Where The Streets Get Their Names – Annis Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

The street names of the former community of Cedardale are wonderful tributes to those who called this area home.  The former Henry Street was named after Thomas Henry, Guy Avenue after the Guy family, Thomas Street after Thomas Conant.  Businesses like Whiting and Robson also have their place on Oshawa’s map.  Annis Street is no different, likely named for David Annis.  The following biography of David Annis is from the Oshawa Historical Society’s Historical Information Sheets.


David Annis

David Annis was born on April 5, 1786, the son of Charles Annis, a United Empire Loyalist from Massachusetts.  Charles crossed the Niagara River into Canada in 1793, staying in York, now Toronto, and Scarborough Heights before joining his friend Roger Conant in what is now Oshawa.

David established himself as a prominent citizen through his many business dealings.  Although he was uneducated, and could not even write his own name, David had excellent, natural, business ability. In 1808 he was a fur trader with the local Indigenous population.  He sold the furs in Montreal, which made him a very wealthy man.


“Daniel Conant’s Lumber Mill” Print by ES Shrapnel, from Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant

One of the most noteworthy achievements of David Annis was the construction, along with Daniel Conant, of a lumber mill, located on Oshawa Creek.  A dam was built under the frame mill to provide power, and most of the white pine in the area was sawn there.  The lumber was floated down the Oshawa Creek, (which was then much larger).  Conant and Annis were also involved in ship building, building the schooner Lord Durham around 1836, which was said to be one of the first vessels in this part of Canada. Wood from the lumber mill was loaded onto the schooners owned by Conant and Annis, and was transported to Oswego, Sodus, Niagara, Kingston, as well as many other ports located on Lake Ontario. Lumber from the mill was also used in Oshawa to construct buildings such as the J.B. Warren Flour Mill.

David Annis acquired a great deal of land, which eventually came into the possession of Daniel Conant. On October 3, 1845, it is recorded that David Annis sold 175 acres of land to Daniel Conant, for one hundred pounds. Land was also sold to John Shipman and other settlers.

David Annis was said to have been a man of fine heart, a friend to the poor and hospitable to all.  He never married, and had no children.  He spent his last years living with the Daniel Conant family, and died on May 28, 1861, at the age of 75.

David was buried in the Harmony Burial Ground, but was exhumed nineteen years after his death, in 1880, by Thomas Conant, son of Daniel Conant.  It is unknown why the casket was opened, but it has been recorded that all who were present were shocked by the excellent condition of the body.  David was moved to the Union Cemetery, where Daniel Conant is also buried.



Of note, the image above may NOT be David Annis.  Former Visitor Host Shawn explored David Annis and historical discrepancies with photographs in an earlier blog post.  This image has been credited as being either David Annis or David’s brother Levi.  Give Shawn’s post a read for more background into these pictures.

Annis Street does not appear to be on the 1877 Atlas or 1895 County of Ontario, however, it listed in the 1921 City Directory as well as on our 1925 City Map.


Where the Streets Get Their Names – Columbus Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Located north of the recently opened 407 East Extension is the Village of Columbus and Columbus Road.  As one might imagine, this east-west artery in north Oshawa takes its name from the Village of Columbus, however, this hasn’t always been its name. The 1877 Atlas of Ontario County refers to this street as Church Street (a name still in use through the 1980s) and the Concession between 6 & 7, and for many years, it was simply known locally as Concession 7.

1895 Atlas - Columbus Detail

1895 County of Ontario Atlas map of Columbus; note the main east-west road is named ‘Church Street’

Understanding the history of this street name and its changes requires an understanding of municipal changes through the years, namely the fact that in 1974, the Township of East Whitby was annexed by the City of Oshawa. In the 1980s, the City was undertaking a review of street names, prompted by the expansion of emergency and 911 services.  During this process, a number of streets were found repeated in the former East Whitby Township and City of Oshawa.  It’s a wee bit problematic when emergency services are needed, and it is unclear if they are needed at Alma Street by the hospital or Alma Street in Raglan.  At this time, the City of Oshawa decided to name previously unnamed concession roads, and it was recommended that these names are consistent with surrounding municipalities (if applicable).  The Town of Whitby was already calling this road Columbus Road, and in the late 1980s, the City of Oshawa officially adopted this name as well.

Here is a history of the village through which Columbus Road traverses.


In the early 1830s, European settlement began in this area.  Because a large number of these settlers originated from England, the first name for the hamlet was English Corners.  In 1850, when applying for a post office, the community’s name changed to Columbus. Despite knowing the when, we do not know why the name Columbus was chosen.


‘Main Street North, Columbus, ON,’ from the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

Columbus was a thriving and busy rural centre throughout the 1850s, boasting four stores, three blacksmiths shops, two carpenter shops, four shoe shops, two tailor shops, two dressmaking shops, a harness shop, and two cooperages.  Industry was also in the area with a tannery located a quarter mile north of village, a flour mill, two asheries, and the Empire woolen mill, which employed 45 people.  Finally those passing through could find respite at one of the village’s four inns.


Empire Woolen Mills near Columbus, c. 1883 (AX995.169.1)

With the creation of the County of Ontario in the 1850s, Columbus was named the seat of East Whitby Township.  The first council of the Township was established in 1853, and the town hall was constructed in 1859.  Between 1850 and 1870 the population of the Village of Columbus grew from 300 inhabitants to 500.


Columbus Presbyterian (United) Church, which still stands today

Like many other rural hamlets, Columbus was home to four churches, Presbyterian, Bible Christian, Methodist and Anglican, and they were overflowing their doors on Sundays. The Columbus Presbyterian Church became the Columbus United Church in the mid 1920s, and the building which was constructed in 1873, still stands today.  Children of Columbus were at School Section no. 6, or the Columbus school.  It was first built built in 1878, and in 1930, a new school was built in its place.


Columbus School, c. 1910 (A982.45.5)

In the early 1970s, Columbus was annexed to to the City of Oshawa, and the community has continued to adapt and thrive, although it has faced some adversity as well.  In the late 2000s, there was a push by many residents to have boundaries adjusted and become a part of the Town of Whitby, but this ultimately was rejected by both municipalities.  There was further fear to how the Highway 407 extension would impact the rural nature of the community, however, over a year after its opening, Columbus is still a vibrant and valued community in our City.


Columbus Town Hall, built in 1859, restored in 1967 as a Centennial project.  Photo taken at Doors Open Oshawa 2014


Oshawa Museum Archival Collection: Columbus File (0029 / 0001 / 0004).

Oshawa Museum Archival Collection: Streets File (0024 / 0001 / 0023).

Oshawa Historical Society, Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, ‘Columbus’.

“‘English Corners’ At First Columbus Dates to 1850,” Oshawa Times, June 24, 1967.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Guy Avenue

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

At the very western edge of Lakeview Park, there is a small street named Guy Avenue. This is near the top of Bonnie Brae Point, which many years ago was known as Guy’s Point.  The ‘Guy’ in question was Thomas Guy Junior.


Thomas Guy Jr.

Thomas Guy Jr. was the older brother of James Odgers Guy, who lived in Guy House, now a part of the Oshawa Museum. He was born in St. Gorran, Cornwall, England on March 21, 1819.  Thomas Jr. married Harriet Cock in 1842 and they had two daughters, Harriet born in 1843 and Ellen in 1844.


Harriet Cock Guy

In 1846, following the lead of his parents and younger brother, Thomas Jr. immigrated to Canada with his family, his mother-in-law Harriet Cock Sr., her male servant and his wife.  Thomas Jr. and his family settled on the Reach Road where their third child William Billing Guy was born in 1847.  The family suffered the loss of Harriet in 1848 when she succumbed to typhoid.  She was laid to rest at the cemetery known as the Pioneer Memorial Gardens.

After travelling with his brother through 1850, Thomas moved back to Oshawa in 1851, settling on Sydenham farm just west of Port Oshawa on Bonnie Brae Point.

An 1871 notice placed in the Ontario Reformer advertising for sale the Sydenham farm provides interesting details of the Guy farm.

It was described as “one of the best farms in the County of Ontario.” Sydenham farm compromised 200 acres (of which 140 were under plough), 200 fruit trees and a frame house with a verandah.

Here Thomas became a champion breeder and exhibitor of Ayrshire cattle, Shorthorn cattle, Leicester sheep and Berkshire pigs.  He was best known for his Ayrshires winning numerous prizes at the local, provincial and national levels.  In 1882, the Farmer’s Advocate prize of $100.00 for best five cows at the Provincial Exhibition was won by five Ayrshires owned by Thomas Jr.

Eliza Jane Henry

Eliza Henry Guy

In 1853, Thomas Jr. married a second time to Eliza Henry, the first child born to Lurenda and Thomas Henry. They had 5 children of their own, Eliza, Alford C., George, Frank T., and Emma. Tragically in December 1867, Eliza died of typhoid and is buried in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.  In that same year Thomas Jr.’s first born daughter Harriet also died of typhoid in Bowmanville, also laid to rest in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.

Harriet’s death was discussed in Thomas Henry’s memoirs:

During the morning service we got word that my daughter-in-law was dead. She had peacefully breathed her last, in hope of a glorious resurrection. On Monday we went down to Bowmanville, and brought back her lifeless remains, and deposited them in their last resting place in the burying-ground at Port Oshawa. How sad to see that blighted flower so early placed in the grave – only 23 years of age. Daughter, wife, mother, Christian – farewell!

Thomas Jr. remarried for the third time in 1869.  With this wife Hannah Every, he had three more children, Thomas, Kirby and Petronella.  Hannah died in 1879 and Thomas Jr. remarried for the last time to Flora Douglas and they have one son, James Douglas Guy.

Thomas Jr. never sold Sydenham fam. He died there in his 79th year on June 16, 1897.  He was laid to rest in the Union Cemetery.  After Thomas’ death Flora and her son moved to Idaho in 1909 where she died in 1912.

Thos Guy obit

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Carswell Avenue

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Off Simcoe Street, north of Taunton, there is a small street named Carswell Avenue. This street bears the same name as an early Oshawa family, one member of which rose to great notoriety outside of the Oshawa area.

Edward Carswell - Kaiser

Edward Carswell, as depicted in TE Kaiser’s Historic Sketches of Oshawa

Edward Carswell was born on February 19, 1829 in Ware, England.  He came to Canada with his family in 1832, first settling in Reach Township (today Scugog Township), and eventually moved to Oshawa, settling in what would be known as the Carswell home at the corner of Simcoe and Fairbanks Streets (314 Simcoe St. S.).

In May 1856, Edward married Rebecca Thomas of Bowmanville, and together they had 6 children.

The Canada Directory of 1857 lists Carswell as an artist, bookseller and stationer.  His ads appear throughout The Oshawa Vindicator during the 1860s where he offers his services as a “House, Sign, Banner and Ornamental Painter, Paper Hanger & Gilder”.  He was also known as something of an artist.  He worked as a sketch artist and illustrated the books he wrote for children.  One of the books, Temperance Stories and Sketches (1888), is a collection of temperance essays for children illustrated with pen and pencil.  Another book, Pen and Pencil; or Pictures, Puzzles, and Short Stories for Boys and Girls (1890) further highlights his ability as an artist.

Food not drink apples

Illustration by Carswell, depicting the evils of alcohol.

Mr. Carswell’s greatest achievements and fame, however, came from his career as a temperance lecturer.  Purported to be a captivating speaker, several newspaper accounts describe Carswell’s abilities as a speaker as second to none.  He was popular throughout the eastern seaboard of the United States speaking in such diverse places as Baltimore and Cambridge.  A newspaper description of his speaking in Cambridge was as follows, “The speaker [Carswell] has a very musical voice and a great power of imitation, which enabled him to hold the interest without the least apparent effort.”  Not only was he in demand in the United States, but Carswell was also a popular choice for speaking in Oshawa.  He was often called upon to chair socials or provide entertainment at the Sons of Temperance meetings in the Oshawa area.


Oshawa’s Sons of Temperance Hall

The Sons of Temperance, a temperance organization of the period, benefited greatly from Carswell’s participation.  On May 17, 1865 The Oshawa Vindicator indicates that Carswell was a charter member of a new division of the Sons of Temperance at Butterffield’s Settlement (the area now known as Taunton).  At that time seventeen new members were initiated.

In addition to his participation in the local organization, Carswell became involved at the national and international level.  He attended the World’s Temperance Congress of 1893 in Chicago as both a speaker and a delegate.  Moreover, he was the Vice President of the National Temperance Society and Publication House in New York.

When he was in Oshawa, Carswell was a devoted member of St. George’s Anglican Church.  His daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Edgar and Alice Houston donated a carillon of chimes (a set of bells usually hung in a tower and played by a set of keys) in memory of both Edward and his wife Rebecca.  The donation, given in 1922, was meant to honour the lengthy devotion the elder Carswell’s had to the parish.  They had both joined the church at its inception in 1843, making Edward a sixty-six year member upon his death and his wife a seventy-five year member at her death on February 15, 1919.

Mr. Carswell died at the age of 81 on June 13, 1910 and was buried in Union Cemetery.


Carswell headstone, in the South Presbyterian section of Union Cemetery

Information on Edward Carswell provided by Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, ‘Edward Carswell.’

Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Part V: Durham and his Report

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Posts, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.  Missed the first four posts?

Part I looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People
Part II looked at the early European Explorers
Part III looked at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
And, finally, Part IV looked at the War of 1812 and figures of that conflict
As we know, the results of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 was a completely altered political landscape.  New France was ceded to Great Britain; Britain found itself in debt over the Seven Years War and thought taxing its colonists in America would be a great way to solve this problem. Yeah, about that… Flash forward to the American Revolution.  The population of Canada grew steadily during the Revolution and afterwards as many who remained loyal to Britain moved to her closest colony. In 1791, the Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were created with the Constitutional Act.

The next forty or so years passed without major internal incidents.  There was, of course, the two-to-three years where we found ourselves at war against the Americans who were once again displeased with Great Britain. The War of 1812 had Canadians, First Nations, and British regulars joined against the Americans, and by December 1814, the Treaty of Versailles brought it to an end.

Repercussions from the Constitution Act of 1791 played themselves out in 1837.


Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, drawing by Charles William Jefferys. Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

The people of Upper Canada at the time were displeased with the current form of government in place: an aristocracy, ruled by a powerful few.  They were nicknamed ‘the Family Compact’ and they wielded a lot of influence in politics at the time.

This feeling of discontentment from the farmers, labourers and tradesmen came to a head when on December 4, 1837, a premature call to rebel was given.  Between December 5 and 8, a group of about 1,000 rebels gathered at Montgomery’s Tavern in Toronto, and although this Loyalist militia quickly won initial small skirmishes in the city, the British forces were ultimately successful.  As a result, hundreds of men were arrested, some were sent to Tazmania, or Van Diemen’s Land, as punishment, and two men, Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, were executed as a result of their involvement in the Rebellion.

At the same time, the people of Lower Canada were also discontent with the government, adding additional grievances of economic depression for French Canadian farmers in the 1830s, and rising tensions with the largely urban anglophone minority, all of which led to an armed insurrection between 1837-1838.  The two Lower Canada uprisings left 325 people dead, all of them rebels except for 27 British soldiers. Nearly 100 rebels were also captured.

The aftermath of the Upper Canada Rebellion, as well as a rebellion in Lower Canada, also in 1837, resulted in Lord Durham investigating the situations. Who was Lord Durham?


Lord Durham, image from Library and Archives Canada (C-121846). Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham was a politician, diplomat and colonial administrator.  He was born in London, England on April 12, 1792 to a wealthy Northumberland family.  Wealth opening up the doors that it does meant that Lambton was educated at Eton.  He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1813 and was raised to the House of Lords in 1828.  Upon the recommendation of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, he was appointed Governor General and high commissioner to British North America.  He was tasked with reporting on the 1837 Rebellions.  Having spent less than six months in Lower Canada, he wrote the majority of his (now) famous Report on the Affairs of British North America, also known as the Durham Report, completed in January of 1839.

The Durham Report recommended the establishment of responsible government for the colonies, the merging of Upper and Lower Canada into a single political unit, which became the nucleus for modern-day Canada.  In 1841, the Province of Canada was created, Upper Canada and Lower Canada now known as Canada West and Canada East respectively.  Interestingly, Durham is not such a popular fellow in Quebec, as his report recommended the government-sponsored assimilation of French Canadians to the English language and culture. His particular assertion, that the French speaking population are people without history or culture, did not (and still does not) garner him respect within Quebec. Louis-Joseph Papineau, one of the top Lower Canada rebels, wrote his own response to the report, La Revue canadienne as Histoire de l’insurrection du Canada en réfutation du Rapport de Lord Durham (History of the insurrection of Canada in refutation of the Report of Lord Durham).

For a number of years, the government of the Province of Canada (Canada West and Canada East) met and was quite effective, however, by the mid-1860, it was clear that the system that was established by the Act of Union was no longer working.  Besides the political deadlock, other factors, including the desire to strengthen the colonies, the Fenian Raids, and the ongoing Civil War in the US, were factors for creating a new political union.

A series of conferences were held with the British North American colonies to discuss the creation of a country.  The Charlottetown Conference took place in September of 1864, followed by the Quebec Conference in October of that year.

At the Québec Conference, the delegates passed 72 Resolutions, which laid out a constitutional framework for a new country. The Canadian Resolutions outlined the concept of federalism — with powers and responsibilities strictly divided between the provinces and the federal government and they also outlined the shape of a national Parliament, with an elected House of Commons based on representation by population, and an appointed Senate, a framework still in place today.

The final conference was held in London in 1866, and on July 1, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect, creating the Dominion of Canada.

As for Lord Durham, he had been in ill health for much of his life, and he passed away in Cowes, England on July 28, 1840.

The Regional Municipality of Durham, the upper-tier municipality where Oshawa is located, is named for Lord Durham, as is Durham Street, located one street west and running parallel to Stevenson Road.