This area is the eastern end of the Golden Horseshoe manufacturing belt around Toronto (with Canada’s major General Motors auto plant, right in Oshawa). there is a tight cluster of communities from Whitby to Bowmanville along the historical Highway 2 (though most travel quickly/quickest on the 401). These have good shopping, lots of recreation, and access to nearby farm, parks, and cottage lands for peace and quiet.
Oshawa began as a 1760 French fur trading post near the mouth of the Oshawa Creek. After the American Revolution, many British loyalists were granted land in Upper Canada along the shores of Lake Ontario. Colonel Asa Danforth laid out the York (now Toronto) to Kingstonroad, connecting the many smaller communities along the lakeshore. In 1822, a “colonization road” up to Lake Simcoe was constructed, and intersected the Kingston Road at what is now downtown Oshawa.
The community is named Oshawa for the Indian phrase for “where the trail crosses the stream “. By the mid 1800s the community attraction farming implement and carriage works, which grew into the McLaughlin works which initially contracted auto assembly for Buick and the Chevrolet and became General Motors Canada.
The GM plant and the town of Oshawa grew rapidly in the 1920s, which slowed in the Great Depression. The Second World War led to a tremendous industrial boom. in 2019 General Motors announced the closure of the Oshawa plant. In the 1960, the city was better connected to the rest of Ontario via the 401, and to Toronto by GO-Train regional transit.
Oshawa has a nine-kilometre portion of the Waterfront Trail with the scenic Lakeview Park and the Second Marsh (the largest remaining coastal wetland in the GTA). A beachfront park with water sport activities, soccer pitches and slo-pitch diamonds on the shore of Lake Ontario,.
33 McGrigor Street
Built in 1929, this Tudor Revival mansion was built for auto baron R.S. McLaughlin’s daughter Eileen. It is noted for its carved bargeboard, patterned brick, art glass, plaster motifs, an Austrian chandelier, and Italian marble fireplace. The property was deeded to the YWCA in 1944, and has served as a sanctuary for women and children in need.
1000 Stevenson Road North
Airmen Park’s focal point is a Korean War surplus Sabre aircraft, and also contains plaques and other commemorative relics.
35-37 King Street East
Built: 1928, Architect: N.A. Armstrong
This landmark 1928 Modern Classical commercial building in downtown Oshawa incorporates ornamental cast stone such as date stone cartouches, cornucopias with fruit, and ornate windows and doors. Visit Brushstrokes to view the restored interior.
Canadian Automotive Museum
99 Simcoe Street South
Oshawa, ON L1H 4G7
Housed in a 1920’s car dealership, this museum has been open since 1961 to showcase the development of the automobile. There are 65 vehicles from 1898 to 1981 and other historical items relating to the periods of the cars.
Cedardale United Church
824 Simcoe Street South
Built in 1857 as the public school for Cedardale, one of Oshawa’s first residential settlements, and was bought from the city in the 1920’s by George McLaughlin. It was donated to and continues to serve as the Cedardale United Church. Open to public on Sundays.
39 Athol Street West
The 1858 Cowan House is a Georgian style dwelling with Italianate details, and was home to businessman and Mayor W. F. Cowan. Notice the bracketed eaves and portico elements. Today, it serves as offices and meeting rooms for St. George’s Memorial Church. Open Saturday 12 to 4 pm, Sunday 1 to 4 pm,
Oshawa Community Museum (Oshawa Sydenham Museum)
1450 Simcoe Street South
In Oshawa’s beautiful Lakeview Park.
905-436-7624 Fax: 1-905-436-7625
Three buildings, built in the 1830a ad 1840s make up the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives. Guy House and Henry House stand on their original foundations, are unique architecturally and provide an overview of the lifestyles of Oshawa’s early inhabitants.
The 1835 Guy House is a typical frame farmhouse houses museum gift shop, archives and curatorial offices. The 1849 Henry House was a Victorian home and has period decorated parlour, dining room, study, herb garden, kitchen, master bedroom, and was originally owned by Christian Church minister Thomas Henry. Robinson House, originally a simple family home, now contains a 19th century schoolroom, and galleries and exhibits focusing on various topics in Oshawa’s history.