Oshawa (2006 population 141,590, CMA, 330,594) 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 both the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe. It is not, however, part of the Toronto CMA but has its own metropolitan area, the fourteenth largest in Canada. It is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Durham. The name Oshawa originates from the Ojibwa term aazhaway, meaning "the crossing place" or just "(a)cross".
The automobile industry, specifically the Canadian division of General Motors Corporation, known as General Motors Canada, has always been at the forefront of Oshawa's economy. Founded in 1876 as the McLaughlin Carriage Company, General Motors of Canada's headquarters and major assembly plants are located in the city. The lavish home of the carriage company's founder, Parkwood Estate, is a National Historic Site, and a backdrop favoured by numerous film crews, and has been featured in many movies including Studio 54, Chicago, and X-Men.
Oshawa is also home to Windfields Farm, a thoroughbred horse breeding operation and birthplace of Canada's most famous racehorse, Northern Dancer.
Once very much a distinct community - physically, economically, and culturally - Oshawa has been increasingly subsumed into the Greater Toronto Area.
The area that would become Oshawa began as a transfer point for the fur trade. Beaver and other animal pelts were trapped by local natives and traded with the Coureur 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.
Flag of the United Empire Loyalists
In the late 1700s 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 a name 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.
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, Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin moved his carriage works to Oshawa from Enniskillen to take advantage of its harbour as well as the availability of a rail link not too far away. He constructed a two-story building, which was soon added to. This building was heavily remodelled in 1929, receiving a new facade and being extended to the south using land where the city's gaol had once stood. The village became a town in 1879, in what was then called 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 elected 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 constructed a second "freight line" was built slightly to the east of Simcoe Street. This electric line provided both streetcar and freight service, connected central Oshawa with the Grand Trunk (now Canadian National) Railway, as well as the long-defunct 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.
 The start of the car industry
In 1908 the McLaughlin Carriage Company began to manufacture Buick automobiles under the McLaughlin-Buick name. This resulted from talks between Col. R. S. McLaughlin and "Billy" Durant (the entrepreneur who had created General Motors in the U.S. around the same time). In 1915 the firm acquired the manufacturing rights to the Chevrolet brand. Within three years his firm and the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada merged, creating General Motors of Canada. Col. R. S. McLaughlin became the head of this new operation, and his factory expanded rapidly, eventually covering several blocks. The popularity of the automobile in the nineteen-twenties generated rapid expansion of Oshawa, which grew in population from 4,000 to 16,000 during this decade as well as in land area. In 1924, Oshawa annexed the area to its south, including both the harbour and the community of Cedardale. This growth allowed Oshawa to seek incorporation as a city, which took place March 8, 1924.
Oshawa built Sherman tank on parade for Col McLaughlins 100th birthday, 1971
With the wealth he gained in his business venture, in 1916 Robert McLaughlin built one of the most stately homes in Canada, "Parkwood." The 55-room residence was built using inexpensive labour, and designed by Toronto architect John M. Lyle. McLaughlin lived in the house for 55 years with his wife and 5 children. The house replaced an older mansion, which was about thirty 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 and tours are offered as well.
 The Oshawa Strike, 1937
On April 8, 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, ironically, been elected on a platform of being the working man's friend, sided with the corporation and even brought in armed university students to break up any union agitation. Fortunately, these much-derided "Hepburn's Hussars" and "Sons of Mitches" were never needed as the union refused to be drawn into any violent act. The union and workers had the backing of the local population, other unions and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, and on April 23, two weeks after the strike started, the company gave in to most of the workers' demands, although—pointedly—it did not recognize the union.
 Post-war Oshawa
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 proper. 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 led in part 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 as well as 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.
 Oshawa's future
For most of the last thirty years, the city has tried to promote the downtown core as a viable place to live and work, with multiple failed attempts to attract new business and other projects to the city core. Local politicians and civic officials hoped that the opening of the General Motors Centre would spark renewed interest in downtown revitalization. In addition, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has relocated the Faculty of Education into downtown Oshawa, in a building originally built as a bank. The New Durham Region Courthouse under construction will be completed in 2009. Most of Oshawa's growth has occurred on the outer regions of the city. Legislation passed by the Ontario Government in 2005 now protects greenspace to the north of the city (the Oak Ridges Moraine), which will eventually prohibit any further expansion of the urban boundary. This will likely result in the redevelopment of Oshawa's many 'brownfield' sites, and may result in increased density. In fact, a large tract of land became available for development in 2008 when the old GM "north plant" was finally demolished.
Because Oshawa was for many years a separate and distinct city from Toronto, it remains in certain ways an urban centre unto itself, adjoined by several suburbs in its Census Metropolitan Area, which is entirely contained within the Greater Toronto Area(GTA). Although many residents commute to Toronto for employment, the city is not considered a bedroom community of Toronto. In fact, Oshawa experienced its fastest growth (which was locally self-sustained) well before Toronto spilled over the boundaries of the now-defunct Metropolitan Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite this, in the mid 1990s, Oshawa residents still voted in a non-binding referendum to overwhelmingly reject any incorporation into a possible Greater Toronto Area amalgamation that would include it. This, however, may have simply reflected an overall dissatisfaction among citizens in the GTA when Metropolitan Toronto was itself amalgamated by the then-governing Progressive Conservative Party of Premier Mike Harris.
General Motors Centre
The General Motors Centre (GMC) is a 5,500-seat multi-purpose arena located in downtown Oshawa, Ontario. The centre was constructed as a replacement for the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, whose main tenant is Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Groundbreaking took place June 22, 2005. The centre includes the main arena, and a community ice pad, and miniature outdoor skating rink. Opening night was November 3, 2006, when the Generals hosted the Owen Sound Attack. The fourth game of the 2006 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge was played at the GMC on November 27th, 2006. The first concert in the arena was Tom Jones.
General Motors Centre interior
General Motors Canada was announced as the winner of the naming rights to the arena on October 5th, 2006. The Centre is owned by the City of Oshawa, operated in conjunction with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. As of April 2008, MLSE has asked the City to release it from its management contract for the General Motors Centre.
The first goal ever scored at the General Motors Centre was scored by Dalyn Flatt of the Owen Sound Attack 6 minutes and 14 seconds into the game.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling held its first pay-per-view event to emanate from Canada, No Surrender, at the General Motors Centre on September 14, 2008.
Public education in Oshawa is provided via the Durham District School Board. As of late 2006, there were 32 elementary schools and six secondary schools. The Durham Catholic District School Board, which has its headquarters in Oshawa, oversees public Catholic education in Durham Region. There are 14 Catholic elementary schools and two secondary schools. The Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest operates one French Public elementary school, while the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud runs one publicly-funded French-language Catholic elementary school. Private schools include Durham Elementary School, Immanuel Christian School, Kingsway College and College Park Elementary School. The Durham Catholic District School Board decided to shut down several Catholic Elementary Schools in Oshawa in June 2008, due to shifting enrolment.
Oshawa is home to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, opened in 2003. The main campus of Durham College is also located in the city. The university and college share a campus and some facilities, but the two institutions are independent. Given the city's industrial heritage, the university's courses emphasize technology, manufacturing and engineering themes. It is the only university in Canada to offer degree programs in Automotive Engineering and Nuclear Engineering. Trent University also offers a full-time program at the campus, however they are proposing to move to an independent campus at a closed elementary school site in the City's west end.
Oshawa's hospital is the Oshawa site of Lakeridge Health Oshawa, formerly the Oshawa General Hospital. This 437-bed facility is the major regional hospital for the area and also houses the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre.