Street Name Stories – the ‘Knitting’ Streets

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Those who know me know that I’m an avid knitter. In fact, in the past I’ve written a blog post about a WWI Sock knitting pattern, I’ve examined some of Oshawa’s early woolen industries, and I’ve done a deep dive into one of those industries, the Empire Woolen Mills, available to read on our Discover Historic Oshawa site.

A woman, dressed in historic clothing, is knitting outside
Knitting at an Culture Squared in 2016; thanks to Carla from the RMG for the photo!

As well, I really enjoy this blog series, examining the stories behind many of the street names in Oshawa. Many have local connections, such as Ritson, Adelaide, and Skae, while others’ roots have a larger scope, like the streets names for WWI or WWII battle sites, Simcoe Street, explorers, or royalty.

As I was looking at the Oshawa map, looking for inspiration for a new post, I found quite a few names that are woven into the fabric of the fibre work world (I’m sorry, I was really stretching for that pun!).

I’ve previously written about Kitchener Avenue. His name has been given to a common grafting technique for finishing a pair of socks. In my original post, I made only passing mention of the more controversial aspects of Kitchener as a person – I should have delved further into him and why he is seen, rightfully, as extremely problematic. I know of quite a few knitters who avoid calling this technique by his name because of his actions during the Boer War and the creation of internment camps, atrocities that would be repeated over 40 years later by Nazi Germany.

While we’re talking about knitting and their namesakes, the community of Raglan, and in turn Raglan Road, was named in honour of Lord Raglan, a British commander in the Crimean War. These sleeves continue into the collar of a sweater as opposed to having armhole seams. Having made quite a few cardigans with raglan sleeves, I can say I’m a fan of the technique.

A woman is standing beside a brick building, wearing a t-shirt that says Oshawa
Lisa, standing outside of Robinson House – the cardigan I’m wearing has raglan sleeves

Speaking of cardigans (see what I did there), there is a Cardigan Court can be found northeast of Beatrice and Ritson, just off Trowbridge Road. Cardigans were named for another officer of the Crimean War.  James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, was a British Army major general who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.

Of course, there is Oshawa’s Mill Street. This street is deserving of a post of its own, and I’m sure one will come in due time. Mill Street is located at a run in the Oshawa Creek, and many industries had harnessed the creek’s power for their mills, including Gorham’s woolen mill.

A street sign for Mill Street and Capreol Cr., Oshawa
Mill Street and Capreol Cr., Oshawa

On my ‘bucket list’ of vacation destinations are the Shetland Islands, home to the Shetland sheep, and one of the isles is Fair Isle whose name is lent to a popular and, let’s be honest, stunning, knitting style. Shetland Court can be found southeast of Thornton and Rossland, amongst other Scottish inspired streets.

These are the streets I could find with a few quick searches of Oshawa’s maps that relate to my beloved pastime. Have I missed any? Please let me know!

Street Name Stories – Windfields Farm

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

The Oshawa Museum is fortunate to have a relationship with a local artist named Eric Sangwine.  Eric is a talented artist who has created very whimsical paintings for the Museum, often inspired by local history, stories, legends, and lore. One of his recent series has been creating paintings based on the street names of Oshawa, and on one of his visits to the archives, Eric remarked about the seemingly unusual names that were found in Oshawa, north of Durham College. Snow Knight Drive, Aquatic Ballet Path, Arctic Actress Cres. Eric was certainly right about the uniqueness of these streets! And then it clicked – the streets are named after racehorses, and they are located on the former Windfields Farm property.

“Windfields Farm Drive,” Eric Sangwine. Oshawa Museum archival collection

The story of Windfields Farm starts in 1927 when Parkwood Stables was established by RS McLaughlin at the northwest corner of Simcoe Street North and Conlin Road West. In 1950, McLaughlin sold his stables to Edward Plunket (E. P.) Taylor, another prominent Canadian businessman.

A019.27.1 – Windfields Farm; Oshawa Museum archival collection

As stated by the City of Oshawa, “from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s Mr. Taylor’s operation at Windfields Farm became the home of Canada’s leading thoroughbred stallions and eventually the most successful thoroughbred operation in North America.” In 1961, Northern Dancer, one of the most well-known racehorses was born at Windfields Farm (then operating as the National Stud Farm). He would go on to win the Kentucky Derby – the first Canadian horse to do so – the Preakness Stakes, the Queens Plate, among other races, and became the most successful sire of the 20th century.

A019.27.2 – Windfields Farm; Oshawa Museum Archival collection

During the 2000s, portions of the farm were sold to the neighbouring Ontario Tech University (OnTechU), Durham College, and developers, and by the end of the decade, after years of downsizing, the farm officially closed.

A017.19.8 – Horse Theatre at Windfields Farm, 1984; Dowsley Collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

The legacy of the farm and its horses live on in the north of the city and beyond. Northern Dancer and EP Taylor have been inducted into numerous sporting Halls of Fames for their successes in either running races or contributions to the sport. A collection of artefacts related to Windfields Farm and EP Taylor are housed at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC. OnTechU has repurposed several structures that remained from the farm for use as either office space or storage.  Trillium Cemetery, the resting place for several
horses, was designated as being of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2015. And, of course, there are several streets of new residential developments that bear names related to Windfields Farm and its horses.


References:

https://www.oshawa.ca/city-hall/windfields-farm-legacy.asp

https://oshawaexpress.ca/the-legacy-of-windfields-farm-and-northern-dancer/

https://www.historymuseum.ca/event/e-p-taylor-windfields-farm-collection/

Street Name Stories – Streets in 1868

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

This is a slight departure for this regular blog series, but as it pertains to street history, I’ve lumped it with other blog posts about street histories.

As one does (or, perhaps, as one with a huge interest in local history does), I was going through Oshawa’s historical newspapers, and an article from the Oshawa Vindicator on October 14, 1868 caught my eye. An article entitled ‘Our Taxes and Where they Go,’ makes note that the labour costs were estimated at $1400, which “includes all that spent on opening new streets, new drains, repairing and constructing sidewalks, etc.”

The article continues,

The amount of work in this department (labour) has been very large. It includes the opening of Lloyd, Monck, and McGregor and the continuation of Centre streets on the McGregor property; the opening of Maple, Elm, and Pine, between Simcoe and Celina Streets, Elgin, Louisa, Brock East and West, Colborne West, and a large amount of work on Princess street in the north half of the village. Also the grading, filling up and gravelling of Simcoe street, and the work done on the sidewalks.

When researching the origins of street names in our city, I’ll try to, if possible, find a best estimate for when the street would have been created and/or lived on. City directories from the 20th century can be very helpful for that – one year there is no street, but then the next year, the street has inhabitants. Many of the streets in downtown, however, can be trickier to ballpark. This article was an interesting read as it confirms that many of the above streets, like Monck, McGregor, Brock, and Louisa, can be dated to the late 1860s.

Portion of 1877 County of Ontario Atlas, and circled are the streets mentioned in the 1868 article

While the above is simply an expansion on how village funds and taxpayer’s money was being spent, it is of note that it also demonstrates the village’s growth with infrastructure like new streets, sidewalks, and drains. Oshawa’s population was recorded in 1852 as 1142, in 1861 as 2002, and in 1871 as 3,185; this represents increases of 75% from 1852 to 1861, and 59% from 1861-1871. By the end of the 1870s, our population grew enough to become a Town, rather than a Village. Population increases means increased infrastructure was needed, and as we can read above, that was certainly happening in the late 1860s with all the new streets being created.

Many of these streets remain core streets within the central core of our community. Louisa, noted above, is no longer named as such, but was realigned with Alice in the 1950s and became Adelaide Avenue. Pine STREET may have been renamed at some point to Hemlock (but there remains a Pine AVENUE south of King, west of Park); and, more research is needed to confirm if Princess was ever a street name in Oshawa, but there still is Prince Street today.


The 1852 and 1861 census information came from the York Herald, 8 Mar 1861, 3; accessed from https://history.rhpl.richmondhill.on.ca/3210658/page/4

The 1871 census information came from the Whitby Chronicle, 7 Dec 1871, 2; accessed from: https://vitacollections.ca/whitbynews/2449812/page/3?q=oshawa&docid=OOI.2449812

Please note, there is a discrepancy between the 1861 population as noted in the York Herald (2002) and the Whitby Chronicle (2009). The difference of seven people does not affect the overall assertion that the population did steadily increase through the decades.

Where The Streets Get Their Names: Kitchener Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Just east of Ritson Road, between Olive and Highway 401, one can find Kitchener Street. This street bears the name of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl Kitchener. Kitchener Street appears in directories as early as 1921.

Kitchener was born 24 June 24, 1850 in Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland, the son of an army officer. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He first saw action in the Franco-Prussian War, in which he was an ambulance driver and faced reprimand for participating in a conflict in which England was neutral. He later commanded the British army in Egypt, the Sudan, India and in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902).

In 1914, at the start of World War I, Kitchener was appointed the Secretary of State for War, promoted to Field Marshal, and became the face of Britain’s recruitment campaign, ‘Your Country Needs You.’ Kitchener was onboard the HMS Hampshire on June 5, 1916 when it was sunk by German mines off the coast of Scotland.

This Oshawa street is just one of many namesakes for the Field Marshal. Perhaps the most notable is Kitchener, Ontario. Before 1916, the city was named Berlin, however, anti-German sentiments were on the rise during WWI, and by mid-1916 there was a controversial referendum to rename; Kitchener was the winner, beating out Adanac (Canada spelled backwards), Brock, Benton, Corona, and Keowana.

The topic of renaming the City of Kitchener arose again in the summer of 2020. In a statement by Kitchener City Hall:
“We acknowledge that the legacy of our namesake, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, a decorated British Earl who established concentration camps during the Boer War, is not one to be celebrated. While we in no way condone, diminish or forget his actions, we know that more than a century after our citizens chose this name for their community, Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal.”

As a knitter, I would be remiss to not bring up the Kitchener Stitch. This form of grafting is very common for finishing top-down socks – while he in no way ‘invented’ the stitch, the story goes that Kitchener was a promoter of knitting for the war effort, and this way of finishing the sock is very comfortable on toes, a relief to soldiers who were fighting a very hard, nasty war and whose feet were often in great discomfort.

Monash Avenue, Currie Avenue, and Montgomery Street are also found in this general area of Oshawa, and all of these streets were named after First World War officers.


References

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Horatio-Herbert-Kitchener-1st-Earl-Kitchener

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Horatio-Herbert-Kitchener-1st-Earl-Kitchener

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp02564/horatio-herbert-kitchener-1st-earl-kitchener-of-khartoum

https://www.therecord.com/news/waterloo-region/2020/06/19/petition-wants-kitchener-renamed.html

knithistory.academicblogs.co.uk/the-kitchener-stitch-knitting-in-wartime-study-day/

Street Name Stories – Normandy Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

May 8 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe. WWII lasted from 1939-1945; approximately 1,159,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served, and the number of deaths totaled 44,090¹.  Looking locally, WWII impacted our community with 177 Oshawa residents who died during the conflict, while thousands more enlisted, served, were part of the ordinance corps, or did their part by working on the homefront.

DSC_4700g

VE Day was not the end of World War II, which continued until September 1945 when the official terms of surrender were signed with Japan, however, VE Day was widely celebrated in the community.  As described by Oshawa resident Murray McKay, “That was a celebration. You wouldn’t believe it. People were dancing in the street downtown Oshawa.”

OSM100010020
Photo Credit: Oshawa Times- Gazette, Canada, Oshawa Community Archives

 

There were several complex campaigns of WWII taking place in theatres all over the globe; one of the best known was the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.  This co-ordinated attack by the Allied partners was intended to re-establish an Allied presence in Western Europe, and Canada was a full partner in the invasion.  The objectives of D-Day, 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings, were to take five beaches, and capturing Juno Beach was the responsibility of the Canadians, under the command of General Harry Crerar.  This victory wasn’t without cost; according to the Canadian War Museum, 14,000 Canadians were part of the Allied Troops at the Normandy invasion, and on D-Day, Canadians suffered 1074 casualties, while 359 were killed.²  The campaign lasted 10 weeks, and the casualty list grew to more than 18,000 casualties, 5000 of them fatal, and this number is just representative of the Canadians. There were substantial losses on all sides. It represented a turning point in the war – opening up the western front, leaving the German forces to defend to the west and east, but it was not without cost of life.  By September, the Normandy campaign, known as Operation Overlord, was over, and just over eight months later, Victory in Europe was being celebrated.

Normandy (2)

Normandy Street is found north of Highway 401, west of Wilson and east of Ritson, along with Dunkirk Avenue, Dieppe Avenue, Sedan Court, Brest Court, and Crerar Street, all of which are related to the Second World War, be it battle sites or after General Harry Crerar. In terms of dating the street, due to emergency orders, access to the directories at the archives is challenging.  Thankfully, our friends at the Oshawa Library have digitized a number of City Directories, helping me with this research!   The 1955 Directory lists Normandy Street, but also notes that it is ‘Not Built On,’ and the same listing appears in the years 1957 to 1961.  This suggests this street dates to the mid 1950s with development taking place in the early 1960s.


  1. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/second-world-war-dead-1939-1947/Pages/files-second-war-dead.aspx
  2. https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/chrono/1931d_day_e.html
%d bloggers like this: