The Harry H began its life chasing down German submarines in World War I and spent years in the Oshawa Harbour. It remained floating on the west wharf of the Oshawa Harbour until it could float no more.
In July 1916, five ships were sunk in New York by German submarines, spurring the navy to design an effective anti-submarine vessel. Steel was scarce, and because of that, a new ship was designed of wood, built for speed rather than strength.
The Harry Hwas built in 1918 in New York City and spanned 110 feet long. Its original name was the Subchaser SC-238. In 1922, David Sullivan purchased the ship, renamed it the Allen, and brought it to Oshawa. In October of 1925, the vessel was found abandoned by George Hardy. An “action for salvage” warrant was then issued by the exchequer Court of Canada for George Hardy for the towing fee to Toronto.
By 1933, the ship, re-named Harry H, had been in the hands of several different owners. During that year, it was seized by the R.C.M.P. for infractions to customs regulations. It was rumored that after the seizure, the R.C.M.P. used the ship for chasing Rum Runners on Lake Ontario.
Some confusion in the registration of the Harry H,as well as repairs, caused some to believe that the ship had been used as a Rum Runner herself. When owner David Sullivan brought the ship (then named the Allen) over to Oshawa Harbour, its New York registration was not closed; in fact, it was not closed until three years after the ship was found abandoned on Lake Ontario.
In June of 1934 there was a Court Order issued by the Registrar of Shipping in Toronto that the vessel be sold at public auction. She was bought by Stanley Grossett of Port Hope for $180. On October 2, 1934 the Harry Hwas sold to Oshawa resident William Leggott.
When Harry H was first found in Oshawa Harbour, it was noticed that the boat no longer had three engines. Instead, it had two. When the hull of the ship was inspected, it was found that the prop shaft had been plugged. In addition, the propellers of the ship were 9 inches shorter than the original 39 inches. It was customary then for Rum Runners to keep the propellers sharp for cutting through fishing nets dropped by patrol boats to catch Rum Runners. Harry H was no exception to this.
Harry Hwas found at the bottom of the Oshawa Harbour basin in the summer of 1965 due to a pump or battery failure. In the fall of the same year, it broke away from the dock during high winds. It was later found underwater next to a clay bank in shallow water at the Harbour. A mast, as well as part of the deck, showed through the water. They were later torn off by ice.
In August of 1978 a dredging operation by the Porter Dredging Company ended the life of the Harry H. Although the boat put up a good fight, tangling in the wire ropes in the 36 inch diameter auger that was used for the dredging, Harry H eventually gave in and the ship was destroyed.
In the early years of the twentieth century, a man named Jack O’Leary owned the New Lunch/O’Leary’s Restaurant at 37 King Street West in Oshawa – between the Commercial Hotel and the coal yards at Centre Street.
Behind this small restaurant, a semi-permanent, Trabant/wipeout style of carnival ride existed, a ride which Oshawa residents fondly remember as the Ocean Wave. The Ocean Wave has a mysterious past. There is little to no information about Jack O’Leary. Census records from 1911 do not show anyone named Jack or John O’Leary living in Oshawa, Cedardale or East Whitby, and there are no related families living in Oshawa. There is also no information available about the building and manufacturing of the ride itself…
This post was originally written for our Lakeview Park 100 online exhibit.
This past week, we had the pleasure of welcoming a large collection of items from the Canadian Red Cross, Durham Branch, into our collection. This new acquisition is quite vast, with objects ranging from uniforms to annual reports. And, of course, going through our newest acquisition lead me down a Red Cross history spiral…
The Red Cross was founded in 1859 by Henry Dunant. Dunant witnessed a battle between the French and Austrian armies in Northern Italy. Here he saw many soldiers wounded. With medics unable to cope with the volume of patients, he set up a temporary hospital. Three years later, Dunant wrote a novel proposing his idea of countries establishing a neutral and independent group of helpers that could provide care during times of conflicts. This sparked the creation of the Red Cross movement.
Here in Canada, the Red Cross movement began with the North West Resistance of 1885. Certain individuals familiar with the Red Cross movement in Europe used the Red Cross flag to act as independent medics. It was not until 1896 that Toronto surgeon and militia member Dr. George Sterling Ryerson gained permission to establish a branch of the British Red Cross in Canada.
In its early years, the Canadian Red Cross only worked during wartime. However, a turning point came at the end of the First World War.
During the war, the Canadian Red Cross had increased substantially with funding and volunteers, so much so that Canadian Red Cross leaders did not want to see the organization disappear until another war broke out. So, the Canadian Red Cross expanded their mandate to include the phrase “in times of peace.” This allowed the Red Cross to be involved in many peacetime public health and welfare work. Finally in 1927, rather than being a branch of the British Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross officially became an independent Red Cross society.
All the photographs you see in this post are some of my favourite items in our new collection. The uniform was particularly exciting to unbox and photograph. It is a woman’s uniform, most likely made of wool and handmade. It is a most unique item as we do not have anything like the uniform in our collection.
During my research, I also learned that May 8 is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. This day celebrates the creation of the Red Cross movement. It seems rather fortunate, then, that I get to share with you all our newest acquisition.
All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator
Content warning – an article in 21 May 1862 discusses a death by suicide.
7 May 1862, Page 2
Postmasterships Mr. Francis Kellar, of Whitby, has been appointed Postmaster of Oshawa, in place of Mr. D. Smith, who is appointed to the Whitby office. We hope Sidney and the wire-pullers will get things fixed to suit them pretty soon. The hangers-on of Whitby are very well pleased with the position of the cards at present. Mr. Kellar’s being stationed at Oshawa instead of Whitby leaves the Whitby office still open for aspirants – Mr. Smith’s appointment being only one of convenience for the time being. He is worthy of a better position, and will get it, if the last of the Hincksites is not ejected from office too suddenly to allow of the papers being made out. We are sorry to part with Mr. Smith at Oshawa, for we believe he gave the best of satisfaction to all having business at the office.
Notice Valuable Property For Sale in the Village of Oshawa The building at present occupied by Henry Binge, Druggist, and Frank Taylor, Jeweler, situated on the northeast corner of King and Simcoe Streets, known as Sutton’s Block, will be sold by public auction at Woon’s Hotel, on Thursday the 15th day of May next, at 12 o’clock noon. Terms made known on day of sale.
John Warren, Wm. Bartlett, Assignees of WJ Sutton’s Estate. Oshawa, April 22nd, 1862.
Coal! Coal! Just received Ex “Royal Oak” from Oswego, a lot of Blacksmiths’ Coal, which will be sold cheap for Cash or approved credit. A supply will be kept constantly on hand. James O. Guy, Port Oshawa, April 15th, 1862
14 May 1862, page 2
Ran away, but got Caught On Saturday evening last, while the members of the Oshawa Rescue Fire Company were returning to their quarters, after going through with one of their monthly evolutions, a span of smart looking horses from the country, not being accustomed to such sights, took fright at the red-coated gentlemen and their machine, and started on a gallop with their load. The firemen slipped anchor and gave chase, in right earnest. The horses passed up King, down Centre, and on to Athol Street, where they were intercepted by some half dozen of the fleetest of the Rescuers, and after knocking down one who attempted to grapple the bits, were “brought to,” almost instantly. Immediately the wagon box was filled with cargo of firemen, several of whom got hold of the “horse strings: to act as moderators, while others sent the air with ebullitions of exultation over their bravery in capturing the team. … The damage done on occasion was very slight – nothing further than distributing a few bags of wheat, bran, &c., along the street; but it might have been worse, and shows that people should not be so reckless of life and property as to leave their horses standing in the street without being securely tied. – Communicated
Torch Lights, This is to caution all parties against carrying Torch Lights, or cutting Pine Timber on my premise – particularly on the north 60 acres of Lot No. 4, Broken Front, as the penalties of the law will be strictly enforced. John Wilson, East Whitby, April 22nd, 1862
Died On the battle-field at Pittsburg Landing (Tenn.) on Sunday, April 6th, First Lieutenant Frank N. Doyle, of Company H, 16th Iowa Volunteers, formerly of this office, in the 24th year of his age.
“Poor Frank! He little thought he was to die so soon; yet he died nobly, with his face to the foe, encouraging the men to retreat in good order. We buried him on yesterday, April 8th, on the field where he so nobly fell, with nought but a pine board with his name, age, rank, date of his death, and his place of residence on it to mark the spot where the young hero died. There he lies, far from home and friends, in an enemy’s country, in the wilds of Tennessee, within a short distance of the Tennessee River. You may judge of the feelings of those who had been so long associated with him, on this occasion. Often we think of him and murmur a prayer for him who sleeps the long sleep.” Letter from an officer of the regiment, published in the Dubuqe Daily Times.
21 May 1862, page 2
Distressing Suicide in Oshawa On Friday morning last, the inhabitants of our village were startled at an early hour, with the intelligence which went the rounds with marvelous speed, that Mr. Martin Bambridge, Blacksmith, one of the oldest and best known residents of the place, had been found dead, at five o’clock, in the loft of his stable.
A jury was soon summoned to investigate the matter, and a Coroner’s Inquest was held, before Dr. Jos. Clarke, at the residence of the deceased, at 9 o’clock. …
The jury, after hearing [the evidence] agreed upon their verdict without leaving the room, which was that the deceased was found hanged, and that, in the opinion of the jury, he came to his death by his own hands.
The deceased was widely known and highly respected in the community, and his untimely death has produced a painful impression in the minds of a large circle of friends. His remains were accompanied to their place of internment, in the Episcopal-burying ground, on Sabbath afternoon, by a great concourse of people. The burial service was performed by Rev. Mr. Dickson.
28 May 1862, page 2
New Election in Oshawa On Friday next, at 10 o’clock in the forenoon, a meeting of the Electors of Oshawa is to be held at the Court House for the Purpose of electing a Village Councillor in place of Mr. W. W. Brown, who has resigned. It is to be well represented at the meeting, and that a wise choice will be made.
Base Ball Club At a meeting held in Woon’s Hotel, on Wednesday evening, the 14th inst., by a number of the young men of this place, a Club was organized entitled the Morning Star Base Ball Club of Oshawa, and the following members were elected as Officers for the present season, viz: Edward Morris, President; Thomas W. Gibbs, Vice Pres.; Wm. Ogston Hay, Secretary. Committee of Management: T.G. Webster, Walter Spender, James Stephens, T.W. Gibbs.
The above Club meets, for play, every morning at 5 ½ o’clock, on Conant’s field. Persons wishing to become members of the same, can hand in their names to the Secretary.
I was inspired to write this blog as I shuffled through seemingly endless negative film images of Oshawa Fire Department staff. The collection, which has now been entirely organized and accessioned, has a large selection of images taken in the field, at the hall, and during events. Not shockingly, the collection sports an enormous variety of absolutely stunning moustaches. Therefore, I thought that it would be MOST appropriate to display some of the beautiful moustaches we, at the Oshawa Museum, have the privilege of enjoying, both within the Oshawa Fire Department Collection and the rest of our historical images.
History of the ‘stache
Fashionably shaped facial hair is not a modern concept, and many individuals have sported a combination of beards, moustaches, goatees, and side burns for most of human history. Most historical and archaeological records indicate that facial hair has been styled since the days of early humans, often with a variety of implements such as sharpened shells or stone tools.
Facial hair has been associated with religious or community groups, but it has also been very important in the identification of military personnel. The BBC history article, The Moustache a Hairy History, details the importance of the differentiation between war and post-war times.
“When the war ended in 1856, returning soldiers were barely recognizable behind their vast crops of facial hair. Deciding that beards were the signs of heroes, British men started once again to grow their own. Beards were everywhere and moustaches were lost amongst the general “face fungus” (as Edwardian novelist Frank Richardson termed it). It was a dark time for the moustache.”
Some leadership even took it into their hands to change the entire face of a population with facial hair. Peter the Great desired for Russia to present a more modern European nation during his reign. This meant that examples of the style of clothes that he desired for the population to wear were hung outside the city gates, on mannequins, and that a task force was employed to ensure that the people were following new orders. This task force when as far as to rip and cut long beards from men’s faces often against their will, as Peter deemed the look of a long beard to be too stereotypically associated to the old fashioned Russian.
Oshawa Fire Department
According to the website Firefighter Now, a blog written by a Cleveland firefighter/paramedic, the recognizable firefighter moustaches were an early form of smoke filtration, prior to oxygen masks. The firefighters would moisten their moustaches before entering a smoky area to process the air as they breathed.
There are several reasons why firefighters still wear the stylish ‘stache: a sense of identity, fashion, and it’s often their only option for facial hair. The moustache is a symbolic image of firefighters and, as such, both in reality and popular media, provide a sense of identity and inclusion within the community. Some individuals really enjoy the look, and it’s often the only facial hair that firefighters can have! The oxygen masks that are worn in the field cannot create a tight seal when there is facial hair such as a beard, therefore, the old cookie duster is the only option.
Thomas E.B. Henry, a member of our Henry family, was an actor and had a spectacular array of images taken for his acting portfolio from various shows that he performed in. One of my personal favourites is this Western looking garb, complete with a fantastic moustache. Though I cannot be certain that the moustache is real, it can still be appreciated in all of its glory for truly transforming the actor. Some of the other images include a dapper tuxedoed Thomas E.B. Henry, complete with eyeliner, a military uniform, and even a man caught in a fight, including a sword and fake wound on his arm.
Another fantastic example of the cultural significance that moustaches have had through history is this china cup. The white china decorated with pink flowers has been designed with a special shelf. This shelf, that sits on the inside lip of the cup, was an addition meant to protect the drinker’s moustache from being dampened by the liquid that they were consuming.
This is Richard Elwood Hastings Welch, who married Ruth Eunice Robinson and served as the Customs Officer of Port Oshawa. He is buried in the Port Oshawa Cemetery. This image of Mr. Welch with this fantastic example of the “mutton chop” moustache was published in The Oshawa Daily Reformer with the caption,
“Capt. Richard Elwood Hastings Welch, who was in H.M.S. Customs as Landing-Waiter at Port Oshawa at the time of Confederation and was Captain in the Third Battalion of the Durham Militia. He was the father of Miss Welch and Mrs. Samuel J. Babe of this city of the late Vicars H. Welch.”
It was difficult to choose just a few photos from our collection in order to represent the complete variety of moustaches at the Oshawa Museum. If you are interested in exploring more of the content within our archive and collection, please visit the virtual database on the Oshawa Museum’s website.
Baird, Craig. Penny Sized History: Great Moustaches in Canadian History. Canadian History Ehx, 2019.
Hawksley, Lucinda. The moustache: A Hairy History. BBC: Culture, 2014.
Soth, Amelia. Peter the Great’s Beard Tax. JSTOR: Daily, 2021.