A Duel in Old Oshawa

The book Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant is the source of many interesting facts and tales concerning the early history of Oshawa.  One such tale he writes of concerns Oshawa’s only known duel.

The argument began at a ball thrown in Whitby in April 1838.  The event was apparently a very fancy affair that included a fine selection of most attractive cakes.  One young man accused another of pocketing some of these delightful cakes.  The accused did not take kindly to this and it was decided that the only way to clear himself of this accusation was through a duel.

The young man accused of stealing the cakes quickly made his way on horseback to the tavern operated by Mr. Richard Woon.  It was here, at the south-west corner of Oshawa’s Four Corners that the duel was to take place.

As the gentlemen positioned themselves at each end of the hotel’s front porch, Captain Trull who had command of a few troops stationed in Oshawa, attempted to put an end to this foolishness.  He placed one of his own men between the combatants in an attempt to prevent each of them from firing.

The idea was a good one, however, one of the young men just side-stepped the soldier and fired his weapon.  While his bullet missed, his intended target was spooked and immediately threw down his weapon and ran for his life.

Interestingly, this was not the end of the duel.  Capt. Trull, who worked hard to try and prevent the duel, found himself disgusted by the apparent cowardice of the man who ran away.  The story goes that he quickly picked up the discarded pistol and ran after the young man intending to fire on him for being such a coward.

“So laughably ended Oshawa’s only duel” – Thomas Conant.

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