By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
Ackeus Moody Farewell, “a man of boundless energy, pluck and endurance,”¹ was born in Vermont on January 1, 1782, the youngest of five children. After the American Revolution, his family was one of many that left the United States, taking advantage of the free land being offered by Lieutenant Governor Simcoe to Americans wishing to travel north and help colonize the newly created Upper Canada.² Moody and his family travelled north, and it was around 1801 that Moody arrived in an area that today is found around the King Street East and Harmony Road intersection. For some time, this area was known as Farewell’s Corners before becoming the Village of Harmony. Moody did not settle here immediately, first apprenticing as a hatter, opening an unsuccessful trading post on Lake Scugog, and trying his hand as a crew member aboard the New Nancy.
After ‘squatting’ on land north of Lake Ontario for several years, Moody purchased Concession 1, Lot 4 in 1804; in time, he would purchase more land in that same vicinity. This would prove to be an eventful year for Moody as he married Elizabeth Annis also in 1804. The couple would have nine children together: William, Charles, Isaac, Acheus Moody Jr., Jacob, Abram, David, Levi, and Sarah. According to Samuel Pedlar, Moody and family benefitted from establishing relationships with the local First Nations, trading with them and learning from their knowledge of the land.
By 1812, he had opened his successful tavern with an interesting story, as this tavern reportedly was used to feed British soldiers and hold American prisoners of war during the War of 1812. Thomas Conant recalled the tavern in his book, Upper Canada Sketches:
Here a large frame hotel had been built, kept by one Moode Farewell. This was one of the stopping places or houses of entertainment for the military men who passed to and from Montreal and York during the war.
Joviality and good cheer were characteristic of it, and many a merry night was spent there by the British officers. Many times my grandfather saw them call for liquors in the bar-room on arrival, each grasp his glass, touch his companion’s and drink to the usual toast of “Here’s to a long and moderate war.” Could those old walls speak to-day they would recall the many, many times this toast was given.³
Interestingly, Moody was a firm believer in temperance, the abolition of alcohol, and owning a tavern seems rather against this movement, so by 1837, he had shut his tavern down. However, after the War of 1812 ended, Moody had built a gristmill and sawmill, so he was still generating an income despite closing down his tavern.
According to local lore, the naming of Oshawa is due in a small part to Moody Farewell. As the story goes, in the 1840s, local movers and shakers were trying to get a post office for the community of Skae’s Corners, King/Simcoe and area, known as such because of the popularity of Edward Skae’s General Store. The Province of Canada was willing to give a post office, but because so many communities at the time had the name ‘corners’ in it, they would have to pick another name. A group were gathered at a tavern when in walks Moody Farewell with First Nations men he knew from his fur trading days. The Indigenous men were asked what they called this area, and they replied ‘Oshawa’ which means ‘that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.’
Moody’s wife Elizabeth passed away in 1851, as per her headstone; he would remarry a woman named Sarah Haviland Coryell before his passing in 1869.
Farewell Street is a north-south artery in the east end of the City of Oshawa, and it runs through what was property owned by Moody Farewell. Farewell Creek, which starts at the Oshawa Harbour before traversing through Clarington, takes its name from this family, as well as the Farewell Pioneer Cemetery. This cemetery is located on Harmony Road, just south of King, and it started as a private family burying ground for the Farewells. By the 1860s, Moody began advertising plots for sale at the ‘Harmony Burying Ground.’ Less than 100 years later the City of Oshawa became the owner of the cemetery; it was closed for further burials in 1968. The cairn which is a distinct feature of the cemetery was dedicated in 1979 after the city wanted to better showcase the headstones and pay homage to the early settlers of European origins.
- Thomas Conant, Upper Canada Sketches (Toronto: William Briggs, 1898), 45, accessed from: https://ia800207.us.archive.org/34/items/uppercanadasketc00cona/uppercanadasketc00cona.pdf
- Samuel Pedlar, Samuel Pedlar Manuscript (unpublished manuscript, 1904), made available online through the Oshawa Public Library, accessed 12 Aug 2018 from: http://localhistory.oshawalibrary.ca/pdfportal/pdfskins/Pedlar/pedlar.pdf, Frame 180.
- Conant, 44.
Oshawa Historical Society. Harmony Village: Remembering the Settlers & a Lost Cemetery, 2nd Edition. Oshawa Historical Society, 2012.