Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

Whitby

History of Whitby

Whitby archivist Brian Winter, the author of Chronicles of a County Town – Whitby Past and Present, tells us that the Town of Whitby is named after the seaport town of Whitby, in Yorkshire, England. Winter says the name Whitby, is Danish in origin and dates back to 867 A.D., when the Danes invaded Britain. He further relates that the name “Whitby”, is a contraction of “Whitteby,” meaning “White Village”. Winter explains: “The allusion may be to the white lighthouse on the pier at Whitby, England, and Whitby, Ontario”.

The Town of Whitby rose to prominence as a result of its fine natural harbour, which was the second busiest harbour on Lake Ontario, behind only Toronto. Most of the activity in the harbour was due to the grain trade that once flourished in this town. Today, the Whitby harbour is once again turning the tide towards prosperity, only this time the harbour is not being used for mercantile purposes, but rather for recreational use. The revitalized Whitby harbour supports a busy marina, a yacht club, and boat launching facilities.

Ed Note: Over the years, Whitby has had a strong tradition in sports. Athletes who grew up in Whitby include: famed jockey Sandy Hawley, former National Hockey League coach of the year Mike Keenan, NHL stars Jason Allison, Adam Foote, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, and brothers Wayne and Keith Primeau. Swimmer Anne Ottenbrite (an Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalist) also grew up in Whitby.

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