The 1940s One Egg Cake

Since early 2020, grocery store shelves haven’t been as well stocked. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, people were in short supply of toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels and antibacterial cleaning supplies. But this isn’t the first time the world has experienced shortages like this. In the 1970s, due to tensions in the Middle East and rising oil prices, there was a gas shortage throughout North America and other countries around the world. The era of rationing that people most remember though, is that during and after World War II.

In 1942, The Government of Canada rationed everyday grocery items and gasoline for civilians. This system of rationing managed with small coupon books distributed to families. By 1943, the Canadian Bankers Association had a system in place whereby shopkeepers deposited ration coupons into the banks that then issued cheques to the shopkeepers.

During the War, the government issued over 11 million ration books throughout the country. Families needed to keep these ration books very safe because if they were lost, it meant going without until they could replace it.

Even though the War had ended, rationing still continued while the world got back on its feet.

For Family Day 2021, the OM took to social media and encouraged our followers to spend some family time together in the kitchen. We shared a cake recipe which is heavily influenced by wartime rationing. The ingredients needed are all things that women would typically have had in their home, regardless of rationing. There are other recipes that are made with much less in terms of what is needed, a true mark of the creativity and ingenuity of the people during the time of rationing.

The recipe served as an advertisement for Swans Down cake flour and Calumet baking powder, but use whatever you have in your kitchen.


And here is the recipe, typed out:

One Egg Cake

This recipe appeared in the Toronto Daily Star, 19 Oct 1944, page 18, as an advertisement for Swans Down Cake Flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour (1:1 substitute with all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Calumet baking Powder
  • 1/3 cup butter or other shortening (2.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  • Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times.
  • Cream butter, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat very thoroughly.
  • Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.
  • Add vanilla. Bake in two greased 8-inch layer pans, in moderate oven (375°) for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Cover with Sugarless Chocolate Frosting—you’ll find the recipe on the Baker’s Choice package—or with your own favourite Chocolate Frosting.

Museum Resiliency

By Melissa Cole, Curator

As I write this month’s blog post, staff from the Oshawa Museum continue to work from home.  I reflect back to the date of March 13, 2020, the date when museums in our city, and across the province, shut their doors as a public health precaution due to COVID-19.  This measure resulted in a loss of self-generated revenue.

Throughout the last year I have seen and heard the impact that COVID-19 has had on museums throughout the province at Regional Museum Network virtual meetings, held with the Ontario Museum Association (OMA).  During the pandemic, museums were affected directly; for instance, there are museums where staff worked remotely and were able to re-open for a short period of time in the summer/fall of 2020, while other sites remain closed, and some museums faced staff redeployment.

Recently, the Ontario Museum Association invited museum networks across the province to meet with local Members of Provincial Parliament.  I was fortunate to represent the York-Durham Association of Museums and Archives at one of these meetings hosted by the OMA.  On March 11, the OMA and YDAMA, including colleagues from Markham and Oshawa, met with MPP Billy Pang (Markham—Unionville) in his roles as MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and Dr. Michael Bonner to discuss the impacts of the pandemic and the recommendations put forth by the OMA for support to assist museums to participate in the province’s recovery. Museum representatives from the Oshawa Museum, Markham Museum and Canadian Automotive Museum spoke to our museums’ challenges, potential, and resiliency. 

Museums thought of unique ways to assist their communities to both survive and thrive in this new world of uncertainty and physical isolation.  Museums, that had the means to do so, in the YDAMA network continued to engage the public virtually, providing a safe space away from the pandemic, through the creation of digital content.  For some sites this was the first time producing digital programs and virtual activities.  I thought I would highlight a few examples of the unique programing offered by museums across York and Durham:

When students returned to school in the fall of 2020, once again museums adapted their curriculum school-based programs for virtual delivery.  At the Oshawa Museum, staff created three new virtual programs utilizing our collections and resources. 

The pandemic has shown that museums have an important role to play as integral members of their communities, as places for well-being and connection.  As each of the examples above demonstrates, in their own way, museums can serve their communities by providing a supportive and engaging space, even when our physical spaces are closed.

Henry Grandkids – Edwin and Marshall Henry

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

Edwin, the first son of James O. Henry and his wife Adelaide, pursued a law degree through Osgoode Hall in 1881. He is listed as studying law in the 1881 Census as well as “matriculant of university,” or enrolled, in the Canadian Law Journal on March 15, 1881.

Adelaide Hall Henry (wife of James Orin) and sons Edwin, Marshall, and Frank; From the Elliott Grey Henry Family Album Digital Collection

It is unknown whether Edwin fully saw this through, because ten years later in the 1891 Census, he is living with his father and cousin working as a fruit shipper.

Coincidentally 8 out of the 55 grandkids’/cousins’ occupations had something to do with growing apples or citrus, selling them as grocers or tending to them in a nursery. This must run in the family since some of their fathers also kept this occupation (14.5%).

Edwin married Mabel Mackie on January 7, 1899. There was a 17 year age difference between them. They had three children. The two boys lived long healthy lives, while their daughter, Miriam, passed away at the age of three.

In 1921, the family was living at 130 King Street East, in Oshawa. Currently this is a parking lot between Armstrong Funeral Home and the Beth Zion Congregation.

Edwin’s brother Marshall was only 20 years old when he passed away.

Marshall Henry, from the Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

While studying to become a dentist in Toronto, he developed Typhoid Fever. Typhoid is a bacterial infection that is contracted by drinking or eating food contaminated with feces. It is unknown where he contracted the infection, but it was not kind to him in his last days. Marshall succumbed to the illness after suffering a bowel hemorrhage.

There was no vaccination or antibiotics to treat him.

In a recent online discovery, I learned that the two young men lived very close together while studying law and dentistry. They lived at 12 and 42 Rose Avenue, a street in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourbood, near Wellesley and Parliament. Today, both of these homes are the location of a public school.

I’m now curious as to their relationship while Marshall was sick. Did Edwin stay by his side?

The Way To Go – All About Chamber Pots

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Last fall, we were approached by our longtime partner, CLOCA, to participate in their Durham Children’s Watershed Festival, which shifted to online and virtual due to the pandemic. This festival is designed to for students to engage with “activities that address water conservation, water protection and the preservation of the natural environment in a fun, hands-on and interactive way. Students will learn how many of their everyday needs and choices affect interrelationships within the natural environment and their watershed community.”

When asked about contributing with a historical spin, our minds went to the fact that Victorian homes did not have indoor plumbing. Modern homes have modern bathrooms and toilets, but search as you might, a ‘bathroom’ will not be found inside Henry House. When I give tours, it’s with delight that I share that the Henrys had an ‘ensuite’ – in the corner of the bedroom, we have a washstand, water pitcher, and a chamber pot.

Chamber pots were a portable toilet, meant for nighttime use in the bedroom. Many kids will greet this artefact with a wonderful ‘ewwwww,’ but then I ask them, if it was the middle of the winter, middle of the night, would you want to get all dressed up to use the outhouse outside, or would you rather use your chamber pot? It’s often an ‘aha’ moment as they think about it and realize the convenience that the chamber pot provided.

Chamber pots were common in many cultures before the advent of indoor plumbing and flushing toilets and may still be used in places where there isn’t indoor plumbing.

We have a few examples of chamber pots and commodes in the OM collection. The one which is on display in the bedroom has a crochet cover for the lid, and this helps dampen any noise from the clattering of the porcelain – a wonderful addition if there were any roommates not wishing to be awoken by the lid.

Another interesting example is the commode – it features a lid for discrete chamber pot storage. The top of the lid has a wonderful embroidery, rather decorative when closed, and it lifts for easy access to the chamber pot nestled within.

Thank you again to CLOCA for inviting us to participate in your virtual festival!

Enjoy the video we put together all about the Chamber Pot

Continuing Into the Online World

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

The start of a new year usually brings around a lot of counting. Typically speaking (pre-pandemic, that is), I’ll spend a few days making a grand mess in the shop for the year end inventory count, and at the same time, carefully tucking our holiday merchandise away until the following November. We count and re-count attendance statistics, volunteer hours for the year, and endless social media statistics, such as follower growth, post engagement, blog hits (thanks to everyone who reads!), and how often videos get watched on YouTube. January, indeed, is a month for numbers.

COVID-19 hasn’t changed the counting that needs to get done, but it certainly has made it more challenging. As we’re primarily working from home, counting the gift shop inventory has been an ongoing process throughout the month. In addition, we are making changes to our system and how the inventory is tracked, so the project was far more laborious than in years past. But, this change will bring about good things…

In the near future, the OM hopes to launch an online shop. The OM shop is proud to carry unique items, reflective of our community. We have a large selection of local history publications; some favourite titles include:

  • To Cast a Reflection: The Henry Family in their Own Words
  • “She is One Of the Best.” A Researcher’s Notes on the Life & Times of Florence McGillivray
  • The Oshawa Street Railway
  • Until Day Dawns: Stories From Oshawa’s Union Cemetery
  • And, a favourite of many, Thomas Bouckley’s Pictorial Oshawa: Revisited

We also have a large selection of Oshawa and Oshawa Museum souvenirs (one can never have enough mugs, amirite…), gifts, and toys which are always a hit with our youngest visitors.

We hope to have a selection of items available for purchase on the online shop, with plans to launch in the coming months. Please keep an eye on the Oshawa Museum’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages for more information about when it will be launched and how you can continue your support of Oshawa’s heritage.