Oshawa Historicist: Skae Drive

Ever wonder how Oshawa’s streets got their names? Lisa Terech, Community Engagement at the Oshawa Museum, looked deeper into the history of Skae Drive:

Found in an industrial area in the very south west of our City is Skae Drive, but the man after whom this street has been named is more closely associated with Oshawa’s downtown. Here is the story of Edward Skae.

Skae 1Edward Skae was born around 1804 in Scotland, and 26 years later, around 1830, he immigrated to Canada and settled in a community known as Kerr’s Creek. Skae became associated with a man named Macdonald, and together, they operated a successful general store along King Street West. After a number of years, the business partnership dissolved, as they can do, and Edward Skae opened his own store at the main intersection of the community, at the south east corner of King Street and Simcoe Street. There, he “erected a one and half storey brick building in which he conducted business a number of years” (Pedlar Papers). His checker board store became a landmark along the road from Toronto to Kingston.

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An artistic rendering of Edward Skae’s general store, King & Simcoe Streets, by Joan Stacey; Oshawa Archives’ Collection

Due to the popularity of his business, the community was becoming known as ‘Skae’s Corners,’ and Mr. Skae operated as an unofficial post office for locals. In 1842, he submitted an application to the legislature to become an official post office. John Hilliard Cameron, representing Skae’s Corners as part of the Home District in parliament, replied that a post office could be granted, however, a name other than “Corners” must be chosen for the post office as there were already too many place names containing corners. The circumstances surrounding the suggestion of ‘Oshawa’ remains unknown, however, the name was chosen and we have continued to grow and thrive under this name. Oshawa translates from a Native dialect to mean “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”

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Edward Skae headstone, Oshawa Union Cemetery

Edward Skae became the first postmaster on October 6, 1842. According to the Ontario Reformer, May 19, 1905, Mr. Glenney opened the first mail bag brought to Oshawa. It contained 4 letters, 2 British Colonists and one Examiner and from the east, 2 Montreal Gazettes and six letters.

Edward was Postmaster for less than six years, as he passed away in 1848. He is laid to rest in Union Cemetery beside his wife, Mary.

This post was originally published on the Oshawa Museum blog and has been reprinted with permission.





About the Author

088-Copy-683x1024Lisa Terech started with the Oshawa Museum in 2007 as a volunteer and joined the staff in October 2010. In the role of Community Engagement, Lisa participates with the Museum team in developing and delivering creative, engaging and consistent public programs. A lifelong resident of the Oshawa area, Lisa truly enjoys going out in the community and being a champion for Oshawa’s history and its future.

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