Where the Streets Get Their Names – Victoria and Albert

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Every May, Canadians enjoy a long weekend, often regaled as the unofficial start to the summer. Colloquially known as the May 2-4 weekend, the holiday Monday is named Victoria Day, and on this date, we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, the second longest British monarch¹ and the reigning Queen when Canada confederated in 1867.

Victoria was born in 1819 and became Queen in 1837 upon the death of her uncle William IV.  In her diary, she wrote:

I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen.

She was married in 1840 to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was her first cousin. They had nine children together, and currently her descendants occupy the thrones of Belgium,Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  Albert died in 1861, and his death devastated the Queen.  She would mourn him for the rest of her life.

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Queen Victoria

While Queen (and later Empress of India), the United Kingdom saw a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change, and there was great expansion of the British Empire. The years of her reign are referred to as the Victorian Era.  She passed away in January of 1901.

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Detail from 1884 Fire Insurance Map, Victoria Street is circled

Victoria was honoured with a street in Oshawa, a short street between Bond and King.  It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2010 making it pedestrian friendly to the various students who attend classes at the Regent Theatre and the UOIT building at 55 Bond Street.

We cannot say for sure if the Queen was ‘amused’ by the closure or not…

Her husband, Albert, also has a street in Oshawa named for him, being Albert Street.  Albert Street lies east of Simcoe Street, with its north terminus at King Street and its south terminus just south of Bloor Street (connecting eventually with Simcoe as it traverses south-east towards the lake).

Happy Victoria Day from the Oshawa Museum!


 

¹ In September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her great-great grandmother as the longest reigning  British monarch.  We looked at what was happening in Oshawa when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952.  You can read about that here.

Student Museum ‘Musings’ – Shawn

Maintaining a gentlemanly character was certainly no easy feat for those living in Victorian Oshawa. Of course, one was expected to have discipline and an esteemed manner regardless of the circumstances. Nonetheless even those of high status lost a few battles to their tempers.

Thomas Conant, esq.  Author of 'Life in Canada' and 'Upper Canada Sketches'
Thomas Conant, esq. Author of ‘Life in Canada’ and ‘Upper Canada Sketches’

One such example involved a conflict between the respectable Thomas Conant Esq. and arithmetic teacher, Mr. D. Black in the fall of 1865. Now, the twenty-three-year-old Thomas certainly did not think of himself as an expert lecturer but he found himself quite unsatisfied with the teaching style utilized by Mr. Black to portray the rudiments of figures to his younger sister, Electa. Thomas, not burdened by timidity, made himself plainly understood. However, Mr. Black quickly took offence to these comments, claiming that he would not “submit” to Thomas’ “interference and dictation.”After a few exchanges things appear to have gotten heated quickly.

After being taken aback by Mr. Black’s non-compliance Thomas pressured further, boldly stating that his behavior seemed to imply…

“…that we should shut our eyes and take no interest in the pupil’s under your charge.

I have neither time nor inclination to continue a discussion – but contend that persons having an interest in the pupils have a right to suggest as I have done and demand a gentlemanly answer.

And in a later response Mr. Black, still having none of Thomas’ intervention, replied with:

You seem offended at the ‘tone’ of my reply to your note of yesterday and characterize it as ungentlemanly. Perhaps it was. If so, I regret it. But you will understand its tone little perhaps when I tell you that the tone of the letter to which I  wrote in reply struck my mind as impertinent and dictatorial.”

It is likely Electa never quite realized the extent of the bold, quoted, and underlined words being exchanged between these two gentlemen over her education. Yet, while the language is quite appalling for these Victorian men I’m sure many can relate to their good intentions. Whether a parent, older sibling, or instructor the method of how to properly up-bring and treat those under out care still exists as a personal and potentially controversial topic. Unfortunately, Helen Lovejoy cannot be everywhere to ensure that “won’t somebody please think of the children?!” rather than their gentlemanliness in many of these times of need.

"Think of the Children!"
“Think of the Children!”