Latest News

Former Robson Tannery building receives heritage designation

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa has recognized another building with historical significance to the city.

The former Robson Tannery office building located at 100 Whiting Avenue has received a heritage designation from the City of Oshawa.

Today the building is occupied by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA).

It was designated as a property of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The building was built in the mid-1920s, and is currently in near original condition.

But the property’s original purpose was farm equipment manufacturing in the early 1800s.

The company supplied leather goods up until 1977, and even provided boots during the Second World War.

Together with General Motors Canada, Ontario Malleable Iron, and Pedlar People Ltd., Robson Leather Co. Ltd. helped to establish Oshawa as “the Manchester of Canada” in the 1920s due to the city’s industrial history, according to a press release from the city.

After closing in 1977, a fire destroyed much of the other structures on the property in 1980.

The office building was then purchased by CLOCA in 1984.

Mayor Dan Carter spoke on the significant of the building in Oshawa’s history.

“Many of us reflect upon the automobile industry being a big part of our routes or our community,” said Mayor Dan Carter. “But also, the tannery business was quite large, and employed so many different individuals from around our community. As a matter of fact, the City of Oshawa was known to be one of those industrial places that did so much.”

He said he looks back at the property, and recognizes the historical value.

“[For a long time] this building has played a role in our community,” said Carter.

The building is in Ward 5, where ward city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson grew up.

He notes his personal connection with the site goes back to when he was six-years-old.

“Those of us who grew up in South Oshawa knew that in the summer time you could swim in the Oshawa Creek,” he said. “You always had a unique situation when you came home after swimming down the creek. Your parents could always tell what colour the tannery was using that day, because you’d have either a red tinge, a brown tinge, or a green tinge… They always knew that the tannery was working hard.”