Oshawa’s Disney Brothers: Less Animated, More Grave

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name ‘Disney,’ my mind automatically jumps to the infamous mouse and anything animated.  Oh, the great strength and success of branding.  Because Disney is such a notable name, one might wonder why there is a building in Downtown Oshawa called the Disney Building.  I’ll just come out and say it, no, Walt has no known ties to our City!  But Oshawa did have its own set of Disney brothers who left a lasting mark on Oshawa’s downtown.

The Disney Building, 27-33 King Street East

The Disney Building, 27-33 King Street East

In 1882, John E. Disney married Sarah McKittrick, and together they had three sons.  William Frederick was born in 1883, Llewellyn Victor was born in 1888, and Roy Stanley was born in 1893.

LV and RS made their names known through their successful furniture and undertaking business.  In 1888, a man named Alex McLean began the business, which LV bought in 1909.  The brothers established an ambulance service, which was boasted as the finest ambulance between Toronto and Montreal.

Horse drawn ambulance, owned by LV Disney, c. 1912. From the Oshawa Community Archives

Horse drawn ambulance, owned by LV Disney, c. 1912. From the Oshawa Community Archives

The undertaking business operated at various addresses around downtown Oshawa, including along Simcoe Street and on Bond Street.  By 1923, the Disney Funeral Service was found at 31 King Street East; in 1924, the building at 27-33 King Street East is known as the Disney Block. It was originally built in 1920, and still stands in our downtown, remarkable due to the archway and the identifying ‘Disney Building’ lettering.

The Disney Building

The Disney Building

LV Disney had a variety of other interests, including real estate and local politics, serving as an Alderman.  In 1930, Matthew F. Armstrong purchased the funeral business, changing the name to Armstrong Funeral Home.  It still operates today at 124 King Street East, a location they have occupied since 1936.

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