Flashback Friday – Henry House Through the Years

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

One of our commonly asked questions is about our houses and whether or not they were moved to Lakeview Park.  Visitors are often surprised to learn that the three museum buildings, Robinson House, Henry House, and Guy House, are still standing on their original foundations, or, simply put, they are standing where they were built over 150 years ago.  The three homes were built close together, close to the lot lines; the reason for this is unclear, but one could imagine it would have been handy having neighbours close by.

The documentary evidence for the houses not being moved is overwhelming.  Take Henry House: in our archival collection, we have the land deed which shows Thomas buying the land from his father in 1830.  The 1852 Census of Canada East/West, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia records the Henry family residing in a stone house on Lot 7 Broken Front East Whitby Township, and the 1871 Atlas of Ontario County is dotted throughout, representing building locations.  The Thomas Henry Memoirs also makes mention of the family living in a stone house by the lake.

We also have photographic evidence, and really, who doesn’t like a good, vintage photograph.

One of the earliest photographs that we have are from the Mackie family, who lived in the house from 1917 to the early 1920s.  In the photo below, Doug Mackie is pictured, sitting by the back door.

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This photo, as interesting as it is, does not provide any indication that house was located in Lakeview Park.

This panoramic photograph, however, does.

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Click on the photo to have it open in a new window.  It’s simply overwhelming the width of it and the amount of people being photographed! This is the General Motors Annual Picnic, August 1926, taken in Lakeview Park.  When you take a closer look:

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Henry House is unmistakable!

In the 1930s, Lakeview Park was the place to be, as evidenced by a fantastic photograph collection we have in the archives. Nicknamed the Lowry Lakeview Park collection, it is a series of photographs documenting summers at Lakeview Park, staff who worked at the pavilions, bands who played, and life at the time.  The Jubilee Pavilion opened in 1927, and this photograph of the south facade was taken only a few years later; look to the right of the pavilion, and Henry House is again unmistakable.

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This image of Henry House was captured in the Oshawa Telegram in 1937.

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The caption reads: Built from ballast of Kingston limestone, this house of Elder Thomas Henry, early harbormaster and president of the Oshawa Harbor Company, still stands in old Port Oshawa.  In the great days of the grain trade, schooners landing at Oshawa used to come back light from Kingston, or ballasted with the local limestone to be had there for the loading.  They would throw their ballast overboard to make room for the grain. Elder Henry thriftfully acquired enough of it to build the walls of his second home.

It was in the 1930s that Henry House was inhabited by Ned and Lina Smith; Ned helped care for the buffalo that lived in Lakeview Park for a short time and helped plant many trees in Lakeview Park.

By the 1950s, there was growing concern over the state of Henry House.  The Oshawa and District Historical Society was founded with the intention of creating a historical museum in the City.  Henry House was well suited to accomplish this task; permission was granted in March 1959 to use the home, and it opened to the public in May 1960.

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4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday – Henry House Through the Years”

  1. I wanted to view the panoramic view of the GM Picnic 1926, but when I clicked on the link it said ‘Page Not Found’. Would it be possible to reload this photo as I would like to be able to see it. Thanks in advance!

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