Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Part V: Durham and his Report

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Posts, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.  Missed the first four posts?

Part I looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People
Part II looked at the early European Explorers
Part III looked at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
And, finally, Part IV looked at the War of 1812 and figures of that conflict
As we know, the results of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 was a completely altered political landscape.  New France was ceded to Great Britain; Britain found itself in debt over the Seven Years War and thought taxing its colonists in America would be a great way to solve this problem. Yeah, about that… Flash forward to the American Revolution.  The population of Canada grew steadily during the Revolution and afterwards as many who remained loyal to Britain moved to her closest colony. In 1791, the Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were created with the Constitutional Act.

The next forty or so years passed without major internal incidents.  There was, of course, the two-to-three years where we found ourselves at war against the Americans who were once again displeased with Great Britain. The War of 1812 had Canadians, First Nations, and British regulars joined against the Americans, and by December 1814, the Treaty of Versailles brought it to an end.

Repercussions from the Constitution Act of 1791 played themselves out in 1837.

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Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, drawing by Charles William Jefferys. Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

The people of Upper Canada at the time were displeased with the current form of government in place: an aristocracy, ruled by a powerful few.  They were nicknamed ‘the Family Compact’ and they wielded a lot of influence in politics at the time.

This feeling of discontentment from the farmers, labourers and tradesmen came to a head when on December 4, 1837, a premature call to rebel was given.  Between December 5 and 8, a group of about 1,000 rebels gathered at Montgomery’s Tavern in Toronto, and although this Loyalist militia quickly won initial small skirmishes in the city, the British forces were ultimately successful.  As a result, hundreds of men were arrested, some were sent to Tazmania, or Van Diemen’s Land, as punishment, and two men, Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, were executed as a result of their involvement in the Rebellion.

At the same time, the people of Lower Canada were also discontent with the government, adding additional grievances of economic depression for French Canadian farmers in the 1830s, and rising tensions with the largely urban anglophone minority, all of which led to an armed insurrection between 1837-1838.  The two Lower Canada uprisings left 325 people dead, all of them rebels except for 27 British soldiers. Nearly 100 rebels were also captured.

The aftermath of the Upper Canada Rebellion, as well as a rebellion in Lower Canada, also in 1837, resulted in Lord Durham investigating the situations. Who was Lord Durham?

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Lord Durham, image from Library and Archives Canada (C-121846). Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham was a politician, diplomat and colonial administrator.  He was born in London, England on April 12, 1792 to a wealthy Northumberland family.  Wealth opening up the doors that it does meant that Lambton was educated at Eton.  He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1813 and was raised to the House of Lords in 1828.  Upon the recommendation of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, he was appointed Governor General and high commissioner to British North America.  He was tasked with reporting on the 1837 Rebellions.  Having spent less than six months in Lower Canada, he wrote the majority of his (now) famous Report on the Affairs of British North America, also known as the Durham Report, completed in January of 1839.

The Durham Report recommended the establishment of responsible government for the colonies, the merging of Upper and Lower Canada into a single political unit, which became the nucleus for modern-day Canada.  In 1841, the Province of Canada was created, Upper Canada and Lower Canada now known as Canada West and Canada East respectively.  Interestingly, Durham is not such a popular fellow in Quebec, as his report recommended the government-sponsored assimilation of French Canadians to the English language and culture. His particular assertion, that the French speaking population are people without history or culture, did not (and still does not) garner him respect within Quebec. Louis-Joseph Papineau, one of the top Lower Canada rebels, wrote his own response to the report, La Revue canadienne as Histoire de l’insurrection du Canada en réfutation du Rapport de Lord Durham (History of the insurrection of Canada in refutation of the Report of Lord Durham).

For a number of years, the government of the Province of Canada (Canada West and Canada East) met and was quite effective, however, by the mid-1860, it was clear that the system that was established by the Act of Union was no longer working.  Besides the political deadlock, other factors, including the desire to strengthen the colonies, the Fenian Raids, and the ongoing Civil War in the US, were factors for creating a new political union.

A series of conferences were held with the British North American colonies to discuss the creation of a country.  The Charlottetown Conference took place in September of 1864, followed by the Quebec Conference in October of that year.

At the Québec Conference, the delegates passed 72 Resolutions, which laid out a constitutional framework for a new country. The Canadian Resolutions outlined the concept of federalism — with powers and responsibilities strictly divided between the provinces and the federal government and they also outlined the shape of a national Parliament, with an elected House of Commons based on representation by population, and an appointed Senate, a framework still in place today.

The final conference was held in London in 1866, and on July 1, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect, creating the Dominion of Canada.

As for Lord Durham, he had been in ill health for much of his life, and he passed away in Cowes, England on July 28, 1840.

The Regional Municipality of Durham, the upper-tier municipality where Oshawa is located, is named for Lord Durham, as is Durham Street, located one street west and running parallel to Stevenson Road.

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The Importance of Continued Research

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

For a number of years, I have been undertaking research into early Black history in the Oshawa area. This inquiry is part of a larger shift in our focus here at the Oshawa Museum.

Prior to 2011, there had been minimal research into the history of the Black population in Oshawa. Some initial work had been done examining census information but that was the extent. When we were approached to take part in Trent University’s inaugural Black History event, we realized how little time had been dedicated to this area of Oshawa’s history. The invitation to the event spurred a new project that helps to tell the history of a local family from the 1790s to today. It also helps to tell a more inclusive and, more importantly, a more accurate history of early Oshawa settlers.

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Portion of 1851 Census of Canada West; lines 40-43 are for Wealthy Andrews and her three children. The enumerator has marked the column for ‘Colored person – Negroes.’  Wealthy and her family were one of two Black families living in East Whitby Township in the 1850s.

This project signaled a shift in where we focus our research, to help fill the gap in our knowledge of our community. A great deal of research has been conducted on the many industries and industrialists who helped shape Oshawa; what was missing was looking into those who worked for the industrialists, those whose labour made the factories so successful, and telling their stories. It is the experiences of the “everyday person” who help to truly understand what the community looked like in the past and how it has evolved today. Currently, we are working to tell the history of women, those who arrived in Oshawa as Displaced Persons post WWII, the Indigenous population who called this area home long before European settlers arrived and those whose names may not be recognizable but who helped shape our community.

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l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983). They were the great-grandchildren of Wealthy Andrews

I presented a paper on the research into early Black history at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual conference at the end of May. The paper discussed how shifting our research focus not only helps to tell a more accurate history of the community but helps to make the past more relatable the current Oshawa residents, strengthening the sense of community and spurring interest in our past with those who may not have been interested previously.


For more information on the Andrews/Dunbar/Pankhurst family, please read our three part series from Black History Month 2014

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part 1

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part II

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part III

The Month That Was – October 1862

All stories were reported in the Oshawa Vindicator.

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October 1, 1862, Page 2

The War
Washington, Sept 26 – The governors of the following states arrived here this morning from Altoona, OA, viz: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Indiana.

The last named (Indiana) was represented by Col. Rose.

Between 12 and one o’clock the governors of the states above named had an interview of an official character with President Lincoln…

The governors were courteously and kindly received, and their suggestions listened to with close attention by the President.

It is ascertained from those who had the best opportunities for knowing that there was no proposition made at the recent conference at Altoona, nor even a suggestion ventured, touching the removal of General McClellan, or was any proposition of suggestion made as to the promotion of General Fremont to the head of the army, or as to the future disposal of that gentleman.

 

Cincinnati, Sept 29 – Gen. Jefferson C. Davis shot Gen. Nelson at the Galt House, Louisville, this morning, killing him almost instantly

All business was totally suspended in this city yesterday, from 2 till 5pm, all the citizens being under drill. The turn-out was large.

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Hall’s Factory Burned!
It becomes our painful duty to announce the total demolition of the well-known Woollen Factory owned by Mr. Samuel Hall, located just north of Oshawa, and occupied by Mr. Geo. Brook.  It took fire it is not known how, near midnight on Monday evening, and in short time the building, and all the valuable stock and machinery, were reduced to a heap of ashes and smoking ruins.  Two men or horse-back were sent to Oshawa to give the alarm, and the fire engine and a lot of the men went out and did good service in assisting to save the property in the neighbourhood of the factory from the devouring element.

We learn that Mr. Hall had an insurance for $7,000 on the building, and the stick and machinery was insured in about $4,000.

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October 15, 1862, Page 1

To Abolish Fruit Stealing
As we grow older (and more charitable?) we are the more included to imagine that the stealing of fruit springs from an ignorant, heedless sportiveness, rather than from deliberate wickedness.  They who steal have never learned how much time and labor it costs to raise fruit; and seeing it in tempting plentifulness around, they think it can harm nobody very much if they take a little.  We do not justify this, nor do we depreciate the use of legal suasion at times; but would not a little moral influence and tact also be well? –American Agriculturalist

 

October 15, 1862, Page 2

Reception of Lord Monck at Whitby
Whitby, Oct 6th, 1862
The passage of His Excellency the Governor General through Whitby was seized upon by the laymen of the town and county as a suitable opportunist for the display of their attachment to the Mother Country, and their gratification at the assumption of the government of the Province by the present popular representative of Royalty. It became known that Lord Monck should be at the Whitby Station about one o’clock pm, and for some time before that hour men, women, and children began to wend their way thither.  A platform had been erected for His Excellency’s reception, with a canopy which was decorated with evergreens; a large motto proclaimed “welcome” to His Excellency, and several flags added to the gaiety of the scene. The Stouffville Brass Band discoursed sweet music before and during His Excellency’s stay. About a thousand persons were present, many of htem leading men from different parts of the County.

 

October 22, 1862, Page 2

Sudden Death
On Wednesday last, Mr. Daniel Robinson, living on lot No. 2 in the 9th Concession of East Whitby, came to Oshawa with a load of wheat. When within 2 ½ miles of his home, in returning, he was taken with terrible pains in his breast and stomach, and turned into the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. John McCullough.  As his condition did not improve, his wife was sent for, and on the following evening, sad to relate, his sufferings were relieved by death. He was a steady and industrious man of about 40 years of age, and leaves a wife and family to mourn over their sudden bereavement of their chief dependence and mainstay in life.

Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Part IV: The War of 1812

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Posts, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.  Missed the first three posts?

Part I looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People
Part II looked at the early European Explorers
Part III looked at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham

There are a few streets in Oshawa that have ties to the War of 1812, including Brock Street, Tecumseh Avenue, and (for a local link) Henry Street.

In 1812, the people of Canada found themselves at war when the US, angry with Great Britain, attacked their possessions in North America.  This came after years of escalating tensions. The US President at the time was James Madison, who signed the Declaration of War on June 18, 1812, and because we were colonies of Great Britain, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Newfoundland were all swept up into the war. Shortly after the declaration, Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying:

“The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching; & will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, & the final expulsion of England from the American continent.”Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 4 August 1812

Hindsight tells us that Jefferson was wrong. Not the first time for this founding father. But I digress.

War rhetoric was plentiful on both sides.  In response to early attacks by Americans, Major General Isaac Brock proclaimed:

“Every Canadian freeholder is, by deliberate choice, bound by the most solemn oaths to defend the monarchy as well as his own property. To shrink from that engagement is a treason not to be forgiven.”

 

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Isaac Brock, from the 1908 book “The Story of Isaac Brock” by Walter R. Nursey.

Isaac Brock (b. 1769) had been stationed in North America since 1802, and knowing a conflict was likely inevitable, when war was declared, Upper Canada was not caught off-guard thanks to Brock.  The first initial skirmishes of the war were won by the Canadians, including the capture of Fort Detroit by Brock, along with the First Nations leader Tecumseh, and the Battle of Queenston Heights.  Although Queenston was successful, one of the many casualties was General Brock.

In 1813, the Americans launched a successful seaborne attack on the capital of Upper Canada, York (Toronto), after which looting and plundering resulted in the burning of York.  In the same year the Americans attacked Niagara and captured Fort George, forcing the British to withdraw from the Niagara Peninsula.

That fall, the Americans undertook their largest offensive of the war by sending an army down the St. Lawrence River and another across the border into Lower Canada (Quebec) to capture Montreal, and they saw defeat twice.  The first battle was the Battle of Chateuaguau, successfully defended by French Canadian commander Charles de Salaberry and his group of Canadian Voltigeurs, militiamen and Indigenous warriors, The second defeat took place at Crysler’s Farm. After both of these defeats the Americans gave up on the invasion of Lower Canada.

In 1814, the last year of the war, the British made a successful attack on Washington. We retaliated for the burning of our capital by burning the White House. The Americans made a major effort in the Niagara Peninsula, where several major battles took place including Lundy’s Lane. This campaign ended with the Americans leaving their positions in November.

On December 24, 1814, representatives from Britain and America signed the Treaty of Ghent, which once ratified, officially ended the war in 1815.  However, news didn’t travel fast enough in 1815, because the last battle of the War of 1812 was the Battle of New Orleans in January, a defeat for the British.

The War of 1812 is an interesting conflict to study because the British (Canadians) and Americans both claim to be the victors.  The Americans assert that because the British stopped impressing American sailors (seizing native-born Americans and put them into service on British ships) and because they won the last battle, they are the winners.  Canadians, instead view the war as a victory for us as we successfully repelled the invasion and stopped American expansionism.

If the Americans and British/Canadians were the winners of the War of 1812, there was unfortunately a loser – the First Nations.  As stated by the Canadian Encyclopedia:

The First Nations allies of the British and Canadian cause suffered much because of the war; not only had they lost many warriors (including the great Tecumseh), they also lost any hope of halting American expansion in the west, and their contributions were quickly forgotten by their British and Canadian allies.

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Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, painting by W.B. Turner (courtesy Metropolitan Toronto Library, J. Ross Robertson/T-16600). Image from Canadian Encyclopedia

The Canadian victory would not have been possible had it not been for our First Nation allies, and yet, their story is often overlooked, or ‘forgotten.’  Tecumseh wasn’t fighting for King and Country as many British Regulars would have been; he was fighting for the plight of his people and for the hope of uniting the First Nations.  Tecumseh was shot and killed in the Battle of the Thames in 1813.

The War of 1812 is an important reminder that perspective is everything in history.

Host Files: History of Dr. F. J. Donevan Collegiate

This blog series comes from our dedicated and awesome Visitor Host staff, and topics range from favourite artifacts, thoughts on our latest exhibits, and anything else in between!

By Karen A., Visitor Host

The Olive B. French Manuscript was written by Olive French, a local Oshawa woman, in 1968. The Manuscript gives a detailed history of education in Oshawa from the early 1800s until present time (1967). But what of Oshawa’s education after 1967? What happened to Oshawa’s schools? After doing some research, I have been able to fill in the gaps completing the history of Oshawa’s schools to our present day (2017).

Dr. F. J. Donevan Collegiate, a high school which was built in 1957 in Oshawa was permanently closed in 2010 and was recently torn down. The last class graduated from Donevan Collegiate in 2010, and the rest of the students enrolled in the school were relocated to Eastdale Collegiate.

Donevan Collegiate, located on Harmony Rd. South and Olive Avenue, first opened its doors to students in 1958 with a maximum capacity to hold 840 students, grades nine to twelve. The school saw an expansion in 1962, creating a larger cafeteria, a larger library and more classrooms.

The school was named after Dr. Frederick James Donevan who was born on July 18th, 1880 in Gananoque, Ontario. The Donevan family settled in Canada in 1850, arriving from Ireland. Frederick was educated at the Gananoque High School, later graduating from Queen’s University in 1907, completing his Doctor of medicine and master of surgery. He became an intern at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, and practiced as a doctor in Seeley’s Bay, Ontario and Smith Falls, Ontario. During World War I Frederick served overseas for four years in England and France with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

After World War I, Dr. Donevan moved to Oshawa with his wife, Lydia Evangeline Emsley, and daughter, Constance Marie.  In 1919 Donevan set up a large and eventually successful practice in Oshawa.

Dr. Donevan was very active in the development of Oshawa’s education and the facilities which were being built. A member of the Board of Education for twenty two years, Dr. Donevan was first elected in 1926. He was chairman of the Board in 1931 and 1932.

There was much debate over the closure of the school, as parents, students, teachers and Board Trustees had varying opinions. Factors in deciding the fate of the school was the decrease in population starting in 2009, when only 628 students were enrolled. That number was expected to drop by 600 in 2010, and 436 by 2016. In the end the school was closed after fifty-two years. In 2016 the site of the school was up for sale, as the Durham District School Board concluded the land was a surplus and decided to sell the nearly 13.5 acre site. At the moment I am not certain who has purchased the land or what purpose it will be used for.

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Image © Oshawa Express, accessed from Possible Buyer for Donovan Site, April 21, 2016.


For more information on Dr. F. J. Donevan collegiate check out these articles:

If you are interested in reading the Olive French Manuscript go to: https://olivefrench.wordpress.com/