Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gibbs Street is Missing!

Dexter and Denny wondering - why did the rest of Gibb Street 
disappear? © Catherine McDiarmid-Watt 2013, from
Dexter and Denny are wondering...
why did the rest of Gibb Street disappear?
Photo credit: © Catherine McDiarmid-Watt
There have been so many changes in the streets of Oshawa over the years! New streets appear, old streets disappear, some streets have their names changed, some streets are redirected.

Did you know there used to be a second Gibbs Street? Not the Gibbs Street you are familiar with - between Quebec Street and McGrigor Street, but further south...

In the 1800's, there was also a Gibbs Street coming south off Mill Street (between Centre and Simcoe) and then turning east to join up with Simcoe Street, as you can see in the close-up of the old Oshawa Map below.

QUESTION: Why would they have two Gibbs Streets - wouldn't that be confusing?

Details from a map of Oshawa prior to being made into a town in 1850. Source:
Details from an old map of Oshawa.
Source: Public domain: Copyright expired
According to the old map, all the land around this Gibbs Street belonged to T.N. Gibbs.

Thomas Nicholson Gibbs - b. 11 March 1821 in Terrebonne, Lower Canada, eldest son of Thomas Gibbs and Caroline Tate; m. in August 1843 Almira Ash, they had seven children; d. 7 April 1883 at Oshawa, Ont.

Two of his sons, Thomas Nicholson and William Henry, formed the firm of Gibbs and Brother in 1842 and built a grist-mill just south of Mill Street, using the Oshawa Creek to run their mill.

We weren't sure if the green area at the end of Gibbs Street (on the west side) was private property, so we didn't go any closer - but deep inside the heavily-treed area, I was convinced I saw a two story house.

My son is just as convinced I am seeing things - he saw nothing. But the more I looked, the more I was sure I could see a house hidden amongst those trees. I checked on Google Maps when I got home, and all you can really see by satellite is trees - but I still see something brown, like a house roof in amongst the trees!

Check Google Maps yourself and let me know what you think!

Oshawa's Designated Historical Sites. Source:

Detail from Map Of
Oshawa's Designated Historical Sites
UPDATE! We found the missing end of Gibbs Street!

At some point the Gibbs Street's name was changed - to St. Lawrence Avenue [I think it is an error on the map to the left where it is called St. Lawrence Street?].

Today the street ends when it gets to the green space west of the St. Lawrence apartment building.

The first picture posted at the top of this post shows where the street ends on Gibbs/St. Lawrence today, where you can see the dead end sign on the green space.

We were not exactly sure where the street originally ended, because First Street was not yet built on the first map I posted above. It shows nothing below Albany Street

But then I found the map above, showing the Oshawa's Designated Historical Sites - and we increased the magnification dramatically, until we could read the street signs. And found the old Gibbs/St. Lawrence location, before the street was ripped up.

Looking at this map, we can see that Gibbs/St. Lawrence Street used to end south of First Street, connecting with Simcoe Street. Today that would be just below the Pizza Pizza [532 Simcoe Street South], before the on-ramp to HWY 401.

WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM? The name St. Lawrence may have come from the fact that in 1875 the directors of the St. Lawrence Bank elected T.N. Gibbs their bank president, hoping he could stave off the bank's impending collapse. Which he did, the bank eventually prospered; and in 1880 Gibbs owned $30,000 worth of shares.

I hope you enjoyed my little history of the missing Gibbs Street. If you know any info about old Gibbs Street, when it became St. Lawrence Street or why - or have photos to share, let me know! I will continue to update this post as new information comes in!

PLEASE NOTE: My house histories are for entertainment only. Although I do my best to be as accurate as possible - I make no guarantees as the the accuracy of my articles. 
If it is important to you that the information found here is 100% accurate, I have included my resources so you can research further on your own.
If you do find any inaccuracies in my post, please let me know! I always appreciate being given the opportunity to correct any errors!

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Catherine McDiarmid-Watt, author of*~ by Catherine McDiarmid-Watt, author of, researching her 1850's house, the history of old homes, the genealogy of the founding families in Oshawa - as well as citylife and farm life in the 1800's, with old news clippings, well-researched articles, and "then and now" photos with the help of her "history dogs", Denny and Dexter.

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Sally said...

Very interesting! I never knew there was a second Gibbs Street!

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