About Oshawa

Oshawa Origins

Where we get out and walk

Originally known as Skae's Corners, in 1842 the settlement's name was changed to Oshawa.

The name Oshawa is a Mississauga First Nation's term meaning "the point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe is exchanged for the trail", or more succinctly, "where we get out and walk".

The name was chosen because the post office told the local settlers that Skae's Corners wasn't a good enough name, and that they would have to come up with something else instead. Oshawa was chosen after one of the settlers asked his First Nation acquaintances what the area was called originally.

City Facts

Oshawa By the Numbers


City Population


Years as a City


City Elevation (Meters)

Incorporated as a village in 1850, Oshawa has had a long and colourful history

The Town Sam Built

In 1907 Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin, known locally as Colonel Sam, transformed his father's carriage works business into the McLaughlin Motor Car Company. In its first year of operation, the Oshawa-based company turned out 154 McLaughlin-Buick Model F automobiles. In 1918 the company became General Motors of Canada, and over the years it became the dominant industry in Oshawa. At one point in the 1980s General Motors employed 23,000 workers in the city. That number is now 3200.

As a side note, Colonel Sam's brother, John J. McLaughlin, was the creator of Canada Dry.

The Strike of 1937

Oshawa is considered by many to be the birthplace of Canadian industrial unionism. In 1937 thousands of workers at the company's Oshawa factories went on strike. The provincial government of the time decided to side with the company, and attempted to crush the strike by hiring armed goons to suppress the union movement. The workers refused to be goaded into violence, and the majority of citizens in the city joined the workers in opposing the company and the goverment. The strikers held out for two weeks, and eventually General Motors gave in to almost all their demands.

With a Population of 15,545 people, Oshawa was given City status on March 8, 1924.

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