Tod’s Bakery

Oshawa’s largest bakery, Tod’s Bread Limited, was established in 1890 by David M. Tod.  Mr. Tod was born in November 1865 in Bowmanville to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tod.  At the age of 13, D.M. Tod quit school and began working in his father’s bakery.  After a few years there, he travelled to the United States but eventually returned to Oshawa.

Tod's Bakery circa 1919 at 37 Church Street
Tod’s Bakery circa 1919 at 37 Church Street

D.M. Tod’s bakery was located at the corner of Bond and Centre Streets.  It was a solid brick, one storey building, sixty-six feet long and sixty feet wide.  In this building was the flour store room, the shipping room, wagon shed and the bread shop proper as well as the latest machinery known to the science of bread making.  The stable, which was located behind the bakery, was large enough to house 10 horses and had a separate harness room.  It was also equipped with running water and electricity.

Interior view of D.M. Tod's Confectionary circa 1895 at 20 King Street West
Interior view of D.M. Tod’s Confectionary circa 1895 at 20 King Street West

In 1895, a confectionery shop was opened by D.M. Tod at 20 King St. W., the old McChesney Bakery property.  Here people were able to purchase some of his bakery products as well as visit the light lunch parlour, where ice cream was served in the summer and hot drinks in the winter.  At the rear of the parlour was the confectionery shop where the “home made” taffies and chocolates were available.

D.M. Tod's Confectionary circa 1895
D.M. Tod’s Confectionary circa 1895

In 1909, the bakery was averaging 1600 loaves of bread daily with an additional 1000 on Saturdays to meet the demand for their fine products.  The bakery employed 5 bread makers, 3 fancy bakers, 5 delivery drivers, a stable hand and several clerks to run the operation.  The delivery wagons were traveling throughout Oshawa, Port Perry, Brooklin, Myrtle, Ashburn, Raglan and Columbus on a daily basis.

In 1915, the confectionery shop located at 20 King St. W. was sold to Mr. J. Welsh.

Advertisement for Tod's Bread
Advertisement for Tod’s Bread

By 1927, the bakery had prospered.  D.M. Tod now had his son-in-law, R.L. Gray working as Assistant General Manager of the business.  The bakery was equipped with more state of the art machinery that allowed for the output of 800 loaves of bread every 45 minutes.  There were 20 employees whose combined wages totaled $30,000.  The bakery had 10 delivery wagons on the road daily as well as delivery trucks for long distance hauls.  The delivery trucks would travel 30 to 50 miles from Oshawa to reach the ever growing demand for their popular products.  The bakery was the second largest industry in Oshawa to provide group insurance for its employees.

On October 26, 1930, there was an explosion of an oil furnace at the bakery resulted in an excess of $1,000 damage.  However, due to the use of another oven, the bakery was still able to take care of business as usual and get their products out to the many patrons that came to expect the excellent service of Tod’s Bread Limited.

At the time of D.M. Tod’s death on December 26, 1949, his grandson, R.T. Gray was President and Managing director of Tod’s Bread Limited.

It is unknown when the bakery went out of business; however, the 1954 City Directory lists the property at Bond and Centre as vacant.  In 1966 the building was demolished and today in 1998, the Bond Towers stands at this particular site.

Tod's Bakery display in Guy House, with a bread basket used by the business, along with a scale.
Tod’s Bakery display in Guy House, with a bread basket used by the business, along with a scale.

Student Museum Musings – Caitlan

By Caitlan Madden, Summer Student and Visitor Host

Over the summer Lisa and some volunteers have sat down with citizens of Oshawa to gather their memories of Oshawa. These past few days I have had the pleasure to go through all the memories and got a glimpse of peoples love for Oshawa.

The Four Corners, June 2013
The Four Corners, June 2013

Although being born and growing up in Oshawa, I never thought of it being this special place, and never knew it had history until coming to this museum. To me Oshawa was just a place I lived and nothing special at all. Once I started to learn about the history I grew an appreciation for this city, but going through all these memories made me feel a bit bad because you can just see the love people have for Oshawa. For many people Oshawa is just not a place they live, it’s a place that they call home and their community they call friends and family. One similar aspect they all had was how as kids they would just be with their friends exploring Oshawa on their bikes made me think of a memory I have as a child.

My Grandma lived not even a 10 minute walk away from us and pretty much every day we would go to her house. Her street mostly consisted of people her age with Grandchildren of similar ages to me and my brother, which meant there were always kids to play with. A typically day was about 10 children outside playing hide and seek on the street. We could wonder in the neighbours backyards to hide and if they were outside they would even help hide us. A lot of the neighbours also had vegetable gardens so sometimes we would pick a few and eat while we were hiding.

The other day I was at my Grandmas and on the street all I saw were these kids playing outside doing a similar thing I did. It is strange that whenever I thought of Oshawa it was just a place I lived but thinking back to my memories as a kid, it really has been a place I called home and truly is a special place.

Caitlan in the Henry House Kitchen
Caitlan in the Henry House Kitchen


Thank you Caitlan for your hard work this summer, and good luck with your future studies!

Alger Building – the History Behind the Arched Doorway

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement 

My father loves history almost as much as I do; I’m fairly sure I’ve inherited this interest from him.  He was born and raised in Oshawa and knows the city as well as a life-long resident does, although every so often, he’ll ask me questions about places and names.  This happened last week, when driving through downtown Oshawa, we passed 37 King Street East, a yellow brick building, with an archway over a door saying ‘The Alger Building’.  Dad is very rarely the passenger, as he was that day, so he had the opportunity to truly take in his surroundings.

37 King Street East, the Alger Building
37 King Street East, the Alger Building

“Now, I know the Alger Press Building,” Dad said, referring to the building at 61 Charles Street (now owned and used by UOIT), “but what is the history of the Alger Building?”

“I think it’s connected to the Alger Press Building,” I said, albeit not too confidently. “I’m sure it’s the same family who owned the two buildings, but I’m not sure off the top of my head.”

This conversation prompted me to take a look  in the archives and find out why two buildings in Oshawa’s downtown have been given the name ‘Alger.’

61 Charles Street, the Alger Press Building, now UOIT Campus building
61 Charles Street, the Alger Press Building, now UOIT Campus building

Indeed, the Alger Press Building is well associated with the business that bears its name.  It was first constructed in 1903 when the T. Eaton Company of Toronto began the manufacturing of textiles in the three-story brick facility.  During the war years, it had been home to the General Motors War Parts plant.  In 1946, the Alger Press happily accepted the opportunity to purchase 61 Charles Street, and they resided in the building until bankruptcy was declared in 1993.  Despite its new use as a University building, it will likely be known to locals as the Alger Press Building for quite some time.

37 King Street
37 King Street

The Alger Press was established in the early 1900s when Ora M. Alger changed professions and began publishing a newspaper in Oxford County.  In 1919, Alger left Tweed where he was subsequently publishing, and moved to Oshawa. 

He purchased a small parcel of land across from the Oshawa Post Office on King Street East and constructed a two storey plant.  This new business focused on commercial printing.  However, Alger soon returned to newspaper publishing and began the Oshawa Telegram.  The newspaper was a success, switching from a weekly to a daily newspaper, Oshawa’s first daily newspaper.  In 1926 however, the commercial business was so successful that Alger decided to sell the newspaper holdings to Charles Mundy and Arthur Alloway, partners in The Ontario Reformer, and focus solely on commercial printing. The 1926 Directory shows the Alger Press located at 35 King Street. Not long after, the company faced a setback when a fire destroyed the building.  A new building was constructed a block away, and on the old site, a four storey office building, the Alger Building, was constructed. It opened in 1928.

The new four storey building was designed by NA Armstrong Company, Limited of Toronto and built by AE Spooner, Renfrew. At the time of opening, the ground floor and basement were designed and equipped for restaurants, while the three upper floors were divided into offices. It was boasted that the building was equipped with a high speed  elevator, automatically operated.

There have been many occupants in this building, but because of the impressive archway, it will forever be associated with the Alger family.

Many thanks to my father for inspiring this post! – LT

Hidden Gems in Downtown Oshawa

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

On Saturday June 14, I, along with Visitor Host Shawn, led a tour of Oshawa’s Downtown, looking at the heritage that is found there.  Many thanks to the Oshawa Public Library for inviting us to host this walk!  It truly is a wonderful tour, looking at the heritage buildings, newer landmarks, and other points of interest.  This is the third time I have led this tour, and my appreciation for both the tour as well as our Downtown increases every time.

Addressing the guests at June 2014's Downtown Walking Tour - our stop at Simcoe Street United Church
Addressing the guests at June 2014’s Downtown Walking Tour – our stop at Simcoe Street United Church

While it only comprises one stop, the ‘Four Corners’ are a recurring topic throughout the tour.  While at the intersection of King and Simcoe Streets, we recall the story of the infamous plane crash in 1918, when a training plane crashed into the buildings at the northwest corner.  Photo-historian Thomas Bouckley described this as the ‘most heavily photographed episode in the history of Oshawa’ (Pictorial Oshawa, Volume 2).

The  'most heavily photographed episode in the history of Oshawa' - Four Corners plane crash, April 22, 1918
The ‘most heavily photographed episode in the history of Oshawa’ – Four Corners plane crash, April 22, 1918

Perhaps one of my favourite stops is one of the ‘newest,’ when we stop at the General Motors Centre and talk about the history of hockey in Oshawa, and we talk about our OHL team, the Oshawa Generals (let’s go you Gennies!).  The GM Centre, built in 2006, is the latest of many arenas the Gens have called home, including the Bradley Arena, the Oshawa Arena (renamed the Hambly Arena) and the Civic Auditorium.

Between stops, I love talking to our guests about the Museum, about the history of our city, and somehow, I manage to talk a LOT about food!  Arguably, one of the best reasons to visit Downtown Oshawa (if not for the awesome walking tour) is for the food.  There are many restaurants (some new, some longstanding) to visit in the Downtown, with options to satisfy any epicurean desire.  The food is delicious, and the people are lovely.

The lunch I enjoyed before the Downtown Walking Tour! Thanks Berry Hill for the amazing sandwich and coffee!
The lunch I enjoyed before the Downtown Walking Tour! Thanks Berry Hill for the amazing sandwich and coffee!

I love Oshawa, I love this community, and I love supporting local.  If you haven’t visited Downtown Oshawa recently, give it a try.

A ‘nutshell’ early history of the Downtown can be found here: Downtown Oshawa: Our Hidden Heritage

The latest Downtown restaurant guide can be found here:

Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Shawn

Authored by Shawn, Returning Summer Student, 2013

The skies have not seemed entirely welcoming as we have jumped into this first week of June. In fact I think the temperature has been growing more miserable as we approach summer! However, this has not impeded the Oshawa Museum. On Thursday afternoon Lisa and I managed to brave the rain in Downtown Oshawa as we practiced for the Downtown Walking Tour to be held this Sunday. The windy weather has also been unable to prevent some amazing visitors such as George Gordon who came to explore our Railway Exhibit and told us much of his own personal experiences working on the Oshawa Railway.

The inside of Guy House has also been anything but dreary. It now seems a bustling full house with the other new summer students – especially with the recent and excitingly large donation of documents relating to Thomas Henry. It has also been pleasant to catch up with the full-time staff – I had almost forgotten the unfamiliar healthy foods these ladies have exposed to me. Jenn Weymark makes the topic seem an entirely different language.

Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives!  Welcome back Shawn!
Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives! Welcome back Shawn!


Primarily, I have been busying myself with research for the Guy House book. This means taking on the intimidating records of plot sales and learning of Thomas Guy Jr.’s ‘active’ marriage life. It is certainly intriguing to handle and learn from the documents themselves and I hope than I can be of some use putting the story of the house in perspective. While looking into the Guy House history I also accidentally stumbled upon an informative collection of papers of Philips Jesse Phillips compiled by his grandson, Alan Philip Dickson. This was quite interesting because I had been recently collecting and organizing some information on World War One Veterans from Oshawa. It so happens that this Philip Phillips, which has been staring at me through a portrait for some years now in the Archive Office, was born in 1875 and actually enlisted in the army in 1915 – fighting in the 18th Battalion until he was killed at Vimy Ridge. He also worked for the Williams Piano Company in Oshawa and had at one point been asked to make a piano for the King of Siam! I was surprised to learn so much history behind this man on the wall. So, despite the cloudy weather it has been an en’light’ening (I’m so sorry) week!

The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips
The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips


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