By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
Sometimes, my friends must think I’m a Scrooge! Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season, but it usually takes me a while to warm up to the festivities. While many revel in the Christmas season early in November, I cannot bring myself to get excited about anything red or green for weeks after they typically do.
The Oshawa Museum hosts its annual Christmas event on the first Saturday of December. Its around that time that my favourite Christmas CD starts playing in rotation. Not long after, a wreath is hung, and slowly I find the Christmas spirit taking over. A few weeks into December, I also dust off a favourite read, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Read every holiday season, I find such comfort in the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts who visit him.
What does my holiday spirit, or lack thereof sometimes, have to do with Oshawa streets? Well, if one is driving through a neighbourhood northeast of Harmony and Adelaide, you’ll find yourself on Dickens Drive, named for the famous author. With the holiday season upon us, I thought I would share the story behind the name of this residential street.
Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1812, Charles Dickens would become one of Britain’s celebrated authors. He spent many years in his childhood facing hard times, including the imprisonment of his father for bad debt, and even Charles himself working in appalling conditions in a blacking factory, where they made stove polish. He was fortunate enough to attend school, and eventually began his career as a journalist.
His first book was published in 1836, Sketches of Boz, a collection of clippings he wrote under the pseudonym of Boz. That same year, he married Catherine Hogarth, and together they had 10 children.
Charles Dickens would write a large number of novels, short stories, plays, and essays throughout his adult life, the most notable being The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist (1839), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861).
Dickens died on June 8, 1870 of a stroke. He is buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey.
In the same neighbourhood of Dickens Drive is also Copperfield Drive, Peggoty Circle, Micawber Street, Traddles Avenue, and Steerforth Street; the names of these streets are taken from the novel David Copperfield, which features the memorable characters of David Copperfield, James Steerforth, Tommy Traddles, Clara Peggotty and Wilkins Micawber.
Wishing you all the best for this holiday season! Street Name Stories will continue in 2016!