Title ||Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame - Sir Harry Oakes Benefactor
1900 - 1970 Era
||The Oakes name is perpetuated in Niagara Falls in numerous ways. Oakes Garden Theatre, Oakes Drive, Oak Hall and Oakes Park all serve as reminders of this noted family, and particularly of Sir Harry Oakes, its most prominent member.|
Harry Oakes was born in the small town of Sangerville, Maine on December 23, 1874. He graduated with a liberal arts degree from Bowdoin College in 1896. Harry Oakes came to Canada in 1911 as a gold prospector and mining engineer and eventually became a self-made millionaire. In 1912, he struck it rich with his discovery of gold resulting in the Lakeshore Mine near Kirkland Lake.
In the 1920s, Harry Oakes and his family located in Niagara Falls until 1934, when the family moved to the Bahamas. In 1939, Sir Harry Oakes was knighted by King George VI of England ;
||While in Niagara Falls, the Oakes family were very much a part of the local scene. The times were very difficult because of the depression and the philanthropy of the family is remembered by the entire community. Sir Harry’s constant negotiation with the councils of Niagara Falls and Stamford Township and his financing of many local projects, provided considerable employment. |
Sir Harry Oakes was a keen supporter of athletics and gave awards to many young people for sports competitions. In September 1930, he deeded sixteen acres of farm land at the corner of Morrison Street and Stanley Avenue to the City of Niagara Falls for an athletic field. This land was made by the City, into a football field, baseball field, and other athletic areas and was formally named Oakes Park in Sir Harry’s honour. Oakes Park was opened to public use in the summer of 1931.
The younger generation were always in consideration by Sir Harry Oakes, for in conveying Oakes Park to the City, he imposed a condition - that if any part of City-owned Poplar Park ceased to be used as a public playground, then the lands of Oakes Park would revert to him or his heirs. When it became apparent in 1954 that Poplar Park was the most suitable site for a new Greater Niagara General Hospital, the Oakes family released the City from this condition, satisfied that other suitable playgrounds were being provided.
The City of Niagara Falls is truly grateful and honoured to recognize Sir Harry Oakes as a Benefactor of sports in our City and his contributions will always be remembered ;