Misspelled Oshawa street named after WWII battle up for change

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Published April 21, 2023 at 2:33 pm

A clerical error memorializing a fierce battle in the Second World War that earned Oshawa’s Ontario Regiment battle honours is about to be corrected with staff at the City of Oshawa talking to residents of 15 homes on Ortono Avenue to tell them the last letter in their address may be about to change.

The town in Italy and the battle for which the street – located near Wilson Road and Bloor Street and abutting Highway 401 – is properly spelled ‘Ortona’ and the Ontario Regimental Museum want the City to get it right 60-odd years after the street was built and named shortly after Highway 401 was pushed through Oshawa in 1947.

The Battle of Ortona was fought in December 1943 when the 1st Canadian Corps continued their mission to clear the eastern coast of Italy during the WWII. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division, supported by the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, cleared the town in the face of “fanatical resistance” from German Paratroopers, according to Ontario Regiment Museum executive director Jeremy Blowers.

The battle was called ‘Little Stalingrad’ by reporters at the time and received international attention. The Ontario Regiment fought in the battle, receiving a Battle Honour for its efforts in clearing the approaches to the city and supporting efforts to isolate the defenders.

Blowers, in his letter to Council, said it is “appropriate” to correct this historical error and change the spelling of the street to honour the memory of local citizens who were involved in the battle.

City Council has not actually agreed to change the spelling of the street just yet (though a single letter at the end of the name of a street with just 15 dwellings is not likely to be a major issue with Canada Post) but will ‘consult’ with residents and advise them of the process involved in changing the street name.

Council policy in such matters is to also provide an ex-gratia payment to residents to offset personal costs to change their address.

Staff will then report back to the Economic Development Services Committee with the results of the consultation.

Oshawa has a number of other streets in the city named after Second World War battle sites, including Dieppe, Dunkirk and Normandy.

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