By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
The street names of the former community of Cedardale are wonderful tributes to those who called this area home. The former Henry Street was named after Thomas Henry, Guy Avenue after the Guy family, Thomas Street after Thomas Conant. Businesses like Whiting and Robson also have their place on Oshawa’s map. Annis Street is no different, likely named for David Annis. The following biography of David Annis is from the Oshawa Historical Society’s Historical Information Sheets.
David Annis was born on April 5, 1786, the son of Charles Annis, a United Empire Loyalist from Massachusetts. Charles crossed the Niagara River into Canada in 1793, staying in York, now Toronto, and Scarborough Heights before joining his friend Roger Conant in what is now Oshawa.
David established himself as a prominent citizen through his many business dealings. Although he was uneducated, and could not even write his own name, David had excellent, natural, business ability. In 1808 he was a fur trader with the local Indigenous population. He sold the furs in Montreal, which made him a very wealthy man.
One of the most noteworthy achievements of David Annis was the construction, along with Daniel Conant, of a lumber mill, located on Oshawa Creek. A dam was built under the frame mill to provide power, and most of the white pine in the area was sawn there. The lumber was floated down the Oshawa Creek, (which was then much larger). Conant and Annis were also involved in ship building, building the schooner Lord Durham around 1836, which was said to be one of the first vessels in this part of Canada. Wood from the lumber mill was loaded onto the schooners owned by Conant and Annis, and was transported to Oswego, Sodus, Niagara, Kingston, as well as many other ports located on Lake Ontario. Lumber from the mill was also used in Oshawa to construct buildings such as the J.B. Warren Flour Mill.
David Annis acquired a great deal of land, which eventually came into the possession of Daniel Conant. On October 3, 1845, it is recorded that David Annis sold 175 acres of land to Daniel Conant, for one hundred pounds. Land was also sold to John Shipman and other settlers.
David Annis was said to have been a man of fine heart, a friend to the poor and hospitable to all. He never married, and had no children. He spent his last years living with the Daniel Conant family, and died on May 28, 1861, at the age of 75.
David was buried in the Harmony Burial Ground, but was exhumed nineteen years after his death, in 1880, by Thomas Conant, son of Daniel Conant. It is unknown why the casket was opened, but it has been recorded that all who were present were shocked by the excellent condition of the body. David was moved to the Union Cemetery, where Daniel Conant is also buried.
Of note, the image above may NOT be David Annis. Former Visitor Host Shawn explored David Annis and historical discrepancies with photographs in an earlier blog post. This image has been credited as being either David Annis or David’s brother Levi. Give Shawn’s post a read for more background into these pictures.
Annis Street does not appear to be on the 1877 Atlas or 1895 County of Ontario, however, it listed in the 1921 City Directory as well as on our 1925 City Map.