The County of Perth, in the centre of southwestern Ontario, was created in January 1850 with eleven townships from the former Huron and Wellington Districts. With the opening of the first courthouse at Stratford in January 1853, the County was separated from the united counties of Huron, Perth, and Bruce to determine its own future. Five urban municipalities - Stratford, St. Marys, Mitchell, Listowel and Milverton - were incorporated over the years in addition to the townships. In January 1998, the municipalities within the county were reduced from fourteen to four, although the City of Stratford and the Town of St. Marys continue their separate existence outside the county government. The four new municipalities are the Town of North Perth and the Townships of Perth East, Perth South and the Municipality of West Perth.