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The Farndales of Oshawa

 

The Ontario 1 Line are the descendants of Samuel Kirk Farndale (FAR00512), born 1871 who emigrated to Oshawa, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

Oshawa (2016 population 159,458; CMA 379,848) is a city in Ontario, Canada, on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It lies in Southern Ontario, approximately 60 kilometres east of Downtown Toronto. It is commonly viewed as the eastern anchor of the Greater Toronto Area and of the Golden Horseshoe. It is the largest municipality in the Regional Municipality of Durham. The name Oshawa originates from the Ojibwa term aaz haway, meaning "the crossing place" or just "(a)cross".

 

Oshawa’s roots are tied to the automobile industry, specifically the Canadian division of General Motors, known as General Motors Canada. Founded in 1876 as the McLaughlin Carriage Company, General Motors of Canada's headquarters are located in the city. The automotive industry was the inspiration for Oshawa's previous mottos: "The City that Motovates Canada", and "The City in Motion". The lavish home of the carriage company's founder, Parkwood Estate, is a National Historic Site of Canada, and a backdrop favoured by numerous film crews, featured in many films including ItBilly MadisonChicago, and X-Men.

 

Once recognized as the sole "Automotive Capital of Canada",[9] Oshawa today is an education and health sciences hub. The city is home to three post-secondary institutions: Durham College, Trent University Durham and University of Ontario Institute of Technology as well as the Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network (LHEARN), in association with Lakeridge Health Oshawa, formerly the Oshawa General Hospital. Key labour force sectors include advanced manufacturing, health technology, logistics, energy and IT. In 2016, Oshawa was the sixth best place in Canada to find full-time employment based on data from StatsCan.

 

Downtown Oshawa is identified as an Urban Growth Centre in the Government of Ontario's Places to Grow initiative. More than 5,000 people work and more than 2,400 university students study in the downtown core. The downtown is a prominent centre for entertainment and sporting events (Regent Theatre and Tribute Communities Centre), food (50+ restaurants and cafes ) and culture (The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and Canadian Automotive Museum). Oshawa is home to a Regional Innovation Centre and offers start-up facilities for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Co-working offices are also located in the downtown.

 

History

 

Historians believe that the area that would become Oshawa began as a transfer point for the fur trade. Beaver and other animals trapped for their pelts by local natives were traded with the Coureurs des bois (voyagers). Furs were loaded onto canoes by the Mississauga Indians at the Oshawa harbour and transported to the trading posts located to the west at the mouth of the Credit River. Around 1760, the French constructed a trading post near the harbour location; this was abandoned after a few years, but its ruins provided shelter for the first residents of what later became Oshawa. Most notably, one of the fur traders was Moody Farewell, an early resident of the community who was to some extent responsible for its name change.

 

In the late 18th century a local resident, Roger Conant, started an export business shipping salmon to the United States. His success attracted further migration into the region. A large number of the founding immigrants were United Empire Loyalists, who left the United States to live under British rule. Later Irish and then French Canadian immigration increased as did industrialization. Oshawa and the surrounding Ontario County were also the settling grounds of a disproportionate number of 19th century Cornish immigrants during the Cornish emigration which emptied large tracts of that part of England. As well, the surveys ordered by Governor John Graves Simcoe, and the subsequent land grants, helped populate the area. When Col. Asa Danforth laid out his York-to-Kingston road, it passed through what would later become Oshawa.

 

In 1822, a "colonization road" (a north-south road to facilitate settlement) known as Simcoe Street was constructed. It more or less followed the path of an old native trail known as the Nonquon Road, and ran from the harbour to the area of Lake Scugog. This intersected the "Kingston Road" at what would become Oshawa's "Four Corners." In 1836, Edward Skae relocated his general store approximately 800 m east to the southeast corner of this intersection; as his store became a popular meeting place (probably because it also served as the Post Office), the corner and the growing settlement that surrounded it, were known as Skae's Corners. In 1842, Skae, the postmaster, applied for official post office status, but was informed the community needed a better name. Moody Farewell was requested to ask his native acquaintances what they called the area; their reply was "Oshawa," which translates to "where we must leave our canoes". Thus, the name of Oshawa, one of the primary "motor cities" of Canada, has the meaning "where we have to get out and walk". The name "Oshawa" was adopted and the post office named accordingly. In 1849, the requirements for incorporation were eased, and Oshawa was incorporated as a village in 1850.

 

 

 

 

 Oshawa Factories, 1910

 

The 1846 Gazeteer indicates a population of about 1,000 in a community surrounded by farms. There were three churches, a post office, tradesmen of various types and some industry: a foundry, a grist mill and a fulling mill, a brewery two distilleries, a machine shop and four cabinet makers.

 

The newly established village became an industrial centre, and implement works, tanneries, asheries and wagon factories opened (and often closed shortly after, as economic "panics" occurred regularly). In 1876, Robert Samuel McLaughlin, Sr. moved his carriage works to Oshawa from Enniskillen to take advantage of its harbour and of the availability of a rail link not too far away. He constructed a two-storey building, which was soon added to. This building was heavily remodelled in 1929, receiving a new facade and being extended to the north using land where the city's gaol (jail, firehall & townhall) had once stood. The village became a town in 1879, in what was then called East Whitby Township. Around 1890, the carriage works relocated from its Simcoe Street address to an unused furniture factory a couple of blocks to the northeast, and this remained its site until the building burnt in 1899. Offered assistance by the town, McLaughlin chose to stay in Oshawa, building a new factory across Mary Street from the old site. Rail service had been provided in 1890 by the Oshawa Railway; this was originally set up as a streetcar line, but c. 1910 a second "freight line" was built slightly to the east of Simcoe Street. This electric line provided streetcar and freight service, connected central Oshawa with the Grand Trunk (now Canadian National) Railway, and with the Canadian Northern (which ran through the very north of Oshawa) and the Canadian Pacific, built in 1912-13. The Oshawa Railway was acquired by the Grand Trunk operation around 1910, and streetcar service was replaced by buses in 1940. After GM moved its main plants to south Oshawa in 1951, freight traffic fell and most of the tracks were removed in 1963, although a line to the older remaining "north" plant via Ritson Road remained until 2000.

 

Start of the car industry

 

Col. R. S. McLaughlin and "Billy" Durant signed a 15-year contract in 1907, under which the McLaughlin Motor Car Company began to manufacture automobiles under the McLaughlin name, using Buick engines and other mechanical parts. 1908 Buick was merged into General Motors Holding shortly after, and in 1915 the firm acquired the manufacturing rights to the Chevrolet brand. Within three years, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada owned the General Motors Holding in 1916 he in 1918 merged his Chevrolet and Buick, creating General Motors of Canada in 1918 with McLaughlin as President. The factory expanded rapidly, eventually covering several blocks. The popularity of the automobile in the 1920s generated rapid expansion of Oshawa, which grew in population from 4,000 to 16,000 during this decade, and of its land area. In 1924, Oshawa annexed the area to its south, including the harbour and the community of Cedardale. This growth allowed Oshawa to seek incorporation as a city, which took place 8 March 1924.

 

With the wealth he gained in his business venture, in 1916 McLaughlin built one of the most stately homes in Canada, "Parkwood". The 55-room residence was designed by Toronto architect John M. Lyle. McLaughlin lived in the house for 55 years with his wife and they raised five daughters. The house replaced an older mansion, which was about 30 years old when it was demolished; the grounds of the earlier home had been operated as Prospect Park, and this land was acquired by the town and became its first municipal park, Alexandra Park. Parkwood today is open to the public as a National Historic Site. Tours are offered.

Strike: 1937

On 8 April 1937, disputes between 4000 assembly line workers and General Motors management led to the Oshawa Strike, a salient event in the history of Canadian trade unionism. As the weight of the Great Depression slowly began to lift, demand for automobiles again began to grow. The workers sought higher wages, an eight-hour workday, better working conditions and recognition of their union, the United Auto Workers (Local 222). The then-Liberal government of Mitchell Hepburn, which had been elected on a platform of being the working man's friend, sided with the corporation and brought in armed university students to break up any union agitation. These much-derided "Hepburn's Hussars" and "Sons of Mitches" were never needed as the union refused to be drawn into violent acts. The union and workers had the backing of the local population, other unions and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party, and on 23 April, two weeks after the strike started, the company gave in to most of the workers' demands, although — pointedly — it did not recognize the union.

 

A historic church in Oshawa: St. Gregory the Great

 

 

 

Post-war

 

In 1950, the city annexed a portion of East Whitby Township west of Park Road. Some of this area had been developed during the 1920s boom period, although it was not within the boundaries of the city. The opening of the Oshawa Shopping Centre (now the Oshawa Centre) fewer than two kilometres west of the "four corners" in 1956 struck a blow to Oshawa's downtown from which it has never been able to recover. The shopping centre was built on land which had been an unproductive farm; when its owner gave up on agriculture, this released a very large area of land for the construction of a mall. The Oshawa Centre is the largest shopping mall in Ontario east of Toronto. The opening of what later became Highway 401, then known as Highway 2A, shortly after World War II sparked increased residential growth in Oshawa and the other lakeshore municipalities of Ontario County, which led to the creation of the Regional Municipality of Durham in 1974. Oshawa was amalgamated with the remaining portions of East Whitby Township and took on its present boundaries, which included the outlying villages of Columbus, Raglan and Kedron. Much of Oshawa's industry has closed over the years; however, it is still the headquarters of GM Canada and its major manufacturing site. Current industries of note include manufacturing of railway maintenance equipment, mining equipment, steel fabrication, and rubber products. Oshawa is also recognized as an official port of entry for immigration and customs services