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.

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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!

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Maddock Drive

By Melissa Cole, Curator

In honour of Remembrance Day and remembering those who fought in the war, it was appropriate to share a street name story related to one of Oshawa’s World War II fallen soldiers.

Frederick Daniel Maddock was born to Frederick and Minnie Jane Brown on June 2, 1922 in Toronto.  Frederick had three brothers, Gordon, Clifford and Leslie, and three sisters Maude, Viola and Shirley.  When the family resided in Oshawa they lived at 34 Elgin Street West.

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Frederick Daniel Maddock, circa 1941; image from OPL Book of Remembrance

Frederick, nicknamed “Red” because of his red hair, attended Centre Street Public School and went to the University of Toronto.  He was employed at General Motors before he enlisted on December 10, 1941 in Toronto.

After enlisting, he received training at Toronto, Moose Jaw, Trenton and McDonald, Manitoba.  In September 1943 he was sent overseas where he was a registered Flight Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Division 15.

An article published in the Oshawa Daily Times on July 22, 1944 had a headline reading “Oshawa FL-SGT is believed killed – F.D. “Red” Maddock Reported Missing Some Weeks Ago.” The International Red Cross at Geneva reported that he had lost his life on May 25, 1944.  He is buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands.

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F.D. Maddock Grave Marker, Groesbeen Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands; image from Find a Grave

When the message was sent home that he had died, his brother Clifford, the only other brother who was eligible to fight in the war, was honourably discharged and sent home to his family.  The loss of one son was enough for the family.  It was common practice during WWII when a sibling died and there was more than one child fighting for our country, they would be honorably discharged and sent home.

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From Google Streetview

The veteran streets named Maddock Drive and Maddock Court in Oshawa are located at the east end of Oshawa, off Townline Road, north of Adelaide Avenue East and south of Beatrice Street East. Like other veteran’s streets, there is a poppy on the sign for Maddock Drive.

Where the Streets Get Their Names: William and Mary

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Traversing through Oshawa’s downtown are the streets of William and Mary, fairly common street names, likely found throughout many communities.  These are early streets in Oshawa, and while definitively proving their namesakes may be challenging, it has been suggested that they were named for an early family who settled in Lot 10 Concession 2.

One of the earliest European settlers in what became the Village of Oshawa was a man named John Kerr (pronounced ‘car’).  According to Samuel Pedlar, John Kerr, originally from New York, arrived in the area in 1816 and purchased 200 acres ‘in the northwest ward,’ or Lot 11 Concession 2.  He purchased the land from Jabez Lynde, a name quite familiar in Whitby as his house is still standing as the Lynde House Museum, and several locales around the town still carry his family name.  John Kerr built a large frame building on the bank of the Oshawa Creek, which he operated as a tavern for a number of years.  Pedlar recorded that the frame building Kerr built was later moved and was the home for the JB Warren family, then JB Hare.  For a number of years, the settlement was known as Kerr’s Creek.

John’s brother, William, settled nearby not long after John arrived, purchasing land on Lot 10 Concession 2 from their father, Norris.  The land he owned was eventually parcelled up; this was the land located north of King Street and west of Simcoe, right in the heart of what would become the downtown. William (1796-1873) was married to a woman named Mary Turner (1795-1871), and Pedlar claimed they had three sons and two daughters (an interesting note to their family tree, their granddaughter married John Walter Borsberry, who operated the Borsberry Music Hall).  They are both buried in Union, although noted that their last name on their headstone is spelt Karr; according to Samuel Pedlar, this is a spelling the family adopted and continued to use.

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Detail from 1895 County of Ontario Atlas, showing section of Town of Oshawa; note, inside the circle is ‘Wm Karr’s Original Village of Oshawa.’

It is possible that William Street and Mary Street have been named for William Karr and his wife Mary. It fits rather conveniently, especially knowing they owned land around where these streets are located; this assertion was made previously by W. Ford Lindsay in his popular Then and Now column for the Oshawa Times and was repeated in a 1993 article, also in the Oshawa Times.  An article in the Daily Times-Gazette in the 1950s seemed to claim these streets were named for children of John Kerr, however, it doesn’t appear that John had a daughter named Mary (although he did have a son named William).  That being said, these suggestions do not mean definitive proof; a quick internet search can reveal dozens of other possible namesakes.  Whether the streets bear their names or not, the Karrs impact on the downtown core is prevailing, as land northeast of the Four Corners falls under what is known as the Karr Plan, a planning document, detailing land parcels and important to know when researching lot histories.


Sources:

John Goldwin, “Oshawa street names honor pioneer families,” Oshawa Times, 10 April 1993.

W. Ford Lindsay, “Then And Now: Some Served Long Helped Community,” Oshawa Times, 20 August 1970.

Samuel Pedlar, Samuel Pedlar Manuscript, transcribed from a microfilm of the original by Sharon Stark & Margaret Egerer (July/August 1970), accessed online 27 February 2019 from http://localhistory.oshawalibrary.ca/pdfportal/pdfskins/Pedlar/pedlar.pdf.