Student Museum Musings – Kirbi

By Kirbi B., Durham College LIT Student

Hello Everyone!

My name is Kirbi B., I am enrolled in the Library and Information Technician Program at Durham College. This is my final requirement to be eligible for graduation. I am working here at the museum as a placement student in the archives. I am enjoying my time here and this placement provides me with the opportunity to further my knowledge on museums and archives aside from what we learn in class. It provides a “hands on” experience that I would not be able to get without securing a job in the field. This placement will assist me in determining if this is an area I would like pursue after graduation.

I have been working on the creation of finding aids for the archives on General Motors, Oshawa Fire Department and the Oshawa General Hospitals Nursing School. These finding aids contain detailed information about the collection of papers and records within the archive.

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General Motors Plant, part of the North Plant building on Bond Street East. 1983 (A997.18.29)

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Student Museum Musings – Adam

By Adam A., Archives Assistant Student

 

Hello reader. I am Adam, the third summer student working at the Oshawa Museum. This is my first summer as an employee here; however I am very familiar with the museum as I have been a somewhat regular volunteer since 2016. Despite this I am still enjoying many new experiences; I have found leading tours to be particularly exciting and fulfilling. At the end of the summer I will return to Trent University Peterborough for the fourth and final year of my degree in History and Media Studies, and so I am eager to get as much experience out of this position as possible.

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As the Archives Assistant I spend most of my time in the frigid back area of Guy House, where I work closely with Jenn, and (due to space constraints) shoulder to shoulder with Mia, the writer and subject of the previous Student Museum Musing. My work has largely been directed towards the organization and digitization of the archives. Recently I completed a new and improved finding aid for the contents of our Map Boxes (which also contain schematics!). Prior to that, I was tasked with digitizing the contents of our Photo Albums. However both of those tasks were quick and easy compared to my present task of transcribing the Oshawa Vindicator’s Births, Marriages, and Obituaries from 1863-1871, which I have been working on intermittently since the start of my employment with the Museum.

Despite having thus far transcribed more than 23 thousand words at the time of my writing this, I am still only a little over halfway through the task, and it has granted a strange insight to the past. Most of the individual entries are very short, often even abandoning grammatical standards in pursuit of brevity. There are some exceptions, such as the essay length obituary of Mr. Justice Connor, a former Lawyer and Member of the Parliament of Canada West, but most of what I’ve learned has come from the shorter ones. The first thing I had to learn was how to read them, as previously mentioned they tended to not follow grammatical norms. Instead they roughly adhere to the same formats, for instance all birth records are “[Place], [day of week], [date], the wife of Mr. [First and Last names of husband], of [a son/a daughter/twins].” These records also make copious use of abbreviations and acronyms, some more common ones being: inst. (Instant: the current month), ult. (Ultimo: the previous month), C. W.(Canada West: The portion of the Province of Canada which later became Ontario), Esq. (Esquire: a courtesy title). In addition to those it also occasionally abbreviates given names such as Thomas becoming “Thos” or William becoming “Wm.”

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From the Oshawa Vindicator, 11 Sept 1867, p 2.

Furthermore, on the rare instances when it does list a cause of death it often uses an antiquated medical term like “water on the brain” or “enlargement of the heart”. On the topic of deaths it can be somewhat unsettling to see a familiar name listed amongst the obituaries, such as a priest who performed many marriages, in a way the obituaries allow one to see the blows a community sustains. Even more unsettling is number of children and infants. I had known from previous studies that infant and child mortality rates were through the roof prior to modern medicine, but I did not fully grasp what this meant until now, as those aged less than 10 will usually account for at least half the obituaries on any given week. It suffices to say that this has served as a good reminder that I am lucky to only be studying and helping others learn about the past, rather than actually living back then.


Read these obituaries and other historical newspaper articles by checking out http://communitydigitalarchives.com/newspapers.html

The Month That Was – July 1947

All articles originally appeared in The Oshawa Courier

Oshawa Harbour Must be Developed as a Port Without Delay

This season’s prospective development of Oshawa’s harbour as a port-for which most residents have devoutly wished for years- would seem now to have been post-poned indefinitely. The supplementary estimates of the Department of Public Works of the Dominion government recently introduced into the House of Commons contain no such item. This is certain proof that no work such as the dredging required for Oshawa harbor will be undertaken this year. When the Hon. C. D. Howe, Minister of Reconstruction in the King Cabinet addressed the Chamber of Commerce here recently, he had impressed upon him by several local Liberal stalwarts and others the urgent need of something being done by way of Oshawa’s harbor development as a port. Mr. Howe promised to take the matter up with his colleagues in the Cabinet, but temporarily at least his efforts have not been crowned with success. This negative result shows that it is never advisable to build too high hopes upon any imminent harbor development here.

Possibly the King government at Ottawa will pretend to be more deeply interested as the federal election date approaches more closely.

The present delay should occasion no feeling of intense disappointment. Unfortunately, some governments can be impressed, only by pressure political and otherwise. City council and the Chamber of Commerce must strive to press their suit at Ottawa until the government is forced to lend a willing ear.

Even a government must not be permitted to stand in the way of Oshawa’s harbor development as a port which is so linked up with commercial and industrial progress of Oshawa as a city.

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Flying Saucers are Merely Figments of a Vivid Imagination

These are what may be termed “dog-days.” Because of the intense heat, things generally are in doldrums, and people turn to anything and everything with a view to extracting something novel and sensational.

That was the only basis for the so-called “flying saucers”. Many of us are still so ignorant, gullible, and superstitious that we are eager to believe anything and everything, and agree with others with sheep-like acquiescence.

This applies with even greater force to the people of our southern neighbour where any hair-brained theory is seized upon with avidity; the more absurd it is, the more popular it becomes. But the seeing of so-called “flying saucers” was not confirmed to any one country. Some residents of many countries were certain they had witnessed this strange phenomenon.

But it would seem that our senses, which are far from perfect, deceive us occasionally, if not more frequently. Those individuals who are blessed with vivid imaginations can indulge in much wishful thinking and wishful seeing. And there are those who wishing to agree with the adage that “great minds run in the same direction,” always see what somebody else pretends to have seen.

At any rate no vestige of evidence worthy the name has been produced to justify the existence of the so-called flying saucers.

Perhaps those individuals reported to have seen them were “in the cups” or just victims of “tea-cup reading”. The dog-days have arrived in earnest, so do not be unduly perturbed about the many strange things that you may hear or even imagine that you see.

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Will Consider Possibility of New Collegiate

Possibility of erecting a new 20-roomed collegiate on the former Bishop Bethune property will be considered at a special meeting of the board of education next Monday evening.

The school designed to meet the needs of the southern section of the city will provide a full high school education and will comprise 18 classrooms, one home economics room and a general workshop. The building will be a straight collegiate with no effort being made to combine it with vocational institute facilities.

The department of education at Toronto has approved the suggested site of the old Bishop Bethune property on Simcoe Street South as the site for the proposed school. The department pointed out however, that it did not consider the three and a half acre property as large enough for a complete physical training program. With this in mind, the board will meet with officials of the C.R.A. and Rotary Club to determine it a portion of Rotary Park playground cannot be used for this purpose.

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Miniature Car Derby is slated for August 9th

Get ready kids, Oshawa is going to have another miniature car race again this year. The big event is carded for the evening of August 9th and will be run off under the auspices of the Community Recreational Association.

Plans are under way at present to have the winners of each of the events and also those finishing second and third to take part in a much longer competition that will take in Whitby and Bowmanville.

Regulations governing the contest state that each contestant must build his own car. In each class the entry will compose a team of two boys. The boys must also build their own cars and the total cost of each is not to exceed $6.00. The ages of the contestants will be between 11 and 12 years inclusive in one class and between 13 and 15 in a second classification. The ages will be taken as of August 1st this year. All work done on the cars must be done by the contestants themselves.

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Student Museum Musings – Mia

By Mia V., Oral History Project Student

Hello everyone. I’m Mia, one of the summer students here at the Oshawa Museum. I have presently finished my second year at the University of Toronto, majoring in socio-cultural anthropology and history while minoring in French. Since learning about different cultures and eras of history has been a passion of mine ever since I can remember, I have naturally always gravitated toward museums. Being on the other side of the museum experience – helping to bring the history the museum offers to the wider public – is something I’m very glad to be able to do, not least because it is something I want to continue to pursue once I finish my studies.

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In taking on the role of Oral History Project Coordinator, I have focused a lot of my time on familiarizing myself with the museum’s ongoing Displaced Persons project. The aim of the project is to collect and preserve the memories of individuals who immigrated to Canada and Oshawa after the Second World War – from those people themselves or from those that knew them. In continuing this research so far, I have compiled some of the stories and artifacts into online exhibits for a website I’ve created. In comparing the similar experiences of people’s accounts, I feel that I’m getting a better feel for this time period of history than I ever could otherwise. I am so pleased to be able to work on such an important and genuinely fulfilling project, as I am convinced that these are stories that need to be told and ones that will continue to resonate with so many people.

To continue to talk about my experience at the museum so far, I must point out the people – the staff who have been so welcoming, as well as the visitors that come in. It’s great to work with people who are so clearly passionate about what they do and, with the new faces that come in every day, there has certainly hardly been a dull moment. As such, I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to tour people through the houses, including the children that come through! It was quite something to put on a Victorian dress and guide groups of kindergarten kids through Henry House. You never know who among them will grow up to be history lovers, too! Although I was initially just a bit apprehensive about what it would be like to lead a tour, I have since learned so much about what it is to engage people with history. The chance to give tours is now already one of my favourite things to do here at the museum.

Additionally, I have enjoyed learning about the history of Oshawa, since I didn’t know very much local history until now. I have a particular fondness for the First Nations exhibit in Robinson House, which tells of the communities who made their homes in Oshawa as early as the 15th century. This exhibit puts the scope of Oshawa’s history into perspective for me – enabling me to visualize the layers upon layers of history that can be uncovered. I also love touring people through this floor, as so many are just pleased as I am to see the way the exhibit is set up (with the interior of a longhouse!) and to learn more about this piece of Oshawa’s past.

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Our three summer students, Adam, Lauren, and Mia!

Given that each day differs to the next, I am looking forward to what the rest of summer will bring.

The Scugog Carrying Place

By Melissa Cole, Curator

“Worn smooth like a Buffalo run, caused by the action of countless feet for many generations, many years before white men entered this part of Canada.”
– Samuel Pedlar Manuscript, Frame # 326

In honour of Indigenous Month we are taking a look at an interactive map that is found in our exhibition: A Carrying Place: Oshawa’s Indigenous Story.

From the earliest days the First Nations used pathways and “carrying places,” or portages for hunting and trading. Scugog Carrying Place is one of several routes and carrying places that connected the interior of the Province to Lake Ontario.

This area of Oshawa was an important carrying route for First Nations.  The Oshawa Creek was much larger than it is today and groups would congregate here every spring and fall to fish.

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Let’s take a look at the map featured in our exhibit.  Numerous maps were used to create this map.  We wanted to ensure that we were placing the carrying place trail fairly accurately; it is difficult to be exact since there are very few maps which note its location.  We used the latest Google map of the area, a topographic map, and a map from 1795 called ‘C31 Whitby Township Plan’ created by Augustus Jones and William Chewett, who were early surveyors of the township.   Using these three maps for reference and overlaying them against each other, while noting the changing shoreline along Lake Ontario over the years, we were able to place this early portage route that originally ran through the forest and connected Lake Ontario with Lakes Scugog and Simcoe and Kawartha Lakes.  Many have suggested that is basically follows today’s Simcoe Street.

In an interview with Dave Mowat, Consultant, Membership and Land Supervisor at Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, he stated, “there is the Old Scugog Carrying Place Route that came down from the lakeshore at Oshawa made its way up to Lake Scugog here and eventually to Georgian Bay.  If you can think of how the land was utilized before we had the 401 before we had all the highways and byways when you think about how the land was utilized some of our original roads are on old portage trails and carrying places, Simcoe Street relatively follows the original Scugog Carrying Place.”

The trail can best be described as an inverted “Y”.  From Lake Ontario, one branch went northward by Harmony Creek and the other by the Oshawa Creek. Canoes would have been used as far up the creek as they could go before portaging.  The two footpaths converged near the present Columbus and then united to cross to the location of present day Port Perry.

There are numerous archaeological sites found along the carrying place.  Many of these sites are located along the eastern branch of the Scugog Carrying Place.  Two of these sites are located in Oshawa.  Grandview Site, a fifteenth century ancestral Wendat (Huron) village, was located within several hundred yards of the eastern branch of Scugog Carrying Place along Harmony Creek.  MacLeod Site was also a fifteenth century ancestral Wendat (Huron) village that was located further west from Grandview Site.  These villages relocated and migrated north.  There were numerous other sites found along the trail outside of Oshawa.  The oldest sites dating between 1380 and 1450 CE are found at the Grandview and MacLeod Sites.  The ancestral Wendat vacated the area around the Scugog Carrying Place by the end of the sixteenth century and migrated north into Huron-Wendat territory.  This trail most likely fell into disuse until the Mississauga came to Lake Scugog and Lake Ontario.  The Mississaugas used the trail at some point after 1700 and it was in use in 1795 when the first survey was carried out by Augustus Jones.

Let’s take a look at the specific areas noted on this map.  There is the actual Scugog Carrying Place route which generally followed what is now Simcoe Street in Oshawa and Port Perry and connected Lake Scugog and Simcoe, with the Kawartha Lakes and Lake Ontario.

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Scugog Carrying Place – the light just west of the trail is MacLeod; the light along the eastern trail is the Grandview Site.

MacLead and Grandview Sites are highlighted on this map to give our visitors an indication of how close these sites were to this trail.  Also noted on this map is the possible location of Benjamin Wilson’s homestead that as can be seen from this map is now located somewhere in the lake away from the current Lake Ontario shoreline – this is due to the fact that the shoreline has receded over the years.  The last item highlighted on this map is an Ossuary in Uxbridge, that dates to 1490 C.E. consisted of secondary burials. (Every so many years the first burials were dug up and reburied in a communal burial plot, a ceremony and feast would have been held.  The Wendat believe there are two souls with a person, one goes with the person in the ground and the other goes to the Creator.  So every one of the bodies that is laid to rest in this burial have a soul.)  This ossuary was most likely related to the Grandview Population.

If you wish to see this map in person and discover more about our local Indigenous story here in Oshawa, be sure to visit us at the Oshawa Museum.


Sources:

The Archaeological History of the Wendat to A.D. 1651: An Overview. Ronald F. Williamson, 2014

Scugog Carrying Place: A Frontier Pathway. Grant Karcich, 2013

Forgotten Pathways of the Trent. Lesley Frost, 1973

Interview, Dave Mowat, Consultant, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. May 24, 2017