Where the Streets Get Their Names – Ritson Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Earlier in this blog series, we looked at the history of Adelaide Avenue, named after a fairly important woman in Oshawa’s history.  Compared to other roads named for citizens, Adelaide McLaughlin could be considered a fairly ‘modern’ woman, as many roads bear the names of early pioneers.  One such road is Ritson Road.

Ritson Road runs through what was once the farm of John & Mary Ritson.

Detail of the Village of Oshawa, from Ontario County Atlas, 1877 - property of William Ritson is circled
Detail of the Village of Oshawa, from Ontario County Atlas, 1877 – property of William Ritson is circled

Mary Catherine Stone was born on September 18, 1803, the eldest daughter of Benjamin Stone and Catherine Kendall. They lived in Massachusetts, but moved to Canada shortly after their marriage in 1802. They settled in the township of Ascott, in what is now Quebec, which is where Mary was born. Benjamin purchased a large farm, but a cold season destroyed his crops. In 1807, he and his family came to East Whitby, what is now the eastern part of Oshawa. He bought 400 acres of land, and eventually built a school house.

Mary (Stone) Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Mary (Stone) Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

The first teacher at the school was John Ritson. He was born in Allendale, Northumberland, England, in March of 1790. He arrived in Oshawa in 1820, from Ottawa, where he had been refused payment for work he had done. He refused to accept land in lieu of cash, but eventually accepted a horse, wagon, harness, and one hundred dollars. He was travelling when his wagon broke down at Benjamin Stone’s, on Kingston Road. He decided to stay in Oshawa when he heard of the need for teachers, and so became Oshawa’s first school teacher.

John Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
John Ritson, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

John married Mary Stone on December 29, 1822. John purchased land in Concession One, where present day Ritson Road is located. John and Mary had seven children, six daughters and one son.

Those familiar with Oshawa streets may be looking at Mary’s maiden name and wondering if she has any connection to Stone Street, found by the Lake in South Oshawa. Mary is the daughter of an early settler, Benjamin Store, who appeared to settle on Lots 7 & 8, Concession 2; Benjamin’s only son Marshall moved back to the United States. The land around current Stone Street was owned and farmed by William R. Stone, and there does not appear to be a relation between these Stone families.