Near-perfect sidewalk stamp from 1929 found on quiet Oshawa street

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Published August 11, 2023 at 6:57 pm

A near-pristine "sidewalk stamp" was recently discovered on Athol St. East in Oshawa. (Photo: K. Taylor Twitter)

A 94-year-old “sidewalk stamp” has been found on a tiny residential Oshawa street.

While it is not known, even by city officials, when Oshawa started paving its sidewalks, what is known is that in the early-1900s, most sidewalks were just gravel pathways or grass/earth that had been walked upon enough that they became a dirt pathway adjacent to the street.

And yet, a Twitter user named K. Taylor posted one on August 10 from Athol St. East in Oshawa dated 1929.

“Not my usual beat but one of my Oshawa agents, er, I mean, pals, sent me this fantastic 1929 sidewalk stamp. I’m told this is at Athol St E and Cadillac (Ave.),” said Taylor.

So what is a sidewalk stamp? It is the longstanding tradition that when a new sidewalk is being poured, the contractor “stamps” the concrete with the name of their company and the year.

In the early 1900s, they also stamped the name of the street at the corners.

However, a quick search on Google would show that finding one this pristine is a rarity.

Canadian and American cities have a long-standing tradition of sideway stamps. Vancouver still has some dating back to 1906 while Calgary has some intact from 1909.

Berkley, California has sidewalk stamps dating from 1899 while Portland, Oregon shows them from 1902.

They are a rarity these days since many long-standing sidewalks have been ripped up and repaved five to six times, simply due to wear and tear.

While this may not apply to Oshawa, concrete sidewalks have existed for approximately 150 years in North American cities.

While most cities and towns have no formal preservation policy in place, city engineering workers will often try to save significant sidewalk stamps when possible and re-install the heritage pieces into sidewalks.

However, since most sidewalk names and date stamps are found near the end of a block, many original stamps have been lost due to upgrades such as curb ramps and redevelopment.

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