Schofield Woolen Mills

Schofield Woolen Mills was one of Oshawa’s leading industries.  The company was first established in 1892 by John Schofield who immigrated to Canada in 1860.  Schofield’s first mill, located in Paris, Ontario, was completely destroyed by fire.  At the time of this fire, a building in Oshawa at 372 Centre St. S. was for sale.  This prompted Schofield to visit Oshawa and buy this property which was originally built as a hat factory and later used by Masson Manufacturing for the manufacturing of farm implements.  This building then became the new home of Schofield Woolen Mills Ltd.

Williams and Schofield

In 1896, the company was incorporated with John Schofield as President and his young son Charles Schofield as Secretary-Treasurer.  The company was organized with a capital stock of $40,000 to continue to enlarge the plant and the output.

The mill started off in a small way but eventually prospered.  In 1911, the company employed 100 women and 50 men.  The mill was two large brick factories completely equipped with modern machinery throughout.  The mill manufactured men’s underwear under the brand names of “Woolnap” and “St. George.”  The underwear was nationally recognized for its exceptional quality and for being made of 90% wool.

In 1918, Schofield passed away and the company was carried on by his son Charles.


In 1927, the production at the plant had grown from 30 dozen garments daily to 125 dozen garments daily.  The wool used in the garments arrived to the mill in 300 to 1000 pound bales.  First, the wool would go through a thorough scouring and cleaning before being carded and spun into yarn of different sizes and weights.  The yarn was then knitted on machinery, washed again and bleached, and then cut into garments.  After the garments were trimmed and finished, they were ready for market.  Although the company did not export many of their goods, their products could be found in nearly every town or city in Canada from coast to coast.

The Schofield Woolen Mills company produced large quantities of underwear for the men in the armed forces during World War II.

The factory saw a number of fires throughout its history.  For example, in 1941, the Oshawa Daily Times reported on a fire which started near the carding machines and remarked, “the fire was the second in the plant in two months.”


Photo from the Oshawa Daily Times, June 2, 1941

The mill continued to operate in Oshawa for several years but eventually closed down in 1951 upon the retirement of Charles Schofield.  He later died on December 29, 1954.  Several companies had operated from 372 Centre St. S since the woolen mill closed, and it remained an empty field for several years.  In the mid-2010s, Habitat for Humanity began their CentreTowne Build project which saw the construction of houses for 24 families on the site of the former mill.


Oshawa Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927.

Oshawa Times, March 6, 1982.

Vernon’s City Directories.

Bouckley, Thomas.  Pictorial Oshawa, Volume 2.  Alger Press Limited, 1976.  Oshawa, Ontario.

Oshawa Illustrated, The Ontario Reformer, Reformer Printing and Publishing Co, Ltd., 1911. Oshawa, Ontario.

Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum, Schofield Woolen Mills Ltd.

Habitat for Humanity;


Tea Time at the Museum

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

Victorian Teas at the Museum, as we know them now, began my first summer at the Museum, 2003. A small team of volunteers who were involved with the Oshawa Historical Society’s Social Committee wanted to get this project off the ground with staff support; Linda Calder, Kay Murray, and Mary Ellen Cole took the lead. Later Kay and Mary Ellen would go on to receive the Volunteer of the Year award for their efforts with the teas.

Occasionally, the Museum held teas prior to this on a smaller scale. There was no continuity in dates, times and prices. One of the longstanding themes is Mother’s Day. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was customary for moms to receive complimentary admission and “an old fashioned gift from the Sydenham Country Store.” For the cost of regular admission, one would receive tea and scones in the garden from 1 – 5 pm. In 2001, a local trio of women called The Hamstrings provided entertainment. They would go on to perform at many Museum functions after this. As we moved into the second decade of the new millennium, the focus had changed to pay homage and celebrate moms and other special people in ones life, since family dynamics have changed so much in the last while. We do however like to feature historical Oshawa Moms. At place settings, we have highlighted women from the Henry, Guy, Robinson, McLaughlin, and Conant families with their photos and highlights of their lives.


In my time at the Museum, I feel like we have tried every other theme for a tea as well. One year we tried monthly themed-teas. For example, a Snowflake Tea in January, Valentines in February. Each month we tried to match desserts and flowers to the designated theme. We have had Strawberry Socials, Mad Hatter Teas on a Friday the 13th and even a Mourning Tea during the first iteration of the Mourning After exhibit! We served funeral cakes instead of scones and were able to dye tablecloths black!


Stories from the Homefront Tea, 2004

As time has passed, we have gotten quite proficient and our service and style has come a long way. This mean that as we offered a more elegant setting and catering (our own!), we were able to increase the cost of our Victorian Teas. In the early days, Museum staff would charge per item; snacks and drinks cost 40¢ for cookies, 50¢ for scones, 75¢ for lemonade and $1 for coffee, tea or herbal tea (and free refills!) Later the cost would increase to $5 for adults and $3.50 for children and by 2005, $10 for adults, $8 for members of the Oshawa Historical Society, and $4 for children. This price held steady until 2013 when the cost was raised to $15 for adults, $10 for OHS members and $7.50 for children. The price for tea at the Museum is very reasonable. A team of dedicated volunteers prepares all of the food and desserts (as much as possible), which are served on china settings, three-tiered plates, with linen tablecloths and napkins.

What kinds of things do we serve for tea? Our volunteers schooled me on how to prepare cream cheese and cucumber and watercress sandwiches on Wonder THIN white bread. Did you know that you can get a good three or four more sandwiches our of a loaf of bread if it’s sliced thinly? It’s true! Some of our staples include typical tea sandwiches – tuna salad, cream cheese and cucumber, egg salad; but we also incorporate seasonal specialties like cream cheese and cranberry on a green wrap, sliced for Christmas pinwheels, and ‘Coronation Chicken Salad’ that is said to have been served at Queen Victoria’s coronation.

In the early 2000s, after a few successful trial runs, the Museum began to serve weekly garden teas in the backyard of Henry house during the summer. In the summer of 2005, we hosted 156 people, 169 in 2006 and 116 in 2007. Like many things though, popularity is cyclical. We decided to begin offering summer teas, one a month in July and August, serving two sittings – one at 11:30 am and one at 1:30 pm, adding in dates and sittings as necessary.


60th Anniversary Diamond Tea

Some of the more memorable events I have been on hand for are the Victory Tea we held for participants of the Stories from the Homefront project in 2004, and the Diamond Anniversary Tea, which celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Oshawa Historical Society in 2017.

If you’ve never come for tea at the Museum before, I highly recommend it. We are currently booking for monthly Tea & Talks, held on the last Sunday of the month, and 2019 Christmas Teas.

Student Museum Musings – Stained-Glass Windows into the Past

By Mia V., Summer Student

Since my last update, I have been continuing to research and work on the design for next year’s exhibit on the resettlement of displaced people and immigration stories in Oshawa. Following the threads of research has led me to the significant network of Ukrainian churches that were found in the city. Despite sharing the designation of Ukrainian, it was clear enough that they all belonged to different branches of Christianity – one was Eastern Catholic, others were Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Baptist, and… two were Orthodox? Herein lay the confusion, since both Orthodox churches co-existed in time and on the very same neighbourhood block.

Jan7_2016_0110 - straightened

“Oshawa’s Churches: Greek Orthodox;” image appeared in Oshawa Daily Reformer, 30 June 1927, p 25.

The ground on the corner of Bloor-Ritson was first consecrated for an Orthodox church in 1916. This church was alternately called Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek Orthodox in street directories and newspapers. Often the key descriptor of Orthodox was omitted and it was only called Greek – making it easy to confuse with the Greek Catholic church from just a few streets over. In fact, the Ukrainians of the (Greek) Orthodox Christian faith first called the Bloor-Ritson church home. The name confusion did not stop there, however, since the full name of the church differs greatly in translation. The Ukrainian would be “Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God.” However, in colloquial English it was known most often as “St. Mary’s.”

PicMonkey Image

This Ukrainian Orthodox church was built by an early wave of Ukrainian immigrants to Oshawa, many of whom came from the area of Bukovina which borders (and finds itself partly in) Romania. Since religious life was inseparably intertwined with cultural and social life, the choice of a parish was central to how one would find friends and generally engage with their culture. Fortunately, Oshawa had many options.

Greek Cath

“Oshawa’s Churches: Greek Catholic;” image appeared in Oshawa Daily Reformer, 30 June 1927, p 25.

Just a few streets over was the Ukrainian (Greek) Catholic church. In 1935, the majority of the congregation followed their priest into the Orthodox Church after his dispute with the presiding bishop (surrounding his ordination and time of marriage).


Just a few months later, the first building for the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church was built on the same location where it stands today – on the corner of Bloor and Simcoe streets. All of this is to say that, for several years, there were two Ukrainian Orthodox churches on Bloor Street. According to one participant in the Museum’s ongoing oral history project, both churches were consistently full, and members of each parish would attend the same events. It certainly seems there was need for both of them in this period in order to help service the influx of Ukrainian immigration to Oshawa after World War II.


“Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God in Oshawa, Ontario;” image appeared in Богослуження православної церкви: Підручник для недільних шкіл [Services in the Orthodox Church: A Sunday School Textbook], 1956.

In 1953, St. Mary’s was enlarged and rebuilt completely, on the same location as before. It now had, as the Toronto Star called it, “Byzantine-style domes” and overall resembled “a castle in a kingdom of bungalows.” Eventually, however, numbers dwindled significantly. Deciding against joining St. John’s from down the street, the aging congregation chose to accept no new members and sold the church only on the condition that they could still use it. Their designated service is in Ukrainian once a month, with a priest driving in from Scarborough.

In 1987, the church was sold to the Greek Orthodox community – making the church genuinely Greek for the first time. In 2012, the Greeks sold the church to the Romanians since they needed more space for themselves. This is, in fact, another kind of full circle since the original founders of the church would have been from the Ukrainian-Romanian border region of Bukovina.


Focusing on this one church, then, provides a great window into the past from which it is possible to see the interactions between the various Ukrainian religious communities and other cultural communities in the city. The way that the church changed ownership provides great insight into immigration trends as well – from the earliest Ukrainian, to the Greek, and the Romanian here in Oshawa.


Gerus, Mitrat Fr. S. Богослуження православної церкви: Підручник для недільних шкіл [Services in the Orthodox Church: A Sunday School Textbook]. Winnipeg: Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada, 1956.

Leong, Melissa. “Time takes its toll on congregation.” Toronto Star, April 13, 2003.

Momryk, Myron. Mike Starr of Oshawa: A Political Biography. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of History and University of Ottawa Press, 2017.

Additional research from the Oshawa Museum archival collection.

The Month That Was – September 1945

All articles originally appeared in the Times-Gazette

Club Holds Dance
25 September 1945

The Oshawa Youth Men’s and Ladies’ Club held a very successful weekly dance last Friday night at the Masonic Temple. There was a large attendance. Prize-winners in the spot dance were Miss Myrt Simmons and Mr. Doug Coackwell, and in the elimination dance, Miss Velma Chatter and Mr. Bill Smith.

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Pave Playground Cedardale School
25 September 1945

Paving of the play area adjacent to Cedardale School was begin at the end of last week as part of a program to improve the playgrounds at all the public schools in the city. The paving is designed to enable the pupils to play out-of-doors on days when the ground would otherwise be too damp. An asphalt mix is being applied.

While Cedardale is the only school where pavement is being laid, the playgrounds at all the schools are to be properly graded. It is expected that this will be commenced sometime next week. The contracts for the was let last week W. B. Bennett of Ajax.


Basic English
25 September 1945

The New Yorker, New York: Psychoanalysis seems to be here to stay, but one of the bugs that will have to be ironed out sooner or later is the problem of the foreign-speaking psychoanalyist and the English idiom. We know a girl, now in the process of being psyched, who mentioned to her analyst, a recent arrival from Zurich, that she had a dream involving a desk with pigeonholes. She heard him draw in his breath sharply, and the direction of his inquiry changed. It wasn’t until six months later that she discovered he had built an entire theory of her personality around the assumption that her dream desk included accommodations for birds.

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Situation Series
27 September 1945

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week His Honor Judge Madden of Napanee, sitting at the Court of Rental Appeals in the Old City Hall, considered fifty-nine cases, thirty-five of which were appeals against the freezing order which last July suspended indefinitely all notices to vacate.

One had only to sit and listen to the evidence at this the … court of its kind ever held in Oshawa, to realize to the full seriousness of the hosing situation not only in Oshawa but in the surrounding districts. Innumerable stories were told of heads of families purchasing homes to keep a roof over their families only to experience difficulty in securing possession of the premises. In many instances tenants would have been willing to move but were not able to find accommodation elsewhere.

From the evidence presented during the sessions of the court it would appear that something drastic will have to be done in the immediate future to provide additional homes. True many new homes have been built in Oshawa during the past year, but not all are in a position to make this expenditure. Employees of local industry should not be called upon to drive twenty miles, as was reported in one instance, to get to work and have to return home the same night.

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Bring Blaze to The Fire Hall
27 September 1945

Yesterday noon a can of gasoline which was being carried in the rear of a Cope & Bone truck caught fire and the blaze was delivered right to Oshawa Fire Hall by the driver. One extinguisher was sufficient to bring the blaze under control. There was small damage.

A truck belong to Rinker’s Cleaners and Dyers caught fire while parked at the corner of King and Drew streets. The cause was said to be a short circuit in the electrical system. Very little damage was done.

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Fifty Women Visit Christie St. Hospital
27 September 1945

Fifty members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, Canadian Legion Branch 29, visited Christie Street Hospital Toronto, with gifts on Wed., Sept. 19, Mrs. M. Foote reported to the Auxiliary at its Tuesday evening at which President E. Evans presided, and two new members were initiated and welcomed.

The gifts included cigarets donated by the Men’s Branch, and a quantity of cigarets, chocolate bars and matches donated from the Auxiliary funds. Several of the members also took personal gifts. Many books and magazines had also been given in for the hospital.

It was unanimously decided to set up a fund for comforts for Christie Street Hospital and for that purpose a collection will be taken up each week.

Parcels will continue to be sent to boys still overseas, it was decided. Any change of address should be sent to Mrs. G. Williams.

Articles for the bazaar were reported coming in and anything salable, including articles for the White Elephant Booth, will be very welcome.

The regular business meeting will be held next Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Profiling: Frederick L Fowke

This community profile is of Frederick L. Fowke, a turn of the century politician. He is one of the characters included in this year’s Scenes from the Cemetery, taking place Sept 7 & 8 at Union Cemetery. Tickets are still available for this event – for more info, please visit the event website:

Frederick Luther Fowke was born in Harmony Village in East Whitby on May 27, 1857.



FL Fowke, cropped from A982.45.21

The business activities of Mr. Fowke during the years from 1885 to 1915 spread into many fields.  He succeeded to the business enterprises of his father and carried on a general store, a grain business and a coal business, not only in Oshawa but had branches in Bowmanville, Whitby, Newcastle and Port Hope.

From 1898 to 1907, he occupied the position of Mayor of Oshawa.  This was at a time when Oshawa politicians held office for one year terms.  While occupying this position he introduced many progressive reforms such as Granolithic sidewalks, harbour improvements and sewer construction.  He was remembered mostly for his struggle for a public water supply.

On October 28, 1908, he was elected as a Liberal member of South Ontario to the House of Commons under Sir Wilfrid Laurier.  He created many improvements for Ontario County during his term which lasted until 1911.  The major issue of the 1911 election was reciprocity with the US; the Conservatives opposed free trade, and William Smith representing this party was elected, beating Fowke.  As World War I raged on, the election of 1917 became about the war and conscription.  Notably, Fowke split from supporting Laurier and the Liberals, who opposed conscription, and instead, supported Robert Borden and his Union Government.  Locally, William Smith (Unionist) was facing WEN Sinclair (Opposition) in this election, and Smith was again successful.

In 1918, Fowke was appointed one of the three commissioners to restore the section of the City of Halifax which had been destroyed by an explosion, caused by the collision of French Relief Ship, the Mont Blanc, and the Belgium Relief Ship, the Imo on December 6, 1917.  He was the only non-Haligonian to serve in such a role, and it was suggested by Dr. TE Kaiser¹ that his appointment was due to his support of Borden in 1917.


Postcard of Gladstone Villa, AX998.29.1

The Fowkes resided at 114 King St. East, now the offices of Kelly Greenway Bruce, which he named “Gladstone Villa.”  He also had a summer home in Chester, Nova Scotia, where they enjoyed an active social life.

During his retirement he spent most of his time travelling.  Frederick Luther Fowke died in 1939 and is buried in Oshawa’s Union Cemetery.


Scenes from the Cemetery is taking place Sept 7 & 8 at Union Cemetery; various start times, beginning at 2pm. We recommend buying your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment! To buy your tickets:

  1. TE Kaiser, Historic Sketches of Oshawa (Oshawa: The Reformer Printing and Publishing Co., Ltd., 1921), 146-147.