Student Museum Musings -Transcription Tales

By Adam A., Archives Assistant Student

Hello once more! It has been a little over a month since my last blog post, and I am now overdue to provide an update on my efforts. At this time I am a little over three thousand words into a new transcription project. As my previous transcription project concluded just shy of forty thousand words in length, I am certain that I still have a lot ahead of me.

File545 - Ward Pankhurst

Ward Pankhurst

This time I’m not transcribing a newspaper or any other print medium, rather the subject of my work is a tape recording from 1972. This recording, an interview of Mr. Wardie Pankhurst, has presented some obstacles that have considerably slowed down the project. For one the audio quality of the old tape necessitates multiple hearings of each sentence. Another problem in the nature of the interview, Mr. Pankhurst and the interviewer have the unfortunate habit of talking at the same time meaning that portions of the recording are completely indecipherable.

To expedite the project we have acquired a new devise which reads the tape and produces an MP3 file of it. This will make it easier to move back and forth to rehear segments. Additionally it seems to have also improved the audio quality in some way which will mean that fewer sections will have to be gone over more than once.

Regardless, there is still much to learn from Mr. Pankhurst’s reminisces about his life in Cedar Dale (now part of South Oshawa). As he was born in 1888 and has lived in the area his entire life he has many fascinating stories about Oshawa. Presently I am transcribing his account of the disappearance of the artificial pond he used to swim in. Previously I transcribed his descriptions of his work at the Malleable Iron Company and its role producing parts for Ford. Additionally I learned of the cost to attend high school in the 1890s (a dollar), and that Oshawa was home to a news reporter who had travelled around the globe no less than four times.


Ontario Malleable Iron, c. 1929

I greatly look forward to discovering more of the tape’s knowledge and seeing what the remainder of my time working here this summer will yield.


Where The Streets Get Their Names – Oshawa Boulevard

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

A commonly asked question of Museum staff is what does the word Oshawa mean?  Early interpretations of Oshawa have varied greatly. Samuel Pedlar, 19th century amateur historian and author, sought to find the origin, and he consulted noted American ethnologist, Horatio Hale, as well as J.C. Bailey (a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers) throughout 1894.


As the story goes, the name Oshawa was selected in 1842, to secure the establishment of a Post Office. Initially the townspeople had thought “Sydenham” was a good choice, to further honour Lord Sydenham and keep in line with the Sydenham Harbour. However, Ackeus Moody Farewell and two First Nations men that had accompanied him to the meeting suggested an Indigenous name. It was them who selected “Oshawa,” and the others present agreed.

According to Pedlar, the exact meaning of the name was not recorded at the time of the meeting. Numerous conclusions were made before it was finally agreed that Oshawa means “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”

Today, Oshawa Boulevard is a continuous (mostly) north-south street.  Its southern terminus is around the CP tracks, south of Olive Avenue, and it continues north; north of Hillcroft, it extends northwest, crosses Ritson, and continues to twist and turn, eventually ending again at Ritson, south of Beatrice Street.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the 1920s in Oshawa saw a great amount of growth and development.  New roads and houses were added to our city, Oshawa Boulevard being one of them.  There was only a handful of houses listed in the 1921 City Directory, but by 1929, the number had easily quadrupled.


Take a close look at the map above.  This map dates to 1925 and shows Oshawa Boulevard starting at King Street.  South of King Street, there are two other streets circled: Yonge Street and St. Julien Street.  Both of these streets were new additions in the 1920s, but neither exist today, all consolidated as ‘Oshawa Boulevard.’  It appears that sometime between 1954 and 1956 the City decided to consolidate three consecutive streets into one name, and so Yonge Street and St. Julian St. were renamed.

Where did these other names come from?

Toronto’s Yonge Street was named by Sir John Graves Simcoe after his friend Sir George Yonge who was reportedly an expert on ancient Roman roads.  It is likely that Oshawa’s street took its spelling from either Sir Yonge or the street in Toronto.

St. Julien was named for the Battle of St. Julien, part of the larger Battle of Ypres in Belgium.  As described by Veterans Affairs Canada:

On April 24 (1915), the Germans attacked in an attempt to obliterate the salient once and for all. Another violent bombardment was followed by another gas attack in the same pattern as before. This time the target was the Canadian line. Here through terrible fighting, withered with shrapnel and machine-gun fire, hampered by rifles that jammed, violently ill and gasping for air through mud-soaked handkerchiefs, they held on until reinforcements arrived.

Thus, in their first appearance on a European battlefield, the Canadians established a reputation as a formidable fighting force. But the cost was high. In these 48 hours, 6,035 Canadians – one man in every three – was lost from Canada’s little force of hastily trained civilians. This was a grim forerunner of what was still to come.

Streets around the former St. Julien (Oshawa Boulevard) include Festhubert, Courcellette, Vimy, St. Eloi, and Verdun, all of which are depicted with a poppy on the sign.


The Month That Was – August 1935

All articles originally appeared in the 14 August 1935 edition of the Oshawa Daily Times

Three patients in Hospital at opening 25 Years ago

Mrs. Wm. Webster, Mrs Geo. Scott and Mother of newborn baby were patients in hospital yesterday

Time and tide wait for no man and many events bring forth strange coincidences- happy puzzling and not so joyful. During the silver jubilee of the Oshawa General Hospital yesterday, three coincidences were recorded which are worthy of mention.

Three patients in the hospital yesterday were present when the opening of the institution too place twenty-five years ago, but at that time they were spectators and two at least were financially interested, while the third was a mere infant in her mother’s arms.

Mrs. William Webster, a member of Centre Street Ladies’ Aid who was a patient in the hospital yesterday, was able to be removed to her home this morning, was one of the first collectors to visit the factories of Oshawa twenty-five years ago to solicit donations for the hospital and through her efforts a goodly sum was added to the hospital fund at that time.

Another lady, whose name is withheld, and who attended the opening of the Oshawa General Hospital twenty-five years ago, as an infant in her mothers arms, was a patient in the maternity ward yesterday and this morning was presented with a young daughter.

Mr. George Scott, father of Mrs. Thomas Miller, who was an active worker for the hospital, and who made a presentation to the hospital on its opening twenty-five years ago, was also a patient in the hospital yesterday.

oats ad

A Man’s Idea on Laying a Table

It is very seldom that a man tells us what he really thinks about the way the table at which he takes his meals is arranged. Usually he accepts his wife’s taste in the matter unquestioningly.

But does he like it? I wondered as I walked round an exhibition of table-setting at which men archtects and designers were responsible for one or two tables each.

Two well-known architects flatly refused from the first to allow any cloth or mats to be used. They were Wells Coates and Frederick Gibberd, the latter only 27, and therefore very modern in his ideas.

His choice was a set of creamy yellow china with a pale grey flower and a dull red circle. It stands on a walnut table edged with sycamore: the latter wood, like the tweed-covered chairs, harmonizing with the color of china.

Wells Coates chose “curves.” Round plates and oval dishes with concentric circles of green and silver stand on a walnut table with rounded edges and curved legs.

One of the most interesting tables was arranged by Oliver Hill, who was the architect of five sections of the British Art in Industry Exhibition at Burlington House.

Its motif was diagonal lines, its color green and silver. The corners of the table were cut diagonally to correspond with the position of the oblong glass ashtrays, while the centrepiece was a set of four oblong glass dishes, filled with the heads of white flowers and ingeniously placed side to side.

As on other masculine tables, an ashtray was placed at each corner. Hostesses, please note!

Most men, apparently, like low centrepieces and tall candles. Mr. J. Emberton, architect of the new Olympia, is an exception. On a walnut table, again without mats, he sets jasmine china with orange and gold bands, two very tall candles, and a large centerpiece of china flowers, standing on mirror glass.

gray coach lines

British Warships are held in Mediterranean

London, Aug. 14- Preliminary negotiations were started today in Paris to avert war between Italy and Ethiopia and coincident with this is a British-Italian diplomatic struggle for mastery of the Mediterranean.

British Government quarters continue to emphasize that back of the Italian-Ethiopian dispute League of Nations ideals and prestige are concerned.

Diplomatic observers see more and more clearly the development of a British-Italian struggle for control of the Mediterranean in which, back of it all, the kings of the diplomatic chessman are Britain’s navy and Italy’s bombing air force.

French sources argue that the decline of the British navy under the limitation treaties has encouraged Italy not only to aim at broadening its colonial terrain but also to bid for a larger share of control of the Mediterranean.

This view, if confirmed by Italy’s attitude in the Paris talks, would cause alarm in great Brittan and cause a still further stiffening in its attitude because it would be seen as a threat to the British Sea route to India and to British supremacy along the Nile.

Visitors are not allowed to disembark at Leros, but are forced to go to Rhodes where all are subjected to a close scrutiny. Private houses on the islands have been requisitioned to care for the sick and wounded. All motor vessels have also been requisitioned.

The 13 islands of the Dodecanese are off the coast of Asia Minor. The islands are Khodes, Cos, Kalymnos, Leros, Nisyros, Telos, Syme, Khalke, Astypalaia, Karpathos, Kasos, Patmos and Lispos.

Exporters here hinted today at a move to refuse further credits to Italy because of delayed payments believed caused at the expense of military preparations.

Many exporters, especially coal shippers, have already shut down on sales to Italy until past payments are made, and this has shunted the Italian demand to Germany.


Harvesting is a Tedious Job

Heavy Straw and Lodging of Grain Proves Troublesome

Harvesting of the crops in Ontario county this summer is proving to be a hard task, owing to the straw in the heavy crops and the lodging of a great deal of the grain according to the weekly report of the Ontario Department of Agriculture. The section of the report relative to Ontario County reads as follows:

“Harvesting is a tedious and heavy job on account of heavy straw and a great deal of lodging of grain. A great deal of twine has been used and threshing is slowed up, to some extent due to the tangled condition of sheaves. Grain is considerably below last year both in yield and in quality. Oats especially are much lighter than was the crop a year ago. Where 60 bushels to the acre were common a year ago, 45 bushel yields are the rule this year.”

Student Museum Musings – Displaced Persons in Oshawa

By Mia V., Oral History Project Student

It seems like hardly any time has passed since I first started here this summer, but that goes with the old saying about time flying when you’re… kept very engaged and interested in your work… having fun! Since my last blog post, I have continued to work on the museum’s oral history project, about displaced persons that came to settle in Canada and then in Oshawa following World War II.

In doing so, I have contacted several cultural organizations and clubs in Oshawa who may know of someone who arrived in Canada as a displaced person, as well as those individuals who were considered to be displaced themselves. I have also put together some of the collected stories and documents together into online exhibits at the website Oshawa Immigration Stories. It is a way to pull together many of the common experiences into narratives that can be shared with others. I am really enjoying this task, as I think that these stories are important to many different levels, beyond just individual families – for Oshawa history and for Canadian history as a whole.

Zenia Kolodziejzcak's stateless persons document

Zenia Kolodziejczak’s temporary travel document issued at the DP camp in Germany.

One of the major things I’ve noticed about the documents that have been donated is how many of them were for purposes of identification, and just how many pieces of ID each person needed at different points in their journey – to get to Canada, as well as once they were here. As such, one of the documents that stood out to me the most was a document for travel “in lieu of a passport” for “stateless persons and persons of undetermined nationality.” To me, this document puts into words the feeling of uncertainty that pervaded the immediate post-war era. I’ve also found this sentiment to be heavily apparent in newspapers at the time, some of which have also provided incredible insight for the project.

Student Museum Musings – All About the Grandpa Henry’s Picnic

By Lauren R., Summer Museum Assistant

The Grandpa Henry Picnic has become one of the most anticipated events of the Oshawa Museums year, next to our annual Lamplight event, that is. Grandpa Henry’s Picnic is a tradition that was adopted by the Museum from the Henry family.


The Henry family were some of the first European inhabitants of Oshawa and lived in what the Museum now calls “Henry House,” for obvious reasons. Thomas Henry and his first wife, Elizabeth Davis, married in 1817. During the time that they were married they had 6 children, 5 of which survived into adulthood. Despite the happiness that was growing in the family there was despair looming around the corner. Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and due to the illness, she passed away in 1829. Devastated, Thomas was left with 5 young boys to raise and no wife to help him with the task. With this in mind he set about continuing his work as usual while also hoping to find a new wife to share his life with. He succeeded and in November 1830 he married Lurenda Abbey. Together, he and Lurenda had another 10 children, bringing the number of young members in the family to 15! It wasn’t too long before Lurenda and Thomas were welcoming even littler ones into the family  and the number of grandchildren grew large and fast.

Though Thomas Henry loved his family and his children deeply it was the grandchildren that truly held a special place in Thomas’ heart. Each year Thomas Henry, or Grandpa Henry in this case, would hold a huge celebration in the back garden of his house for his grandchildren; there were games, good meals and lots of laughter exchanged between those who came to the event. In the Annotated Memories of Rev. Thomas Henry there is a portion of a letter which talks of the picnics that Thomas held for his grandchildren,

Father Henry was very fond of children, and his grandchildren will carry to their graves pleasant memories of ‘Grandpa’s parties.’ These parties were given on the 24th of May, and the grandchildren were all invited. The children were also welcome if they came, but the grandchildren were the honored guests. We shall always remember the long table, surrounded by children, with grandpa at the head dispensing the good cheer provided for the occasion, was a face scarcely less bright and happy than the children around him.

During his lifetime Thomas Henry was able to meet 49 of his grandchildren, and at the ripe old age of 81 he was able to go to his rest peacefully. In total there were 58 grandchildren born to Thomas Henry. The Museum still receives stories and information from the Henry family about different events in their history that provide an important bridge to the past.


Henry Family Reunion, 1930 (A017.20.20)

Despite this event being a very important one to the Henry family there is surprisingly little information about it in personal writings or other documents. This makes it hard for those of us who work at the Museum to truly understand what the picnics were like and to give more detailed illustrations of how life and family was for the Henrys in this aspect of their lives.

Today the Museum continues to put on an event annually known as “Grandpa Henry’s Picnic.” This event is meant to keep the Henry tradition alive and to provide families with the chance to come down to the Museum to have a fun-filled day. This event took place this past weekend, for the 4th year in a row, and we are pleased to say that we engaged 201 members of our community! The event involved many fun and engaging activities such as games, live music, coloring sheets, the opportunity to dress-up as a Victorian, and a table with honey bees. In addition to this there was also food available such as traditional handmade ice cream and popcorn. The event was a great success and we hope to be able to meet more of our community next year.