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.


The History of Lot 6, Broken Front Concession

Guy House and Robinson House, two of our Museum buildings, reside on Lot 6, Broken Front (BF) Concession.

1867 Centennial Map

The recorded history of the lot begins on May 19, 1821 when the patent for 200 acres of land was granted to Charles Annis.

The patent to a parcel of Crown Land was granted to settlers who were successful in fulfilling their settlement agreement such as clearing the land in a specific time period.  The agreement had to be completed before the patent could be granted, and this process could take several years.

Just two years later, Charles sold the 200 acres to Levi Annis.  The complete 200 acre lot was sold two other times before it began to be divided up and sold.  On October 3, 1845 David Annis sold the north 50 acres to John Shipman.

photoshop 004

The following year, Annis sold 58 square perches to John Robinson; this is just under half an acre.  It was on this parcel of land that Robinson House was built.

The Sydenham Harbour Company first appears on the land registry records in 1847, when David Annis sells 2 acres, 3 rods and 15 paces to the company.  Just one year later a portion of the land was then sold to the Grand Trunk Railroad.  In just under 30 years, the lot has changed from being farm land to the arrival of industry.


The Guy name does not appear in the records until 1861 when ¼ acre was sold to James O. Guy by Samuel Phillips and ½ acre was sold to him by Daniel Conant.

The end of the 1800s saw the arrival of another well known Oshawa business.  In 1894, the Oshawa Sydenham Company transferred through an agreement a part of their land to the Rathbun Company, who began the Oshawa Railway Company.

The Town of Oshawa appears on the registry in 1904 with a deal between the town and Thomas Conant.  The agreement is a sewer grant which permits the town to lay pipe underground on Conant’s property.

The annexation of Cedardale began with Gordon Conant granting part of the lot to East Whitby Township for $400 in 1921.  The following year, the annexation process was on-going and resulted in part of the lot now becoming the property of the Town of Oshawa.

The 1930s saw a by-law, #2034, passed that allowed part of the lot to be used for industrial sites.  The following year, the town also devised a plan to widen Simcoe Street, thus making use of part of the lot once again.

The transformation of the lot into park land began in 1951 when the lot, along with all residences and road allowances, was annexed to the City of Oshawa.

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 Museum Musings – Nadia

By Nadia, Social Media Co-op Student

If I could summarize my first couple week at the Oshawa Community Museum in one word, it would be “welcoming.” The atmosphere is very friendly and the staff members made me feel like a part of the team.

Although my first day was primarily accessibility training, I enjoyed being in the workplace rather than school. The tour my supervisor, Lisa Terech, gave me was both intriguing and informative. In just a short period of time, I learned a lot about Oshawa that I would not have known otherwise. I love working in such a historically significant site.

My favourite aspect of my time so far was reading through Oshawa’s old newspapers starting from the 1960s. On the contrary, anything old and vintage fascinates me, however; the style of writing and the information given diverge from modern day journalism. When I was reading through old hockey articles, I found out about Bobby Orr’s origins with the OHL. It was truly amazing to find the roots of his success from the newspapers. When I searched through photographs of Oshawa, I found many of him in his old uniform. My favourite place in the museum is the closet full of old cameras. Yes, a closet. Since I do photography on my recreational time, the abundance of cameras mesmerized me.

Currently, I am into my third week at the Oshawa Community Museum. I am beginning to get used to the routine here. I am also honored to have big responsibilities, such as creating a logo for the Mourning After: The Victorian Celebration of Death (Spring 2015 exhibit). From my co-operative experience, I hope to discover if a career in media or journalism is the right path for me. I believe the Oshawa Community Museum is the best place for me to figure this out.

Below are photographs from around the Museum that Nadia has taken with her captions! Enjoy!

Robinson House, c. 1856
Robinson House, c. 1856
Reflections of Oshawa exhibit in Robinson House
Reflections of Oshawa exhibit in Robinson House
Before the Canadian national anthem was created, students started the day by singing “God Save the Queen”
Before the Canadian national anthem was created, students started the day by singing “God Save the Queen”
Hand-dyed wool
Hand-dyed wool
Henry House exterior
Henry House exterior
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