Oshawa Celebrates Canada Day

On July 1, 1867, The British North America Act came into effect on July 1, 1867, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as “One Dominion under the name of Canada. “

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In Oshawa, the passing of the BNA Act was a relatively quiet affair, even though it had been designated as a celebration of Confederation for the country.  The day started with the firing of guns and ringing of bells, and many houses flew flags.   There was a parade along King Street and speeches were given in front of Gibb’s Store and Fowke’s. A picnic was held later in the day at Cedar Dale for those people of the community who did not go elsewhere such as the town of Whitby to celebrate.  It is estimated that 7,000 were present for the events in Whitby.

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation of Governor General Lord Monck called upon all Canadians to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of Canada on July 1st.  The proclamation stated, “Now Know Ye, that I, Charles Stanley Viscount Monck, Governor General of Canada, do hereby proclaim and appoint WEDNESDAY, the FIRST day of JULY next, as the day on which the Anniversary of the formation of the Dominion a Canada be duly celebrated. And I do hereby enjoin and call upon all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the due and proper celebration of the said Anniversary on the said FIRST day of JULY next.”

Oshawa residents observed this proclamation and celebrated the one year anniversary of Confederation.  The Oshawa Vindicator reported on July 8, 1868 that the 34th Battalion (later renamed the Ontario Regiment) assembled at 3 o’clock on Dominion Day on the Agricultural grounds in Whitby to receive a flag in the colours of the Queen.  The paper reported that “the attendance of spectators was immense, rendering it almost impossible to preserve sufficient space for moving the force.”

There was also a picnic held by the employees of the factories at Morris’s Grove on Dominion Day, and the Vindicator stated it was a success.  The picnic itself was slightly overshadowed by the presentation of the Colors, but nonetheless, attendance was still large.  There were games and a “friendly rivalry” between Foundry and Factory, and the Freeman family band played music throughout the day.  In the evening, the events continued in the drill shed where prizes were distributed, addresses were delivered and cheers given to the Queen, Messrs Miall, Glen, Whiting and Cowan, and to members of the committee.  Picnic attendees danced to the “late hour” to the music of the Freeman band.

Although not officially recognized as a holiday (it would be recognized as such in 1879), Oshawa residents celebrated Dominion Day in the years following confederation in similar manners.  Picnics were held, games were played, fireworks lit up the sky, and dancing continued into the night.  The 34th Battalion typically played a role in Dominion Day celebrations.

Canada’s Diamond Jubilee year was 1927, and both Canada and Oshawa celebrated this landmark.  The Oshawa Daily Reformer issued a special edition of their paper for June 30, commemorating 60 years since Confederation, particularly highlighting Oshawa’s achievements through the years.  In Lakeview Park, the Jubilee Pavilion was open for business on June 30th, 1927, with the official opening on Dominion Day.  The pavilion was named in honour of this landmark year.   Jubilee celebrations lasted for two days in Oshawa and included parades, sporting events, picnics, the playing of a speech from King George V, dancing, and fireworks.  The Ontario Regiment Band played, along with the Salvation Army Band, the Oshawa Kilties Band and the General Motors 75 member choir.  Dominion Day also included a commemorative ceremony for those who died during the Great War.  Memorial Park and Alexandra Park served as appropriate locales for Jubilee celebrations on Friday July 1, and on July 2, the party continued at Lakeview Park.

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In 1967, the year of Canada’s Centennial, Oshawa appropriately celebrated this milestone.  The Oshawa Folk Festival had a Centennial Week celebration with events leading up to and including Dominion Day.  On July 1, there was a parade through to Alexandra Park and events through the afternoon, as well as events and fireworks at the Civic Auditorium.  Oshawa also took part in the “Wild Bells” program, with all church bells, factory whistles and sirens sounding when July 1 came in.  Hayward Murdoch, Oshawa’s Centennial Committee Chairman commented, “This seems like an excellent and appropriate way to usher in Canada’s 100th birthday.  We want to have as many bells, whistles and sirens sounding as possible.”

Celebrations for East Whitby Township took place in the Village of Columbus with the unveiling of a centennial plaque, a band concert, school choirs, barbeque and fireworks.

Oshawa also had a centennial house constructed at the corner of King Street and Melrose Street (just east of Harmony Road).  The project was coordinated by the Oshawa Builders Association, and profits of the sale of the home went to the Oshawa Retarded Children’s Association (now operating today as Oshawa/Clarington Association for Community Living).

In 1982, the name of the holiday was officially changed from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day.”  Since 1984, Oshawa’s largest Canada Day celebrations have taken place in Lakeview Park.  In 1985, the opening of Guy House coincided with Canada Day festivities, and the opening of the new pier also took place on July 1, 1987.  In 1988, an elephant from the Bowmanville Zoo was part of the festivities, participating in a tug of war with city aldermen.  Canada’s 125th anniversary was in 1992, and the City organized a big party down at lakefront.  Every year, fireworks mark the end of the celebrations.

Canada Day at Henry House
Canada Day at Henry House

The City run Canada Day celebrations have been very successful over the years, drawing tens of thousands to Oshawa’s lakeshore.  They have also attracted a certain level of prestige, making Festivals and Events Ontario’s list of top 50 (later top 100) celebrations in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

Located in Lakeview Park, the Oshawa Community Museum takes part every year in Canada Day celebrations.  Over the years, the museum has had historical re-enactors, special displays, woodworking and blacksmithing demonstrations, and a Strawberry Social in the Henry House Gardens.  Currently, the Museum offers costumed tours of Henry House on Canada Day, and our Verna Conant Gallery is open in Guy House.

 

We will be open from 2-5 on July 1, 2013! Please visit!

 

References:

The Oshawa Vindicator, 1868-1870, various editions
Oshawa Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927
Oshawa Daily Times, July 4, 1927
Oshawa Community Archives (Subject 0012, Box 0001, Files 0003-0006, 0011, 0015)

Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Caitlan

HI, it’s me again, Caitlan, you all know me as the co-op student here at the museum. I have had a blast here. I love my mornings here and I know I originally I said I would be here till mid June. But it seems the museum and I are not ready to part ways yet. I am very excited to say that I will be here till the end of August. I will be continuing my co-op until my ‘last day’, June 18, and then I become part of the staff.

Catilan working hard in the Programming Office
Catilan working hard in the Programming Office

Over the next 2 months I will be working on the Robinson book. It seems the museum has loved all my photo manipulations and poster designs that the museum, that they want me to design the book. I want to keep a similar layout as The Story of Henry House, as the book will be quite similar; the Robinson book will also have about the family, the house & lot and the house as a museum, so I want it to have the similar feel. Also one thing that I never got to do since I have morning co-op was the tours, but since I will be here for the summer I will start doing tours. Although I am a bit nervous for giving tours I know I will have all the information down pat in no time. I encourage anyone to come down have a tour, take a walk on the path by the lake, I can say you will have a great day!       

One of Caitlan's photo manipulations.  The Robinsons of yesterday come back to their house today...
One of Caitlan’s photo manipulations. The Robinsons of yesterday come back to their house today…

Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Shawn

Authored by Shawn, Returning Summer Student, 2013

The skies have not seemed entirely welcoming as we have jumped into this first week of June. In fact I think the temperature has been growing more miserable as we approach summer! However, this has not impeded the Oshawa Museum. On Thursday afternoon Lisa and I managed to brave the rain in Downtown Oshawa as we practiced for the Downtown Walking Tour to be held this Sunday. The windy weather has also been unable to prevent some amazing visitors such as George Gordon who came to explore our Railway Exhibit and told us much of his own personal experiences working on the Oshawa Railway.

The inside of Guy House has also been anything but dreary. It now seems a bustling full house with the other new summer students – especially with the recent and excitingly large donation of documents relating to Thomas Henry. It has also been pleasant to catch up with the full-time staff – I had almost forgotten the unfamiliar healthy foods these ladies have exposed to me. Jenn Weymark makes the topic seem an entirely different language.

Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives!  Welcome back Shawn!
Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives! Welcome back Shawn!

 

Primarily, I have been busying myself with research for the Guy House book. This means taking on the intimidating records of plot sales and learning of Thomas Guy Jr.’s ‘active’ marriage life. It is certainly intriguing to handle and learn from the documents themselves and I hope than I can be of some use putting the story of the house in perspective. While looking into the Guy House history I also accidentally stumbled upon an informative collection of papers of Philips Jesse Phillips compiled by his grandson, Alan Philip Dickson. This was quite interesting because I had been recently collecting and organizing some information on World War One Veterans from Oshawa. It so happens that this Philip Phillips, which has been staring at me through a portrait for some years now in the Archive Office, was born in 1875 and actually enlisted in the army in 1915 – fighting in the 18th Battalion until he was killed at Vimy Ridge. He also worked for the Williams Piano Company in Oshawa and had at one point been asked to make a piano for the King of Siam! I was surprised to learn so much history behind this man on the wall. So, despite the cloudy weather it has been an en’light’ening (I’m so sorry) week!

The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips
The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips

 

Co-op Student’s Thoughts

HI, my name is Caitlan and I am a co-op student here. I’m in grade 12 and I plan on going to university in September for Social Media. When we had to start applying to universities I had no idea what I wanted to take and how should I know, I’m only 17 and I wanted to make sure the program I was going to take, I would enjoy. After all I would be stuck in it for a year and A LOT of money is involved! I started to research different programs and the only one that stood out for me was Social Media (which is radio, television/film, journalism etc.) So I decided to do co-op that would have, to some degree, of what I would be doing in university, just so I know money is not going to waste. That is how I found my way here.

Although I never thought of myself has a person really interested about history especially since my brother is a history buff and is getting a degree in history. So naturally, many people thought it was strange to do co-op at a museum. But I have found my co-op experience here is going really well and enjoyable. I have learned quite a bit about Oshawa’s past, and many things that actually surprised me or I found amusing. So what exactly have I been doing here? Well, when I first started I researched a lot about Oshawa’s railway, which is one thing I never even knew Oshawa had. I started to create tweets about the railway to help create awareness about the Railway exhibit (opening May 1st) which started to go out on the first of April. I was able to create 31 tweets, one for each day of April and one for May 1st. I also created two different posters for the Railway Exhibit and the poster for the Summer Lecture & Tour Series which starts June 5th. Since then I have been getting ready the ‘Month that was’ and so far that is one of my favourite things to do here! The reason is some of the things that people thought was news or even just the way that wrote was very opinionated and if some of the things that were printed back then was put in a newspaper today, let’s just say someone would be getting fired or in quite a bit of trouble. Even the advertisements in the papers and comics are written completely different (for example an ad. for a colouring contest, the grand prize winner would receive a pony!). In addition to that, I have also been helping Lisa photograph artifacts over in Henry House and I can now say I officially know how to correctly number an artifact! I have seen some really cool artifacts, some of which I think should have stayed around today and some creepy artifacts but I will not go there!

For the next 3 months I hope to complete a few short videos, a press release for the Downtown Walking Tour and a few more blogs, as well as continuing to photograph artifacts and more of the ‘Month that was’. Overall I am really happy I have co-op here! I know that I will enjoy my program starting in September and I cannot believe I get to start my days off in a new and interesting way, every day with a wonderful and friendly group of people!

As I said above I have been taking some photograph’s and I thought I would share a couple with you! …

This is  a shot form the Henry House desk!
This is a shot form the Henry House desk!

 

Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!
Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!

 

 

This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!
This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!

 

 

Welcome to our blog!

This is the blog for the Oshawa Community Museum, a museum located in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.  This is where we will be sharing stories from Oshawa’s past and some of the present goings-on at the museum!  We are also very active on social media, so be sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, foursquare, and Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping by, and we hope you’ll return soon

%d bloggers like this: