Where the Streets Get Their Names – Ritson Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Earlier in this blog series, we looked at the history of Adelaide Avenue, named after a fairly important woman in Oshawa’s history.  Compared to other roads named for citizens, Adelaide McLaughlin could be considered a fairly ‘modern’ woman, as many roads bear the names of early pioneers.  One such road is Ritson Road.

Ritson Road runs through what was once the farm of John & Mary Ritson.

Detail of the Village of Oshawa, from Ontario County Atlas, 1877 - property of William Ritson is circled
Detail of the Village of Oshawa, from Ontario County Atlas, 1877 – property of William Ritson is circled

Mary Catherine Stone was born on September 18, 1803, the eldest daughter of Benjamin Stone and Catherine Kendall. They lived in Massachusetts, but moved to Canada shortly after their marriage in 1802. They settled in the township of Ascott, in what is now Quebec, which is where Mary was born. Benjamin purchased a large farm, but a cold season destroyed his crops. In 1807, he and his family came to East Whitby, what is now the eastern part of Oshawa. He bought 400 acres of land, and eventually built a school house.

Mary (Stone) Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Mary (Stone) Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

The first teacher at the school was John Ritson. He was born in Allendale, Northumberland, England, in March of 1790. He arrived in Oshawa in 1820, from Ottawa, where he had been refused payment for work he had done. He refused to accept land in lieu of cash, but eventually accepted a horse, wagon, harness, and one hundred dollars. He was travelling when his wagon broke down at Benjamin Stone’s, on Kingston Road. He decided to stay in Oshawa when he heard of the need for teachers, and so became Oshawa’s first school teacher.

John Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
John Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

John married Mary Stone on December 29, 1822. John purchased land in Concession One, where present day Ritson Road is located. John and Mary had seven children, six daughters and one son.

Those familiar with Oshawa streets may be looking at Mary’s maiden name and wondering if she has any connection to Stone Street, found by the Lake in South Oshawa. Mary is the daughter of an early settler, Benjamin Store, who appeared to settle on Lots 7 & 8, Concession 2; Benjamin’s only son Marshall moved back to the United States. The land around current Stone Street was owned and farmed by William R. Stone, and there does not appear to be a relation between these Stone families.

10 thoughts on “Where the Streets Get Their Names – Ritson Road”

  1. I love these posts. I’m always curious about the origins of street names. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find the origins of Agnes St.

  2. Hello, I was raised in Oshawa and I have always been under the impression that a large brick house on the south west corner of Ritson and Olive Ave. was the original Ritson Farm house. It faces east, and has been divided up into apts. If it is, shouldn’t it be designated a heritage site? I remember it having beautiful ginger bread on its peeks.

    1. Thanks for the comment! On the Heritage Oshawa Inventory, it appears that this house is called ‘Ritson House’ – it is not designated, but it has been identified as Class A Heritage Property of interest. From the Inventory: “Class A properties are properties that have been evaluated by Heritage Oshawa and are determined to have the highest potential for designation”

      You can check out the inventory here: http://www.oshawa.ca/things-to-do/resources/heritageoshawa_inventoryofheritageproperties.pdf

  3. My name is Scott Ritson, and my father was Ian Ritson, deceased in 2003. We lived in Aurora in the late 50s and our family owns an island in the Thousand Islands, so we are very familiar with Ritson Road, having traveled through Oshawa numerous times. My father always told us Ritson Road was named after his great-great grandfather, who was a managing director of the Grand Trunk Railroad. This is only one of many family ties to the southeastern Ontario region. My paternal great grandfather was David Gilmour, who built the sawmill in Trenton and the Trent-Severn waterway as a means to transport his timber from the Algonquin area to his mill in Trenton. My paternal grandmother was his daughter, Caroline White Gilmour Ritson.

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