By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
The Oshawa Museum is fortunate to have a relationship with a local artist named Eric Sangwine. Eric is a talented artist who has created very whimsical paintings for the Museum, often inspired by local history, stories, legends, and lore. One of his recent series has been creating paintings based on the street names of Oshawa, and on one of his visits to the archives, Eric remarked about the seemingly unusual names that were found in Oshawa, north of Durham College. Snow Knight Drive, Aquatic Ballet Path, Arctic Actress Cres. Eric was certainly right about the uniqueness of these streets! And then it clicked – the streets are named after racehorses, and they are located on the former Windfields Farm property.
The story of Windfields Farm starts in 1927 when Parkwood Stables was established by RS McLaughlin at the northwest corner of Simcoe Street North and Conlin Road West. In 1950, McLaughlin sold his stables to Edward Plunket (E. P.) Taylor, another prominent Canadian businessman.
As stated by the City of Oshawa, “from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s Mr. Taylor’s operation at Windfields Farm became the home of Canada’s leading thoroughbred stallions and eventually the most successful thoroughbred operation in North America.” In 1961, Northern Dancer, one of the most well-known racehorses was born at Windfields Farm (then operating as the National Stud Farm). He would go on to win the Kentucky Derby – the first Canadian horse to do so – the Preakness Stakes, the Queens Plate, among other races, and became the most successful sire of the 20th century.
During the 2000s, portions of the farm were sold to the neighbouring Ontario Tech University (OnTechU), Durham College, and developers, and by the end of the decade, after years of downsizing, the farm officially closed.
The legacy of the farm and its horses live on in the north of the city and beyond. Northern Dancer and EP Taylor have been inducted into numerous sporting Halls of Fames for their successes in either running races or contributions to the sport. A collection of artefacts related to Windfields Farm and EP Taylor are housed at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC. OnTechU has repurposed several structures that remained from the farm for use as either office space or storage. Trillium Cemetery, the resting place for several
horses, was designated as being of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2015. And, of course, there are several streets of new residential developments that bear names related to Windfields Farm and its horses.