Student Museum Musings – Andrea

By Andrea, Durham College LIT Student

For three Thursdays in November, I have been job-shadowing Jennifer, the Archivist.  My name is Andrea and I am a First Year Library and Information Technician student from Durham College.  The program also teaches about archives –which is the area I would very much like to get in to once I graduate.  I love history and being at the archives has been wonderful and insightful.  Seeing documents and photographs from 100+ years ago is such a unique experience, imagining what the people in the photographs were thinking, how they conducted themselves, and how they lived in the community.

I’ve lived in Oshawa for 20 years and having the opportunity to learn the origin of the city provides me with a better understanding of where I grew up.  I’ve learned some facts about Oshawa I never would have known had I not had this job-shadow opportunity.  Have you driven down Thornton Rd?  It was named after the first Presbyterian minister in Oshawa.  How about Ritson Rd? It was named for the area where the first teacher in Oshawa lived –John Ritson.  Learning the histories of our communities connects us to those who came before; they were the people who helped shape the cities we now know.

While at the archives, I have digitized the 1869 Ontario County Directory which has been incredible.  It is an original copy, weathered and discoloured filled with lists of people who lived in all different areas in the province at the time.

Well known personalities are great to learn about, but learning about the average farmer, blacksmith, or teacher is even more insightful because it’s the average everyday that we all live.  I am very thankful to have had my job-shadow at the Oshawa Museum’s archives, it’s a great environment, everyone is friendly and helpful, and I am very grateful for what they have taught me, I have learned a lot.


The Month That Was – December 1915

All articles appeared in 3 December 1915, Ontario Reformer


We have been asked to define, if possible, the attitude of this paper in regard to Local Option in this town. We desire it to be distinctly understood that the Reformer stands for the principle of temperance. This has always been its attitude and we trust it shall never deviate from that course. On the 1st of January the town has been asked to vote on the enactment of Local Option By-law so far as it may concern this municipality. As to whether this new law will make for the betterment of conditions, or produce universal sobriety, there are two adverse opinions. In order that the public may be in a position to cast an intelligent vote on the question, they will necessarily be required to be put in possession of a great volume of facts, bearing the issue.

Biscuits ad.JPG


Mrs. Francis Hamilton of Bethany, whose son Harold Hamilton, is serving his country in France, has shown a truly patriotic spirit. Since her son enlisted she has been in receipt, through the Countries Branch if the Patriotic Fund of $159.59. However, Mrs. Hamilton has returned this amount and asks that no more be sent to her. She writes as follows:

“I have not needed to use this the money allowed to me by the Patriotic Fund. I can get along without it at present, so I am returning it so that it may be applied for the relief of those who are in greater need. I think that the grant might be cancelled in future as I will try and get along without it.”

The above speaks for itself. All we can say is that a finer, more unselfish, and more patriotic woman would be hard to find.

McClary's Kootenay Range.JPG

The By-law For Local Option Will Be Submitted to the Electors at the Municipal Elections on the 3rd Day of January, 1916.

This gives an opportunity for those in favor of the abolition of the open bar to vote against the Present License System.

The day has long past when any adequate defense can be made for the liquor traffic. It is the open sore in the body politic.

The licensed bar is the Foe of Progress.

It hinders advancement in all departments of human life, economic, political and moral.

It is the friend of poverty, distress and inefficiency. The open bar is – and has been – the cause of nearly all the crime, and law violation in the land. Its produces are the drunkards, the criminals, the wastrels, and the debouched, which infest human society.

Every lover of the home; every friend of the young; every defender of innocence , will line up in this great issue and cast his vote to put away as great a curse from our town.


We can equip one soldier to fight the Kaiser on what we spend for Booze in Ontario every minute. (The Arena.)

sunlight soap ad.JPG


No better proof of Canada’s patriotism could be given than, that the people of the Dominion should voluntarily subscribe $100,000,000 to the Canadian war loan within a week, when only half that amount was asked for. It tends to demonstrate that the statement of Premier Borden, at the beginning of the war – that Canada would support the Empire in winning the struggle if it took the last dollar and the last man we had. Canadians have shown in every undertaking in connection with the war and virility of her citizenship and that our people will measure up to the traditions of the mother of liberty from which they sprang. There is no question but that Canada’s assistance and enthusiasm will not wane in the just cause for which the leading nations of the civilized world are at present contending, until the liberty and freedom of the world and the universal reign of decency and democracy is established.

olympia candy works.JPG

Remembering Remembrance Day

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

This November I was fortunate enough to speak to about 500 people about wars and remembrance in Oshawa. Each November, the Oshawa Museum launches a Remembrance-themed lecture series available free to community groups and schools.

Stories From the Homefront: Oshawa During the Second World War is based on a memory book project that was completed for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day. Local citizens that lived in Oshawa or had to stay home for some reason, tell us their stories about things like Camp X, knitting, rubber and other salvage drives, rationing etc. I have delivered this lecture many times over the years and am always amazed as new stories emerge. This year I met the niece of one of our participants. I was able to ask her a few personal questions to get a better understanding of her stories she contributed. A man also told me about the time a pilot clipped the old water tower and wires near OCVI, and that OCVI had big drums in the gym for fats and scrap salvaging. I joked about how bad the smell must have been and he confirmed my suspicions. Apparently, you could smell it throughout the entire school!

The Letters From the Trenches lecture was developed by Archivist, Jennifer Weymark and features four people who all entered the military for different reasons. Their one connecting thread is that they were all from Oshawa. Two men volunteered, but one was black, a nursing sister also volunteered. The last man faced conscription. Did you know that ‘zombies’ are what the conscripted men were known as? I learned this from one of our Homefront participants.  It is fascinating to hear how their stories intertwined and experiences contrasted.

Finally, Wars & Remembrance highlights institutions such as the Ontario Regiment and city landmarks that include the war memorial and band shell in Memorial Park. It also discusses the reason why some of the street names have a poppy beside them. Since 2003, it has been a policy of the City to name streets within new subdivisions for people who lived in Oshawa and died fighting for their country. These streets are usually north of Taunton Rd. E. and west of Harmony Rd. N. There are also a series of streets with names highlighting different aspects of the various wars. For example,

Festhubert Street, Courcelette Avenue, Vimy Avenue, Verdun Road, and St. Eloi Avenue: northeast of the Ritson Rd. S. /Olive Avenue intersection, these roads have been named for battle sites in France during World War I.

Normandy Street, Dunkirk Avenue, Dieppe Avenue, Sedan Court, Brest Court, Sterling Avenue: located northwest of Wilson Rd. S. and Highway 401, the above street were named after battle sites in France during World War II, with Sterling Avenue possibly named after the Sterling Armaments Company, a company which manufactured weapons during WWII.

Kitchener Avenue, Monash Avenue, and Currie Avenue, Montgomery Street: northeast of Ritson Rd. S. and Highway 401, they are named after officers during World War I.  Kitchener Avenue refers to Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, British; Monash Avenue is after Sir John Monash, Australian; Currie Avenue after the Canadian Arthur Currie; and Montgomery Avenue is after Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British.

I have never been in a situation where I felt the call to enlist in the military. With the exception of grandparents, no one else has served. This last month has renewed my interest in wartime history. Researching family history, researching more of what happened in Oshawa during the Second World War, and even watching shows like Band of Brothers. I feel privileged that I am able to talk about these things with my kids and share with them things that their ancestors experienced. All four of their Great-Grandfathers fought in WWII – US Navy, Canadian Army and German Army.

After my last outreach lecture yesterday (November 29 at time of post), myself, the teacher and students had an engaging conversation – trading family histories, talking about WWI-themed video games as teaching tools and resources that they can use to continue explore this genre of history. I left feeling proud and looking back on the last month feel proud of the impact the Oshawa Museum has made on our community. It was always a goal of ours “to present the results of the project through different means of access.”

“This final objective is very important to us. Our project team was committed to ensuring the results of our project would be effectively used and a plan in place to ensure accessibility to the material. We had seen too many community projects designed with good intentions in mind only to have the finished project languish in boxes in an archives. That is where the second part of our goal comes in – to ensure there is a plan in place for the presentation and dissemination of the knowledge. We wanted to connect our research with the community, to find the commonalities that bind us together as a community.”



If you would like to find out more about William Garrow and some of the industries that existed in the 1940s, please check out the Oshawa Museum’s online exhibits at







Giving Tuesday & The 2018 Curator’s Most Wanted List

By Laura Suchan, Executive Director

We have two days that are good for the economy. Now we have a day that is good for the community too.”

Once again the Oshawa Museum is taking part  in the global movement known as GivingTuesday. Taking place the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is unofficially known as the “opening day of the giving season.” It is a time for charities, companies and individuals to join together and celebrate their favourite causes. (

Our staff chose the artefact collection as the focus of the Oshawa Museum’s Giving Tuesday celebration.  A great deal of our work at the Oshawa Museum (OM) centres around the collection which numbers in excess of 50,000 objects.  Collecting the artefacts is only one piece of the puzzle. One of the most important aspects of the collecting process is the curation or, in other words, how the collection is accumulated and selected for acquisition,  presentation and preservation.  Melissa Cole and Jennifer Weymark are the staff members responsible for curating the OM’s collection.  In this process they are guided by their professional knowledge and a collection policy to ensure our collection is diverse and representative of the history of Oshawa and includes the voices, stories and artefacts of all those who have called Oshawa home. In order to strategically develop the collection for future generations, we rely on donations of both money and artefacts. Donations in any amount help us to purchase items we feel will help tell a more inclusive history of our City. We are also asking you to search your attics and basements for artefacts that will help us with our work.

Poster - SM Graphic

To help you, Jennifer and Melissa recently came up with a Curator’s Top 5  Most Wanted artefacts.

  1. Items related to the Henry, Guy and Robinson families including photographs, land deeds, letters, artefacts.
  2. Examples of Smith Potteries pieces or items related to the business. Currently the OM has 25 pieces of Smith Potteries, and we hope to grow this number and learn more about the business that operated in Oshawa from 1925-1949.
  3. Oshawa historic newspapers especially from the period 1880-1930. There are large gaps in the newspaper collection during these years.  Complete newspapers are great, however we also are interested in incomplete copies or single pages.
  4. Anything related to industry and manufacturing, labour history and the 1937 strike.
  5. A more inclusive look at Oshawa’s history means we must do a better job at telling the stories of our diverse community. Current research projects include early Black and Asian history as well as Displaced Persons.

Once again we are asking our members to join us in preserving Oshawa’s  history by helping us to purchase or by donating items that are on the Curator’s Top 5 Most Wanted List.

Recently the staff was sadden to learn of the passing of  one of our long time friends, Tedd Hann.


Tedd Hann, Jillian Passmore, and Jacquie Frank

Tedd spent many years working for a bread company and then started work with the City of Oshawa.  He retired more than 18 years ago.  Tedd was an accomplished curler and once played on a team that scored an eight ender (a perfect score). Many of our  members will recall Tedd’s Uncle Earl, one of the founding members of the OHS.  Tedd said he donated to the museum in Earl’s memory, after all it was Earl who first got Tedd interested in the work of the museum.   Through donations to the Artefact Fund, Tedd  helped the museum  purchase an exhibit case, publish our WWII book, Stories from the Homefront, repatriate a pair of Ritson Pear Trees and conserve the Granny Cock painting.  Tedd said he got a “great deal of satisfaction” from supporting the museum and was happy to “continue Earl’s work.”

History organizations make their communities more attractive places in which to live, work, learn and play.  A strong arts and culture community is important to the livability and vitality of a community.   Would you be willing to make a donation of $25, $50, $100 or more to help us meet our goal?  Please use this link to make a donation: You can also send your donation by mail to Oshawa Historical Society, 1450 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 8S8.

We thank you for your support to strategically manage and develop the collection as a growing resource for education and research.  We also extend an invitation to you to visit the Oshawa Museum and experience first-hand Oshawa’s Home to History.

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Coyston Drive

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For several years,  the City of Oshawa has had a policy on naming new streets, with an emphasis on names paying tribute to Oshawa’s war dead and veterans.  These streets, as well as others which relate to World War I or World War II, are denoted with a poppy on the street sign.

If you’re driving around the Oshawa, southeast of the Rossland/Harmony intersection, you’ll encounter Coyston Drive and Court, named after Robert Henry Coyston who died in 1916.


Robert was born in London, England on 4 March 1892, to Arthur and Clara (Wells) Coyston.  The family, which included siblings William, George, Alice, Ethel, and Laura, immigrated to Canada in April 1906, settling in Oshawa, Cedardale specifically.  On October 30, 1913, he married Ethel Millicent Hudson, and on December 4, 1914, they welcomed their son, Albert Robert.  Less than two years after their marriage, Robert enlisted into the military; his attestation papers are dated 12 June 1915, and they reveal that Robert had previous experience, serving for eight years with the militia.  His attestation papers also tell us that he stood at 5 feet 7 inches in height, had a medium  complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair.

Robert arrived in France on Mar 16, 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada. By all appearances, he was seeing success with the army, being promoted to sergeant on July 19, 1916.  A few short months later, Robert went missing in action during the Battle of Courcellette on October 8, 1916; he was later declared ‘Killed in Action.’  His wife received a memorial plaque and scroll, and his mother received a Memorial Cross.

After the end of WWI, the Adanac Military Cemetery was established in Miraumont, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France, the name taken from spelling Canada backwards; as per the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, “graves were brought in from the Canadian battlefields around Courcelette and small cemeteries surrounding Miraumont,” and this is where Robert is laid to rest.

Robert Henry Coyston was one of 134 Oshawa citizens who went overseas in the First World War who never made it home.  His name is included on the monument in Memorial Park.  He was one of over 60,000 Canadians who were killed during the war.


This November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and is commemorated as Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth Nations.  May we always remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us.