THROUGHOUT THE '80s, and sporadically since then, our family's annual summertime trek to the Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festival has taken on special meaning for the four of us. As our sons grew up, Stratford was both a place to gain an appreciation for theater and to strengthen our ties as a family.

Stratford is a change of pace from our big-city life. It has civility; people's interactions seem more trusting in a way that seems characteristically Canadian. For each of us, it has indelible memories. Paddle-boating on the Avon; bumping into the couple who always sat one row in front of us at Wrigley Field; unforgettable meals; and, of course, the plays: consistently, year after year, Shakespearean theater of high caliber, productions that are challenging, acting that's good and sometimes great.

Our most recent visit was as an enlarged family of six, both sons having been joined by girlfriends. The occasion was our wedding anniversary, and also a significant date for the older son and his fiancee, who are now married. We could think of no finer place to celebrate together.

PAUL and HEATHER BOOTH

Washington

Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 1-800-567-1600, www.stratford-festival.on.ca.