Oshawa’s Two Queen’s Hotels

The old Queen’s Hotel was established in 1874; it can be seen in the 1921 City Directory but is no longer there in the 1923. This fits with the information that shows the hotel closed at the start of the 1920s. The upper storeys of the building remained open as the Queen’s Apartments for some time after that. The building fell into disrepair during the 1960s and 70s and was eventually torn down in 1987.

The second Queen’s Hotel does not appear in the City Directories until 1935. Prior to becoming the Queen’s Hotel #2, the address was home to a fish market, a shoe repair, a music store and a tailor. It is likely that these hotels were never the same ‘business’, but rather it is likely that someone thought to capitalize on a well known name when they opened the second Queen’s Hotel in the 1930s.

The black and white photo is in the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum; the colour photographs are from the Bill Miles digital collection.

Oshawa’s latest hotel, a Holiday Inn, has been built and recently opened at Simcoe and Richmond, the site of the second Queen’s Hotel.

Oshawa’s Post Office

By Heather Snowdon, Durham College Journalism Student

When Bryan Jacula was ten years old his parents, Mary Nee Rudka and Michael Jacula, owned a store. Located on King Street and Westmount Avenue in Oshawa, it was a sub post office, which means it was a post office as well as a general store. Now in his fifties, Jacula still lives in Oshawa.

“It’s been so long since I’ve thought about that store,” says Jacula.

It was 1835 when Edward Skae came to Oshawa. Back then it wasn’t known as Oshawa, the town was small and was just starting to grow. Skae was well liked by residents and the town became known as Skae’s Corners.

As Skae’s Corners grew, there was a need for a post office and in 1842 Skae sent in an application to Home District in parliament, a form of government at the time, asking for one.

In the 1800s, it was common for residents to go to general stores to pick up mail. Many small towns didn’t have stand-alone post offices. Sub post offices, located in general stores, were the norm.

To avoid confusion, parliament told him he could have a post office if Skae’s Corners changed its name since there were too many towns in the area with the name ‘corner’.

The townspeople held a meeting and many wealthy residents in Skae’s Corners were in attendance, Moody Farewell was one of them. He was a farmer and large hotel owner in Oshawa. Legend has it he asked his Indigenous friends what the name of the town was and they told him it was called Oshawa.

Another legend says Farewell was angry with the First Nations for coming to the meeting and there was a confrontation between them. Jennifer Weymark, archivist at the Oshawa Museum, says one of the legends is likely true.

The Indigenous named the town Oshawa, which was translated from Ojibwa, an Algonquian language, means to portage or to take the canoe out of the water and go over land. Other translations include the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.

Skae opened Oshawa’s first post office in 1845, known as a sub post office, because it was located in his general store. He became Oshawa’s first post master. Skae was post master for three years, following his death at the age of 44.

In the 1800s, mail was delivered by sleighs and stage coaches, which are horse drawn carriages. Before that, men on horseback delivered mail from Kingston to Toronto on what we now know as Highway 2 or King Street. It took 18 days for mail to reach Quebec from Pickering, Ontario. Lake Ontario became a lifeline to early settlers who used it as their only means of transportation, and in 1822 settlers began to establish themselves along Highway 2.

It wasn’t until the 1850s that Canada would start the Trans-Atlantic mail delivery and in 1856 Canada opened the Grand Trunk Railway and mail was no longer carried by stagecoaches or on horseback.

The closure of Skae’s post office sparked a change in Oshawa. In 1872, a new sub post office was opened on King Street.

As Oshawa continued to grow, there was a need for a larger post office.

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Location of the former Post Office at 40 King Street East

In 1907, Oshawa acquired its first stand-alone post office, located on 40 King St. E. It was running until 1950, when the City of Oshawa decided to sell it.

A fire in 1955 left no one to bid on the property and in 1957, the first stand-alone post office was demolished and left Oshawa forever. The actual whereabouts of Oshawa’s first sub post office, in Skae’s General Store is unknown. Myths surrounding its location suggest the building was put on the corner of King and Queen Street in 1825.

According to an archival article, written in 1949, by Oshawa’s Daily Times Gazette, was torn down for a grocery store in the early 1950s.

There was a demand for a post office in Oshawa after the closure of the 40 King Street’s post office in 1950. In March 1951, the Jacula family opened a sub post office in their convenience store, located at 399 King St. W.

“It was a tight fit, putting the post office in the convenience store,” says Jacula.

According to an article provided by Eva Saether, local history and genealogy librarian at the Oshawa Public Library, in 1950 two residents living on Church and William Street in Oshawa were asked to vacate their homes for a new post office. In 1952, the new stand-alone post office was built. But it was only temporary.

Many postal closures happened in 1986. In Oshawa, there were 5,955 rural and urban post offices. By the 1990s, there were 93 urban and 1,442 rural post office closures, leaving 14,000 workers in the postal services without jobs. From 1989 to 1992, 2,250 rural post offices closed and there were 153 urban closures from 1992 to 1993. Canada Post fired an average of 47 workers per month in 1992.

Canada Post was planning to shut down public post offices by 1996, saying it would make sense economically to have one public post office.

A new post office was opened at 47 Simcoe St. S. in 1954. This building is still being used today, and this location is the implemented plan from Canada Post. In Oshawa, there is now only one public post office.

Bryan Jacula says his parents were adamant about the importance of having a post office in Oshawa.

“I’m glad we were a part of it,” says Jacula.


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.

The 1918 Plane Crash

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

“This is the most heavily photographed episode in the history of Oshawa.” So claimed Thomas Bouckley, photographic historian in his adored Pictorial Oshawa Vol II.

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On April 22, 1918, between 5 & 6 o’clock in the evening, a pilot lost control of his plane, and it crashed into the northwest corner of King and Simcoe Street.  Miraculously, only one person was injured in the incident.  A woman named Mrs. Guy was leaving Porter’s Dry Goods at 8 King Street West and was struck on the shoulder by a falling brick.  Thankfully, her injuries were minor.

To take the plane off the side of the building, the wings were removed after ropes secured the fuselage, and it was then lowered and slid down piles placed against the building.  The plane was removed by staff of the Leaside Training camp, with the military refusing to let the local firemen do the removal.

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Naturally, an event like this was covered in the local media.  Despite gaps in Oshawa’s historical newspapers, the newspaper after this incident survived, and the Ontario Reformer featured this story on its front page of the April 26 edition.  The Reformer called it a “as fine an exhibition of aeroplaning as will be seen here for many a day,” and the pilot who “swooped up and down over the town like a bird” was acting in a manor “we are told…is mild compared with what aviators in the battle squadrons at the front are called upon to do when in action.”  The Reformer went on to report “something went wrong with the engine… [The pilot] tried to land on the street but was unable to do so on account of the wires.” He ultimately ended up on top of the Dominion Bank building, and wires which acted as a net for the plane were so badly damaged that power in Oshawa and Whitby was knocked out.

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The reporting of the Ontario Reformer seemed to take a light-hearted approach to the story, as though it was a unique sense of excitement.  Reviewing other news reporting of story seems to perhaps take a harsher view.  The headline of The Globe reads “Airman Makes Two Towns Dark,” demonstrating the outcomes from the incident, while the Reformer has the headline “Oshawa Sees an Areoplane (sic) Light on Bank Building” focusing on the incident rather that its outcome.

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The Globe makes mention of the pilot was “entertaining practically the entire population of this town with his various stunts – looping the loop, figure eight, flying upside down” and the crash was a result of “misjudging the distance” and crashing into the Dominion Bank.

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Both the Reformer and Globe say the pilot refused to give his name; The Toronto Daily Star, however, reported that the actions of Cadet Groom of the Leaside Camp would be investigated by the RAF (in Pictorial Oshawa, Thomas Bouckley named the pilot as Cadet Weiss).  Of note, the Star’s reporting on the incident was the shortest of all three papers reviewed.

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This incident occurred during wartime; World War I was raging on across the Atlantic, and it was the first major conflict where the skies served as a battlefield.  Looking locally, there were flying fields for training pilots in Leaside and Long Branch, and according to Bouckley, ‘several mishaps occurred in Oshawa.’  The Oshawa Museum’s archival collection features not only photographs of the ‘infamous’ Four Corners crash, but also of a crash that occurred in 1916 at Alexandra Park, a plane that landed on the lawn of Parkwood, and a crash at the Golf Links on April 28, 1918.

While it may no longer be ‘Oshawa’s most heavily photographed incident,’ 100 years have passed and the Four Corners plane crash remains a captivating story from our past.


References

“Oshawa Sees an Areoplane (sic) Light on Bank Building,” The Ontario Reformer, April 26, 1918, 1.  Accessed from: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/the-ontario-reformer/1918-04-26/001/newspapers.html#

“Airman Makes Two Towns Dark,” The Globe, April 23, 1918, 3.

“RAF Will Investigate” Toronto Daily Star, April 23, 1918, 13.

Thomas Bouckley, Pictorial Oshawa Vol II (Oshawa: The Alger Press Ltd., 1976), 115-116).

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.

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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.

Stalter’s Music Store

This photograph, from the collection of the Oshawa Archives, depicts a crowd waiting for a parade in 1913.  In the background is a storefront advertising New Scale Williams Pianos.  This is the store of Mr. A.J. Stalter, located at 12 Simcoe Street North.

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Mr. Stalter had been a long standing businessman from Oshawa, who was renowned for managing his store economically, where he carried “a good stock of instruments from which to choose, selling from forty to fifty every year.”  In 1915, his son Percy took over the business and partnered with Mr. Newton Johns, and the business became known as Stalter and Johns.  They did not remain at their 12 Simcoe Street North location, for in 1921, the Stalter Music Store is found at 23 Simcoe Street North, on the east side of the street.

The Williams Piano Company, for which Stalter was an agent, had its headquarters in Toronto, however its manufacturing operations was located in Oshawa, on Richmond Street, west of Simcoe.  They constructed pianos in Oshawa for 50 years.  Their facility on Richmond Street, originally built in 1852, was torn down in the 1970s to make way for the Durham Region Police Headquarters and the Oshawa Times.

*This article originally appeared in the Downtown Oshawa BIA Newsletter. The Oshawa Museum is a proud partner with the BIA to share Oshawa’s history.


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