Tales of the Nose Neighbour: Oshawa and the Moustache

By Savannah Sewell, Registrar

I was inspired to write this blog as I shuffled through seemingly endless negative film images of Oshawa Fire Department staff. The collection, which has now been entirely organized and accessioned, has a large selection of images taken in the field, at the hall, and during events. Not shockingly, the collection sports an enormous variety of absolutely stunning moustaches. Therefore, I thought that it would be MOST appropriate to display some of the beautiful moustaches we, at the Oshawa Museum, have the privilege of enjoying, both within the Oshawa Fire Department Collection and the rest of our historical images.

History of the ‘stache

Fashionably shaped facial hair is not a modern concept, and many individuals have sported a combination of beards, moustaches, goatees, and side burns for most of human history. Most historical and archaeological records indicate that facial hair has been styled since the days of early humans, often with a variety of implements such as sharpened shells or stone tools.

Facial hair has been associated with religious or community groups, but it has also been very important in the identification of military personnel. The BBC history article, The Moustache a Hairy History, details the importance of the differentiation between war and post-war times.

“When the war ended in 1856, returning soldiers were barely recognizable behind their vast crops of facial hair. Deciding that beards were the signs of heroes, British men started once again to grow their own. Beards were everywhere and moustaches were lost amongst the general “face fungus” (as Edwardian novelist Frank Richardson termed it). It was a dark time for the moustache.”

War also had a lasting impact on Canadian leadership and their facial hair. Sir Robert Borden, the 8th Prime Minister of Canada, had a very recognizable moustache. Most people would recognize him as the face on the Canadian $100 bill. Borden served from 1911 to 1920, and World War I subsequently turned his moustache a stark white from the stress. (https://canadaehx.com/2019/11/04/penny-sized-history-great-moustaches-in-canadian-history/)

Some leadership even took it into their hands to change the entire face of a population with facial hair. Peter the Great desired for Russia to present a more modern European nation during his reign. This meant that examples of the style of clothes that he desired for the population to wear were hung outside the city gates, on mannequins, and that a task force was employed to ensure that the people were following new orders. This task force when as far as to rip and cut long beards from men’s faces often against their will, as Peter deemed the look of a long beard to be too stereotypically associated to the old fashioned Russian. 

Oshawa Fire Department

According to the website Firefighter Now, a blog written by a Cleveland firefighter/paramedic, the recognizable firefighter moustaches were an early form of smoke filtration, prior to oxygen masks. The firefighters would moisten their moustaches before entering a smoky area to process the air as they breathed.

There are several reasons why firefighters still wear the stylish ‘stache: a sense of identity, fashion, and it’s often their only option for facial hair. The moustache is a symbolic image of firefighters and, as such, both in reality and popular media, provide a sense of identity and inclusion within the community. Some individuals really enjoy the look, and it’s often the only facial hair that firefighters can have! The oxygen masks that are worn in the field cannot create a tight seal when there is facial hair such as a beard, therefore, the old cookie duster is the only option.

Collection

Thomas E.B. Henry, a member of our Henry family, was an actor and had a spectacular array of images taken for his acting portfolio from various shows that he performed in. One of my personal favourites is this Western looking garb, complete with a fantastic moustache. Though I cannot be certain that the moustache is real, it can still be appreciated in all of its glory for truly transforming the actor. Some of the other images include a dapper tuxedoed Thomas E.B. Henry, complete with eyeliner, a military uniform, and even a man caught in a fight, including a sword and fake wound on his arm.

Black and white photo of a Caucasian man, wearing a western costume and striking a pose
Thomas Eben Blake Henry; from a private collection of the Henry Family

Another fantastic example of the cultural significance that moustaches have had through history is this china cup. The white china decorated with pink flowers has been designed with a special shelf. This shelf, that sits on the inside lip of the cup, was an addition meant to protect the drinker’s moustache from being dampened by the liquid that they were consuming.

969.6.2a

This is Richard Elwood Hastings Welch, who married Ruth Eunice Robinson and served as the Customs Officer of Port Oshawa. He is buried in the Port Oshawa Cemetery. This image of Mr. Welch with this fantastic example of the “mutton chop” moustache was published in The Oshawa Daily Reformer with the caption,

“Capt. Richard Elwood Hastings Welch, who was in H.M.S. Customs as Landing-Waiter at Port Oshawa at the time of Confederation and was Captain in the Third Battalion of the Durham Militia. He was the father of Miss Welch and Mrs. Samuel J. Babe of this city of the late Vicars H. Welch.”

Black and white photo of a Caucasian man
Richard Elwood Hastings Welch; Oshawa Museum archival collection

It was difficult to choose just a few photos from our collection in order to represent the complete variety of moustaches at the Oshawa Museum. If you are interested in exploring more of the content within our archive and collection, please visit the virtual database on the Oshawa Museum’s website.


Works Cited

Baird, Craig. Penny Sized History: Great Moustaches in Canadian History. Canadian History Ehx, 2019.

Hawksley, Lucinda. The moustache: A Hairy History. BBC: Culture, 2014.

Soth, Amelia. Peter the Great’s Beard Tax. JSTOR: Daily, 2021.

ES Shrapnel Sketches – A Millerite’s Attempt to Fly

At the beginning of April, we launched our newest online exhibit, ES Shrapnel’s Upper Canada Sketches. The exhibit features the works of Edward Scrope Shrapnel as they appeared in Thomas Conant’s book, Upper Canada Sketches, (1898). The illustrations are whimsical in nature and in many cases portray people, places and events known in Oshawa history.  Each print is analyzed with historical context, and our good friend Eric Sangwine adds his own artistic perspectives for each print.

Colour drawing of a two storey brick house. There is a woman, wearing silk wings, jumping from the second storey
Sarah Terwilliger’s attempt to fly to heaven, the world to come to an end, ES Shrapnel, from Thomas Conant’s Upper Canada Sketches

A favourite print and story is A Millerite’s Attempt to Fly, the story of Sarah Terwilliger and her silk wings.

Why did Sarah fear the end of the world, and what prompted her to jump from the second storey window of her house?

We encourage you to visit the exhibit to read this story and more.


From ES Shrapnel’s Upper Canada Sketches

There was a period of time during the 1840s when Oshawa garnered some notoriety, known as one of the centres for the Millerite movement which was sweeping North America.  During the winter of 1842-1843, many people were engrossed with the teachings of William Miller, an American farmer and evangelist, who preached that the Second Advent of Christ would occur shortly. His followers believed Christ would appear in person to claim his earthly kingdom, and the world would be destroyed by fire.  Stories of local farmers giving away all their stock and implements were locally reported. One of the most interesting stories connected with this period is that of the unconventional Terwilliger sisters, Sarah and her older sister Clarissa. …

To read more, visit: https://shrapnelsketches.wordpress.com/2022/02/09/a-millerites-attempt-to-fly/

Blog Rewind: Easter Greetings

Happy Easter from the Oshawa Museum!  Here’s a glimpse at Easter in our collection.

From the Oshawa Museum Collection

Postcards in the Archival Collection

An Easter display at Eaton’s in the Oshawa Centre, from the Oshawa Museum photography collection (A999.19.654-658)


This post was originally published on March 30, 2018

Oshawa’s Newspapers, Past and Present

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Preparing for our latest Sunday FUNday event at the Oshawa Museum, our first in person event since February 2020, brought me down the rabbit hole of newspapers. To celebrate Archives Awareness Week, I wanted the Sunday FUNday to be archives related, so newspapers were a good theme. We were able to bring out copies of papers from the education collection and I went Live on Facebook to talk about newspapers. Here’s a little of what I learned while getting ready for the livestream.

According to amateur historian, Samuel Pedlar, there have been newspapers in our community since the 1840s. His unpublished manuscript claimed that the earliest paper in our community was The Luminary, a Christian paper which started around 1844. Following it was a paper called The Literary Newsletter which started around 1848 and published by Oliphant and White. A name change to The Oshawa Reformer took place in 1850. According to Pedlar, “Its motto ‘cheap Government and trustworthy officials’ would indicate its purpose.” It is unknown when both of these papers ceased publishing. The 1877 County of Ontario Atlas made note of The Tribune and The Friendly Moralist, two papers they claimed to have been printed in Oshawa.

Around 1851, a new paper came onto the scene with The Oshawa Freeman, and shareholders in this paper included well known names: Dr. William McGill, Abram Farewell, Thos. N. Gibbs, and G.H. Grierson.

It appears most of these papers were short lived, but the next paper to establish itself in our community was around for decades.

Due to a fire at the Oshawa Times in 1971, the earliest archives of The Oshawa Vindicator were lost. It is unknown exactly when it started, as many sources give a different year, but it is safe to say that in the mid-1850s, James E. McMillan and James Luke purchased interests in The Oshawa Freeman; McMillan’s interests were purchased by WH Orr, and a new enterprise called The Oshawa Vindicator began. All was not lost for the Vindicator, thankfully, as issues through the 1860s were preserved on microfilm. These issues can be read online from our partner, Canadian Community Digital Archives.

The Vindicator operated with a conservative slant and supported conservative candidates and politics. In 1866, Orr was bought out by John S. Larke, and the paper ended up having a number of different owners through the years until it ultimately ceased publishing in 1917.

Offering the opposing liberal viewpoint to Oshawa readers was the Ontario Reformer. Under the direction of Mr. Climie of Bowmanville, the first issue was published in 1871. For a short time, Luke and Larke operated both the Reformer and the Vindicator until Mr. Mundy purchased the Reformer in the late 1870s.

The Reformer went through a number of name changes through the years, most notably when they became the Oshawa Daily Times in 1927. An amalgamation with the Whitby Gazette and Chronicle in 1942 resulted in the name change to The Oshawa Time Gazette, and a number of years later, the name was shortened to simply The Oshawa Times. In 1994, a labour strike impacted the paper, and this, in conjunction with the paper operating at a deficit for a number of years, led to the closure in 1994.

The oldest paper still operating today is This Week. It started in 1970 by Peter Brouwer, and through different mergers and changes, it is published today on a weekly basis by Metroland Durham Region Media Group.

From 2005 to late 2021, there had also been The Oshawa Express, another weekly paper. In late 2020, they shifted from in-print/online to a solely online news source, but there does not appear to be any new updates on their website since Fall 2021.

If you wanted to read through the historic newspapers, our microfilm collection to the 1930s and physical newspapers have been digitized and are available to read online: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/

As well, one of my favourite columns to research is The Month That Was, where we look at what was making the newspapers for a given month and year, and we publish them on this blog – you can read through the past articles by exploring the Month That Was category.


Sources

Samuel Pedlar’s unpublished manuscript

Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, M. McIntyre Hood, 1967

DurhamRegion.com and Northumberlandnews.com About Us https://www.durhamregion.com/community-static/3839840-durhamregion-com-about-us/

This Week, 16 June 1993 – Obituary Peter Brouwer: Founder of This Week

Oshawa Express website

Archives Awareness Week – The David Dowsley Collection

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist, and Savannah Sewell, Registrar

Along with the exciting promise of summer and warmer weather, the beginning of April also brings an exciting week for the field of archives and the Oshawa Museum. Archives Awareness Week is from April 4-10, a week dedicated to the consciousness and understanding of the archival process and the importance of archival work.

A022.6.164 – Durham Regional Courthouse, Oshawa Ontario, February 3, 2009. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection)

Let’s do a quick breakdown of the archival process and the difference between collections and archival work. Here at the Oshawa Museum, we collect both physical and archival collections. The easiest way to separate the collections is that the physical collection is comprised of items and artefacts and the archives are committed to curating information. For example, the collection will have accessions of dresses, while the archives would acquire documents that detail the prices and origination of patterns or fabric sales.

Archival work, in turn, can be separated into two main sections – real-time research and safeguarding for the future. Our archivist, Jennifer, spends most of her day researching through the archival collection to respond to research requests from the community and other institutions. She is also, in conjunction with other museum staff, writing a book about the comprehensive history of Oshawa. On the other hand, collections are coming into the museum consistently and they need to be processed, accessioned, and appropriately homed. The collections, information, and artefacts that come to the museum will experience both the safeguarding process and the research process and a collection that we are most excited about right now is the David Dowsley Photograph Collection.

Inside a large grocery store, looking down upon the aisles.
A016.10.286 – Superstore near Taunton and Harmony, July 2013. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection)

The Dowsley Collection presents the opportunity to plan for future research by contributing images of Oshawa, taken by Mr. Dowsley, that include captions describing the content and the date the photo was taken. This collection is expansive and includes images dating from the 1980s to this month. Mr. Dowsley continues to contribute to the collection, and the new images are actively being accessioned.

Two women, wearing winter jackets, standing in front of a yellow house, with the windows boarded up. There is yellow caution tape in front of the house. There is snow on the ground
A022.6.167 – “Dec. 19/03 Lakeview Park Oshawa Fire at Guy House Historical Bldg. December 17/03 Historical Soc. Employees L-R Angela Siebarth & Melissa Cole (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection).

The David Dowsley Photograph Collection will address some current gaps in the archives. Many of the most common research requests are individuals asking for photos of their historic homes or of buildings or businesses that no longer exist. Unfortunately, we do not currently possess many of these images and do not have many options to offer community members; however, Mr. Dowsley’s attention to detail, construction, and change in the community will provide solutions for requests like these. Mr. Dowsley takes images of houses and streetscapes including street signs, like image A022.6.13 which shows a view of Cherrydown Street at Grandview Street South on April 6, 1994.

A snowcovered streetscape with several houses and two cars on the road.
A022.6.13 – Cherrydown St., Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. April 6, 1994. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

Mr. Dowsley also includes photos of events such as image A022.6.38, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Durham Trust Garage on November 24, 2015. Each of the individuals in this image is named and subsequent photos continue to monitor the construction of the garage until completion. These images will be simple to locate and use as they are being collected on the internal data system and digitized. Each image is given an accession number and a subsection under the collection which will make them easier to find based on the content. The subsections include houses, construction, businesses, schools, sports facilities, transportation, and waterfront, among others.

Seven people wearing hardhats, each with a shovel in hand, for a sod turning ceremony.
A022.6.38 – “Groundbreaking for the new Durham Transit Garage, Farewell Avenue Oshawa, ON, November 24, 2015; included in picture: Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and CEO Durham Region; John Henry, Mayor of Oshawa; Granville Anderson, MPP Durham. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

Archives serve as a repository of information and a means to access it. The David Dowsley Photography Collection demonstrates how modern efforts can provide invaluable context and insight into historic events. Archives Awareness Week encourages us to reflect on how archives have influenced historical accuracy and community nostalgia around us. Fortunately,  community members and the Oshawa Museum’s archives have a wealth of information available.

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