Profiling: James Odgers Guy

The Oshawa Museum is comprised of three historic homes: Henry House, Robinson House, and Guy House.  Guy House’s namesake is James Odgers Guy, who purchased the house and quarter-acre lot in 1861.

James Odgers Guy

James was born in Cornwall, England in 1828, the second son born to Thomas Guy Sr. and his wife Margery.  The family stayed in England until 1842 when Thomas, Margery and James immigrated to Canada.  Thomas Jr. joined them in Canada four years later when he immigrated with his wife Harriett and mother-in-law and two young children.

After their long Atlantic voyage (aboard the first-class sailing vessel the “Clio”), the Guys settled on a farm in Columbus, Ontario.  They remained there for four years before moving for a short time to Woodstock.  Finally, they moved to Bonnie Brae Point (a.k.a. “Guy’s Point”), where they settled in 1854.


James did not stay on the family farm.  He married Rachel Luke, also a Cornwall native, in 1852, and together the couple had seven children.  The family moved into Guy House in 1861, when James purchased the ¼ acre on which the frame home was built, paying £250 for the home.  All but one of their children lived with them in Guy House; sadly, their son William Arthur Guy died just five months after his first birthday on March 26, 1854.

Maternity Home

On 9 June 1883, James began plans to move once again.  He purchased a half-acre lot on King Street East (between Division St. and Mary St.).  In 1884 James sold his property at the Lake and had a house built on his new King Street lot.  He named the house Llewellyn Hall, likely after his fifth child, who died in 1882.

James & grain

Funds for the construction of Llewellyn Hall were made available through James’ widespread business success.  Some of his business interests were closely related to those of his brother.  The siblings shared a family business, dealing in coal and grain.  The Guys were involved in a coal dealership in Oshawa and grain elevators in Brooklin and Myrtle.  James ran his grain business from 16 Celina Street.


In addition to his business enterprises, James Odgers Guy held a diverse collection of important community posts.  He was Harbour Master of the Port Oshawa Co., Deputy of East Whitby, Reeve of East Whitby, Ontario County Warden, and Secretary of the Edmondson Electric Light Co.   He was also a Grammar School Trustee and a Trustee of Oshawa High Schools.  James’ extensive involvement with the Oshawa area prompted the Oshawa Vindicator to call this prominent citizen “Oshawa’s Grand Old Man” (Feb 21, 1908).

James Odgers Guy died on April 5, 1909.  His obituary ran as follows:

The Death of Mr. James O. Guy
A Highly-respected Business Man of Oshawa – Ex-Warden.
(Special Dispatch to The Globe)

Oshawa, April 5. — James O. Guy, an old and highly respected resident of this town, passed away to-day at the ripe age of eighty-one years. During his residence here he held almost every gift the people had to bestow municipally from Reeve to Warden. Politically he was a Liberal, and, above all, a kindly Christian gentle-man, for many years being a member of the official board of the Simcoe Street Methodist Church. Mr. Guy was a grain merchant for years, and was held in the greatest respect. His wife, three sons and two daughters survive. They are: F.A. Guy of Fort William, Arthur of Winnipeg, Edgar J. of Toronto, Mrs. E. M. Jewell of Toronto and Miss Ida at home.

He and his wife Rachel (who died on July 4, 1914) were both buried in the Oshawa’s Union Cemetery.


Giving Tuesday & The 2018 Curator’s Most Wanted List

By Laura Suchan, Executive Director

We have two days that are good for the economy. Now we have a day that is good for the community too.”

Once again the Oshawa Museum is taking part  in the global movement known as GivingTuesday. Taking place the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is unofficially known as the “opening day of the giving season.” It is a time for charities, companies and individuals to join together and celebrate their favourite causes. (

Our staff chose the artefact collection as the focus of the Oshawa Museum’s Giving Tuesday celebration.  A great deal of our work at the Oshawa Museum (OM) centres around the collection which numbers in excess of 50,000 objects.  Collecting the artefacts is only one piece of the puzzle. One of the most important aspects of the collecting process is the curation or, in other words, how the collection is accumulated and selected for acquisition,  presentation and preservation.  Melissa Cole and Jennifer Weymark are the staff members responsible for curating the OM’s collection.  In this process they are guided by their professional knowledge and a collection policy to ensure our collection is diverse and representative of the history of Oshawa and includes the voices, stories and artefacts of all those who have called Oshawa home. In order to strategically develop the collection for future generations, we rely on donations of both money and artefacts. Donations in any amount help us to purchase items we feel will help tell a more inclusive history of our City. We are also asking you to search your attics and basements for artefacts that will help us with our work.

Poster - SM Graphic

To help you, Jennifer and Melissa recently came up with a Curator’s Top 5  Most Wanted artefacts.

  1. Items related to the Henry, Guy and Robinson families including photographs, land deeds, letters, artefacts.
  2. Examples of Smith Potteries pieces or items related to the business. Currently the OM has 25 pieces of Smith Potteries, and we hope to grow this number and learn more about the business that operated in Oshawa from 1925-1949.
  3. Oshawa historic newspapers especially from the period 1880-1930. There are large gaps in the newspaper collection during these years.  Complete newspapers are great, however we also are interested in incomplete copies or single pages.
  4. Anything related to industry and manufacturing, labour history and the 1937 strike.
  5. A more inclusive look at Oshawa’s history means we must do a better job at telling the stories of our diverse community. Current research projects include early Black and Asian history as well as Displaced Persons.

Once again we are asking our members to join us in preserving Oshawa’s  history by helping us to purchase or by donating items that are on the Curator’s Top 5 Most Wanted List.

Recently the staff was sadden to learn of the passing of  one of our long time friends, Tedd Hann.

Tedd Hann, Jillian Passmore, and Jacquie Frank

Tedd spent many years working for a bread company and then started work with the City of Oshawa.  He retired more than 18 years ago.  Tedd was an accomplished curler and once played on a team that scored an eight ender (a perfect score). Many of our  members will recall Tedd’s Uncle Earl, one of the founding members of the OHS.  Tedd said he donated to the museum in Earl’s memory, after all it was Earl who first got Tedd interested in the work of the museum.   Through donations to the Artefact Fund, Tedd  helped the museum  purchase an exhibit case, publish our WWII book, Stories from the Homefront, repatriate a pair of Ritson Pear Trees and conserve the Granny Cock painting.  Tedd said he got a “great deal of satisfaction” from supporting the museum and was happy to “continue Earl’s work.”

History organizations make their communities more attractive places in which to live, work, learn and play.  A strong arts and culture community is important to the livability and vitality of a community.   Would you be willing to make a donation of $25, $50, $100 or more to help us meet our goal?  Please use this link to make a donation: You can also send your donation by mail to Oshawa Historical Society, 1450 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 8S8.

We thank you for your support to strategically manage and develop the collection as a growing resource for education and research.  We also extend an invitation to you to visit the Oshawa Museum and experience first-hand Oshawa’s Home to History.

Llewellyn Hall

By Melissa Cole, Curator

“Formerly the residence of Mr. R.S. McLaughlin and became the possession of the Foreign Mission Board in the year 1919.  It was known as Llewellyn Hall and the name continued.  It is a two and a half storey brick building, on one of the best residential streets in the Town.  It has beautiful grounds, magnificent trees and tennis court, and is artistically finished within as well as attractive without.”

~The Second Prospectus, 1924 Llewellyn Hall

Opening in the fall of 2018 at the Oshawa Museum will be an exhibition that looks at Community Health in the 20th Century: An Oshawa Perspective.   What does Llewellyn Hall have to do with community health?  It was utilized for a brief time as Oshawa’s Maternity Ward.

The home was ordered to be built by James Odgers Guy who was a coal dealer in Oshawa.  He resided in this home with his wife Rachel and their children.  The name of the home was Llewellyn Hall, in memory of a son named Llewellyn Harold who had passed away.  They lived in the home until 1897.

James Odgers Guy
James O. Guy

Robert Samuel McLaughlin of Tyrone purchased the home from the Guys.  Robert lived in the home with his wife Adelaide and all five daughters, Eileen, Mildred, Isobel, Hilda and Eleanor were born there.  This was the McLaughlin Family home until 1917, when they moved into Parkwood Estate.

Robert and Adelaide McLaughlin, under the names of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada, gifted their home to the Oshawa General Hospital, for $1, to be used as a maternity hospital.

Adelaide McLaughlin, who was president of the Hospital Auxiliary, stated at the formal opening of the maternity hospital that she hoped “all future mothers in this house may be as happy as I was when here”.  Inspector of Hospitals, Dr. Helen McMurchie of the Ministry of Health for the Province of Ontario stated that “every hospital must have a satisfactory maternity wing and Oshawa has successfully followed this direction”.

Maternity Home

The first baby girl was born the day it formally opened on Wednesday July 12 at 1917, delivered to a Mrs. F. Patfield by Dr. F.J Rundle.  In 1918, the Spanish Flu swept through the Maternity Ward.  It was reported that ninety-five percent of the babies in the Ward passed away.

One of the last babies to be born at the Maternity Ward was in 1919 before it was sold to the Presbyterian Church in Canada to be a home for children in missionary families of the United Church of Canada.  For the next twenty-nine years, Adelaide McLaughlin offered her support through various means, financially, socially and advisory to the residents, Matrons and staff.

The final years of Lewellyn Hall were spent as the location of education and worship, after being purchased in 1948, by the Oshawa Hebrew Congregation, known as the Beth Zion Synagogue.  By 1952 the number Jewish families in Oshawa outgrew the space and the building was torn down to build a new synagogue, which still stands today.

This house nurtured many lives that crossed it’s threshold.  Built for the Guy Family and for fifteen years it was home to Colonel Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin and their five daughters and it was a home for Protestant missionary children and before its end was the core for education and worship.

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

Student’s Museum Musings – Emily

By Emily Dafoe, Visitor Host

Over the past few months I was able to spend my time working on the upcoming Guy House book, the next book in the If This House Could Talk collection. Similar to the Henry House and Robinson House books, this upcoming book focuses on the various stages that Guy House has gone through over its lifetime. Through the time I’ve spent designing this book, I have been able to take a look at the history of Guy House as told through photographs held here at the OCM. I have truly enjoyed the experience that working on this book has provided me with. The history of Guy House differs greatly from that of Henry and Robinson House, which can be seen throughout the book.

Some of the most interesting aspects of Guy House’s history that I have discovered while working on this book, are the many different stages that this building has gone through in its time. For instance, during the mid 1900s Guy House was used as a triplex, and contained three separate apartments. While mapping out where the apartments were located can get quite confusing, I find it fascinating that this building was once used in such a way.

Guy House, May 1965
Guy House, May 1965

My favourite photograph that I came across this summer was the one pictured above. I really enjoy this photograph because it paints an atmosphere of Guy House for the audience that is so vastly different from Guy House as I came to know it when I was first introduced to this house. The combination of the house, street sign, and vehicles that are present in the photograph, it is clear that there is such a rich history to, not only Guy House, but the park as well. While this is not the oldest photograph of Guy House being featured in the book, this photograph creates such a different of the park and area than what I grew to know it as today.

By reflecting on my time spent working at the OCM these past two summers, it is clear that the time here has provided me with immeasurable experience within the information field. I have gained so much through my experience at the OCM, whether it be my speaking and interpretation skills that I have gained through the numerous tours I have given, or the software skills I’ve gained through my time spent on the Guy House book and in the database, or even the skills I’ve have gained for the information field in general. These are skills that I will be able to take with me into my future in this field, and the value in that is immeasurable. I never truly understood how important and interesting the concept of local history was prior to my time here, but I can now say that I will take my new-found appreciation for this type of history into my future.


On behalf of the OCM, thank you Emily for your hard work! Best of luck with your new school year!

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