Fryfogel, township assessor at the time, "omitted" listing his new building. It wasn't until a new assessor took over that it first appeared on records. Other sources indicate construction during 1844-45.

The soft red brick in the present building probably came from the Berlin (now called Kitchener) area, and is standard British size. Those in the basement fireplace, east side, and supports for hearths above in the west basement may have come, according to a family story, from Hamilton. They are creamy-greenish in colour, standard American size, and are very hard.

Fieldstones, located on the site, and used in the south wall and basement, are in a random Germanic design, positioned to expose as much surface as possible. Large stone surfaces with the least mortar are placed along the front and back foundations where stoops or verandas would be built.

Fryfogel Tavern - Past
Side View - Fryfogel Tavern (early 2000's)
Rear View - Fryfogel Tavern (early 2000's)
Front View - Fryfogel Tavern (2010)
New sign for the Tavern - Aug 2010
Fryfogel Tavern with new sign - Aug 2010

Additional info on the Fryfogel Tavern can be found on
the website of the Canadian Register of Historical Places