Adapted from Oshawa Historical Society’s Historical Information Sheet
John Stacey came to Canada, from Devonshire England, in 1872 at the age of 5. His family settled on a farm in Courtice. When he was 15 years old his father met with an accident which left him an invalid. John took over the responsibility of the farm and caring for his 11 siblings.
In 1907 John Stacey entered civic life as an alderman. Over the next 36 years he was to serve Oshawa as Alderman, Deputy Reeve, Chairman of Public Utilities Commission and Mayor from 1919-22 and again in 1936. As a politician and property owner he campaigned on a platform of “Straight Business and Fair Play for the Interests of the Town and Taxpayer.” A frugal man, John Stacey did not believe in unnecessary expenditure. He was, however able to maintain a balance of thrift and needful spending, for the betterment of Oshawa. In his position as a civic administrator, he played a major role in many improvements to Oshawa’s parks, roads and sewers, including Oshawa’s first paved surface as Chairman of Public Works in 1909.
In addition to his many years in public service, John Stacey contributed much to Oshawa in a professional capacity as a stonemason and builder, building over 700 homes and manufacturing facilities such as the McLaughlin Carriage Company Building, the Fittings Ltd., and the T. Eaton Company (later Alger Press Building / OnTechU’s 61 Charles St building).
As a builder he worked on the “assembly line” principle. He employed many men to speed up the process while still maintaining high standards of workmanship. He claimed to have built 60 houses in 59 days for the Ontario Malleable Iron Co., and indeed many of these houses still stand today in the area of Albert Street and Front Street, a testament to these high standards. He also built 100 houses in 90 days along the Don River in Toronto. Perhaps his most well-known buildings are the terraces on Olive Avenue in the area that became known as Staceyville.
John Stacey died on February 18, 1949, aged 82. In his eulogy the Rev. J.K. Moffatt said of Stacey “he was a man to whom life was a very full and rich experience, who knew in perhaps greater measure than most people the meaning of the words of God when he spoke of Abundant Life.” He is interred inside the Union Cemetery Mausoleum.
The Stacey family home was at 471 Simcoe Street South, at Elena Ave. Elena Avenue is just one of the streets named for members of John Stacey’s family.
- Stacey Avenue takes its name from the family’s surname.
- The names of his children, Eldon, Elena, and Emma, are all streets in Oshawa, although Eldon Street was later renamed to Banting Avenue.
- John’s first wife’s maiden name was Hogarth, another street, found just off Albert. There were a few marriages between Staceys and Hogarths.
- John’s nephew, Howard Stacey, claimed Barrie Avenue’s name was inspired by his mother’s maiden name, Newberry.
- John had a niece named Olive Christina Isabelle Smith (1907 – 1926), and Olive Avenue was named for her.
Howard Stacey Interview, 1981; Oshawa Museum archival collection, audio collection.
The Vindicator, December 30, 1910.
The Vindicator, April 7, 1911
The Oshawa Times-Gazette, January 31, 1948.
The Oshawa Times-Gazette, February 22, 1949.
The Oshawa Times, May 24, 1961.
The Oshawa Times, September 19, 1967.
A Good Citizen-City of Oshawa Retirement Testimonial Brochure, 1944.