The Month That Was – June 1862

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

June 4, 1862
The Municipal Election
The Election held in Oshawa on Friday and Saturday last, for the purpose of filling the vacancy in the Village Council, resulted in the return of Mr. JW Fowke by a majority of 10 over Mr John Hyland.  The votes, at the close of the poll, stood: for Fowke 99; for Hyland 89.  Most of the voting was done in the afternoon of the second day.  About 2 o’clock, Mr. Hyland was upwards of 20 votes ahead, and his friends were beginning to feel confident of success, which led Mr. Fowke’s friends to stir about, and for two hours the voting went off quite brisk, resulting as already stated.

June 4, 1862, page 1

Bill to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law
A bill was introduced in the Senate, to-day, by Mr. Sumner, repealing the fugitive slave law and prohibiting slavery in the territories existing or to be acquired, and abolishing it in all the dock-yards, forts, arsenals, etc., located in the slave states, thus relieving the national government from any connection with slavery.

June 4, 1862, page 3

June 11, 1862
Eclipse of the Moon
A total eclipse of the Moon takes place to-night, (Wednesday) or rather to-morrow morning. It will commence a few minutes before twelve o’clock, p.m.*, and end at fifteen minutes past three to-morrow morning – its duration being three hours and seventeen minutes.  The moon will be wholly immersed in the shadow of the earth – totally eclipsed – for the space of sixty-two minutes
*midnight

June 11, 1862, page 3

A Heavy Lamb – Mr. Alex Knox, of Clyde Bank, East Whitby, brought to Oshawa on Tuesday of last week,  a lamb weighing 67 lbs, live weight, at the age of fourteen weeks.  A pretty good specimen for the age, and hard to beat.

Married
At the residence of the bride’s father by Rev. T. Henry, on Saturday evening, the 7th inst, Mr. Albert N. Henry and Miss Harriett T. Guy, both of Port Oshawa.

June 18, 1862
C. Warren & Co.’s Tannery
A few days since we took a walk thro’ the above-mentioned establishment, picking up by the way, a few items of information which may possibly be interesting to some of our readers.

This tannery is not what might be termed a one-horse concern, in which no other power than that of one or two workmen, and one horse is needed to carry on its operations, but gives active employment to about a dozen workmen, whose labors are lighted by a six-horse power engine and a powerful water wheel, which do all the pumping, bark grinding, etc.  At present, from fifty to seventy hides per week are “taken in and done for,” but a large addition upon the west and north sides of the old building, is in course of erection, which, when completed, will give a capacity for working up one hundred hides per week.  Such a number of hides, as a matter of course, could not be purchased in this neighborhood, and therefore Messrs. Warren & Co. Have to draw upon distant points for stock.  Most of their hides are purchased in Chicago, and the leather, into which they are manufactured, is chiefly sold in Kingston and Montreal.  The new building, now enclosed, will contain nearly as many vats as the main one, and will be ready for operation in about a week.

June 18, 1862, page 4

Early closing.
We are much pleased to observe that the Merchants of Oshawa have signed and published an agreement to close their shops precisely at half past seven o’clock every evening, from now to The first of October. This is a very proper move, and we hope it will be rigidly adhered to by all, whatever may be the temptation to violate it. The farmers come in and transact their business in the daytime, as do also, many who live in the village, and those of the latter class who cannot make it convenient to visit the stores in the daytime, can surely get there, and find parties to wait upon them, before half past seven. In some of our stores, for some time past, there has been no regular time for closing, nor for clerks to get an hour to themselves.

We have expressed a hope that the agreement to close at half past seven would be rigidly observed by those who are parties to it. We say this because it is well known that, when a similar agreement was made on a former occasion, some parties lived up to the letter, but grossly violated the spirit of it by keeping their doors unbarred, if not unlocked, and their stores were well lit up, for hours after other merchants had really and truly closed up. Such a practice is in the highest degree unjust to those who close punctually and completely, because it robs them of many casual quarters or dollars which they might get by pursuing a similar course.

June 25, 1862
Temperance Soiree
The members of the Raglan Division announce their intention to hold a Soiree in Mr. Smith’s grove, a mile and a half east of Raglan, on Wednesday next, the 2nd of July. Several able and interesting speakers are engaged for the occasion, as also vocal and instrumental musicians, and everything promises a pleasant and profitable season.

East Whitby Division is also to have a Soiree in the grove a little north of Harmony, on the following day – Thursday the 3rd of July. A number of good speakers are also engaged for this occasion, and the music is to be supplied by the Oshawa Brass Band. The committee intend to use their best exertions to render the affair in every respect worth of large attendance.  Tea to be served at Harmony at half-past two o’clock and at Raglan at one o’clock.

June 25, 1862, page 3

Celebrating Henry House During COVID-19

By Melissa Cole, Curator

While editing our latest issue of Historical Happenings (our quarterly newsletter for Oshawa Historical Society Members) which is dedicated to celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Henry House as a museum, I began to reflect on my time here at the museum.  My career at the Oshawa Museum started 20 years ago.  I started as a Fleming College Museum Management and Curatorship intern in the archives, working with past Archivist, Tammy Robinson.  One of my first projects was to work on a display celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Henry House officially opening as a museum: a come and go tea was held in the garden of Henry House. 

Letter from former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien acknowledging the 40th anniversary of Henry House.

Twenty years later, I never would have thought we would not be on site to celebrate the 60th anniversary of what I consider one of our largest artefacts and that we would celebrate virtually.  Before Henry House became a museum, it was the home to many families such as the Henry Family, Smith Family, and Mackie Family.  The home is furnished in belongings from various families that once lived in Oshawa.  In this post I thought I would highlight a few of my favourite pieces that are currently on display in Henry House, artefacts you would see on a tour with one of our knowledgeable Visitor Hosts.  Some of the items I will highlight belonged to the Henry family. 

Lets go on a curatorial tour!

Walking in the front door, something I miss the most is the smell of Henry House.  I realized how much I missed this smell the other day when I walked into Henry to check on the collection.  The smell is comforting, and it may have to do with the fact it has become my home away from home over the last 20 years. 

In the study, as you walk into the room you will find a beautiful mahogany spinet desk that once belonged to Dr. Franklin Luther Henry, grandson of Thomas Henry.  This particular desk was once located in Dr. F.L. Henry’s home and dental practice located at 231 King Street East in Oshawa.  This building still stands and is now home to the Harmony Health Centre. 

As you enter the parlour there is a beautiful Edwardian settee along the south-east wall, that once sat in Centre Street United Church.

Settee that once was at the Centre Street United Church

Located nearby is a beautiful embroidered child’s folding chair that once belonged to Thomas and Lurenda’s youngest child Jennie Henry.  As you enter the dining room there is another lovely artefact that once belonged to Jennie as well, a vegetable warming dish that was a wedding gift for her and John McGill.  They were married in Henry House on January 1, 1873. As you leave the dining room on the south hallway wall is a frame containing six tin types of the Henry children,

Jennie (Henry) McGill’s vegetable warmer

One of the popular rooms in the house containing the most activity was the kitchen; my favourite artefact in this room is not attributed to any particular family member.  It is a common kitchen gadget that many people still use in their home today, likely in the form of an SOS pad.  If you have visited our site in the past you have probably already named it, the pot scrubber!  You just never know what guesses our visitors will come up with for this item. 

Not on display but within the corner cupboard is chinaware similar to what was found during the 2018 archaeological dig in the backyard of Henry House.

Lastly the main floor bedroom, on the east wall is a pair of oval framed tin types of Thomas and Lurenda Henry. Further along this wall is a bird’s eye maple dresser that once belonged to the Robinson Family.  I have to mention, on top of this dresser are three exquisite pieces of hair jewellery, made from human hair.  This was a great way to recycle hair.  After brushing, the hair would be removed from the brush and kept in ceramic hair receptacles.  Sometimes the hair may have been from someone who had died, and this was made in memory of them. 

I have to be honest, all the artefacts in the home are my favourites for different reasons because these objects assist us in sharing the unique stories about our community and the people that helped shape it.  I wanted to bring a few to life today. 

To discover more about Henry House, you can check out our blog archive which goes back to 2013; the handy search bar makes searching easy.

We also have videos on our YouTube channel featuring Henry House – Our Henry House Playlist is a curated list of videos about Henry House or the Henry family: Access it HERE

Celebrating 60 Years of the Henry House Museum

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

It was fanfare and long lineups that met the official opening of the Henry House Museum on May 21, 1960. It was the opening of the first community museum in Oshawa, and it was the result of the hard work of the founding members of the Oshawa (and District) Historical Society.

File2016 - Opening blog

In the late 1950s, community members became concerned about the condition of Henry House, and this was the impetus to establish the Historical Society in 1957.  That year, alderman Walter Lane had originally proposed the idea of a historical museum for Oshawa. “Such an institution was long overdue in Oshawa…The alderman told council that countless items of historic interest were lost for the future everyday and just thrown away when the older people were dying” (Oshawa Times, May 7, 1957).

Oshawa Historical Society members “had given considerable consideration to transforming the house into a museum of early Oshawa history” (Oshawa Times, December 1, 1958). On March 20, 1959, members of the ODHS received the news that they could use Henry House as a local museum. They would have just over one year to make the house and collection presentable to the public.

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Verna Conant shaking hands with the Rt Hon Michael Starr as Hon Bryan Cathcart stands to the side, 21 May 1960

Henry House officially opened as a museum at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday May 21, 1960. Former Oshawa Mayor and Labour Minister Michael Starr was the official ribbon cutter and principle speaker was the Honourable B.L. Cathcart, Minister of Travel and Publicity. Other speakers included Mayor Lyman A. Gifford and MPP, T.D. Thomas. Guests were invited to hear the speakers outside of the house then view the exhibits inside, which included a period parlour, farm implements, and antique uniforms, weapons, books and pictures. Members of the ODHS served as guides through the afternoon and answering questions.

Between May 21 and October 10, 1960 the new museum saw over 1000 visitors pass through its door. “One young boy [visited] the museum every week of the summer, spending 15 cents of his 25 cent per week allowance” (Oshawa This Week, August 21, 1985).

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By the end of the decade, the ODHS saw its Museum operation responsibilities double with the opening of the Robinson House Museum, and by the early 1980s, they were operating as the unified Oshawa Sydenham Museum and exploring adding Guy House to the complex, which happened in 1984 and opened in 1985.

Years of operation and thousands of visitors were beginning to take its toll on the home.  In 1988, Henry House was closed for restoration after the second storey was deemed unsafe.  At this time, the entire ground floor was rebuilt and steel structural support beams were added to offer additional support for the second storey.  On July 1, 1989 Henry House was officially reopened, with dignitaries such as Mayor Allan Pilkey, Museum Advisor Allan Barnes from the Ministry of Culture and Communications and Mrs. Mildred Fletcher, the great-granddaughter of Thomas Henry, on hand to cut the ribbon and celebrate this occasion. Also cause for celebration was that the three houses of the museum became the first homes in Oshawa to be designated for their historical importance under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Sept 2018t blog

Since the last major restoration, the focus has shifted towards representing the day-to-day life of the Henry family as accurately as possible. Rooms have been repurposed to reflect how the family would have lived. In its current incarnation, guests now visit a study, parlour, dining room, kitchen, and bedroom, and these rooms change seasonally. Homes today change their decor to reflect the seasons and holidays, and the Henry’s home in the 1800s likely would have as well. The home will also change if it suits the feature exhibition. The best example of this was in 2009 and 2015 for The Mourning After: The Victorian Celebration of Death, when Henry House became a house in mourning; the parlour was exhibited as though a funeral was going to take place, clocks were stopped, mirrors were covered, and crepe was placed at the door to indicate a death had taken place.

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Mourning After exhibit, 2015

One of the more common questions asked on tour is about the objects on display and what was owned by the family. The house is largely filled with objects that were made in Oshawa or owned by different Oshawa families, but wherever possible, the house is furnished with objects that have provenance associated with the Henry family.  For example, in the study, the first room guests see on tour, the desk belonged to Thomas Henry’s grandson, the settee in the room was his daughter Jennie’s, there is a cup on the desk belonging to Thomas, and the chair behind the desk was his as well.  Some items, like a parasol owned by Frank and Millie Henry, were early donations to the site, while others, like Hortense Henry’s table in the parlour, were donated within the last decade.

Dr FL Henry Desk 005 blog
The study in 2014 – the desk, chair, portrait, and cane (on the back of the chair, far left in image) were all donated by Henry family members.

Sixty years after officially opening its doors, we have temporarily closed for the safety of our staff and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are not celebrating like we thought we would be, but there are still ways you can experience Henry House in honour of its museum birthday. Our blog archive goes back to 2013, and the handy search bar makes searching easy.

We also have videos on our YouTube channel featuring Henry House – Our Henry House Playlist is a curated list of videos about Henry House or the Henry family: Access it HERE

The Gales of November

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist; this was originally written for the Oshawa Express in 2013

November 2013 was the 100th anniversary of one of the deadliest storms to ever hit Lake Ontario. Early November 1913 saw a storm like no other storm hit the entire Great Lakes area.  Known as the White Hurricane, the storm lasted four days and brought with it deadly snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  When the storm finally ended, approximately 250 people had lost their lives and ships that were supposed to be “unsinkable” had sunk.

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William Percy Judge, a resident of Oshawa, wrote about this storm in his memoirs.  The following is Judge’s description of how the White Hurricane affected Oshawa.

I recall the impact of the great storm of November 1913 on Oshawa’s lakefront.  The storm changed the shoreline, ripped up the pier, tore out the bridge where the creek entered the lake, wrecked the boathouse and dock, tore down the Ocean Wave (and) destroyed the sandy bottom and the beach, left gravel in place of sand, tore down most of the trees in the picnic grounds, wrecked tables and benches and broke many windows in the pavilion.  Some waves were as high as the pavilion and water ran across the car tracks and road and into the cat-tail swamp.  I had heard of the storm from the telegraph operator at the Grand Trunk Station.  Before the storm was over, thirteen large ships had been sunk and more than two hundred people had lost their lives.

The morning of the storm, November 7, gave no indication of the terrible weather to come.  It was apparently, a beautiful warm, in fact unusually warm, and windy day.  However, an Arctic blast of extremely cold air was about to collide with the warmth of the Great Lakes.  In his memoirs, Judge provides an explanation for the terrible turn in the weather.

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes but is very deep.  In the center (sic), the bottom is almost five hundred feet below sea level and because of this, much of the same water could remain near the bottom of the lake.  The current carries the water on top over it like a river.  Because of its depth, it takes a longer time and really big blow to cause Lake Ontario to go mad.  The conditions were right – so, mad she got.

The storm that so battered the Great Lakes concluded with blue skies and temperatures so warm that all of the snow melted by the end of the week.

Street Name Stories – Normandy Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

May 8 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe. WWII lasted from 1939-1945; approximately 1,159,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served, and the number of deaths totaled 44,090¹.  Looking locally, WWII impacted our community with 177 Oshawa residents who died during the conflict, while thousands more enlisted, served, were part of the ordinance corps, or did their part by working on the homefront.

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VE Day was not the end of World War II, which continued until September 1945 when the official terms of surrender were signed with Japan, however, VE Day was widely celebrated in the community.  As described by Oshawa resident Murray McKay, “That was a celebration. You wouldn’t believe it. People were dancing in the street downtown Oshawa.”

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Photo Credit: Oshawa Times- Gazette, Canada, Oshawa Community Archives

 

There were several complex campaigns of WWII taking place in theatres all over the globe; one of the best known was the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.  This co-ordinated attack by the Allied partners was intended to re-establish an Allied presence in Western Europe, and Canada was a full partner in the invasion.  The objectives of D-Day, 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings, were to take five beaches, and capturing Juno Beach was the responsibility of the Canadians, under the command of General Harry Crerar.  This victory wasn’t without cost; according to the Canadian War Museum, 14,000 Canadians were part of the Allied Troops at the Normandy invasion, and on D-Day, Canadians suffered 1074 casualties, while 359 were killed.²  The campaign lasted 10 weeks, and the casualty list grew to more than 18,000 casualties, 5000 of them fatal, and this number is just representative of the Canadians. There were substantial losses on all sides. It represented a turning point in the war – opening up the western front, leaving the German forces to defend to the west and east, but it was not without cost of life.  By September, the Normandy campaign, known as Operation Overlord, was over, and just over eight months later, Victory in Europe was being celebrated.

Normandy (2)

Normandy Street is found north of Highway 401, west of Wilson and east of Ritson, along with Dunkirk Avenue, Dieppe Avenue, Sedan Court, Brest Court, and Crerar Street, all of which are related to the Second World War, be it battle sites or after General Harry Crerar. In terms of dating the street, due to emergency orders, access to the directories at the archives is challenging.  Thankfully, our friends at the Oshawa Library have digitized a number of City Directories, helping me with this research!   The 1955 Directory lists Normandy Street, but also notes that it is ‘Not Built On,’ and the same listing appears in the years 1957 to 1961.  This suggests this street dates to the mid 1950s with development taking place in the early 1960s.


  1. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/second-world-war-dead-1939-1947/Pages/files-second-war-dead.aspx
  2. https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/chrono/1931d_day_e.html