The Legacy of the Regent Theatre

By Michael Bromby, Durham College Journalism Student

“Oshawa in the 1920s was never fancy,” says Louise Parkes a former city councillor. Then the Regent Theatre opened.

Louise Parkes is one of many individuals who contributed to the history of the Regent Theatre throughout its years of operation.

Regent theatre

The elegance and magnificence of Hollywood came to Oshawa when Famous Players Canadian Corporation opened the Regent Theatre in 1921.

Judy Garland, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were the stars of many films at the Regent Theatre. The theatre had sold out shows almost every night, according to Jennifer Weymark, an archivist at the Oshawa Museum.

Weymark says the Regent Theatre brought in a sense of community.

“It gave them opportunity, it had a chance to do musicals and movies,” says Weymark. “Those who came got the chance to be part of the larger world in ways they couldn’t before.”

Leon Osier was the general manager of the theatre during the 1920s and into the 1940s. Frederick Kinton was hired to be the first projectionist in Oshawa after he returned home from the First World War with wounds which later caused to his death.

During the Second World War, Osier began playing videos and clips about the Second World War on the big screen. Communities across Canada sent materials to make guns and ammunition which included tin foil, and scrap metal. Osier helped the Canadian men by allowing people to donate their recycled metals which were sent overseas to help the war.

“They collected tinfoil for the war efforts, so it became a community hub,” says Weymark.

As the times changed, more brand name cinemas such as Cineplex moved into Oshawa, which took business away from the historic theatre. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, the Regent Theatre struggled to make money. The theatre closed its doors in 1989, but was given an adrenalyn rush in 1997.

In 1997, four local business men purchased the theatre from Famous Players Canadian Corporation and turned it into a night club. The night club, Adrenalyn Rush, never took off, despite being in the heart of downtown Oshawa.

In 1999, the owners closed the night club and applied for a permit to have the theatre demolished.

“The theatre was threatened with demolition and supposed to be a parking lot,” says Parkes.

The historic building was almost replaced with asphalt but Heritage Oshawa got involved. Louise Parkes, a member of this committee, decided this was not going to be the end for the Regent.

“We all have passion projects and this is one of mine, saving the theatre,” says Parkes.

Parkes moved to Oshawa with her family in 1988 and remembers seeing shows at the Regent throughout her childhood. The theatre became a passion in her life and she wanted to see it grow.

Parkes is the owner of Parmac Relationship Marketing in downtown Oshawa. She also helps her husband Darryl Sherman run Wilson Furniture in Oshawa.

Parkes wanted to have the old theatre turned into a performing arts centre. The city turned her down and sold the theatre to Mike Burley, a 21-year-old man who was given a five-year contract in 1999. Burley owned Hourglass Theatre Productions and used the Regent Theatre as a space to host his group.

“The opportunity was lost, which motivated me to come onto council,” says Parkes.

Parkes was elected as a city councillor in 2000, she continued to advocate for the theatre. She brought in Janis Barlow, who specializes in the design management of theatres across North America.

Barlow wrote a report to the city explaining how this was the best location in Oshawa for a performing arts centre. However, the bad luck continued for the Regent as the city council voted no.

Parkes became frustrated with the city council and began working with councillor Kathy Clarke to find a different approach in saving the theatre.

“You have to do things eventually or else people are going to leave the city,” says Parkes. “When I came on council there was not a new public building in Oshawa for 26 years.”

Burley failed to keep the theatre open due to the cost of running it. The city bought it back in 2001. It remained closed because the theatre needed construction work before it could be re-opened.

To bring life back to the theatre in 2007. Parkes and Clarke got the city to negotiate a deal with theatre expert Glyn Laverick of Toronto.

Laverick was the CEO of the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. He has worked with Oshawa theatre company Dancyn Productions which is run by Joan Mansfield. Laverick made her his artistic director at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa during his time of ownership.

The city agreed to give Laverick $700,000 to re-construct the entire building, but it had to be complete by the end of 2008.

“Glyn Laverick restored the front and made it into what we see today,” says Parkes.

The theatre opened in October of 2008, however, Laverick failed to meet his deadline. During the movies or live performances, construction equipment was visible throughout the theatre.

The Regent failed to take off once again, and it closed in January 2009. Laverick failed to complete work on the theatre and contractors were left without money. Lawsuits were filed against Laverick. Complainants owed the contractors money for work, many said they lost up to $200,000.

Parkes decided to focus on her business, which she shares with her husband Darryl Sherman, and gained the courage to go back to school.

“It bothered me every day of my life not finishing school, so I decided if not now when?” says Parkes, who completed her degree in history at Trent University in Oshawa. She is planning on going back for her master’s degree in history later this year.

While Parkes was furthering her education, a new owner took over the theatre.

The city was in possession of the Regent Theatre and decided to sell it to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). The remaining construction was completed and the theatre opened once again in 2010.

“The city and the University have made an effort to change the downtown and bring culture and art back,” says Weymark who has been with the Oshawa Museum since 1999.

UOIT uses the Regent for lectures and educational studies for students, while also putting on throwback movie nights featuring “Barefoot in the Park”, and live performances such as “Abbamania and Night Fever”.

One of the live performers coming to the Regent Theatre is Canadian singer Shania Twin, she has spent 20 years of her life impersonating Shania Twain. However, this is her first time performing in Oshawa.

Donna Huber currently lives in Cobourg, Ont. but is on a tour across North America. She is performing at the Regent Theatre on March 4th but this show is going to be special for Huber.

“It hits close to home, I have a ton of friends who are always asking me when I am going to play close to home, and now I am,” says Huber. “I am excited and I hope we pack the place.”

Shania Twin is just one act you can see at the Regent Theatre. Other upcoming shows in February include The British Legends musical on the 16th. For Family Day weekend, the Regent hosts Treehouse’s Splash n’ Boots.


The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.

Sources:

Veterans Affairs Canada, November 27th 2017.
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/material

Dancyn Productions Theatre Company,
https://www.dancynproductions.com/the-dancyn-story

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Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame

By Pierre Sanz, Durham College Journalism Student

The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame has been inspiring athletes since it opened in 1986.  It began in 1982 when Oshawa City Council made a request to open the Hall of Fame and the Oshawa Civic Auditorium Corporation formed a committee to make it happen.

“How it all started was back in 1982,” explains Dan Walerowich, the current chairman of the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, “there was a city council at the time and they made a comment about how it would be nice to have a Hall of Fame in Oshawa that would recognize the accomplishments of athletes in the community.”

Halloffame_Final

In 1983, the founding Board of Governors for the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame were approved by Oshawa City Council. Council also approved a constitution with a mission to recognize and honour the great achievements of individual athletes and teams in Oshawa who have accomplished excellence and notoriety in sports and have also made a huge influence to the expansion of sport.

Terry Kelly, who was the chairman of the founding Board of Governors in 1986, was approached about making the Hall. He put together an induction committee to get the creation of the Hall going. The committee had Eric Wesselby, Charles Pell and Steve Keating, to name a few.

On May 21, 1986, the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame was officially opened by name, the chairman of the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Oshawa Civic Auditorium was the home of the Hall of Fame when it first opened.

A total of 34 inductees were honoured during the first ceremony. Ever since then, an annual induction ceremony with free admission has been held on the last Wednesday in May.

A few of the first inductees back in 1986 were Barbara Underhill (skating), Bill Dell (football), Eddie Westfall (hockey) and Andrew Stewart (baseball). All of them were born in Oshawa.

From day one, Walerowich says the Board wanted to open a museum and showcase athlete memorabilia.

The first logo the Hall of Fame adopted lasted from 1986-2006 then a new logo was released. The new logo, which was unveiled once the museum opened, has four pillars in it, which represent ability, sportsmanship, character and contribution.

After the Hall of Fame was located at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, in 1997 the Board of Governors wanted to move the location from its corridors to a 2,100 square foot fitness room adjacent to the box office lobby at the facility.

On April 7, 2008, mayor John Gray approved the move into the General Motors Centre. When the GM Centre was changed to the Tributes Communities Centre, the Hall of Fame was not impacted.

The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame had a big impact on Nick Springer. Springer is an inductee from 1992 for his achievements in soccer.

Springer is a Hungarian native who arrived in Oshawa in 1958. He is the founder of the Oshawa Turul Soccer Club, which has over 3,000 members. Thanks to his work in founding the club with his organizational abilities, Springer was granted three outstanding National Achievement Awards.

Once the Hall opened in 1986, Springer always thought of being inducted as a dream. What helped him achieve his induction was his contribution to local soccer, along with his success. Springer led the Oshawa Turul under 19 team to gold at the Sao Paulo Cup in 1985. He was recognized with the 1987 Olympic Celebration Medal as a coach.

Springer was always a very modest guy. “I don’t know if I deserve to be here,” he said in an Oshawa This Week article after his induction in 1992.

The history of the Hall of Fame will continue to grow and become richer every year as new athletes get inducted. The next induction will take place Wednesday, May 30, 2018.


The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.

Hotel Genosha

By Austin Andru, Durham College Journalism Student

“Instead of my mom cooking Christmas dinner, my dad used to take his mom and stepdad and my mom’s mom and all his kids and my mom and we’d go to the Genosh to have Christmas dinner,” said John Henry, the mayor of Oshawa. “It goes back to a memory that I have over 40 years.”

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Hotel Genosha was Oshawa’s first and only luxury hotel. It was built in 1929 in Oshawa’s downtown core as it was becoming known as “Canada’s Motor City.”

It was advertised as, “One of the finest hotels in Central Ontario.”

The name Genosha was made by combining the words “General Motors” and “Oshawa”.

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During the 1930s, Hotel Genosha was a common place for social events and weddings in Oshawa. Jennifer Weymark, the archivist for the Oshawa Museum said, “It was the major hub for business people travelling in and out of Oshawa.”

“It was where the upper management of General Motors met,” said Weymark.  “When the Genosh was built it was, high end, high class, it was where the wealthy wanted to go.”

Genosha’s most prestigious visitor was Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI in 1939.

Henry, who has been the mayor of Oshawa for almost 8 years, says the people who visited the Genosha play a big role in the history. Henry says Canada’s military involvement in the Second World War makes him wonder, “who might have stayed there and who might not have stayed there?”

When Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, trained at Camp-X in 1942, the camp was at capacity, according to the official Camp X website. He was encouraged to visit the Genosha in Oshawa. It is not clear if Fleming ever stayed as a guest overnight at the Genosha, but he did visit for the entertainment.

The only way to access parking when mayor Henry visited was through Bond street.

“Did James Bond get his start in Oshawa?” Henry asks.

After training elite spies in the Camp-X facility in Whitby, Fleming went on to create the famous James Bond series.

The Genosha didn’t face difficulties until the early 1980s when industry started moving away from the city centre. When General Motors started changing its operations, there was a lot less people downtown, says Henry.

“As the downtown declines, you saw the Genosh declining,” Weymark said. “They’re tied in together.”

A strip club called “The Million Dollar Saloon,” opened in the basement. It was eventually closed in 2003, leaving the building empty. In 2005 it was designated a heritage site, and 5 years later the sign was taken down.

Many people attempted to revitalize the building. Student housing was proposed, as well as 66 apartment units. These ideas never went through.

Genosha

Richard Summers, the current owner of the building, who has already purchased the property once before, says maintaining this property this was made possible by Durham Region council approving a funding assistance of over $500,000.

The old building hasn’t retained much of its original self. It has undergone a partial interior demolition and the only remains of the original hotel is the Juliet fixtures on some of the windows and the painted “Hotel Genosha” sign on the exterior.

One of the marble staircases that was fitted in the lobby was severely damaged. Summers said this was because, “construction workers were sliding stoves down the stairs.”

Summers has ambitious plans to turn the building into 102 luxury micro apartments with commercial space in the main floor. The focus will be on bachelor units.

The roof currently houses a flock of pigeons. Summers said he would’ve liked to have a rooftop lounge. “Something you’d see in Toronto,” he says. Summers says it’s something he wouldn’t be able to do because of the way the Genosha is built.

Weymark says that while the new developments won’t be like the original hotel, downtown Oshawa is in need of proper housing rather than a luxury hotel.

“Now we see a resurgence and a revitalization in the downtown and you’re seeing that with the Genosh as well,” said Weymark, referring to the developments by Summers. “Along with the Regent Theatre, those two large buildings represent the evolution of downtown.”

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It is estimated the residences will be completed by 2019.

Mayor Henry said, “It will never be the hotel it was, but it has a great future.”


The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.

St. John’s Anglican Church

By Claudia Latino, Durham College Journalism Student

“If you ignore history, it will reach out, grab you, and shake you, and say ‘Hey, pay attention!’ Whitby assists that natural impulse for history to come back to life and to not be forgotten,” said Donald Orville-Merrifield at Heritage Day.

St. John’s Anglican Church has been standing since Whitby was a grain shipping village in 1846. It is now the headquarters of Durham Region.

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The church has had many people worship within its walls over the last 176 years. Marjorie Sorell, author of What the Walls Have Seen and Heard During the last 165 years, and active member of the Port Hope and district, wrote the book to commemorate the church’s 165-year anniversary.

“Indeed, the church’s ‘Walls have Seen and Heard’ all that has transpired, the parishioners’ prayers and dreams, and have been witness to the changes in the community,” writes Sorell in the introduction.

Though many people spend their weekends within the Anglican church, once a year, the church’s community and residents of the town come together to celebrate how far the church has come on Heritage Day.

The one-day event takes place on 201 Brock St. S, in downtown Whitby. The community vendors cover four blocks of downtown along Brock Street where hundreds of long time and new residents come to share their passion for Whitby’s heritage. People walk up and down the street, listening to music from The Whitby Brass Band, eating cotton candy and popcorn while looking at organizations of what the town brings to its community such as The Farmers’ Market vendor, selling homemade baked goods and fresh produce.

The event has been a part of Whitby since the late 1980s and has been a yearly tradition to this day. Brian Winter, 70, a retired archivist of Whitby, attends the event every year. He is part of the architectural committee called ‘Heritage Whitby’. He and others sit at a booth behind a desk, displaying historical architectural photographs of Trafalgar Castle, St. John’s Anglican Church, and other buildings that are still standing since the 1840s, while selling Winter’s own book called Chronicles of a County Town: Whitby Past and Present that was published in 1999 and has been selling copies ever since.

Winter has been researching the town’s history since he was 13 years old. He became archivist for Whitby in 1968, retiring in 2012. He decided to write an updated book since the last book written at the time was back in 1907.

Wil Stonehill, the minister of St. John’s Anglican Church, has been part of the church’s community since 2012. He says people who were part of the church’s community reflect on how St. John’s impacted their lives through Sunday School picnics, member meetings, and marriage. Stonehill wants the residents of Whitby to understand the church still stands today because of them.

“The people in this town hold a significant place in their lives and I think that’s really special,” he said. “We as a church community want the people to know we care about them. We want to show them we are interested in their lives, how their families and children are doing, their celebrations, and their struggles. These people who are part of our community are truly good, caring people.”

Stonehill was inspired to become a minister ever since he involved himself in a church community. He met his social circle through a church setting and is still friends with them today.

“Most of my friends today I made in church. We hung out together, we went out for dinner after church, and after youth group. We went out to bars at night together,” he said. “We became really close friends even though we are all spread out through North America. We still keep in touch and pray for each other. That’s what a church’s job should be, to keep the community connected in the interest of other people’s lives.”

Heritage Day distinguishes the connection between its history and people. Brian Winter describes the event to be important towards the newer residents of the town to acquaint themselves to the history – especially St. John’s.

Winter explains the church looks the same as it was when the church opened in 1846. On the corner of Brock and Victoria Street, the church was built out of limestone from Kingston, Ont.

“A man named John Welsh who was a store keeper in Windsor Bay, now called Port Whitby since 1847. He shipped grain from Whitby Harbour and when he went to Kingston, he got limestone that was cut by the Quarries. He brought it back to Whitby and built a store out of the limestone,” he said. “John also had enough limestone to build a church, the St. John’s Anglican Church. Christine Elliott and her husband Jim Flaherty’s house on Garden Street is also built out of the same limestone used to build the church.”

Winter says after Welsh passed away, he was buried in the cemetery behind the church and his tombstone can be viewed by residents today.

The stained glass windows lying against the grey limestone walls and important figures buried in the cemetery that he researched at the age of 13, inspired him to one day walk out of the church’s great black doors, hand in hand with the love of his life.

In 1976, 29-year-old Winter did get the chance to marry in the church he always saw himself getting married in – with a girl who happened to be a member of St. John’s Anglican Church.

The land where the church stands and the church itself is a concrete reminder of the town’s history and community.

On September 30, 2017 at Heritage Day, Winter describes Whitby in three words. “Beautiful heritage, that’s two words. No I meant to say, a very beautiful heritage. That’s three words,” he said.


The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.

SOURCES

Brian Winter – Retired Whitby Archivist (Recording at Whitby’s Heritage Day on Sept. 30, 2017 and recording on January 13, 2018).

Wil Stonehill – Minister of St. John’s Anglican Church since 2012.

Marjorie Sorell – Author – WHAT THE WALLS HAVE SEEN AND HEARD DURING THE LAST 165 YEARS. October 2011.

Whitby Archives – Whitby Public Library (Archival Images and dates).

Thomas Deverell: http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/68698/data

St. John’s Anglican Church (1904): http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/53615/data?n=10
http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/43880/data?n=9

St. John’s Anglican Church (1900)
http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/53617/data?n=11

St. John’s Anglican Church (1921)
http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/53640/data?n=20

John Scadding Images: http://www.writeopinions.com/john-scadding

St. John’s Anglican Church Website: https://stjohnswhitby.ca/

Durham Region News Article https://www.durhamregion.com/news-story/3452797-st-john-s-anglican-church-in-whitby-turns-165/

Archival Newspaper Image: Brian Winter http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/Whitby/002451839p15.pdf

 

Harriet’s House

By Aly Beach, Durham College Journalism Student

Once upon a time, there was an old, decrepit house on Simcoe St. North, in Oshawa. The windows were boarded, the door creaked open and slammed shut. The greenery had begun to overtake it. The house was surrounded by a massive construction site and seemed out of place. One day it was there. The next it wasn’t.

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This house was located at 2300 Simcoe St. North, just past Durham College and UOIT, until around 2016. It originally belonged to Harriet Cock, affectionately known as “Granny Cock” by relatives and local archivists. She was one of Oshawa’s first female landowners.

Being a female landowner was unusual in the 1800s, as was being independently wealthy. Unlike most women during that time, Granny Cock could vote before Confederation. The requirement for voting prior to Confederation was to be a landowner. This ‘loophole’ was closed after confederation in 1867.

Granny Cock immigrated to Canada from Cornwall, England in 1846 with plenty of money, her daughter, son-in-law and her prized mahogany table.

Granny Cock was born in 1787. She amassed her fortune when both her father and husband died. Her father was a wealthy barrel maker who also owned a barrel factory, and her husband was a prosperous grocer.

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The Harriet Cock portrait, on display in the Verna Conant Gallery

Soon after immigrating, Granny Cock started buying land. Over the course of her lifetime, it is estimated she owned over 250 acres of land in north Oshawa and the Georgian Bay area.

Granny Cock built herself a house, ran a successful farm and lived a comfortable life in Oshawa. She died in 1884, at the age of 97. She is buried in Union Cemetery.

In her will, she gave her house to her grandson, William Guy, a member of Oshawa’s influential Guy family. It is unclear who owned the house directly after him.

In recent history, the house was property of Windfields Farm until 2009. The land was then purchased by Canada’s largest real estate investment trust, RioCan, in 2012. And so began the battle over Harriet’s House.

RioCan was ordered by Heritage Oshawa to produce a report of the house, to see what the preservation options were.

In 2012, RioCan hired Toronto-based company ERA Architecture to consult on the house and do the report.

The report, presented to Oshawa City Council in April 2012, stated Cock’s house “is a rare example of early vernacular architecture in the Oshawa area likely dating from the 1830s.” This was based off studies of the Guy House, which is very similar in architecture and general style. It was discovered not long after the report that the time-period was wrong, and the houses were actually from the 1840s. This error was based off misinformation given to the Oshawa Museum, where Guy House is located.

According to the ERA report, Harriet’s House “was found to be in sufficiently good condition to enable it to withstand the impact of relocation.” It was decided by Heritage Oshawa that RioCan could relocate the house for between $40,000 and $45,000.

Four years later, nothing had happened. The house was still where it had always been. In 2016, the developers deemed the house was deemed too decrepit to move. Joel Wittnebel, editor of The Oshawa Express, pointed out in an article from 2012 that Harriet’s House had managed to survive for over 150 years, but apparently those four years did a number on it.

“The impression I get is that it just didn’t fit into the overall scheme of what they wanted,” says Jennifer Weymark, archivist at the Oshawa Museum. She has lived in the area since 1999.

In 2013, Oshawa city council carried a motion that approved the move proposed by Heritage Oshawa and suggested to make it part of Windfields Farm, and designate it as a historic building.

In the request to demolish the house, RioCan added in a $15,000 donation to the city of Oshawa for Windfields Farm preservation. The money would go to Oshawa Heritage Week at Oshawa Fire Hall 6.

Harriet’s House holds a special place in Weymark’s heart. She would have liked to have seen the house survive, because its presence changes the historical narrative of the area.

“I think she’s a really interesting aspect of our early history that we don’t celebrate enough,” says Weymark, who believes when we talk about history we often focus only on the male perspective.

Weymark says the fact this house exclusively belonged to a woman changes the story. The house could tell a story driven by an influential woman.

The bulldozing of the historic Cock house brings about many questions: How could it have been saved? Should it have been saved? What could have been done to prevent this?

“Obviously preserving buildings that have historic value; It comes from the citizens of community that really rally behind and say ‘this is a building we think needs to be saved’,” says Weymark. “It was those citizens who saved these three buildings, particularly this one [Henry House], Guy House and Robinson House. It was a citizen effort that had them preserved,” says Weymark.

Heritage Oshawa Chair Laura Thursby says, “We seek out properties, some with cultural significance and some with interesting architecture.”

Heritage Oshawa is Oshawa’s municipal heritage committee. They are not truly advocates, but advise the City Council on matters related to heritage.

They have a list of historical significant buildings called an inventory. If a building on the inventory is being changed, Heritage Oshawa can step in and make recommendations about how the changes can implemented to conserve the heritage aspects of the building. They are also notified if the owner of a building on the inventory applies for a demolition permit.

If Heritage Oshawa feels like a building on the inventory holds notable historical significance, especially if it is threatened in some way, they will ask for a report on the property. Based on the recommendations outlined in the report, Heritage Oshawa can recommend to Oshawa city council that building should be designated. This gives it extra protections and helps conserve the building. However, designation does not necessarily mean that it is completely safe from demolition.

Heritage Oshawa simply gives recommendations to city council about what they believe should be done with the building. Ultimately, all final decisions are made by council.

It is important to mention when Heritage Oshawa makes their recommendations, they do not consider the current state of the house, only the historical significance of the building.

Thursby says it can be disappointing when historical buildings are destroyed, such as Harriet’s House, as once demolished they can never be brought back.

“It can be frustrating, but our job is simply the heritage side,” says Thursby.

Recently, there have been two places Heritage Oshawa has tried to protect.

The first one is downtown’s Memorial Park. Heritage Oshawa recommended it should be added to the inventory for its heritage significance and protection. Council vetoed the recommendation.

“It is a public space that is valued by citizens,” says Thursby.

Harriet’s House was also recommended for designation in 2012 and was vetoed.

The second is the Robert McLaughlin’s house on Simcoe Street. McLaughlin was father to Sam McLaughlin, the man who is credited with the creation of General Motors of Canada.

Heritage Oshawa is in the process of trying have it designated as a historical building.

“We consider it significant in the heritage landscape of Oshawa,” says Thursby.

“These buildings are central to Oshawa culture. They both contribute in different ways and they both have value,” says Thursby.

Weymark explains there are many historical buildings that can be worked into a modern setting, while also enhancing their history and the area surrounding it.

While all of this may have been avoidable, Harriet Cock and her home are now a lost piece of Oshawa’s history. Currently, RioCan is beginning to build a shopping centre where Harriet’s House once stood and have agreed to install a plaque to signify who once owned the land. Granny Cock has become yet another historical woman who will be forgotten.


The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.