Reflections of All Hallow’s Eve Past

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of year. I was always the kid who decided what they wanted to dress up as the day after trick-or-treating. And what kid doesn’t love candy? I have fond memories of my family carving the family pumpkins. We would draw out different faces on the newsprint, but Dad always had a few tricks up his sleeve – corn husk hair, a gourd for a Gonzo nose or a pipe. And of course we had the vintage looking pumpkin trick-or-treat buckets.

Angela and Jill carving pumpkins, 2004
Angela and Jill carving pumpkins, 2004

My mom would sew all of our costumes or re-purpose them to suit my brother or sister or I. It was always fun when the box of costumes came out; it was just like Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk! One of my earliest memories of Halloween was dressing up like an angel. With homemade, foil covered wings and a silver elasticized headband and my Mom’s pure 80s blue eye shadow plastered on. So much fun! Later it was exciting when I got to go trick-or-treating with my older sister and her friends – the cool kids. We got to stop at their houses and their parents would check our candy and let us eat some. I loved dressing up so much that I think I was in grade 8 or 9 before I gave up to hand out candy. But even then I would get dressed up.

Jill at Halloween 2004
Jill at Halloween 2004

When I came to work at the Museum, one of the first things I got to work on was Halloween at the Harbour. The Museum would set up various stations and invite families to get dressed up and come down to participate in things like pumpkin painting, mad scientist laboratories and spooky stories. The entire staff would get dressed up, even Laura – the Executive Director!

Over the years we tried many variations of Halloween at the Harbour; daytime, night time, just harvest-themed activities, harvest and Halloween. You name it, we’ve tried it. This was always a great time to see volunteers and make community connections. Algoma Orchards, Ian Critchell – the Beeman, D &D Exotics, Geissberger Farmhouse Cider and Spirit Matters have all taken part in Halloween at the Harbour over the years.

I’ve only missed one Halloween at the Harbour since 2002. In 2011 I had just given birth to my first child three weeks early and left Museum staff in a bit of a lurch when it came to planning the last minute details! Sadly (for me) 2012 was our last Halloween at the Harbour. Times had changed in the ten years I had been participating in the event and we decided to focus on other kinds of programming that engaged more than just children.

Melissa, Jenn & Jill, Halloween 2012
Melissa, Jenn & Jill, Halloween 2012

I feel lucky to have been able to keep my love of Halloween alive for all these years. There aren’t many people who go to work and dress up for Halloween programming like we did at the Museum. And I feel lucky that I will be able to share these amazing memories I have from my childhood and adulthood with my own children, who are just starting to get into the Halloween spirit.



The witches fly
Across the sky,
The owls go, “Who? Who? Who?”
The black cats yowl
And green ghosts howl,
“Scary Halloween to you!”
–Nina Willis Walter

From the staff at the Oshawa Community Museum we wish you a spooky, safe and FUN Halloween!


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