Profiling: John S. Larke

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

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 Larke, 1893; From the Oshawa Museum’s Archival Collection, A000.1.49

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.

‘John S. Larke, Oshawa,’ Canadian Biographical Dictionary, 1880; accessed from 

Dr. D.S. Hoig, Reminiscences and Recollections, 1933; accessed from

M. McIntyre Hood, Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, 1968, 63-64.

Dr. T.E. Kaiser, Historic Sketches of Oshawa, 1921; accessed from

‘Other Foundries’, Industry in Oshawa online exhibit, accessed from

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Jan 1895, page 7; accessed:

Profiling: Joseph Dick

By Karen A., Visitor Host

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

Various types of velocipedes; History of Bicycles, Image from:

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.”

Critical Geographies of Cycling page 62 - Copy
Joseph Dick’s design for his velocipede 1869; Image from Critical Geographies of Cycling by Glen Norcliffe, 2015.

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.

Joseph Dick Portrait
Portrait of Joseph Dick in his later years; Image from A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio, Vol. 2, 1900.

For more information on Joseph Dick or the history of velocipede, please visit:

Critical Geographies of Cycling, Google eBook

A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio vol.2,

A Portrait and Biological Record of Stark County,

Profiling Sam Pedlar

By Melissa Cole, Curator

Samuel Pedlar was born in St. Blazey, Cornwall England.  He sailed on the timber vessel, the barque “Clio” with his parents, his brother and three sisters on April 5, 1841.   They arrived in Quebec on May 21, 1841, reaching Skae’s Corners and travelled north up Simcoe Street to Concession 5 where they stayed with Richard Luke and his family for three weeks.


Samuel Pedlar was Oshawa’s earliest historian.  He recognized the fragile wealth of the human memory and spent thousands of hours preserving it through his manuscript known as, The Pedlar PapersHe devoted many years of his life talking to members of the community and interviewing first and second generations that had sprung from Oshawa’s earliest settlers.

He chronicled the social and economic development of Skae’s Corners to the community that grew to be Oshawa, he wrote every detail down he knew about Oshawa’s early settlers including businesses, schools and churches.  He even wrote about, what he called “ancient, minor industries” such as the Moscrip’s Foundry, Spaulding’s Brewery and Nichols Grist Mill as well as Demill Ladies College.  Established in 1875 and flourishing 20 years later this school was one of Oshawa’s first institutions of higher learning.  In this manuscript he mentions almost everyone that lived in the area at the time except for himself.

Little is actually known about Samuel Pedlar.  He played no part in the family business, The Pedlar People Ltd.  His brother George Henry Pedlar assumed control of the business when their father Henry Pedlar passed away.

Pedlar headstone in Union Cemetery; Photo by Melissa Cole

Five years before his death at the age of 77, feeling unable to keep up with the work, Pedlar donated his manuscript to the Ontario Archives where it remains today.  The Oshawa Museum has a copy of the complete Pedlar Papers.  Samuel Pedlar was determined that the memory of the Oshawa’s early settlers would live on through his manuscript – he has brought many of our early settlers to life!

Discover more about the life of Samual Pedlar and other early Oshawa settlers who are buried in Union Cemetery in our latest publication, Until Day Dawns: Stories from Oshawa’s Union Cemetery, available online or at the Oshawa Museum Shop.


Lest We Forget: Profiling Alfred Hind

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For the past few weeks, I have been deep into research/writing mode, which admittedly isn’t out of the ordinary.  We were asked by a local Scout troop to lead a Union Cemetery tour, focusing on soldiers in honour of Remembrance Day.  We talk about the Veteran’s plots in general on many of our tours, but we did not have one looking at specific individuals.  Speaking with the leader, I became excited about the possibilities of this tour and about filling in a gap with our current program offerings.  So I turned to the archives and various online databases, and I began my research.

There are two Veteran’s Plots in Oshawa’s Union Cemetery: World War I and World War II.  Looking at the stones and learning more about these brave men and women was truly fascinating, that I could have written this post about any one of them.  There was Ernest Bush, who in WWII fought with the Princess Pats, married an English woman while stationed overseas, but succumbed to military Tuberculosis upon his return home.  There is also the mystery of Nursing Sister Hayes, for whom we need to do more research to learn more about this brave woman who enlisted and helped the wounded.  Of course, we have the story of Private William Garrow, who enlisted for WWI and was killed in action less than 10 months later.  He was 22 years old.

For some soldiers, there was little information available, but for the more prolific, like Albert Hind, we were able to learn quite a bit about him.

From the Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Daily Reformer, 1927

Albert Frederick Hind was born in England in 1877, and came to Canada in 1907.  He was a police chief constable for the Town of Oshawa at the time of the outbreak of World War I.  He earned the rank of Major with D Company of the 34th Regiment, and would serve overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Upon returning from the war, he was promoted to Police Magistrate, a position he would hold until his death.

Certificate appointing Alfred Hind to Police Magistrate
Certificate appointing Alfred Hind to Police Magistrate

He passed away at age 53 in 1930.  His cause of death, heart inflammation, was attributed to his service during WWI; the maple leaf on his headstone is indicative of this.  His funeral was at his house on Simcoe Street in Oshawa, and he was buried in Union with full military honours.  The regiment paraded from the Armouries on Simcoe Street to the cemetery, and three traditional volleys of the gun were fired at the graveside.

Hind Headstone, World War I Soldier Plots, Oshawa Union Cemetery
Hind Headstone, World War I Soldier Plots, Oshawa Union Cemetery

Because of the position he held in the community, his death was reported in the local newspapers, and his colleagues remembered him fondly.  Magistrate Willis of Whitby said of Hind:

“He placed many an erring young man on the path of right.  His work has left the world the better for his acts of kindness in placing men on the right path.  He is a victim of the Great War, and just as much a hero as those who died on the field. He went to fight for freedom and liberty and returned broken in health.  Since his return he has not been the physical man be was before he went… Major Hind used his best judgement at all times, without prejudice of vindictiveness. He will be missed in Oshawa.”


Hind was only one of many men and women from Oshawa who fought for Canada.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us and those who still see action in combat.  On November 11, we will pause and remember.  Lest we forget.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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