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. Lousia, noted above, is no longer named as such, but was realigned with Alice in the 1950s and became Adelaide Avenue. Pine is no longer on Oshawa maps and may have been renamed at some point to Hemlock; 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.

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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.”

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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

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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Blog Look Back – Top 5 Posts of 2019

Happy New Year! Throughout 2019, we shared 64 articles on the Oshawa Museum Blog, showcasing many different stories from our city’s past.

We’re planning our new and dynamic posts for 2020, but to start the year, let’s look back at our top 5 posts of 2019

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Asian History Month – Oshawa’s Chow Family

This post was written by Publication & Research Assistant Alex, celebrating May, Asian History Month.  During her six month contract at the OM, Alex was exploring Oshawa’s early Asian immigrants, looking at the families, who they were, the lives the led, and why they chose to settle in Oshawa. This research she undertook will be part of a future publication, looking at Oshawa’s unwritten history.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Rossland Road

Two of our top five posts were about the stories behind Oshawa street names.  The first of the top two looked at Oshawa’s Ross family and how their name became memorialized on the street maps.

About the Elim Cemetery

A small, private cemetery is located at the corner of Winchester Road and Wilson Road, known as the Elim Cemetery. We researched the known history of this cemetery and those who are laid to rest here.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: William and Mary

The second of our two top street stories posts looked at the Kerr family, early settlers in what is today’s downtown Oshawa.

Sister Act: The story of Clarissa and Sarah Terwilliger

Rounding out the top five is a post written by Executive Director Laura Suchan about Oshawa’s Terwilligar Sisters, noted clairvoyants in their time. This post about two of Oshawa’s noteworthy women was originally posted in March, Women’s History Month.

 

These were our top 5 posts written in 2019; the top viewed post for the year was actually written a few years ago, Keeping Warm: The Ways The Victorians Did! This is the second year where this has been our top viewed post! Perhaps our readers have an interest in vintage bedwarmers or are looking for inspiration for keeping warm during the cold Canadian winter months!

Thank you all for reading, and we’ll see you all in 2020!