October 31, 2020

By: Karisa Simon

As an individual who loves to take pictures, I enjoy digging into the history of the subjects and places that I photograph. Since Oakville is so rich in history, I thought it would be a rewarding project to document “then and now” photos of 10 Oakville historical landmarks, comparing old photos to present-day views.

Though most of the landmarks that I found still stand today and look almost the same as they did in the past, some have changed drastically. Take a look at the then and now photos below. But first, consider this. When comparing then and now photos there are two ways to look at them. Firstly, you can focus on how much has changed or secondly, you can marvel at what remains the same.

The Oakville House Hotel

Credit: OHS

The Oakville House Hotel was located at 125 Lakeshore Road East. Murray Hamilton Williams was the owner of this iconic hotel.  Sometime in the 1980s the original building was torn down and was reconstructed to a similar design.  It was formerly located where Paradiso is located in Downtown Oakville.

Lakeside Park

Lakeside Park is located at the end of Navy Street in Downtown Oakville. It is settled on the shores of Lake Ontario and is home to Oakville’s First Post office and the Thomas House. This park was a town favourite in the past and still is today.

Erchless Estate

Credit: Erchless Estate at Oakville Museum

Robert Kerr Chisholm, the son of William Chisholm, was the Customs Collector for the Town of Oakville. His father deeded him the Customs House, and he made it his family home.

In 1858, he finished building a grand house on the same property naming it “Erchless”, after his family’s ancestral home in Scotland. For over six generations the Chisholm family lived on the estate. Today, Erchless Estate is the home of the Oakville Museum.

Lakeshore Road

Credit: OHS

Believe it or not, Lakeshore Road East used to be called a different name. Before 1965, this road used to be called Colborne Street. Some also called this road “the main street”.

The Thomas House

The Thomas House was originally built in 1829 and was the home of the Thomas family. The Thomas House was bought by the Oakville Historical Society and was moved to Lakeside Park in 1955 as an effort to protect the heritage of the home. In the summer, The Thomas house operates as a museum. The Oakville Historical Society offers tours to local residents and visitors to give them a first-hand look at how a pioneer home was operated in the 1800s.

Oakville’s First Post Office

Credit: OHS

Oakville’s First Post Office was built in 1835. It was saved from demolition and moved to Lakeside Park in 1950. It was renovated and now operates as a museum in the summertime.

Turner Chapel

Credit: OHS

Turner Chapel was built by escaped Black Americans, who were former slaves that escaped via the underground railway. Located on 37 Lakeshore Road West, Turner chapel still stands. However, today it operates as an Antiques and Appraisers store.

The Sovereign House

Credit: OHS

The Sovereign House was built approximately in 1825 and was owned by Phillip Sovereign and then his son, Charles. Acclaimed author Mazo De La Roche lived in the house from 1910-14. When the house was about to be demolished in 1988, the property owners agreed to donate it to the Town of Oakville. Today, the house can be found at 7 West River Street.

Bronte Harbour/Pier

Credit: OHS

The Bronte Harbour was created on the lands of the Mississaugas of New Credit Nation. This waterway was used for food and commerce. After the European settlement, the Harbour became a  commercial port used by merchants and sailors.

Knox Pebestriayn Church

Credit: OHS

Knox Presbyterian Church was finished in 1885 and was constructed by James McDonald Jr. and local carpenters. It still stands beautifully on the corner of Dunn Street and Lakeshore Road East in Downtown Oakville.

It’s truly amazing to see how far Oakville has come through photography, as well as how much effort the Town of Oakville has put in to preserve these historical landmarks. I honestly never knew much about Oakville history before this project. I never knew that this small city nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario had such a rich history. I hope these photos did the same for you and have inspired you to come discover more about Oakville’s history.