Where The Streets Get Their Names – Annis Street

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

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.


“Daniel Conant’s Lumber Mill” Print by ES Shrapnel, from Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant

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.


Where the Streets Get Their Names – Columbus Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Located north of the recently opened 407 East Extension is the Village of Columbus and Columbus Road.  As one might imagine, this east-west artery in north Oshawa takes its name from the Village of Columbus, however, this hasn’t always been its name. The 1877 Atlas of Ontario County refers to this street as Church Street (a name still in use through the 1980s) and the Concession between 6 & 7, and for many years, it was simply known locally as Concession 7.

1895 Atlas - Columbus Detail

1895 County of Ontario Atlas map of Columbus; note the main east-west road is named ‘Church Street’

Understanding the history of this street name and its changes requires an understanding of municipal changes through the years, namely the fact that in 1974, the Township of East Whitby was annexed by the City of Oshawa. In the 1980s, the City was undertaking a review of street names, prompted by the expansion of emergency and 911 services.  During this process, a number of streets were found repeated in the former East Whitby Township and City of Oshawa.  It’s a wee bit problematic when emergency services are needed, and it is unclear if they are needed at Alma Street by the hospital or Alma Street in Raglan.  At this time, the City of Oshawa decided to name previously unnamed concession roads, and it was recommended that these names are consistent with surrounding municipalities (if applicable).  The Town of Whitby was already calling this road Columbus Road, and in the late 1980s, the City of Oshawa officially adopted this name as well.

Here is a history of the village through which Columbus Road traverses.


In the early 1830s, European settlement began in this area.  Because a large number of these settlers originated from England, the first name for the hamlet was English Corners.  In 1850, when applying for a post office, the community’s name changed to Columbus. Despite knowing the when, we do not know why the name Columbus was chosen.


‘Main Street North, Columbus, ON,’ from the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

Columbus was a thriving and busy rural centre throughout the 1850s, boasting four stores, three blacksmiths shops, two carpenter shops, four shoe shops, two tailor shops, two dressmaking shops, a harness shop, and two cooperages.  Industry was also in the area with a tannery located a quarter mile north of village, a flour mill, two asheries, and the Empire woolen mill, which employed 45 people.  Finally those passing through could find respite at one of the village’s four inns.


Empire Woolen Mills near Columbus, c. 1883 (AX995.169.1)

With the creation of the County of Ontario in the 1850s, Columbus was named the seat of East Whitby Township.  The first council of the Township was established in 1853, and the town hall was constructed in 1859.  Between 1850 and 1870 the population of the Village of Columbus grew from 300 inhabitants to 500.


Columbus Presbyterian (United) Church, which still stands today

Like many other rural hamlets, Columbus was home to four churches, Presbyterian, Bible Christian, Methodist and Anglican, and they were overflowing their doors on Sundays. The Columbus Presbyterian Church became the Columbus United Church in the mid 1920s, and the building which was constructed in 1873, still stands today.  Children of Columbus were at School Section no. 6, or the Columbus school.  It was first built built in 1878, and in 1930, a new school was built in its place.


Columbus School, c. 1910 (A982.45.5)

In the early 1970s, Columbus was annexed to to the City of Oshawa, and the community has continued to adapt and thrive, although it has faced some adversity as well.  In the late 2000s, there was a push by many residents to have boundaries adjusted and become a part of the Town of Whitby, but this ultimately was rejected by both municipalities.  There was further fear to how the Highway 407 extension would impact the rural nature of the community, however, over a year after its opening, Columbus is still a vibrant and valued community in our City.


Columbus Town Hall, built in 1859, restored in 1967 as a Centennial project.  Photo taken at Doors Open Oshawa 2014


Oshawa Museum Archival Collection: Columbus File (0029 / 0001 / 0004).

Oshawa Museum Archival Collection: Streets File (0024 / 0001 / 0023).

Oshawa Historical Society, Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, ‘Columbus’.

“‘English Corners’ At First Columbus Dates to 1850,” Oshawa Times, June 24, 1967.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Guy Avenue

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

At the very western edge of Lakeview Park, there is a small street named Guy Avenue. This is near the top of Bonnie Brae Point, which many years ago was known as Guy’s Point.  The ‘Guy’ in question was Thomas Guy Junior.


Thomas Guy Jr.

Thomas Guy Jr. was the older brother of James Odgers Guy, who lived in Guy House, now a part of the Oshawa Museum. He was born in St. Gorran, Cornwall, England on March 21, 1819.  Thomas Jr. married Harriet Cock in 1842 and they had two daughters, Harriet born in 1843 and Ellen in 1844.


Harriet Cock Guy

In 1846, following the lead of his parents and younger brother, Thomas Jr. immigrated to Canada with his family, his mother-in-law Harriet Cock Sr., her male servant and his wife.  Thomas Jr. and his family settled on the Reach Road where their third child William Billing Guy was born in 1847.  The family suffered the loss of Harriet in 1848 when she succumbed to typhoid.  She was laid to rest at the cemetery known as the Pioneer Memorial Gardens.

After travelling with his brother through 1850, Thomas moved back to Oshawa in 1851, settling on Sydenham farm just west of Port Oshawa on Bonnie Brae Point.

An 1871 notice placed in the Ontario Reformer advertising for sale the Sydenham farm provides interesting details of the Guy farm.

It was described as “one of the best farms in the County of Ontario.” Sydenham farm compromised 200 acres (of which 140 were under plough), 200 fruit trees and a frame house with a verandah.

Here Thomas became a champion breeder and exhibitor of Ayrshire cattle, Shorthorn cattle, Leicester sheep and Berkshire pigs.  He was best known for his Ayrshires winning numerous prizes at the local, provincial and national levels.  In 1882, the Farmer’s Advocate prize of $100.00 for best five cows at the Provincial Exhibition was won by five Ayrshires owned by Thomas Jr.

Eliza Jane Henry

Eliza Henry Guy

In 1853, Thomas Jr. married a second time to Eliza Henry, the first child born to Lurenda and Thomas Henry. They had 5 children of their own, Eliza, Alford C., George, Frank T., and Emma. Tragically in December 1867, Eliza died of typhoid and is buried in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.  In that same year Thomas Jr.’s first born daughter Harriet also died of typhoid in Bowmanville, also laid to rest in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.

Harriet’s death was discussed in Thomas Henry’s memoirs:

During the morning service we got word that my daughter-in-law was dead. She had peacefully breathed her last, in hope of a glorious resurrection. On Monday we went down to Bowmanville, and brought back her lifeless remains, and deposited them in their last resting place in the burying-ground at Port Oshawa. How sad to see that blighted flower so early placed in the grave – only 23 years of age. Daughter, wife, mother, Christian – farewell!

Thomas Jr. remarried for the third time in 1869.  With this wife Hannah Every, he had three more children, Thomas, Kirby and Petronella.  Hannah died in 1879 and Thomas Jr. remarried for the last time to Flora Douglas and they have one son, James Douglas Guy.

Thomas Jr. never sold Sydenham fam. He died there in his 79th year on June 16, 1897.  He was laid to rest in the Union Cemetery.  After Thomas’ death Flora and her son moved to Idaho in 1909 where she died in 1912.

Thos Guy obit

Oshawa Museum Blog – 2017 Top 5 Posts

Happy New Year! Throughout 2017, we shared over 50 new articles on the Oshawa Museum Blog, showcasing so many different stories from our city’s past. We’re planning our new and dynamic posts for 2018, but to start the year, let’s look back at our top 5 posts of 2017


Union Cemetery Mausoleum

September was a busy month for programming at Union Cemetery. We have a fantastic partnership with the cemetery and we’re fortunate to use this space to remember citizens of the past. In advance of those engaging events, we shared the history of Union’s Mausoleum.

Did You Know: We are planning on delivering cemetery tours every Wednesday evening in July and August! Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for the dates and tour themes!

Oshawa in 1867

This was a milestone year for Canada – the 150th anniversary of the passing of the British North America Act, effectively creating the Dominion of Canada. To start the year, we shared our post Oshawa in 1867, looking at what our humble village looked like 150 years ago.

Memories of the Civic

In this post, our Visitor Experience Co-ordinator shared her memories of Oshawa’s Civic Auditorium, spending her childhood days growing up in the same neighbourhood. The Civic has a long history in our community, and this post stirred up memories for many readers.

Host Files: History of Dr. FJ Donovan Collegiate

Nostalgia seemed to be of great interest on the blog as another popular post was written by Visitor Host Karen about the history of FJ Donovan school.  Her post proved timely as the former high school was torn down in late 2017.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Ontario Street

While this year was Canada’s sesquicentennial, it was also the 150th anniversary of Ontario’s province-hood.  To mark this anniversary, an early Street Name Story looked at Oshawa’s Ontario Street and the meaning behind the name.

These were our top 5 posts written in 2017; the top viewed post for the year was actually written a few years ago, again another street name story. Where the Streets Get Their Names: The Poppies on the Signs was our overall top viewed post for the year, receiving a lot of traction around Remembrance Day in November.

Thank you all for reading!

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Carswell Avenue

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Off Simcoe Street, north of Taunton, there is a small street named Carswell Avenue. This street bears the same name as an early Oshawa family, one member of which rose to great notoriety outside of the Oshawa area.

Edward Carswell - Kaiser

Edward Carswell, as depicted in TE Kaiser’s Historic Sketches of Oshawa

Edward Carswell was born on February 19, 1829 in Ware, England.  He came to Canada with his family in 1832, first settling in Reach Township (today Scugog Township), and eventually moved to Oshawa, settling in what would be known as the Carswell home at the corner of Simcoe and Fairbanks Streets (314 Simcoe St. S.).

In May 1856, Edward married Rebecca Thomas of Bowmanville, and together they had 6 children.

The Canada Directory of 1857 lists Carswell as an artist, bookseller and stationer.  His ads appear throughout The Oshawa Vindicator during the 1860s where he offers his services as a “House, Sign, Banner and Ornamental Painter, Paper Hanger & Gilder”.  He was also known as something of an artist.  He worked as a sketch artist and illustrated the books he wrote for children.  One of the books, Temperance Stories and Sketches (1888), is a collection of temperance essays for children illustrated with pen and pencil.  Another book, Pen and Pencil; or Pictures, Puzzles, and Short Stories for Boys and Girls (1890) further highlights his ability as an artist.

Food not drink apples

Illustration by Carswell, depicting the evils of alcohol.

Mr. Carswell’s greatest achievements and fame, however, came from his career as a temperance lecturer.  Purported to be a captivating speaker, several newspaper accounts describe Carswell’s abilities as a speaker as second to none.  He was popular throughout the eastern seaboard of the United States speaking in such diverse places as Baltimore and Cambridge.  A newspaper description of his speaking in Cambridge was as follows, “The speaker [Carswell] has a very musical voice and a great power of imitation, which enabled him to hold the interest without the least apparent effort.”  Not only was he in demand in the United States, but Carswell was also a popular choice for speaking in Oshawa.  He was often called upon to chair socials or provide entertainment at the Sons of Temperance meetings in the Oshawa area.


Oshawa’s Sons of Temperance Hall

The Sons of Temperance, a temperance organization of the period, benefited greatly from Carswell’s participation.  On May 17, 1865 The Oshawa Vindicator indicates that Carswell was a charter member of a new division of the Sons of Temperance at Butterffield’s Settlement (the area now known as Taunton).  At that time seventeen new members were initiated.

In addition to his participation in the local organization, Carswell became involved at the national and international level.  He attended the World’s Temperance Congress of 1893 in Chicago as both a speaker and a delegate.  Moreover, he was the Vice President of the National Temperance Society and Publication House in New York.

When he was in Oshawa, Carswell was a devoted member of St. George’s Anglican Church.  His daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Edgar and Alice Houston donated a carillon of chimes (a set of bells usually hung in a tower and played by a set of keys) in memory of both Edward and his wife Rebecca.  The donation, given in 1922, was meant to honour the lengthy devotion the elder Carswell’s had to the parish.  They had both joined the church at its inception in 1843, making Edward a sixty-six year member upon his death and his wife a seventy-five year member at her death on February 15, 1919.

Mr. Carswell died at the age of 81 on June 13, 1910 and was buried in Union Cemetery.


Carswell headstone, in the South Presbyterian section of Union Cemetery

Information on Edward Carswell provided by Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, ‘Edward Carswell.’