The Month That Was – August 1932

August 2, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Garden Judging Not Completed
Winners in Competition to be Announced at Flower Show

Owing to the large number of flower and vegetable gardens entered in the Horticultural Society competition, and the extensive journeying around the city that the judges had to do yesterday to visit the different private gardens and school lawns, it has not been possible for the judges to arrive at their final decisions so that the winners may be announced in The Times to-day. By tomorrow, however, they will have completed their difficult task of judging and in the afternoon at the annual Horticultural Society Flower and Vegetable Show in the Genosha Hotel, the winners will be announced. The prizes will be given out in the evening on which occasion several officials of the Society and other prominent citizens in the city will deliver brief addresses.

August 2, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Traffic Was Heavy

Traffic was exceptionally heavy on Highway No. 2 over the weekend, particularly on Saturday and Monday. Last night, the westbound stream of cars was very steady, and at times there was a real congestion at the four corners as cars waited for the signal lights to change from red to green.

Newspaper ad for Oshawa Laundry & Dry Cleaning
Canadian Statesman, 4 August 1932, p3

August 2, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Many Out Of City

The Civic Holiday was quietly spent yesterday so far as Oshawa was concerned, there being no outstanding events in the city. Many citizens, however, took advantage of the fine weather to go for motor trips. A large number from Oshawa attended the aquatic sports day at Orillia, while many were also seen on the roads to Lindsay and Port Perry. As usual, Lakeview Park was crowded all day, there being hundreds of cars from out of town at Oshawa’s lakeside resort.

August 3, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Court Officers Badly Confused
Found Usual Entry Blocked on Account of Building Being Fumigated

Some confusion was aroused on Wednesday morning when officials of the city police court sought to gain entrance to the Old City Hall by the back entrance from the police station. When Chief of Police Friend tried to open the door he found it tightly closed and resistant to all efforts to open it. The final result was that the magistrate, lawyers and press had to file through the fire hall and mount the front stairs of the building.

It was learned later that the members of the fire department had fumigated their sleeping quarters at the front of the building the night before and in order to make sure that no one would be asphyxiated, all doors had been locked and sealed. Members of the department in the meantime found sleeping quarters on the coils of hose on the trucks and in convenient chairs, in the fire hall. As the night was rather cold sweaters and rubber coats were much in evidence and even then some of the men were of the opinion that a bed was the nicest place to sleep on.

Newspaper ad for Moffat Motor Sales
Canadian Statesman, 4 August 1932, p7

August 3, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Cargo Of Coke Is Brought To City

A substantial contribution to Oshawa’s fuel supply for next winter arrived at the local harbour yesterday afternoon when the steamer Coalhaven docked with a cargo of coke, consigned to the Canadian Fuels Limited. The shipment amounted to between 1600 and 1800 tons of coke.

Another large shipment of coke is expected in a week or ten days’ time, when the steamer Midland Prince, flagship of the Canada Steamship Lines freight fleet, will bring a load for the same firm. If this vessel is loaded to capacity, there will be about 7,000 tons in the shipment. Further advice as to the date of her arrival is expected later.

August 4, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Hen Mothers Cat, Kittens, At Port Whitby

A hen and a cat and little kittens might be considered strange companions, but at the home of Mrs. George Huntley, Port Whitby, this companionship has become a reality. Out in the barn, which serves as a chicken house, there is a cat with several little kittens, and on several occasions the old hen has played the role of mother by sitting on top of them and covering the feline and her brood with her wings, and there is not the slightest resistance. But this strange companionship goes even further, for the other day when the kittens were taken away from their mother the hen promptly scratched up some grain and carried it over to where the kittens were, just the same as if they were chickens.

August 5, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Parkwood Horses Winners at Sutton

Horses from the Parkwood Stables of R.S. McLaughlin played an important part in the events at the opening of the annual Sutton Horse Show yesterday afternoon. In two events McLaughlin animals were placed first, while in three events Oshawa horses came second. In the class for novice middleweight hunters, first place went to River and second place to Thackeray, both of these horses being entered by Mr. McLaughlin. My Delight, another Parkwood entry, was first in the class for saddle horses of 15.2 hands, while in the class for heavyweight hunters, Mr. McLaughlin’s Rathshamory took second place. In an open jumping class, over four-foot fences, with 35 entries, Mr. McLaughlin’s six year old jumper, Sahib, took second place.

Newspaper feature of the McLaughlin family. There are three rows of images - the top row features three Caucasian men, RS McLaughlin, Robert McLaughlin, and George McLaughlin. Middle row features men standing by a wooden structure. Bottom row is an aerial view of a factory
Canadian Statesman, 25 August 1932, p4

August 6, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Noted Speaker Is Coming to Rotary

Oshawa Rotarians are due to have a special treat on Monday, when the speaker at their weekly luncheon will be Mel. Hutchinson, president of the Toronto Rotary Club, who, while living in Western Canada, was district governor of the 4th district of Rotary International.  Mr. Hutchinson attended the recent convention of Rotary International at Seattle, and will give an address dealing with the high-lights of the convention.

August 8, 1932 – The Oshawa Daily Times
Swimmers Camp Opened At Lake

Oshawa’s 1932 camp for marathon swimmers at Lakeview Park is now in operation, with Captain George Corson, internationally-known swimming coach, in charge. With him in the camp, so far, are his wife, Ruth Tower Corson, who finished second in the first women’s swim at the C.N.E.; Myron Cox, Californian long-distance swimmer, who has taken part in several of the marathon swims, and Gambi, the Italian champion, who is regarded as one of the outstanding aspirants in this year’s big race. Other noted swimmers are expected here within the next few days to join the camp, which is housed in one of the cottages on the road leading up to Bonniebrae Point.

August 11, 1932, p. 5 – Port Perry Star
For Rent

Farm of 100 acres at Oshawa Harbour. Good buildings, convenient location, in godo (sic) state of cultivation. Immediate possession to plough. Apply to GD Conant, Oshawa.

Pteridomania: The Victorian Craze for Ferns

By Kes Murray, Registrar

Walking through our Henry House is like walking back into the mid-1800s. From the furniture, to the decorations, our Henry House is a good example of a Victorian home, right down to the tiniest detail. Walking through, you may notice that a lot of the decorations and motifs are floral. This is because the Victorians loved their plants! During the Victorian era, Botany became one of the most popular scientific fields within English society, due in part to colonialization and expansion of European countries into the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Africa, and also from the scientific endeavour to collect and classify the natural world.

When thinking of the Victorian era and flowers, you may think of a few things, such as the Victorian language of flower dictionaries that grew in popularity, the emphasis on gardening and landscaping during this period, the popular pastime of collecting and pressing flowers, or the boom in greenhouses and hothouses. No aspect of life was exempt from the craze of flowers.

However, one unique plant captured this Victorian plant craze to a new extreme. This plant was that of the fern. This craze was so intense that it created its own name, called Pteridomania, meaning fern fever.

A bright room with pink wallpaper. There is a large wooden couch, and two framed items on the wall. There is a fern on a pedestal in the room as well.
Parlour, Henry House, with a fern in the corner.

How did this start?

Ferns have a long mysterious history before the Victorian era. It has long been used for medicinal purposes, commonly used for treating asthma, hair loss, kidney complaints, and worms. However, the real mystery was that of how ferns reproduced. None knew how they grew, thus myths spread that ferns has magical properties, and eating the fern seed could make one invisible.  

Throughout the 1700s, minor scientific developments happened in the study of ferns. The largest challenge to this study was the survival rate. England only had about fifty native species, but many botanist wanted the exotic ferns. Transporting ferns from Australia, for example, was extremely difficult, as ferns would not survive the harsh conditions of the trip. Just about 2% of ferns survived the journey.

However, this all changed with the invention of the Wardian case. In 1829, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, a doctor and an amateur naturalist, invented the Wardian case. Ward had a keen interest in ferns but faced difficulties when growing them in foggy, damp, and polluted London, England. One night in 1829, he placed the chrysalis of a moth in a sealed glass bottle with moss at the bottom. To his surprise, he noticed some days later that a seedling fern had started growing inside. We can then think of the Wardian case as a precursor to that of our modern terrariums. They acted as a protective case and also as a microenvironment.

A view into a room from a doorway. There is a window with drapery and a fern in the centre
Dining Room, Henry House, with fern in the window.

Together, Ward and friend George Loddiges, also a botanist, began experimenting with larger Wardian cases. By 1831, they had grown thirty fern species in the Wardian cases. Overall, the Wardian case allowed plants from all over the world to be brought to England and survive.

Along with new inventions, literature added to this growing fern craze. In 1840, Edward Newman wrote A History of British Ferns. In this book, Newman praised Ward for his work and wrote that only those with “good taste” would attempt growing ferns. This right here started the fern craze.

People began collecting and hunting for ferns. Different species came from all over the world. Greenhouses and ferneries were created, where one could walk through and enjoy different fern species, along with other plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees. And of course, fern motifs could be found on everything from buildings, to ceramics, to clothing.

Our own collection here at the museum contains some of this fern craze. I was delighted when I found some clothing with fern motifs and Victorian era photography with individuals wearing clothing with fern themes.

However, this fern craze came with some costs. As the rage for ferns continued, prices increased. It became more difficult to find new species of ferns, and fern hunters would put themselves into dangerous situations just to find that new fern, like climbing mountains or venturing into unknown environments. Many injuries happened. Soon, some ferns, like the Killarney fern, became nearly extinct due to this craze.

A black jar with gold lid; it has a fern motif and features the word 'Oshawa'
Oshawa souvenir, with fern decoration, made by Oshawa’s Smith Potteries (020.7.1)

Pteridomania ended in the early 1900s. But, if you come to our Henry House, you can still see the fern craze in action.

Sources consulted:


  • Bailey, M. & Bailey, A. (2021). The Hidden Histories of House Plants. Hardie Grant Books.
  • Favretti, R. J., & Favretti, J. P. (1997). Landscapes and gardens for historic buildings: A handbook for reproducing and creating authentic landscape settings. Rowman Altamira.
  • Shteir, A. B. (1997). Gender and” modern” botany in Victorian England. Osiris12, 29-38.
  • Whittingham, S. (2009). The Victorian Fern Craze. Shire.


The Month That Was – July 1862

Content Warning – there is an article in this post, describing a death by drowning in a tub.

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

July 2, 1862, page 3
Slavery– Mr JA Maitland, a highly talented gentleman who has for some years been literary editor of the Richmond Enquirer, and who was made his escape from the rebel capital about two months ago, lectures tonight in the Corinthian Hall, at 8:00 o’clock. He is an able speaker, an Englishman by birth has now seen slavery as it is, and will doubtless give the facts of the case.

Page 3
Yesterday morning, while Mr. James Gibbons, teamster to McElroy’s Hotel, was passing down street with a horse and waggon (sic), the horse became unmanageable, and when near Mr. Wellington’s Cabinet Factory, shied off into the ditch among some old buggies, &c., which were brought to the blacksmith’s shop for repairs. The driver was thrown out and had his collar-bone broken, besides being more or less bruised in various parts of his body. When first taken up he was quite insensible, but soon became conscious, and is now in a fair way of speedy recovery.

July 9, 1862, Page 2
Cedar Dale Factory
Decidedly the biggest thing in the shape of a pic-nic ever got up in Oshawa or vicinity, was the demonstration connected with giving to the new works of the Oshawa Scythe, He, and Fork Company the name which heads this article. Preparations were made by the committee upon a pretty broad scale, and numerous invitations sent out, the first of them only two days previously, but their calculations as to the turn out of people were exceeded by a hundred per cent. The company of citizens of Oshawa and vicinity, which took part in the celebration, numbered fully one thousand, according to the most careful estimates. To feed such a crowd of people a large supply of provisions was necessary, but abundance for the purpose was brought by those who participated , and all seemed to enjoy themselves to the full. Three tables, each running the whole length of the storehouse, were decked with almost everything in the shape of provisions which could please the appetite, and hosts of vases of flowers, to please the eye, while at the head of the center table stood a most gorgeous boquet (sic), presented to Messrs. Whiting & Tuttle by Mr. & Mrs. Corbet. Each table was set to accommodate eighty persons.

Page 3
Gone to Europe – Four young men from Oshawa started for the old world, by the Canadian steamer “Jera,” which left Quebec on Saturday last. – We allude to Mr. Samuel Pedlar, well known throughout Canada as the “Glebe agent;” Mr. George Blamey, for some years past in the employ of Messrs. WH Gibbs & Co, of this place; and Frank and William Gibbs, cousins, the former a son of TN Gibbs, Esq., and the latter of WH Gibbs, Esq. – They intend, as a matter of course, to see everything to be seen in the grand International Exhibition, if possible, and visit their relatives in different parts of England, returning in the fall.

Newspaper ad for Groceries at David F. Burk's
Oshawa Vindicator, July 2, 1862, page 3

Property Unclaimed
Used at the late picnic, and now at the office of AS Whiting & Co.: – 11 white plates; 10 plates of different patterns and colors; 1 tea saucer; 1 tin plate. The owners are requested to call and claim their property. Thanks for their use. AS Whiting & Co.

July 16th, 1862, Page 2
New Style of Fanning Mill
Our advertising columns contain an announcement respecting a newly patented fanning mill, recently invented and now being manufactured by Mr. Martin, in Oshawa. The mill differs in appearance very much from the ordinary fanning mill, and the inventor claims that it differs equally in the quality of its work – effectually separating oats from wheat, for instance, by one run through the mill. The show is not half the size that it is in the common fanning mill, and does not shake violently, or sideways, by moves slowly and easily forward and back, without any jerking motion. In fact the whole machine is almost noiseless in its operation, and runs much easier than any fanning mill we ever took hold of. The crank is at the opposite end of the mill from the drum and fans, and the latter are operated by means of a belt, instead of cog wheels. Mr. Martin has built four of these mills, and is now at work on two dozen more, with some farther improvements added, which, he thinks, will render his mill so perfect as to run all others out of the market, upon a fair test of their relative performances.

Newspaper ad for Martin's Fanning Mill
Oshawa Vindicator, July 16, 1862, page 3

An Orange Celebration
The Orangemen of South Ontario celebrated the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne on Saturday last, by assembling at Greenwood, with the exception of the Columbus brethren, who went to Prince Albert. A first-rate dinner was served up, shortly after their arrival, at both the hotels – Shaw’s and Stirling’s – after which an impressive address was delivered by the County master, Bro. J. Weir, in which, though standing on the portico of a hotel, he dealt some heavy blows upon what he justly considered the curse of the Order – the use of strong drink by its members.  He was followed by WF McBrian, of Raglan, in a very appropriate speech, also by HJ Macdonell and T Moody, of Whitby. An appropriate and interesting sermon was also delivered by the Rev. GB Viner, the English Church incumbent of Greenwood and Duffin’s Creek, in front of his own residence, which was listened to with marked attention. The different Lodges separated for home at an early hour, and the Oshawa brethren arrived about nine o’clock, well pleased with the manner in which the day had been spent.

Page 3
Child Drowned in a Tub – On Saturday afternoon the infant daughter of a man named McMillan, residing on King street west, was drowned by falling into a tub in which there was some water about five inches in depth. The mother left the child at the door of the house while she proceeded to hang out some clothes on a line for drying. On returning towards the house a short time afterwards, she discovered the child in the tub, and on lifting it out found it to be dead. An inquest was held on the body by Coroner Scott, when the jury after hearing the facts, returned a verdict of “accidentally drowned.” – Leader1

July 23, 1862, Page 2
Wounded Canadians – the Saint Catharines Journal says: -Among the severely wounded in the recent engagements before Richmond, was Mr, AE Samson, son of Mr. Gilbert Samson, of this town (St. Catharines). Mr. Tenbrœck and Mr. H Wilson – both from this town – were in the same battles, but escaped unhurt. The latter took ten prisoners alone. Both are lieutenants in one of the regiments in Heintzelman’s division. In the list of wounded, in the late battle before Richmond, is the name of Lieut. Frederick G. Sanborn, of the 5th Maine, late of Sherbrooke. His name also appears among the killed. Thomas Senior, formerly of Niagara, was wounded in the action before Richmond of July 1st, and is now in the hospital at Annapolis.

An Ugly Picture
Almost in the heart of our village stands, or rather leans, just now, about the ugliest and most dangerous specimen of what was once a respectable building, which in the eyes of many of our villagers have ever been beheld. The store recently occupied by Mr. J Hyland, likely a good many useful buildings still standing in Oshawa, was once one of the best structures of which the village could boast; but as a business stands, it has lately been pretty nearly eclipsed by the more handsome and spacious structures of modern times period it stood, also, too much in the background, so its proprietor thought-it being several feet further from the edge of the sidewalk than some other buildings in the same row. So Mr. Hyland preceded to have it moved forward, and by the advice of some of his back-street friends, he was induced to place it plump out against the sidewalk, several feet closer up on the street then the general line of buildings to the east and west- leaving, in fact, not an inch of room for the erection of steps upon which to ascend to the front doors. The unusual encroachment upon the walking space of the sidewalk, and the inappropriateness of an old building occupying so extra prominent opposition, excited a good deal of dissatisfaction in the minds of the neighbors and people generally, and it is said that the keeping of a strict watch upon the building, was the only thing which prevented it being put farther out into the street. Some thought it ought to go farther out, and others farther in. Finally, it having been definitely asserted that the proprietor would neither move it in himself, without compensation, nor allow other parties to move it out- which it would seem they were prepared to do gratuitously- some of the leading businessmen prevailed upon him to allow them to hire the carpenters to move it back a couple of feet. This was done, at a cost two a few liberal minded individuals of the sum of $20, and the stone foundation was progressing, and in another day or two would have been completed. But on Thursday morning last, at a few minutes before 2:00 o’clock, a crash like that of the loudest thunder was heard by some who slept in the neighborhood of the building, and on rising in the morning, the first intelligence of the day was that the building which had been the cause of so much remark, had been tipped into the street! Crowds gathered about the now sorry looking wreck, at all hours of the day and evening, and discussed the manner in which it was, or might have been, upset, the reason it was done, the probable parties that did it and their number, the possibility of raising it again, etc etc; and much sympathy was expressed with the unfortunate owner, as well as with those who had invested their funds in moving it back for him. The building was not completely thrown down, so doubtless that was the intention of the parties who put it out of the perpendicular; yet, one corner of it being in the cellar, it leans over the sidewalk at a most unpleasantly dangerous angle.

So much for the history of the matter. And now that ever ready question comes up, what’s to be done? As the building now stands, and has stood for a whole week passed, it is liable to fall, at any moment, upon the heads of innocent passersby. Is it to be left there for another week to jeopardize life and neighboring property? Or will the Council put enforce the ordinance respecting nuisances, and obstructions upon the streets and sidewalks, or somehow see that the ugly and dangerous picture is removed? A fitting reward, also, should have been, ere this, offered for the discovery of the parties who upset, or rather down set the building under cover of darkness, for if such deeds are suffered to go unreprehended by our Village Fathers, there is no knowing to what dangerous lengths they may be carried.

  1. This incident unlikely happened in Oshawa as this article was originally published in a newspaper called ‘The Leader.’ The location of this paper is unknown at this time.

The Host Files: Taste and Scent of Community: The Oshawa Bakery and other Eastern European Groceries

By Mia Vujcic, Visitor Host

When we are asked to share something about our heritage or ethnic background, food is often the first thing that springs to mind. In a number of previous blog posts, I explored different aspects of the research behind Leaving Home Finding Home in Oshawa: Displaced Persons and Stories of Immigration (open now in Robinson House!). As the title hints at, this exhibit features some of the communities and institutions which made up the flourishing multicultural landscape in post-World War II Oshawa. Although they were far from family and the once familiar rhythms of their daily lives, newcomers to the city at this time would have had several options to shop for culturally specific delicacies and ingredients.  

One such location was the well-loved and remembered Oshawa Bakery. The Oshawa Bakery was founded in 1920 by Fred and Mary Shelenkoff. The Shelenkoffs (who in one newspaper article are described as Russian immigrants) arrived from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to Montreal after World War I. Soon afterwards, the family moved to Oshawa where they opened the Oshawa Bakery on the corner of Stacey Ave. and Court St. There they had the space to keep a stable, for their delivery horses, and sheds full of other farm animals. Their five children each helped out in the bakery from a very young age, taking on more responsibility as they grew up. The business grew as steadily as the city did around them, necessitating a move to Olive Ave. 

Black and white photograph of a long, white building, and writing on the side identifies it as the Oshawa Bakery Ltd.
The Oshawa Bakery; Oshawa Times, 27 January 1982

By 1930, at least another two local businesses in the city specialized in Ukrainian groceries. These co-operative grocery stores were located at 212 Bloor St. E and 598 Albert St. – close to the Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches respectively. During the period of the Great Depression, community-based resources such as these businesses would have been invaluable. Many recent immigrants in the city at this time had been laid off but did not wish to apply for welfare, as they were not naturalized and feared deportation. In order to get by, Oshawa’s Ukrainians (and many others) took on odd jobs, and a number of families grew their own fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the existence of these co-operatives hints at and can be better explained by the deep labour history in the city. 

Ukrainian Co-op Grocery, managed by Fred Yakimchuk, highlighted; 1930 Oshawa City Directory

Despite facing hard times during the Great Depression and shutting down for a time, the Oshawa Bakery also introduced two initiatives to help individuals in need. Due to their store’s proximity to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks, impoverished travellers, or “hobos” as Shelenkoff daughter Leta remembered calling them as a child, would often stop in. They never turned one away, always giving them some fresh bread. The bakery also arranged to sell bread for six cents (below the cost of production at that time) for two hours each day at six other stores in areas of the city heavily affected by poverty. 

Until the 1970s, the Oshawa Bakery had door-to-door delivery, for which they reserved eight wagons. Leta recalls that she and her sister “would get out [their] little red wagon on Easter Sunday and deliver hot cross buns” to each house. The business progressively expanded, employing 35 full-time and part-time bakers and office staff in the year 1980. Throughout the decades, the bakery was kept in the family. It closed in the year 1990 when two of the Shelenkoff children, Vera and Lida, were too old to be involved any longer. 

Black and white photograph of three people inside a bakery with trays of baked goods in front of them
Inside the Oshawa Bakery; Oshawa Times, 18 October 1980

A lot of nostalgia is centred around a community hub and neighbourhood landmark like this one – where generations of families worked, visited, and gathered for over half a century. As Leta remembers, “Children were always specially treated, and often sent home with a gift of a roll or sweet bun.” The bakery’s permanent location at Olive Ave. was just across from St. Hedwig’s Polish Catholic Church. The bakery became especially busy after Sunday Mass, as Helen Bajorek-Macdonald recalls from her childhood memories. The bakery would be “jam-crushed with bodies waiting their turn at the counter” in order to buy “bread in the Russian language, Ukrainian, English, or Polish.” 

Newspaper ad for the Oshawa bakery's 60th anniversary
Oshawa Bakery Ad; Oshawa Times, 30 October 1980, page 17

Today, of course, there are even more numerous options for getting a taste of cultural cuisines in Oshawa. These include multiple other ethnic-inspired bakeries and delis and others which are centered at the city’s multicultural halls – which of course make up the well-loved annual Fiesta Week festival organized by the Oshawa Folk Arts Council. Some of the regular Eastern European originating pavilions include: Lviv (connected to Lviv Hall, next to St. George the Great Martyr Ukrainian Catholic Church on Lviv Blvd.), Odesa (connected to the hall at St John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Bloor St.), Krakow (connected to the hall at General W. Sikorski Polish Veterans’ Association at Stevenson Rd. N.), and Poznan (connected to the Polish Alliance Canada Branch 21 on Olive Ave.). 

During times of celebration, just as in periods of hardship, preparing, consuming, and sharing traditional foods from one’s heritage is a source of comfort. As Ukrainians are again faced with war and displacement, we are reminded of the continued plight and resilience of refugees around the world. 

The Host Files: The Coming of the Oshawa GO Station

By Adam A., Visitor Host

Everyday, thousands of people get up and in one way or another make their way over to the Oshawa GO Station. The overwhelming majority of these people are heading into Toronto.

Oshawa stands as the eastern terminus for the GO train’s Lakeshore East Line. However, this only became the case in 1995. The story of how the GO Train came to Oshawa begins much earlier.

Oshawa had been host to a rail station since 1856, when the Grand Trunk Railway came to town. While mainly a freight route, a passenger service was provided by Grand Trunk initially, then CNR after 1923, and VIA Rail after 1976.

In 1912, a station for the Canadian Pacific Railway was opened near their railyard, yet it closed in the 1960s, once again leaving Oshawa with one passenger rail service.

Black and white photo of a train station with a number of people in front of the station
C.P.R. Station, undated; Oshawa Museum archival collection

GO Transit was established by the Government of Ontario in 1967, and almost immediately there were many who recognized that Oshawa’s future prospects would depend on getting a station. Over the ensuing decades many promises to extend the rail line east to Oshawa were made, yet they consistently fell through. Most notable of these being the GO ALRT (Advanced Light Rail Transit) project of the 1980s, which would have provided an express light rail service between downtown Oshawa and the Pickering GO Station where one would be able to transfer on a regular GO Train.

Black and white photo of a train station, with two rail lines in the foreground
Canadian National Railway Station in Oshawa, 1970; Oshawa Museum archival collection

As per Premier David Peterson’s election promise, the GO Train did finally come to Oshawa in 1990. However, it did not yet have its own dedicated line or station building, and Oshawa was served by exactly one train each way per day, leaving Oshawa at 7:17AM and departing Union Station for Oshawa at 5:33PM. Perhaps this lacklustre limited service played a part in why the arrival of the first GO Train in Oshawa was greeted by only 150 of an expected 400-500 passengers.

The Lakeshore East Line was only properly extended out to the Oshawa train station in 1995. With a dedicated double tracked passenger line, GO could extend its regular service out to Oshawa, though plans for the line to extend to the Oshawa Centre and downtown ultimately fell through. During the early ’90s, the GO Train only ran east of Pickering during rush hour, but high demand following the opening of Oshawa GO brought hourly service out to Oshawa.

Colour photograph of a parking lot beside a train station. The train station has signs for VIA Rail and GO Transit, and there is a sign identifying the station as Oshawa
Oshawa Train Station, 2013; Dowsley Collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

The site had previously been the station for the CNR’s passenger service, and had been modified for use by VIA Rail and GO Transit in the early ’90s. The site underwent additional renovations in 2009 to improve accessibility. Between 2015 and late 2017 the site underwent another major renovation which brought the site to its current form.

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