By Melissa Cole, Curator
Throughout the summer months the museum has been very busy with research and writing for our latest publication on Robinson House. I was writing a small part about the collection and exhibits at Robinson House throughout the years and I wanted to highlight past exhibits that had been on display from 1970 to today. Summer staff member Caitlin and myself were trying to determine what exhibitions were displayed at Robinson House so we decided to go through the old Oshawa Historical Society newsletters in the archives – we were not only successful at finding out about past exhibitions but we also found other interesting stories such as this one about the Oshawa Street Railway. This little excerpt is from an interview with Mr. Joseph Wood that took place with Norah Herd the archivist at the Oshawa Community Archives in the 1960s.
Mr. Wood retired from the Board of Works in 1964 this interview took place after his retirement.
Before the turn of the century, Oshawa’s main streets were evil-smelling mud holes filled with water after every rain. Simcoe and King Streets were unsafe to drive over because they were full of deep ruts. Large stoned were used to fill them in but traffic would displace them. Driving to the railway station from the centre of town without mishap was almost impossible. A wagon taking a load of trunks to the station might lose one or two of them enroute.
In 1920, the streetcars operated on Simcoe Street from Rossland Road to the Lake, and the fare was five cents. At that time also, the Oshawa Railway tracks ran along King Street for a block each way from Simcoe Street. The motorman would alight and switch the streetcar east on King Street and travel the one block to the Post Office where he would pick up the mail to be taken to the railway station. This was the old Post Office at King and Wellington, which later became known as Ontario Street. Then he would drive to the Commercial Hotel, one block west of Simcoe. This hotel was the biggest and best one at the time. Then the streetcar backed up to the Four Corners, switched again to Simcoe Street and then continued south the C.N.R. Station where passengers and mail were deposited, then south again to the Lake. Quite a ride for a five cent fare.