Where the Streets Get Their Names – McMillan Dr./Kaiser Cres.

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Have you ever driven along McMillan Avenue in Oshawa and noticed that the name suddenly changes to Kaiser Crescent? This small north-south artery is found just west of Centre Street; its southern terminus is King Street (south of which is Queen Street), the northern terminus being just north of Adelaide Avenue.  Why does this small stretch of road have two names?

Map from Google Maps
Map from Google Maps

On the 1877 Atlas for Ontario County, the road is known as Mechanic Drive and it simply runs from William Street to King Street.  The name changed around 1927 to McMillan, named after TH McMillan, an early business leader in our City.

Thomas Henry McMillan was born in rural Pickering in 1839. McMillan was associated with the Ontario Loan and Savings Company, was a politician when he lived in Whitby, and he also served as warden of Ontario County.  Of the Ontario Loan and Savings Company, Dr. T.E. Kaiser wrote,

“It is safe to say that no other institution played such an important part in the evolution of the industrial fabric of Oshawa as this Bank, under the able and efficient management of Mr. T. H. McMillan, with the late Mr. John Cowan as its official head.”

In 1883, McMillan bought the house on the southeast corner of Centre and Athol Street (known as Cowan House), and he lived here through his later life.  He died on May 5, 1917.

McMillan Drive was a short street, running north to William Street until the 1950s.

TH McMillan
TH McMillan; image from TE Kaiser’s Historic Sketches of Oshawa

Dr. TE Kaiser was born on February 16, 1863, in the County of York, at Edgely.  He attended the University of Toronto, and graduated as a doctor in 1890.  Dr. Kaiser began his long medical practice in Oshawa in the summer of 1890, and from that time on, he began his long vested interest in our City.  He served as mayor in 1907 and 1908, and was MP from 1925 to 1930.  In 1904, Dr. Kaiser was a member of Oshawa’s first board of Waterworks Commissioners; from 1895 to 1910, Dr. Kaiser promoted the establishment of the Oshawa General Hospital, and he was also a member of the Public Library Board, the Board of Education, and the Town Planning Commission.

Dr. Kaiser played a major role in establishing the City’s parks system, starting with Alexandra Park.  He created the Parks Commission, which enabled the City to convert unused farmland into Alexandra Park.  Dr. Kaiser was also the originator of the War Memorial in Memorial Park.  He conceived the idea with the help of his daughter Josephine, and together they worked to make it a reality.  He wrote to officials in different countries to obtain the stones that are displayed on the memorial.  Josephine suggested the inscription, “Garden of the Unforgotten.”

Dr. TE Kaiser; image uncredited in the Oshawa Museum archival collection

Dr. Kaiser passed away in 1940.  Before his passing, Dr. T.E. Kaiser built and rented a building along McMillan Drive, and he wanted to call it Kaiser Cres., except the City would not accept it. When Dr. Kaiser’s widow died in 1953, in her will she left a sum of money to the City of Oshawa if they would name that stretch “Kaiser Crescent”. The City could hardly refuse, and when McMillan Drive was being extended northwards, that northern extension was indeed named Kaiser Crescent.  The first appearance of this street is in the 1954 Vernon Directory with one lone home located on there.

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