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.

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Harmony Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Throughout this year, I’ve been using this blog series to showcase the history of the hamlets and villages throughout our municipality.  In February, we looked at Columbus Road, and Raglan Road was discussed in May.  A look at Harmony Road and the former Village of Harmony is the next in this series.

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The Village of Harmony, from the 1877 County of Ontario Atlas

The following is adapted from an article written by our archivist, Jennifer, for the Oshawa Express in 2012.

In what is now known as the east end of the City of Oshawa, early European settlers arrived during the late 1700s and early 1800s; gradually two small communities developed, eventually known as Harmony Village and Toad’s Hollow, which was later known as Grandview Village.

Settlement in the Village of Harmony has been attributed to the Farewell family once they arrived in the area in 1801.  In 1804, Harmony Creek was described as being big, full of fish and utilized by several mills.  Throughout that decade, the area began to see the arrival of several more families.  The influx of people saw the growth in businesses such as the construction of mills, the creation of distilleries and the opening of several general stores.

The earliest settlers relied on farming to support themselves. By the 1851 census we see a village with not every settler focused on farming.  In fact, the 1851 census lists on five full time farmers in Harmony.  There were stockbreeders, coal merchants, barristers, watchmakers and even sailors.

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

In 1812 Moody Farewell opened a tavern and inn on Harmony Road.  This inn has an interesting history as it was used as a rest point for British soldiers and captured Americans during the War of 1812.  At the conclusion of the war, Farewell built a gristmill and a sawmill on Lot 4, Concession 1.

Growth in the area continued.  In 1829 a log school was built to replace the original school that had been constructed in 1812.  The very first teacher in Harmony was John Ritson, for whom Ritson Road is named.  S.S.#1 East Whitby continued to grow and in 1871 a brick school was constructed on land donated by Moody Farewell.

The growth of Oshawa had a profound impact on the Village of Harmony.  In 1924, Oshawa annexed the Village of Cedardale; the Village of Harmony, along with much of East Whitby Township was annexed later in 1954.

Remnants of the old village can still be seen at the corners of King Street and Harmony Road.  The old Farewell family cemetery is located just south of King Street on the east side of Harmony.  The old Harmony Public School is in the location of the school built in 1871.

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Farewell Cemetery

Where The Streets Get Their Names – Oshawa Boulevard

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

A commonly asked question of Museum staff is what does the word Oshawa mean?  Early interpretations of Oshawa have varied greatly. Samuel Pedlar, 19th century amateur historian and author, sought to find the origin, and he consulted noted American ethnologist, Horatio Hale, as well as J.C. Bailey (a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers) throughout 1894.

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As the story goes, the name Oshawa was selected in 1842, to secure the establishment of a Post Office. Initially the townspeople had thought “Sydenham” was a good choice, to further honour Lord Sydenham and keep in line with the Sydenham Harbour. However, Ackeus Moody Farewell and two First Nations men that had accompanied him to the meeting suggested an Indigenous name. It was them who selected “Oshawa,” and the others present agreed.

According to Pedlar, the exact meaning of the name was not recorded at the time of the meeting. Numerous conclusions were made before it was finally agreed that Oshawa means “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”

Today, Oshawa Boulevard is a continuous (mostly) north-south street.  Its southern terminus is around the CP tracks, south of Olive Avenue, and it continues north; north of Hillcroft, it extends northwest, crosses Ritson, and continues to twist and turn, eventually ending again at Ritson, south of Beatrice Street.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the 1920s in Oshawa saw a great amount of growth and development.  New roads and houses were added to our city, Oshawa Boulevard being one of them.  There was only a handful of houses listed in the 1921 City Directory, but by 1929, the number had easily quadrupled.

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Take a close look at the map above.  This map dates to 1925 and shows Oshawa Boulevard starting at King Street.  South of King Street, there are two other streets circled: Yonge Street and St. Julien Street.  Both of these streets were new additions in the 1920s, but neither exist today, all consolidated as ‘Oshawa Boulevard.’  It appears that sometime between 1954 and 1956 the City decided to consolidate three consecutive streets into one name, and so Yonge Street and St. Julian St. were renamed.

Where did these other names come from?

Toronto’s Yonge Street was named by Sir John Graves Simcoe after his friend Sir George Yonge who was reportedly an expert on ancient Roman roads.  It is likely that Oshawa’s street took its spelling from either Sir Yonge or the street in Toronto.

St. Julien was named for the Battle of St. Julien, part of the larger Battle of Ypres in Belgium.  As described by Veterans Affairs Canada:

On April 24 (1915), the Germans attacked in an attempt to obliterate the salient once and for all. Another violent bombardment was followed by another gas attack in the same pattern as before. This time the target was the Canadian line. Here through terrible fighting, withered with shrapnel and machine-gun fire, hampered by rifles that jammed, violently ill and gasping for air through mud-soaked handkerchiefs, they held on until reinforcements arrived.

Thus, in their first appearance on a European battlefield, the Canadians established a reputation as a formidable fighting force. But the cost was high. In these 48 hours, 6,035 Canadians – one man in every three – was lost from Canada’s little force of hastily trained civilians. This was a grim forerunner of what was still to come.

Streets around the former St. Julien (Oshawa Boulevard) include Festhubert, Courcellette, Vimy, St. Eloi, and Verdun, all of which are depicted with a poppy on the sign.

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Where The Streets Get Their Names – Raglan Road

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Near the northern border of the City of Oshawa is the village of Raglan. It was named in honour of Lord Raglan, a British commander in the Crimean War, coincidentally the man after whom raglan sleeves is named.  Before 1855, the community was known as Newto(w)n, and previously before that O’Boyle’s Corners.

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

While boasting a humble population (150, according to the 1869 County of Ontario Directory), it was a bustling community, services by a stage coach which ran from Oshawa through Columbus, Raglan, Prince Albert, Borelia, and Port Perry, to Beaverton. When the stage coach was at its height, Raglan had hotel, several stores, grist & saw mill, blacksmith shop, coach factory, dress maker’s shop, shoemaker’s shop, and Willard’s General Store.  The community was also served with two schools (SS No. 8 and SS No. 9) and two churches: Bible Christian and Episcopal Methodist.  Finally, the community boasted a division of the Sons of Temperance, a group against alcohol who sought to create sweeping reforms that would eliminate “local groggeries” and bar rooms.

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From the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

In the mid-20th century, there were some from the community who felt that the automobile impacted the nature of village life.  When the roads were unpaved and under maintained, and before car culture was pervasive, “a person had to rely on the local general store and had to live right where he worked,” remembered Charles Luke, a Raglan resident and former stage coach driver.  The 1961 Census showed how the community changed: for every one person working on a farm, there were eight living in East Whitby Township but working in a city.

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Raglan Church, from the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

Perhaps the largest landmark for Raglan today is White Feather Farms, a farm and country store, first established in 1988.

Raglan Road received its current name around the same time Columbus Road was named. Previously, the east-west road through the village was known as Alma Street, while outside the village it was simply Concession Road 9. Understanding the history of this street name and its changes requires an understanding of municipal changes through the years.  In 1974, the Township of East Whitby was annexed by the City of Oshawa; fast forward to the 1980s, and 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.  Alma Street proved to be a challenge, because in the City of Oshawa, there was an Alma Street by the Hospital.  Alma by the hospital was named for two women influential with its establishment; Alma in Raglan was likely in honour of the Battle of Alma in which Lord Raglan was the British Commander.

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From the Oshawa Museum postcard collection

It was during the 1980s that 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 Raglan Road, and in the late 1980s, the City of Oshawa officially adopted this name as well.

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.