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.
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.
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!
Terence Vincent Kelly was born in Toronto on May 28, 1931. He and his twin brother John were brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At age 16, the young men returned to Canada where Kelly eventually studied law. He moved to Oshawa in 1949 and worked at General Motors for several years. In 1956, he started his own law firm, which is still in operation today and known as ‘Kelly Greenway Bruce.’
Many knew him throughout the region as a sports fanatic who took every opportunity to watch and support the many sports that were played in Oshawa and abroad. His love of sports and community involvement came together in the 1960s, when local citizens raised funds and campaigned to have a new sports complex built in Oshawa. Terry Kelly was the one who spearheaded the campaign and served as the Finance Chairman for the project. Nonetheless, he was also a driving force in many other local and provincial charities.
Mr. Kelly was inducted into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Oshawa Walk of Fame in 2007 and served as chairman of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee. His community work was recognized with many prestigious awards including the Centennial medal in 1967 and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, Queen’s Gold Jubilee Medal in 2002 and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
In 2005, the Ontario Justice Education Network established the Kelly Cup. The OJEN is a non-governmental agency who develops innovative educational tools that introduce young people to the justice system, help them understand the law, and build their legal capability. The Kelly Cup is a series of competitive mock trials for students, whose past winners include O’Neill CVI from Oshawa and All Saints CSS from Whitby.
Terry Kelly passed away in 2015 after practicing law for over six decades. In his obituary, son Tim Kelly said, “He wanted to see Oshawa thrive.” After living in Oshawa for over sixty years, Terry Kelly saw a lot of change in Oshawa. He did his best to ensure that people were active, and had a safe place to play sports. Before he died, Terry lived to see the name of the Civic Fields changed to Terry Kelly Field and the project officially came full circle.
Recently Stoney Kudel, President of the Oshawa Historical Society, and I completed a project annotating the memoir of Reverend Thomas Henry. The memoir published in 1880, one year after Thomas’ death, was written by Polly Ann (P.A.) Henry his daughter in law. As the Oshawa Museum works towards telling a more inclusive view of Oshawa’s history, we thought it was important that information regarding Polly Henry was included in the annotated version of the memoir. Historian David McCullough says, “History is no longer a spotlight. We are turning up the stage lights to show the entire cast.” His quotation emphasizes the reality that history is generally told from the perspective of one sector of society and it is imperative as historians and those entrusted with the stewardship of our community’s history, that we look to tell our story with a broader, more diverse approach.
Pauline (Polly) Ann Hayward Henry, was an accomplished photographer and author in her professional life and a loving mother and wife to her family. Pauline was born to Reverend Joshua and Lydia Barker Hayward in Lowville, New York in 1825. Not much is known about Polly’s early life. Census records indicate she was the second youngest in a large family. Her father, who Polly states died in 1840 after “twenty-three years of laborious work in the Gospel field” most likely was known to Thomas Henry. The Christian Palladium has several notices of Reverend Hayward preaching in New York state during the 1830s and it is quite possible he and Thomas were acquainted. Polly marries the third son of Thomas and his first wife Elizabeth (Betsey) Davis, George Henry in Porter Niagara, New York June 24, 1846. Polly and George settled on a farm by the lakefront in Oshawa and counted as their neighbours members of the Robinson and Guy families. Soon two sons, Roland and Chauncy, were added to their family . By 1861, the family had moved to Bowmanville and were living in a 1 storey, frame house. They now had 2 more children, daughter Ella Jane and son George. A fifth child, Thomas Eben Blake, was born in 1868.
Polly Ann was, at least for a time, a professional photographer. Whether she had any formal training is unknown however she had a studio in Bowmanville which she ran for a short time as well as a studio in Oshawa which was sold in 1865 to another portrait photographer. The Pennsylvania State Special Collection Library has in its collection two portraits taken by Polly. 
Most of the details regarding the writing and publishing of Thomas Henry’s memoir are lost to history. Perhaps Thomas was following in the footsteps of several of his contemporaries, men such as Elder Abner Jones, Joseph Badger and Joseph Ash, who had published memoirs. Or perhaps it was his daughter in law Polly that suggested to Thomas that he share his stories of spiritual development, plentiful travel and church leadership with family members and his friends in the church.
Just a few short months after Thomas’ death in September 1879, Polly had Thomas’ memoir completed and was researching publishing options. The only reference to the memoirs in the Henry collection comes from a letter written by George Henry to his step-mother Lurenda Abbey. In it George writes, “P.A. (Polly Ann) …. has Fathers history finished and wanted to see you, she had an answer from the [Publisher] – my house in [Dayton] Ohio about publishing Fathers history but not very encouraging.” The Ohio publisher referenced in the letter was most likely the Christian Publishing Association, headquartered in Dayton which published many of the Christian Church publications including the Herald of Gospel Liberty. As a frequent contributor to the publication, Thomas Henry was likely known to the publishers. Interestingly enough, it appears they declined to publish the memoirs. Polly’s next idea was to have family members contribute funds towards the publication costs, as noted by George “ [she] would like that such of the boys invest $20.00 each towards the printing and take books for their pay and for me to pay the [rest] as the fears if will be looseing matters. If you think favourable of it you can speak to them as you see them and what is done should be done at once.” Unfortunately we don’t know if the family members gave any money towards the publication of the memoir or if it was George, as he feared would happen, who paid for the publishing. The Memoir of Thomas Henry was published by Polly in 1880 and printed by Hill & Weir, Steam Printers of Toronto.
After the memoir was finished we don’t hear much about Polly. She and George continued to live in Bowmanville where he became a successful fruit dealer. George passed away on March 6, 1892 of complications from diabetes. In the 1901 census Polly is shown as living in Bowmanville with her son Thomas, his wife and three grandchildren. Polly passed away on January 2, 1913 in Essex County Ontario.
Where those who walk shall sleep no more
The sleep of death. Are they not there?
Prophetic whispers answers, “There!”
Where those who love, their loved ones meet.
~From a poem written by Polly Henry
 Rethinking Professionalism: Women and Art in Canada, 1850-1970 Hardcover – Apr 11 2012 by Kristina Huneault pg 164. Photos are part of the William C. Darrah Collection of cartes de vistas.
 Letter from George Henry to Lurenda Henry, February 3, 1880, Original in the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum
 Letter from George Henry to Lurenda Henry, February 3, 1880, Original in the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum
It never ceases to amaze that one research topic can lead down rather interesting roads. While researching Oshawa’s early Cornish settlers, I first discovered the story of John S. Larke. Larke was born in Cornwall, lived most of his adult life in Oshawa and died in New South Wales, Australia. His life was far from average and was fascinating to learn about.
John Short Larke was born on May 28, 1840 in Launcells, Cornwall, England to Charles and Grace (Yeo) Larke. Four years later, the family immigrated to Oshawa, where Charles worked as a miller. John received his education at Victoria College in Cobourg, graduating in 1861, before he took a position as a school teacher at Section School (S.S.) No. 7, East Whitby Township. His career in education would also include a tenure as principal at an Oshawa school.
From 1865 to 1879, John held an editorial interest in the Oshawa Vindicator, which was formally published under the auspices of “Luke and Larke.” This newspaper was known for its conservative leanings, as described in 1880:
It is an eight column folio, neatly printed and edited with marked ability, being an excellent country journal, a powerful exponent of the tenets of the Conservative party, and the oldest paper in the County of Ontario, being in its 24th volume
~John S. Larke, Canadian Biographical Dictionary, 1880.
In 1870, the Vindicator announced the marriage of John to Miss Elizabeth Bain, daughter of the late Richard Bain, Esq, married at the home of the bride’s brother. Four children would be born to the couple during their years in Oshawa: William, Frederick, Eva, and Percy.
John moved from the world of journalism to manufacturing when he took over as president and general manager of the Oshawa Stove Company in 1879. It was located at the corner of Bruce and Charles Streets, first being established in 1873. When operation of the company began, it had 30 employees, but due to larger competition, it unfortunately did not have great success. In the early 1890s, Larke was bought out by his partner, John Bailes, and the Oshawa Stove Company was eventually sold to William Cowan and the future Fittings Ltd.
While undertaking careers as a journalist and manufacturer, Larke also pursued his interest in politics. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, Larke had become a fixture of the local Town Council. John served as both Reeve and Warden of Ontario County and in 1887, and he also spend time as Chairman of the Fire and Water Committee. In 1890, John tried his hand in provincial politics when he was the candidate for the Ontario Conservative Party, challenging incumbent Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) John Dryden to represent the riding of Ontario South. Dryden had been the MLA since 1879, and he would continue to represent Ontario South until 1905, winning the election against Larke in 1890.
By 1893 Larke headed Canada’s exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1894, John was chosen by the Honorable Mackenzie Bowell to represent Canada as the High Commissioner in Australia. The Town of Oshawa, appreciative of John’s service to the community, held a banquet in his honour before he and his family left Canada. In attendance were many of Oshawa’s noted community members, as well as Bowell himself. In November 1894, Bowell was the Minister of Trade & Commerce and acting Prime Minister; he would become the fifth Prime Minister of Canada upon the sudden death of John Thompson less than a month later. Speeches were delivered through the evening, and in his remarks, Larke said,
He could not leave the town of his youth, early labors and friends, which were the dearest ties a man could have, without feeling deep regret. He did not care to dwell upon that side of his leave taking as it was painful. He would rather turn to the more pleasant side; the gratifying pleasure of having the confidence and regard of the citizens of his native town.
~Dr. T.E. Kaiser, Historic Sketches of Oshawa, 1921, p. 127.
By order of the Prime Minister, W.R. Calloway, District Passenger Agent with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, issued 4 tickets to the Larke family to Sydney N.S.W., at a total amount of $1108.83, and they sailed in January 1895. After arriving in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported,
He intended to make his home in Australia, and was here for the sole purpose of furnishing merchants with information in regard to the possibilities of trade between these colonies and Canada. Several leading Canadian merchants proposed visiting these colonies for the purpose of satisfying themselves with regard to the prospects of trade.
~Sydney Morning Herald, January 9, 1895, page 7
John and his family did indeed make their home in Australia, passing away in Summer Hill, a suburb of Sydney, in 1910. He is buried in the Rookwood Cemetery. Thus ended the fascinating and whirlwind career of John S. Larke, a career in which he was able to dip into the discipline of teaching, journalism, manufacturing and finally politics.
Oshawa Museum, Historical Oshawa Information Sheets: John S. Larke.
Born in Jackson Township, Stark County, Ohio, on May 28th 1840, Joseph Dick was a machinist in Oshawa from 1863 util 1874, later becoming a proprietor of his own business, Dick’s Agricultural Works, located in Canton, Ohio. What’s really interesting about Joseph is his patent from 1869 for the “improvement in the velocipede, to be called ‘Joseph Dick, junior, lightening speed combined velocipede.’”
The velocipede was invented by French inventor Nicephore Niepce in 1818. It is described as a vehicle that is powered by man with two or more wheels and has pedals; this invention is now commonly known as the bicycle. Throughout the period of 1818 to 1880, many different improvements were made to the velocipede to make the machine faster, more productive and more comfortable for the rider. To learn more about the functions of the velocipede visit http://www.bicyclehistory.net/bicycle-history/velocipede/.
Joseph’s improvement to the velocipede made the machine faster by altering the gears. In The Daily Kansas Tribune, from May 21st 1869, an article was written about Joseph’s invention. “The gear was arranged that with one motion of the foot the front wheel would make two revolutions; another brake will throw the machinery into gear, so that the foot will move twice to one revolution of the wheel- adapted for ascending hills; a third adaption will throw the cranks off the wheel, and thus the velocipede will roll down hill without the feet moving; a forth arrangement will convert the whole into an ordinary bicycle. When in full speed it can be driven a mile in two minutes.”
Joseph’s early life was spent going to school only four months of the year while the rest of the year he helped his father, Joseph Dick Senior, on the farm. At the age of seventeen Joseph began to learn the art of making models for inventors in Canton. In 1861, he was employed in an agricultural implement works in Canton for two years and then proceeded to help his father on the farm again for another eight months. In 1864 Joseph immigrated into Canada, settling in Oshawa.
Joseph was married to Rosanna McKitterick on May 14th 1866, in Oshawa. The couple had six children: Emma, William, Charles, Frank, Agnes and Laura. After working for the A.S. Whiting Manufacturing Co. for eleven years, Joseph moved back to Ohio and began his own factory. Dick’s Agricultural Works was rather successful employing up to seventy men in the busy season. Joseph was the inventor of all of his machinery and tested his goods before selling them. By 1900 the company reached its peach and had an annual business of over $100,000. Some of his other patents and successful products include: Dick’s Famous Patent Feed, Truck and Sack Holder, and his Famous Ensilage Cutting Machinery. Joseph lived the rest of his life in Canton, never returning to Oshawa, and passed away in 1924.
For more information on Joseph Dick or the history of velocipede, please visit: