Profiling: John Terech

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

This is a departure from the usual ‘Profiling’ Series on our blog.  Our past profiles have been for people like James O. Guy, Dr. McKay, Frederick Fowke, and George McLaughlin – typically well known and certainly well-researched and well-written about individuals. With plans and preparations ongoing for our latest feature exhibit, Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa, it made me reflect on my own Polish heritage and roots in our community, so this profile is of someone whose name will likely never be stumbled upon in history books, my great-grandfather, John (Jan) Terech.

John was born in 1885 in Mała Wieś, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland, one of five known children born to Vincenty (Wincenty) Terech and Ewa Karwacki (Karwacka). His brother Joseph (Jozef) (1891-1963) resided in Canada for a number of years before ultimately settling in the United States.  One sister, Antonia (1894-1945), married a man named John Novak.  She is laid to rest in St. Catharines, ON.  Sisters Julianna (born 1881), and Sofia (married name Porębska) apparently remained in Poland.

The exact year he arrived in Canada is unknown, but it was likely between 1906 and 1910, settling in Toronto where he met Stella (Stanislava) Urban; they were married on the 23rd of November, 1912 at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Toronto. This church is the oldest Polish parish in Toronto.  While living in Toronto, the family grew but suffered loss. Twins Mary and Josepha were born in 1913, but Josepha died a short two days after her birth; Cecylia was born in March 1915 but died that November; both sisters are buried in Toronto’s Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery. Daughters Anne, Jean, Charlotte (Lottie), and Frances were born in 1916, 1919, 1921, and 1923, respectively, with the family living at 418 Prospect Street, Oshawa, by 1921. By the time their last child, Edward, was born in 1926, John was so pleased that, as family stories go, he was handing out drinks to passers by of 116 Olive Avenue, where the family lived since 1924, because he was overjoyed by the birth of a son. Family stories also state that he was so pleased that he registered the name not as Edward, as my grandfather and his mother believed, but as Stanislaus; Grandpa had his name legally changed to Edward years later.

John, Stella, and family, c. 1921

Stories from my Grandpa and great-aunts were of many happy years living in the Olive Avenue rowhouses, a neighbourhood of Oshawa which, at that time, was heavily settled by eastern European immigrants. The rowhouses were hot in the summer, and some nights were spent by the children sleeping across the road in Cowan Park for relief from the heat. My great-grandparent’s home on Olive was, at that time, a double unit. The size of the home, although still modest, would have been well used by the six children, a few of whom would live in the family home after getting married with their new spouses. In 1947, John, Stella, and Eddie moved to 299 Verdun Road, a short 10-minute walk from the rowhouses.

John worked for Malleable and Fittings, two industries where many eastern European immigrants found employment. Work in these plants were hard and dirty, and John suffered many negative health effects from working in these industries. He reportedly worked until he retired in 1948, and my grandfather stopped his formal education at a young age, instead seeking work to help support the family. Grandpa spent most of his working life at Duplate (later known as PPG), which is where he met my grandmother, Mary, and my step-grandmother, Doreen.

John and Stella received their Certificates of Naturalization in 1929. A cousin shared with me that John (“dziadek – proper Polish but we called him jaja the Western version”) never learned English, although another cousin believed that he did understand the language but preferred conversing in Polish. Stella, “on the other hand self taught herself [English]; she would study the school books that [Lottie] and others brought home.”  John and Stella were active within the local Polish community. Both were involved in Branch 21 of the Polish Alliance of Canada and were supportive of the establishment of St. Hedwig’s parish.

Their Catholic faith was important to them. Before the establishment of St. Hedwig’s and Holy Cross, the family would venture from Olive Avenue to St. Gregory The Great at Simcoe and (today) Adelaide to attend services. Information from St. Hedwig’s notes that by 1928, the Polish community were starting discussions of establishing a Polish Catholic church, and in November 1928, a weekly mass at St. Gregory’s began being held for the Polish community.

John and Stella celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1962 with a banquet and dance in St. Hedwig’s parish hall. As reported in the Oshawa Times, there was a nuptial mass with vow renewal, greetings presented, toasts, dancing, feasting, and, of course, the singing of ‘Sto Lat, Sto Lat.’

The Oshawa Times, Thursday, November 29, 1962

John passed away in 1964 and Stella died in 1969. Both are laid to rest at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Whitby.

Oshawa was often where Displaced Persons settled after World War II – the availability of industries was a draw, but the establishment of communities, churches, and groups like the Polish Alliance increased the appeal of our City. It would be a big, daunting undertaking to leave home and move to a new country, but settling somewhere amongst others who spoke your languages, knew your traditions, and cooked the same food, certainly would have helped with this big life transition. The contributions of those who arrived at the turn of the century and in the following decades helped pave the way for the waves of immigrants who arrived in the late 1940s and onwards.

Profiling: George McLaughlin

George William McLaughlin was born in Tyrone, Ontario on February 17, 1869. He was the third of five children born to parents Robert and Mary McLaughlin, along with his siblings John James (b. 1865), Mary (b. 1867), Robert Samuel (b. 1871), and Elizabeth Ann (b. 1874).

At an early age George showed an interest in the carriage business owned by his father.  He began his apprenticeship with the company by age 16, working first in the trimming shop. In the early days there were no conspicuous advantages to being the boss’s son.  George worked 70 hour a week, earning $3.00 per week ($2.50 of which was deducted for room and board).  His personality was well suited to salesmanship, and by 1892 he had become a junior partner in the McLaughlin Carriage Company.

A year later, in 1893, George married Annie Hodgson.  Annie had grown up in Tyrone, across the road from the McLaughlin homestead.  She and George would have four children – Ewart, Ray, Dorothy and Kathleen.

George McLaughlin, Annie (nee Hodson) with children, Dorothy, Ray, and Ewart. Oshawa Public Libraries, Local History Collection

In 1907 the McLaughlin Motor Car Company was formed.  With George as Treasurer, the McLaughlins began producing Buick car bodies for the Buick Motor Company of Flint, Michigan.  By 1915 they were producing Chevrolets.  The carriage company had been sold to Chevrolet Motor Company, and the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited was incorporated, with George as President.   In 1918 General Motors purchased the two businesses.  Younger brother Sam became President of the newly incorporated General Motors of Canada, while George fulfilled the role of Vice-President until his retirement at the age of 55 in 1924.

George is seated, first row, third from left

George McLaughlin was not idle in his retirement.  He remained on the boards of various companies, and his interest in them continued.  He travelled to Europe, the Mediterranean, and South Africa.  He also turned his attention to farming, which had been a life-long interest for George.  He purchased the McLaughlin family farms around Tyrone and land to the north of Oshawa and established progressive farming operations, importing pure-bred cattle which benefited the farming industry of Ontario and ultimately the whole of Canada.  George was known for his Clydesdale horses, Holstein cattle and prize-winning apples, and earned the distinguished title of “Master Farmer” for his contributions to farming.

During his lifetime, George McLaughlin made generous contributions to the community. He was modest about his philanthropic activities, such as the large amounts of time and money he devoted to community services and civic improvements.

George was the first president of various newly formed groups in Oshawa, including the Oshawa Welfare Board, the Boy Scout movement in Oshawa, and the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.  He involved himself with the Children’s Aid Society, serving as President for a while, and devoted some of his best years to municipal office.

George and Annie made numerous donations towards school and church improvements, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross.  For many years, George served on both the Board of Education and as Superintendent of the Sunday School at St. Andrew’s United Church.

In 1920 George and his brother Sam, in the name of General Motors of Canada, bought the land that would become Lakeview Park and sold it to the Town of Oshawa for one dollar.  In 1924 George tried to start a zoo in the park by introducing buffalo from Wainwright, Alberta.  Unfortunately the idea did not succeed, and the buffalo were relocated to the Riverdale Zoo in Toronto. 

Sam and George also donated the McLaughlin maternity wing to the Oshawa General Hospital, and contributed generously to the hospital endowment fund over the years.

On July 1, 1922 George McLaughlin presented the Union Cemetery to the Town of Oshawa.  He had purchased all outstanding stock of the holding company that operated the cemetery and turned it over to the town, making the cemetery a municipal affair from that point onward.  He also generously donated $500 towards the creation and upkeep of a soldiers plot in the cemetery.  A monument donated by George was erected in the cemetery in honour of the “boys from Ontario County, who served, fought and died for Canada in the Great War.”

DS Hoig noted that before the cemetery was transferred to the city, it had fallen into almost a state of neglect. Hoig wrote:

From this depth it was finally rescued by an outstanding citizen, well known for his interest in the affairs of this town. By buying stock in the Cemetery Corporation, found himself after a time in possession of a majority of the stock. From that moment no further dividends were paid, all monies that accrued from the sale of lots were applied year after year to the improvements and beautifying of the grounds… The whole business was carried through with so little fuss or publicity that the identity of this gentleman is known only to a few that were connected with this transaction.

George McLaughlin died of bowel cancer at the age of 73 on October 10, 1942.  Upon his death the family homestead near Tyrone was passed on to his son Ewart. He is laid to rest inside the Mausoleum at Union Cemetery.

His contributions to the automotive industry, to farming, and to the community are the legacies for which George McLaughlin should be remembered.


References:

A Pictorial Biography of George W. McLaughlin (CD produced by and with the permission of Mary P. Hare) – MBE.

Henderson, Dorothy.  Robert McLaughlin:  Carriage Builder. Griffin Press Ltd., 1972.

McLaughlin Genealogy file, Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

Petrie, Roy.  Sam McLaughlin. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd., 1981.

Robertson, Heather.  Driving Force.  McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1995.

Profiling: James Odgers Guy

The Oshawa Museum is comprised of three historic homes: Henry House, Robinson House, and Guy House.  Guy House’s namesake is James Odgers Guy, who purchased the house and quarter-acre lot in 1861.

James Odgers Guy

James was born in Cornwall, England in 1828, the second son born to Thomas Guy Sr. and his wife Margery.  The family stayed in England until 1842 when Thomas, Margery and James immigrated to Canada.  Thomas Jr. joined them in Canada four years later when he immigrated with his wife Harriett and mother-in-law and two young children.

After their long Atlantic voyage (aboard the first-class sailing vessel the “Clio”), the Guys settled on a farm in Columbus, Ontario.  They remained there for four years before moving for a short time to Woodstock.  Finally, they moved to Bonnie Brae Point (a.k.a. “Guy’s Point”), where they settled in 1854.

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James did not stay on the family farm.  He married Rachel Luke, also a Cornwall native, in 1852, and together the couple had seven children.  The family moved into Guy House in 1861, when James purchased the ¼ acre on which the frame home was built, paying £250 for the home.  All but one of their children lived with them in Guy House; sadly, their son William Arthur Guy died just five months after his first birthday on March 26, 1854.

Maternity Home

On 9 June 1883, James began plans to move once again.  He purchased a half-acre lot on King Street East (between Division St. and Mary St.).  In 1884 James sold his property at the Lake and had a house built on his new King Street lot.  He named the house Llewellyn Hall, likely after his fifth child, who died in 1882.

James & grain

Funds for the construction of Llewellyn Hall were made available through James’ widespread business success.  Some of his business interests were closely related to those of his brother.  The siblings shared a family business, dealing in coal and grain.  The Guys were involved in a coal dealership in Oshawa and grain elevators in Brooklin and Myrtle.  James ran his grain business from 16 Celina Street.

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In addition to his business enterprises, James Odgers Guy held a diverse collection of important community posts.  He was Harbour Master of the Port Oshawa Co., Deputy of East Whitby, Reeve of East Whitby, Ontario County Warden, and Secretary of the Edmondson Electric Light Co.   He was also a Grammar School Trustee and a Trustee of Oshawa High Schools.  James’ extensive involvement with the Oshawa area prompted the Oshawa Vindicator to call this prominent citizen “Oshawa’s Grand Old Man” (Feb 21, 1908).

James Odgers Guy died on April 5, 1909.  His obituary ran as follows:

The Death of Mr. James O. Guy
A Highly-respected Business Man of Oshawa – Ex-Warden.
(Special Dispatch to The Globe)

Oshawa, April 5. — James O. Guy, an old and highly respected resident of this town, passed away to-day at the ripe age of eighty-one years. During his residence here he held almost every gift the people had to bestow municipally from Reeve to Warden. Politically he was a Liberal, and, above all, a kindly Christian gentle-man, for many years being a member of the official board of the Simcoe Street Methodist Church. Mr. Guy was a grain merchant for years, and was held in the greatest respect. His wife, three sons and two daughters survive. They are: F.A. Guy of Fort William, Arthur of Winnipeg, Edgar J. of Toronto, Mrs. E. M. Jewell of Toronto and Miss Ida at home.

He and his wife Rachel (who died on July 4, 1914) were both buried in the Oshawa’s Union Cemetery.

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Profiling: Frederick L Fowke

This community profile is of Frederick L. Fowke, a turn of the century politician. He is one of the characters included in this year’s Scenes from the Cemetery, taking place Sept 7 & 8 at Union Cemetery. Tickets are still available for this event – for more info, please visit the event website: scenesfromthecemetery.wordpress.com


Frederick Luther Fowke was born in Harmony Village in East Whitby on May 27, 1857.

 

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FL Fowke, cropped from A982.45.21

The business activities of Mr. Fowke during the years from 1885 to 1915 spread into many fields.  He succeeded to the business enterprises of his father and carried on a general store, a grain business and a coal business, not only in Oshawa but had branches in Bowmanville, Whitby, Newcastle and Port Hope.

From 1898 to 1907, he occupied the position of Mayor of Oshawa.  This was at a time when Oshawa politicians held office for one year terms.  While occupying this position he introduced many progressive reforms such as Granolithic sidewalks, harbour improvements and sewer construction.  He was remembered mostly for his struggle for a public water supply.

On October 28, 1908, he was elected as a Liberal member of South Ontario to the House of Commons under Sir Wilfrid Laurier.  He created many improvements for Ontario County during his term which lasted until 1911.  The major issue of the 1911 election was reciprocity with the US; the Conservatives opposed free trade, and William Smith representing this party was elected, beating Fowke.  As World War I raged on, the election of 1917 became about the war and conscription.  Notably, Fowke split from supporting Laurier and the Liberals, who opposed conscription, and instead, supported Robert Borden and his Union Government.  Locally, William Smith (Unionist) was facing WEN Sinclair (Opposition) in this election, and Smith was again successful.

In 1918, Fowke was appointed one of the three commissioners to restore the section of the City of Halifax which had been destroyed by an explosion, caused by the collision of French Relief Ship, the Mont Blanc, and the Belgium Relief Ship, the Imo on December 6, 1917.  He was the only non-Haligonian to serve in such a role, and it was suggested by Dr. TE Kaiser¹ that his appointment was due to his support of Borden in 1917.

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Postcard of Gladstone Villa, AX998.29.1

The Fowkes resided at 114 King St. East, now the offices of Kelly Greenway Bruce, which he named “Gladstone Villa.”  He also had a summer home in Chester, Nova Scotia, where they enjoyed an active social life.

During his retirement he spent most of his time travelling.  Frederick Luther Fowke died in 1939 and is buried in Oshawa’s Union Cemetery.

Fowke

Scenes from the Cemetery is taking place Sept 7 & 8 at Union Cemetery; various start times, beginning at 2pm. We recommend buying your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment! To buy your tickets: scenesfromthecemetery.wordpress.com/tickets


  1. TE Kaiser, Historic Sketches of Oshawa (Oshawa: The Reformer Printing and Publishing Co., Ltd., 1921), 146-147.

Profiling: Dr TWG McKay

Thomas Wills Gibbs McKay was born on March 8, 1873 at the McKay family home in Oshawa. His parents were Donald H. McKay and Mary Elizabeth Gibbs, cousin of William and Thomas Gibbs.

Donald (known to the family as Daniel), had a successful career with the Denny & Company Marine Engineers and had sailed with the Merchant Marines until he was struck by cholera in Calcutta, India in 1868. He sailed to Canada in 1869 and worked for the Joseph Hall Iron Works as an engineer, building engines for printing machinery. Later he worked for the Universal Knitting Mills in Toronto. The family lived there, at 19 Gloucester Street, from 1886 until Donald’s death in 1911.

His mother, Mary Elizabeth Gibbs came to Oshawa with her father, Philip Gibbs in 1859. They were located close to her cousins T.N. and W.H. Gibbs in the village of Harmony.

Thomas attended Centre Street School in Oshawa during his early years and obtained a medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1896, winning the George Brown Scholarship and was a Starr gold medalist. That same year, he began practicing medicine with Dr. Francis Rae. He was also an examiner in primary anatomy for the Ontario Medical Council, associate examiner in clinical surgery and Medical Officer of Health in Oshawa from 1905 – 1945.

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Early in his career Dr. McKay married Alice Adella Drew, a Toronto General Hospital nursing graduate, on April 4, 1902. It was at this time that he built their family home, a three-storey brick house at 58 King Street West, on the northeast corner of King Street and Victoria Street. They had three sons; Donald Drew, Wilson Gibbs and Ian Blake. The family also had a cottage on Lake Mississauga near Buckhorn, Ontario, and they spent much of their time there. After Alice died in 1933, McKay married her sister, Ina Estella Drew, in 1938.

Dr. McKay travelled throughout the community to houses and schools campaigning for issues such as inoculations and clean water. He was instrumental (along with Dr. D.S. Hoig) in establishing the health program in Oshawa’s schools.  Dr. McKay’s granddaughter, Adella McKay (Wilson Gibbs daughter) has said that her Grandfather was often paid in chickens and farm produce, if at all! This may be why they lost their Victorian home on King Street.

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Photo from findagrave.com

Dr. TWG McKay died at the family home in Harmony on March 12, 1945. He is buried in the Gibbs-McKay-Drew plot at Union Cemetery.

Learn more about Community Health in the 20th Century by visiting our latest feature exhibit! Visit soon because it will close later this month!

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Sources:

Oshawa Museum Archival Collection. McKay genealogy files.
French, Olive. Unpublished Manuscript. 1967.