Where The Streets Get Their Names – Raglan Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Near the northern border of the City of Oshawa is the village of Raglan. It was named in honour of Lord Raglan, a British commander in the Crimean War, coincidentally the man after whom raglan sleeves is named.  Before 1855, the community was known as Newto(w)n, and previously before that O’Boyle’s Corners.

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1895 County of Ontario Atlas map of Raglan; note the main east-west road is named ‘Alma Street’

While boasting a humble population (150, according to the 1869 County of Ontario Directory), it was a bustling community, services by a stage coach which ran from Oshawa through Columbus, Raglan, Prince Albert, Borelia, and Port Perry, to Beaverton. When the stage coach was at its height, Raglan had hotel, several stores, grist & saw mill, blacksmith shop, coach factory, dress maker’s shop, shoemaker’s shop, and Willard’s General Store.  The community was also served with two schools (SS No. 8 and SS No. 9) and two churches: Bible Christian and Episcopal Methodist.  Finally, the community boasted a division of the Sons of Temperance, a group against alcohol who sought to create sweeping reforms that would eliminate “local groggeries” and bar rooms.

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From the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

In the mid-20th century, there were some from the community who felt that the automobile impacted the nature of village life.  When the roads were unpaved and under maintained, and before car culture was pervasive, “a person had to rely on the local general store and had to live right where he worked,” remembered Charles Luke, a Raglan resident and former stage coach driver.  The 1961 Census showed how the community changed: for every one person working on a farm, there were eight living in East Whitby Township but working in a city.

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Raglan Church, from the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

Perhaps the largest landmark for Raglan today is White Feather Farms, a farm and country store, first established in 1988.

Raglan Road received its current name around the same time Columbus Road was named. Previously, the east-west road through the village was known as Alma Street, while outside the village it was simply Concession Road 9. Understanding the history of this street name and its changes requires an understanding of municipal changes through the years.  In 1974, the Township of East Whitby was annexed by the City of Oshawa; fast forward to the 1980s, and the City was undertaking a review of street names, prompted by the expansion of emergency and 911 services.  During this process, a number of streets were found repeated in the former East Whitby Township and City of Oshawa.  Alma Street proved to be a challenge, because in the City of Oshawa, there was an Alma Street by the Hospital.  Alma by the hospital was named for two women influential with its establishment; Alma in Raglan was likely in honour of the Battle of Alma in which Lord Raglan was the British Commander.

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From the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

It was during the 1980s that the City of Oshawa decided to name previously unnamed concession roads, and it was recommended that these names are consistent with surrounding municipalities (if applicable).  The Town of Whitby was already calling this road Raglan Road, and in the late 1980s, the City of Oshawa officially adopted this name as well.

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