Just east of Ritson Road, between Olive and Highway 401, one can find Kitchener Street. This street bears the name of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl Kitchener. Kitchener Street appears in directories as early as 1921.
Kitchener was born 24 June 24, 1850 in Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland, the son of an army officer. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He first saw action in the Franco-Prussian War, in which he was an ambulance driver and faced reprimand for participating in a conflict in which England was neutral. He later commanded the British army in Egypt, the Sudan, India and in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902).
In 1914, at the start of World War I, Kitchener was appointed the Secretary of State for War, promoted to Field Marshal, and became the face of Britain’s recruitment campaign, ‘Your Country Needs You.’ Kitchener was onboard the HMS Hampshire on June 5, 1916 when it was sunk by German mines off the coast of Scotland.
This Oshawa street is just one of many namesakes for the Field Marshal. Perhaps the most notable is Kitchener, Ontario. Before 1916, the city was named Berlin, however, anti-German sentiments were on the rise during WWI, and by mid-1916 there was a controversial referendum to rename; Kitchener was the winner, beating out Adanac (Canada spelled backwards), Brock, Benton, Corona, and Keowana.
The topic of renaming the City of Kitchener arose again in the summer of 2020. In a statement by Kitchener City Hall: “We acknowledge that the legacy of our namesake, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, a decorated British Earl who established concentration camps during the Boer War, is not one to be celebrated. While we in no way condone, diminish or forget his actions, we know that more than a century after our citizens chose this name for their community, Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal.”
As a knitter, I would be remiss to not bring up the Kitchener Stitch. This form of grafting is very common for finishing top-down socks – while he in no way ‘invented’ the stitch, the story goes that Kitchener was a promoter of knitting for the war effort, and this way of finishing the sock is very comfortable on toes, a relief to soldiers who were fighting a very hard, nasty war and whose feet were often in great discomfort.
Monash Avenue, Currie Avenue, and Montgomery Street are also found in this general area of Oshawa, and all of these streets were named after First World War officers.
This year, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of Lakeview Park. Today, this lakefront gem is approximately 44 acres in size and is used by walkers, picnickers, swimmers and beach-goers, recreational sports teams, events in the summertime, like Canada Day celebrations, and, of course, for those wishing to learn more about the history of Oshawa by visiting us here at the Oshawa Museum.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Oshawa Museum has launched a new online exhibit, Lakeview Park 100, where we will share stories of the park through the years. This post will have links to the online exhibit, or links to older Blog content, and we encourage you to visit and share your own stories!
Prior to the arrival of European and American settlers, the area was part of the traditional hunting grounds of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island. With the arrival of American settlers in the late 1790s, the land became divided and owned by names such as Annis, Smith, Lockwood and Perry. In 1840, the first efforts were made to develop the Oshawa Harbour with the construction of the pier and breakwaters by the Sydenham Harbour Company. The opening of the Harbour brought with it further settlement along the lakeshore, including the construction of the homes that comprise the Oshawa Museum. Much of Lakeview Park was part of the original Henry Family farm, land Thomas acquired in 1830.
As early as 1890, the area by the lake, referred to more generally as “Oshawa-on-the-Lake,” was used for summer recreation. The Oshawa Railway transported beachgoers with 11 trips per day for a fare of just 5 cents – considered to be very inexpensive even in those times. A popular place in these early days was Mallory’s hall, owned by a resident by the lake who rent it out for dancing, concerts, or religious services. Mr. C. A. Mallory tried to sell his property a number of times through the years, notably in 1896 and 1902, and his pavilion would later be purchased by William Harold & Viola Barnhart.
In 1920, Sam & George McLaughlin bought the land in the name of General Motors of Canada Limited and deeded it to the Town of Oshawa for just one dollar. There was only one restriction: that the land be used as a public park for the citizens of Oshawa under the control of the Council and Parks commission. The firm also forwarded a cheque for $3,000 to cover initial improvements and another $6,000 for a suitable park playground.
One of the first tasks undertaken by the parks board was the selection of a name for the new park. Approximately 240 names were submitted, and Lakeview Park was chosen. Although open for use by the public in August of 1920, the park was officially opened late in September by Mayor Stacey. Music was provided by Oshawa Bands, and the Oshawa Railway provided free transportation to the park.
In 1924 an attempt was made to install a zoo at the park. George W. McLaughlin provided a number of buffalo from Wainwright, Alberta that were confined in an area to the north-west of Henry House. They were there until 1931 when the herd began to look somewhat weather-beaten and the odor from the animal pen became offensive to those using Lakeview Park. As a result, it was decided to move them to the Riverdale Zoo in Toronto.
For decades through the 20th century, Lakeview Park was dotted with cottages which were lived in or rented through the year. In 1926, it was reported that many out-of-towners were from Toronto, and some were even American tourists. Many people in Oshawa have stories about living in the cottages, which were ill-equipped for winter with no insulation, electricity or running water. One of the cottages was built by the Oshawa Rotary Club and rented to the Red Cross for one dollar a year. The Red Cross operated it as a summer holiday cottage for wards of the Children’s Aid Society. As the years went on, these cottages slowly fell into disrepair as they were divided into apartments. The City decided that the only way to continue with expanding the park was to tear down the cottages when the leases ran out. The last tenants left in 1984. One of the last remaining cottages is was part of the Oshawa Museum complex. It was located beside the maintenance shed and is used as a storage unit for lumber and large articles until it was torn down in the winter of 2013.
Improvements and development of the park has continued since it was first deeded to the Town. In 1927, the Jubilee Pavilion opened to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Confederation. It was well known for its nightly dances throughout the year, boasting the best dance floors in North America.
The Lady of the Lake statue and fountain, which today is located between the Museum buildings, was originally located to the west of the Jubilee Pavilion. City Council spent $4,778 on the statue of a nude nine year old girl; this caused quite the controversy as many citizens did not feel it was appropriate for public display. The statue was made in Italy and imported by Whitby Stafford Brothers Monumental Works. It was put into an illuminated pool in the park and dedicated on May 24, 1959, commemorating the gift of the pool by General Motors of Canada. It was relocated in the fall of 2001.
In the late 1970s, a long-range plan of park improvements was to be slowly set into motion. The initial plans included a new and much larger playground, recreation areas (including those designated for baseball and soccer), and the expansion of the road. One important addition was the brick walkway constructed in 1984, extending from the pier to the end of the park. A plaque bears the following inscription: “This boardwalk was constructed and dedicated for the enjoyment of our citizens as a remembrance of Oshawa’s 60th anniversary and Ontario’s bicentennial, 1984.”
Finally, in the summers of 1993 and 1994, finishing touches on the park were completed. The pier was reopened, the beach area had been improved, and – significantly – the roads and parking had been upgraded in 1990. The old Henry Street that ran between the three historic homes was gone, replaced by efficient walkways. In 1997, after the passing of Princess Diana, there was a suggestion to change the name to “Diana Lakeview Park,” but this did not come to fruition.
The Oshawa Museum is a proud feature of Lakeview Park. All museums buildings are on their original foundations, surprising many visitors who assume that they were moved at a later date. The Museum began with the opening of the Henry House Museum in 1960; Robinson House Museum opened in 1969, Guy House opened in 1985 as the administrative centre, and our Drive Shed beside Henry House was a 50th anniversary project for the Oshawa Historical Society, officially opening in 2009. The Henry House Gardens are used for programs and events and are home to the Ritson Pear Trees, Durham Region’s only heritage designated trees.
The City continues improvements to Lakeview Park through the years by adding more walkways, an additional gazebo, old fashioned street lights, many beautiful and bright gardens and hanging plants, and playground upgrades and improvements.
Lakeview Park has been enjoyed by citizens of Oshawa and beyond for over a century, and as we celebrate its 100th birthday, we cannot help but be reminded of summer days gone by, cold wintry winds off the lake, and an excitement for the future of this waterfront park.
May 8 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe. WWII lasted from 1939-1945; approximately 1,159,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served, and the number of deaths totaled 44,090¹. Looking locally, WWII impacted our community with 177 Oshawa residents who died during the conflict, while thousands more enlisted, served, were part of the ordinance corps, or did their part by working on the homefront.
VE Day was not the end of World War II, which continued until September 1945 when the official terms of surrender were signed with Japan, however, VE Day was widely celebrated in the community. As described by Oshawa resident Murray McKay, “That was a celebration. You wouldn’t believe it. People were dancing in the street downtown Oshawa.”
There were several complex campaigns of WWII taking place in theatres all over the globe; one of the best known was the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. This co-ordinated attack by the Allied partners was intended to re-establish an Allied presence in Western Europe, and Canada was a full partner in the invasion. The objectives of D-Day, 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings, were to take five beaches, and capturing Juno Beach was the responsibility of the Canadians, under the command of General Harry Crerar. This victory wasn’t without cost; according to the Canadian War Museum, 14,000 Canadians were part of the Allied Troops at the Normandy invasion, and on D-Day, Canadians suffered 1074 casualties, while 359 were killed.² The campaign lasted 10 weeks, and the casualty list grew to more than 18,000 casualties, 5000 of them fatal, and this number is just representative of the Canadians. There were substantial losses on all sides. It represented a turning point in the war – opening up the western front, leaving the German forces to defend to the west and east, but it was not without cost of life. By September, the Normandy campaign, known as Operation Overlord, was over, and just over eight months later, Victory in Europe was being celebrated.
Normandy Street is found north of Highway 401, west of Wilson and east of Ritson, along with Dunkirk Avenue, Dieppe Avenue, Sedan Court, Brest Court, and Crerar Street, all of which are related to the Second World War, be it battle sites or after General Harry Crerar. In terms of dating the street, due to emergency orders, access to the directories at the archives is challenging. Thankfully, our friends at the Oshawa Library have digitized a number of City Directories, helping me with this research! The 1955 Directory lists Normandy Street, but also notes that it is ‘Not Built On,’ and the same listing appears in the years 1957 to 1961. This suggests this street dates to the mid 1950s with development taking place in the early 1960s.
Like many other streets found in the city, McGrigor takes its name from early landowners, John & Eunice McGrigor. A note on spelling – it has been spelt as McGrigor and McGregor. To keep with consistency in the spelling of the street name, McGrigor will be used.
John McGrigor was born around 1784 in Perth County, Scotland. He arrived in Upper Canada before the start of the War of 1812 and settled here around 1817. According to Samuel Pedlar, it was “while guarding military stores being transported from Kingston to Toronto [that McGrigor] formed a favourable opinion of East Whitby and especially the land he afterwards purchased.” Pedlar claims service during the War of 1812 wasn’t the only time he took up arms, for “in the Rebellion of 1837 he likewise was to the front in the service of his country.” This seems to imply that he assisted the British army in stopping the rebels. While military and militia records exist for this time, John McGrigor/McGregor was a common name, and it cannot be determined with certainty if, when, and where he served. Muster rolls from the 1830s have information regarding ages and wages paid for time served.
By 1837, McGrigor owned well over 100 acres of Lot 11, Concession 1, and it appears shortly afterwards he began selling building lots. Author M McIntyre Hood, in his 1968 book Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, claims that McGrigor and JB Warren both saw potential in taking their large acreages, subdividing and creating a village around the Oshawa Creek.
John married a woman named Eunice, born c. 1803, and together they had a sizable family before John’s passing on September 17, 1846 in his 62nd year. In the 1850s, Eunice’s name appears on land records, registering a plan of subdivision, continuing what was started with John with creating and selling building lots from their original 100+ acreage. She died in 1890, and both John and Eunice are buried in Union Cemetery.
McGrigor is also credited by J. Douglas Ross, as helping to establish one of the first schools in the Village of Oshawa, donating land towards to building a log schoolhouse at the southwest corner of King and Simcoe.
As aforementioned, McGrigor Street is named for the family. In a letter written to the archives, a descendant from the family suggests that Athol was named by the family after the area in Scotland from which they emigrated. John & Eunice’s son, Royal Gregor McGrigor also registered a plan with town, and Royal Street is located within the limits of the RG McGrigor Plan, so perhaps the street has been named for him.
This post was written by Publication & Research Assistant Alex, celebrating May, Asian History Month. During her six month contract at the OM, Alex was exploring Oshawa’s early Asian immigrants, looking at the families, who they were, the lives the led, and why they chose to settle in Oshawa. This research she undertook will be part of a future publication, looking at Oshawa’s unwritten history.
Rounding out the top five is a post written by Executive Director Laura Suchan about Oshawa’s Terwilligar Sisters, noted clairvoyants in their time. This post about two of Oshawa’s noteworthy women was originally posted in March, Women’s History Month.
These were our top 5 posts written in 2019; the top viewed post for the year was actually written a few years ago, Keeping Warm: The Ways The Victorians Did! This is the second year where this has been our top viewed post! Perhaps our readers have an interest in vintage bedwarmers or are looking for inspiration for keeping warm during the cold Canadian winter months!
Thank you all for reading, and we’ll see you all in 2020!