Where the Streets Get Their Names – Victoria and Albert

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Every May, Canadians enjoy a long weekend, often regaled as the unofficial start to the summer. Colloquially known as the May 2-4 weekend, the holiday Monday is named Victoria Day, and on this date, we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, the second longest British monarch¹ and the reigning Queen when Canada confederated in 1867.

Victoria was born in 1819 and became Queen in 1837 upon the death of her uncle William IV.  In her diary, she wrote:

I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen.

She was married in 1840 to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was her first cousin. They had nine children together, and currently her descendants occupy the thrones of Belgium,Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  Albert died in 1861, and his death devastated the Queen.  She would mourn him for the rest of her life.

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Queen Victoria

While Queen (and later Empress of India), the United Kingdom saw a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change, and there was great expansion of the British Empire. The years of her reign are referred to as the Victorian Era.  She passed away in January of 1901.

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Detail from 1884 Fire Insurance Map, Victoria Street is circled

Victoria was honoured with a street in Oshawa, a short street between Bond and King.  It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2010 making it pedestrian friendly to the various students who attend classes at the Regent Theatre and the UOIT building at 55 Bond Street.

We cannot say for sure if the Queen was ‘amused’ by the closure or not…

Her husband, Albert, also has a street in Oshawa named for him, being Albert Street.  Albert Street lies east of Simcoe Street, with its north terminus at King Street and its south terminus just south of Bloor Street (connecting eventually with Simcoe as it traverses south-east towards the lake).

Happy Victoria Day from the Oshawa Museum!


 

¹ In September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her great-great grandmother as the longest reigning  British monarch.  We looked at what was happening in Oshawa when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952.  You can read about that here.

Long Live The Queen: Elizabeth II Becomes Longest Reigning Monarch

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Today marks a fascinating day in history: Queen Elizabeth II has become the longest reigning British Monarch, surpassing her two-times Great Grandmother, Queen Victoria.  Queen Elizabeth has asked for no celebrations to mark the milestone, but rather to mark it with reverence and respect.  As a museum and as historians, we thought it would be of interest and appropriate to reflect back on Her Majesty’s reign and what the world was like when she became Queen.

The beginning of a monarch’s reign is an interesting time, because it begins upon the passing of the previous monarch; in the case of Elizabeth, she became Queen on February 6, 1952, the day her father, King George VI died.  Local newspapers reported the news of the King’s death with a great deal of sorrow and shock; the news of his passing was not expected.  It was expressed, as is the custom, “The King is Dead; Long Live the Queen.”

From the Oshawa Daily Times
From the Oshawa Daily Times

Interestingly, the death of King did not make front page news, but rather the entire fifth page was dedicated to his passing and his life, with the headline:  ‘King George, Valiant Leader of People in War and Peace.’ There is also a page dedicated to images of the royal family, focusing on Elizabeth and George.

From the Oshawa Daily Times
From the Oshawa Daily Times

The following day, the headline read ‘Queen Arrives in London,’ as Elizabeth had been in Africa at the time of her father’s passing. The front page is mostly filled with stories about the Queen and more information about the passing of the King, including the official announcement of his cause of death (Thrombosis.) It was reported  that the day of the King’s funeral will be a national day of mourning for Canada.

 

While officially becoming Queen in February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation did not take place until June 1953.  Celebrations to mark this event were held in England, Ottawa, as well as locally.  The Daily Times reported an ‘elaborate presentation’ was arranged at the bandshell in Memorial Park, including choirs, the Oshawa Civic and Regimental band, and fireworks.

From the Oshawa Daily Times
From the Oshawa Daily Times
Parade in Oshawa from Alexandra Park to Memorial Park, June 1953, from the Oshawa Daily Times
Parade in Oshawa from Alexandra Park to Memorial Park, June 1953, from the Oshawa Daily Times

 

*Many thanks to our summer student Carrie for combing the newspapers for the above information!