Oshawa Historicist: 7 Forgotten Facts about Oshawa


RS Williams Piano Works

Put on your trivia hat!  Here are seven little-known facts about Oshawa’s past:

Though the building is long gone, the concrete abatements for South Oshawa Mills, which were owned by the Gibbs brothers, can still be found north of Mill Street.

Oshawa’s first mill, which was constructed in 1837, is currently the site of the Ministry of Finance parking garage. (And, for bonus points, the Ministry of Finance Michael Starr Building is built on the site of a hotel that was built in 1913 and demolished in 1975.)

Oshawa has two direct links to the War of 1812:  American POWs were fed at Moode Farewell’s tavern (now demolished) as they made their way to Quebec; and at Annis House (demolished 1963), which also housed British troops.

The Toronto Dominion Bank has had a branch at King Street and Simcoe Street since 1871, when it was simply called the Dominion Bank.

Oshawa had it’s own tannery – a factory which turns animal hides into leather – right up until 1975.  The Robson Tannery buildings are still there, and are now occupied by CLOCA.

Centre Street United Church was destroyed by fire in 1967, but a stone bearing the date 1874 was saved.  It can be found in the garden at Henry House, which is part of the Oshawa Community Museum at Lakeview Park.

Oshawa was once home to a world-renowned piano factory.  The R.S. William Piano Works was, at it’s height, the largest of it’s kind in the British Empire, and shipped its wares to seven countries.  Located on Richmond Street West, the huge Victorian factory was demolished in 1970, and is now the site of Durham Region Police Services.

Did we miss an interesting piece of Oshawa’s history?  Share in the comments…

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