Street Name Stories – McGrigor Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Like many other streets found in the city, McGrigor takes its name from early landowners, John & Eunice McGrigor.  A note on spelling – it has been spelt as McGrigor and McGregor.  To keep with consistency in the spelling of the street name, McGrigor will be used.

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John McGrigor was born around 1784 in Perth County, Scotland. He arrived in Upper Canada before the start of the War of 1812 and settled here around 1817.  According to Samuel Pedlar, it was “while guarding military stores being transported from Kingston to Toronto [that McGrigor] formed a favourable opinion of East Whitby and especially the land he afterwards purchased.” Pedlar claims service during the War of 1812 wasn’t the only time he took up arms, for “in the Rebellion of 1837 he likewise was to the front in the service of his country.” This seems to imply that he assisted the British army in stopping the rebels.  While military and militia records exist for this time, John McGrigor/McGregor was a common name, and it cannot be determined with certainty if, when, and where he served.  Muster rolls from the 1830s have information regarding ages and wages paid for time served.

By 1837, McGrigor owned well over 100 acres of Lot 11, Concession 1, and it appears shortly afterwards he began selling building lots.  Author M McIntyre Hood, in his 1968 book Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, claims that McGrigor and JB Warren both saw potential in taking their large acreages, subdividing and creating a village around the Oshawa Creek.

John married a woman named Eunice, born c. 1803, and together they had a sizable family before John’s passing on September 17, 1846 in his 62nd year.  In the 1850s, Eunice’s name appears on land records, registering a plan of subdivision, continuing what was started with John with creating and selling building lots from their original 100+ acreage. She died in 1890, and both John and Eunice are buried in Union Cemetery.

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Eunice McGrigor Headstone in Union Cemetery; Photo from FindAGrave.com

McGrigor is also credited by J. Douglas Ross, as helping to establish one of the first schools in the Village of Oshawa, donating land towards to building a log schoolhouse at the southwest corner of King and Simcoe.

As aforementioned, McGrigor Street is named for the family.  In a letter written to the archives, a descendant from the family suggests that Athol was named by the family after the area in Scotland from which they emigrated.  John & Eunice’s son, Royal Gregor McGrigor also registered a plan with town, and Royal Street is located within the limits of the RG McGrigor Plan, so perhaps the street has been named for him.

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Where the Streets Get Their Names: Maddock Drive

By Melissa Cole, Curator

In honour of Remembrance Day and remembering those who fought in the war, it was appropriate to share a street name story related to one of Oshawa’s World War II fallen soldiers.

Frederick Daniel Maddock was born to Frederick and Minnie Jane Brown on June 2, 1922 in Toronto.  Frederick had three brothers, Gordon, Clifford and Leslie, and three sisters Maude, Viola and Shirley.  When the family resided in Oshawa they lived at 34 Elgin Street West.

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Frederick Daniel Maddock, circa 1941; image from OPL Book of Remembrance

Frederick, nicknamed “Red” because of his red hair, attended Centre Street Public School and went to the University of Toronto.  He was employed at General Motors before he enlisted on December 10, 1941 in Toronto.

After enlisting, he received training at Toronto, Moose Jaw, Trenton and McDonald, Manitoba.  In September 1943 he was sent overseas where he was a registered Flight Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Division 15.

An article published in the Oshawa Daily Times on July 22, 1944 had a headline reading “Oshawa FL-SGT is believed killed – F.D. “Red” Maddock Reported Missing Some Weeks Ago.” The International Red Cross at Geneva reported that he had lost his life on May 25, 1944.  He is buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands.

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F.D. Maddock Grave Marker, Groesbeen Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands; image from Find a Grave

When the message was sent home that he had died, his brother Clifford, the only other brother who was eligible to fight in the war, was honourably discharged and sent home to his family.  The loss of one son was enough for the family.  It was common practice during WWII when a sibling died and there was more than one child fighting for our country, they would be honorably discharged and sent home.

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From Google Streetview

The veteran streets named Maddock Drive and Maddock Court in Oshawa are located at the east end of Oshawa, off Townline Road, north of Adelaide Avenue East and south of Beatrice Street East. Like other veteran’s streets, there is a poppy on the sign for Maddock Drive.

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Farewell Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Ackeus Moody Farewell, “a man of boundless energy, pluck and endurance,”¹ was born in Vermont on January 1, 1782, the youngest of five children.  After the American Revolution, his family was one of many that left the United States, taking advantage of the free land being offered by Lieutenant Governor Simcoe to Americans wishing to travel north and help colonize the newly created Upper Canada.²  Moody and his family travelled north, and it was around 1801 that Moody arrived in an area that today is found around the King Street East and Harmony Road intersection. For some time, this area was known as Farewell’s Corners before becoming the Village of Harmony.  Moody did not settle here immediately, first apprenticing as a hatter, opening an unsuccessful trading post on Lake Scugog, and trying his hand as a crew member aboard the New Nancy.

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After ‘squatting’ on land north of Lake Ontario for several years, Moody purchased Concession 1, Lot 4 in 1804; in time, he would purchase more land in that same vicinity.  This would prove to be an eventful year for Moody as he married Elizabeth Annis also in 1804. The couple would have nine children together: William, Charles, Isaac, Acheus Moody Jr., Jacob, Abram, David, Levi, and Sarah.  According to Samuel Pedlar, Moody and family benefitted from establishing relationships with the local First Nations, trading with them and learning from their knowledge of the land.

1867 Centennial Map - Farewell Land

By 1812, he had opened his successful tavern with an interesting story, as this tavern reportedly was used to feed British soldiers and hold American prisoners of war during the War of 1812.  Thomas Conant recalled the tavern in his book, Upper Canada Sketches:

Here a large frame hotel had been built, kept by one Moode Farewell. This was one of the stopping places or houses of entertainment for the military men who passed to and from Montreal and York during the war.

Joviality and good cheer were characteristic of it, and many a merry night was spent there by the British officers. Many times my grandfather saw them call for liquors in the bar-room on arrival, each grasp his glass, touch his companion’s and drink to the usual toast of “Here’s to a long and moderate war.”  Could those old walls speak to-day they would recall the many, many times this toast was given.³

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Moody Farewell’s Tavern, illustrated by ES Shrapnel; this image appeared in Thomas Conant’s Upper Canada Sketches

Interestingly, Moody was a firm believer in temperance, the abolition of alcohol, and owning a tavern seems rather against this movement, so by 1837, he had shut his tavern down.  However, after the War of 1812 ended, Moody had built a gristmill and sawmill, so he was still generating an income despite closing down his tavern.

According to local lore, the naming of Oshawa is due in a small part to Moody Farewell.  As the story goes, in the 1840s, local movers and shakers were trying to get a post office for the community of Skae’s Corners, King/Simcoe and area, known as such because of the popularity of Edward Skae’s General Store.  The Province of Canada was willing to give a post office, but because so many communities at the time had the name ‘corners’ in it, they would have to pick another name.  A group were gathered at a tavern when in walks Moody Farewell with First Nations men he knew from his fur trading days.  The Indigenous men were asked what they called this area, and they replied ‘Oshawa’ which means ‘that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.’

Moody’s wife Elizabeth passed away in 1851, as per her headstone; he would remarry a woman named Sarah Haviland Coryell before his passing in 1869.

A.M. Farewell

Farewell Street is a north-south artery in the east end of the City of Oshawa, and it runs through what was property owned by Moody Farewell.  Farewell Creek, which starts at the Oshawa Harbour before traversing through Clarington, takes its name from this family, as well as the Farewell Pioneer Cemetery.  This cemetery is located on Harmony Road, just south of King, and it started as a private family burying ground for the Farewells.  By the 1860s, Moody began advertising plots for sale at the ‘Harmony Burying Ground.’  Less than 100 years later the City of Oshawa became the owner of the cemetery; it was closed for further burials in 1968.  The cairn which is a distinct feature of the cemetery was dedicated in 1979 after the city wanted to better showcase the headstones and pay homage to the early settlers of European origins.

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  1.  Thomas Conant, Upper Canada Sketches (Toronto: William Briggs, 1898), 45, accessed from: https://ia800207.us.archive.org/34/items/uppercanadasketc00cona/uppercanadasketc00cona.pdf
  2. Samuel Pedlar, Samuel Pedlar Manuscript (unpublished manuscript, 1904), made available online through the Oshawa Public Library, accessed 12 Aug 2018 from: http://localhistory.oshawalibrary.ca/pdfportal/pdfskins/Pedlar/pedlar.pdfFrame 180.
  3. Conant, 44.

Oshawa Historical Society. Harmony Village: Remembering the Settlers & a Lost Cemetery, 2nd Edition. Oshawa Historical Society, 2012.

 

Where the Streets Get Their Names: William and Mary

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Traversing through Oshawa’s downtown are the streets of William and Mary, fairly common street names, likely found throughout many communities.  These are early streets in Oshawa, and while definitively proving their namesakes may be challenging, it has been suggested that they were named for an early family who settled in Lot 10 Concession 2.

One of the earliest European settlers in what became the Village of Oshawa was a man named John Kerr (pronounced ‘car’).  According to Samuel Pedlar, John Kerr, originally from New York, arrived in the area in 1816 and purchased 200 acres ‘in the northwest ward,’ or Lot 11 Concession 2.  He purchased the land from Jabez Lynde, a name quite familiar in Whitby as his house is still standing as the Lynde House Museum, and several locales around the town still carry his family name.  John Kerr built a large frame building on the bank of the Oshawa Creek, which he operated as a tavern for a number of years.  Pedlar recorded that the frame building Kerr built was later moved and was the home for the JB Warren family, then JB Hare.  For a number of years, the settlement was known as Kerr’s Creek.

John’s brother, William, settled nearby not long after John arrived, purchasing land on Lot 10 Concession 2 from their father, Norris.  The land he owned was eventually parcelled up; this was the land located north of King Street and west of Simcoe, right in the heart of what would become the downtown. William (1796-1873) was married to a woman named Mary Turner (1795-1871), and Pedlar claimed they had three sons and two daughters (an interesting note to their family tree, their granddaughter married John Walter Borsberry, who operated the Borsberry Music Hall).  They are both buried in Union, although noted that their last name on their headstone is spelt Karr; according to Samuel Pedlar, this is a spelling the family adopted and continued to use.

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Detail from 1895 County of Ontario Atlas, showing section of Town of Oshawa; note, inside the circle is ‘Wm Karr’s Original Village of Oshawa.’

It is possible that William Street and Mary Street have been named for William Karr and his wife Mary. It fits rather conveniently, especially knowing they owned land around where these streets are located; this assertion was made previously by W. Ford Lindsay in his popular Then and Now column for the Oshawa Times and was repeated in a 1993 article, also in the Oshawa Times.  An article in the Daily Times-Gazette in the 1950s seemed to claim these streets were named for children of John Kerr, however, it doesn’t appear that John had a daughter named Mary (although he did have a son named William).  That being said, these suggestions do not mean definitive proof; a quick internet search can reveal dozens of other possible namesakes.  Whether the streets bear their names or not, the Karrs impact on the downtown core is prevailing, as land northeast of the Four Corners falls under what is known as the Karr Plan, a planning document, detailing land parcels and important to know when researching lot histories.


Sources:

John Goldwin, “Oshawa street names honor pioneer families,” Oshawa Times, 10 April 1993.

W. Ford Lindsay, “Then And Now: Some Served Long Helped Community,” Oshawa Times, 20 August 1970.

Samuel Pedlar, Samuel Pedlar Manuscript, transcribed from a microfilm of the original by Sharon Stark & Margaret Egerer (July/August 1970), accessed online 27 February 2019 from http://localhistory.oshawalibrary.ca/pdfportal/pdfskins/Pedlar/pedlar.pdf.

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Coyston Drive

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For several years,  the City of Oshawa has had a policy on naming new streets, with an emphasis on names paying tribute to Oshawa’s war dead and veterans.  These streets, as well as others which relate to World War I or World War II, are denoted with a poppy on the street sign.

If you’re driving around the Oshawa, southeast of the Rossland/Harmony intersection, you’ll encounter Coyston Drive and Court, named after Robert Henry Coyston who died in 1916.

 

Robert was born in London, England on 4 March 1892, to Arthur and Clara (Wells) Coyston.  The family, which included siblings William, George, Alice, Ethel, and Laura, immigrated to Canada in April 1906, settling in Oshawa, Cedardale specifically.  On October 30, 1913, he married Ethel Millicent Hudson, and on December 4, 1914, they welcomed their son, Albert Robert.  Less than two years after their marriage, Robert enlisted into the military; his attestation papers are dated 12 June 1915, and they reveal that Robert had previous experience, serving for eight years with the militia.  His attestation papers also tell us that he stood at 5 feet 7 inches in height, had a medium  complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair.

Robert arrived in France on Mar 16, 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada. By all appearances, he was seeing success with the army, being promoted to sergeant on July 19, 1916.  A few short months later, Robert went missing in action during the Battle of Courcellette on October 8, 1916; he was later declared ‘Killed in Action.’  His wife received a memorial plaque and scroll, and his mother received a Memorial Cross.

After the end of WWI, the Adanac Military Cemetery was established in Miraumont, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France, the name taken from spelling Canada backwards; as per the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, “graves were brought in from the Canadian battlefields around Courcelette and small cemeteries surrounding Miraumont,” and this is where Robert is laid to rest.

Robert Henry Coyston was one of 134 Oshawa citizens who went overseas in the First World War who never made it home.  His name is included on the monument in Memorial Park.  He was one of over 60,000 Canadians who were killed during the war.

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This November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and is commemorated as Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth Nations.  May we always remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us.

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