Discovering ‘Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa’

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Exhibitions at the Oshawa Museum are not confined to the walls of the Museum. With every physical exhibit, we always supplement with online content. This allows for additional stories to be told – you can only fit so much onto a text panel, after all. We can use various media to tell the stories, like videos on YouTube or blog posts, and online components opens an exhibition’s audience beyond those who are able to visit in person, and the exhibition lives on well after it had been struck.

Our latest exhibition, Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa, is no exception.

The stories from the oral history project have been shared as an online exhibit for numerous years, and the students who have worked on this project since 2016 have contributed a number of video podcasts to the OM YouTube channel.

Last year, we launched an interactive map exhibit called Discover Historic Oshawa, and this is another platform where we’re sharing stories from Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa.

One impressive feature of the in-person exhibit is the map. We took a number of pages from the 1948 Fire Insurance Map, specifically, the pages that cover the area of Simcoe Street to just east of Ritson Road, Olive Avenue to Bloor Street. This neighbourhood was well settled by Oshawa’s early Eastern European immigrants, and in the post-WWII era, it continued to grow and flourish with the arrival of Displaced People.

Exhibit co-curators Melissa Cole and Mia Vujcic wanted to use the map to draw attention to a number of landmarks – 17 in all! That is a lot of history to confine to a single text panel. We used the panel to provide a basic explanation of each site, and should visitors want to discover more, they can visit Discover Historic Oshawa to read about each site and see photographs, past and present. A handy QR code is on the panel to allow for easy navigation to the site.

We created a special category on Discover Historic Oshawa for sites related to Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa. Some sites are on the map, while some are beyond its limits.

Sites include churches, houses, community halls, and businesses, all of which have connections to the immigrant community. By visiting the website, you can see sites that are geographically beyond the map in the exhibit, such as the Michael Starr Building or the Gen. W. Sikorski Polish Veterans’ Association Hall.

Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa opened right before Thanksgiving, and we cannot wait for you to visit and see this exhibit! If you’re not able to visit in person, be sure to check out Oshawa Immigrations Stories or the Leaving Home, Finding Home category on Discover Historic Oshawa!

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