Annotating a 52 year old article

The following article was originally written by Jo Aldwinkle and was published Mar 6, 1967, in the Oshawa Times. We have annotated the article to provide reference and make connections to the OM collection.

Attractive Bungalow Built in 1854 Withstands Inroads of Commerce and One-Way Traffic

The leaded, bevelled glass panel in the front door beams a welcome and a mellow atmosphere of gentle living enfolds you as you step over the threshold of one of Oshawa’s oldest houses.

Inside the Ellis home, c. 1970; photo from the Oshawa Museum archival collection (AX010.70.12)

Situated on the corner of Centre and Athol streets, the charming, bungalow-type house with its long French window and dark yellow shutters is owned and occupied by Miss Greta Ellis whose parents purchased the property at the turn of the century.

Greta Ellis was born 1888 in Oshawa, a daughter of Frederick E. Ellis and Mary Myrtle Henry (1866-1962); her maternal grandparents were Albert Henry (1837-1917) & Harriet Guy (1843-1866), making her great-grandparents Thomas Henry, Lurenda Henry, and Thomas Guy and Harriet Cock Guy.

Mary Myrtle Henry (1866-1962), photo from the Oshawa Museum archival collection (A017.20.77); of note, the photographer was Oshawa based C.L. Lewis 

Records show that the house was built in 1854 for a Doctor Joseph Clark and his wife, the former Elizabeth Cameron of Toronto. The house stood on an eighth of an acre of land which was neatly landscaped with winding walks, arbors and shrubberies.

The address for this home was 31 Centre Street South, NE corner of Centre and Athol.  Today, this is the location of Michael Starr Building/parking; the Clark-Ellis house is no longer standing.

Clark-Ellis House, c. 1970, from the Oshawa Museum archival collection (AX010.70.3)

At that time a wide verandah encompassed the house on all sides. Built of mud and straw bricks and covered with stucco inches thick and the gleaming outer walls are twenty inches thick and the gleaming floors are made of pegged pine.

In a day when a finished basement was almost unknown, Dr. Clark’s house was unique. His spacious basement was completely finished and divided to include a consulting room and office, approached by a side door, down a few steps; a large kitchen and laundry and sleeping quarters for the domestic held.  A dumb waiter transported food and dishes to a pantry above.

Oshawa’s eternal problem of mud and slush was even more aggravating in the days of board-walks than it is today and Miss Ellis recalled a story that she had heard in this regard concerning Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Clark.

“It was told,” Miss Ellis said, “that when the doctor and his wife walked out after dark and you must remember, there were no street lights, they had a maid carrying a lantern walking backwards before them to light their footsteps.”

About the turn of the century, Mr. And Mrs. Ellis purchased the property and added to it without changing the original plans.

The wide central hall gives a sense of spaciousness and the 33 foot long living room is well proportioned with a marble mantelpiece set between the French windows.  The doors are wide and heavily bordered and the skirting around the walls is 24 inches high.

Inside the Ellis home, c. 1970; photo from the Oshawa Museum archival collection (AX010.70.9)

A portrait of Elder Thomas Henry, Miss Ellis’ great-grandfather, dominates the room and portraits of her grandmother, the former Harriet Guy and great-great-grandmother, bear him company.

The portrait of Thomas Henry was donated to the Oshawa Museum as part of the Ellis estate. The portrait included with the original article is the same one now on display in the Henry House study. The OM does not have any portraits of Harriet Guy Henry in its collection; we have a digital copy of Harriet Cock Guy (her great-grandmother), and we have the life-sized Harriet Trevithick Cock portrait on display in the Verna Conant Gallery. If this is the same portrait being referred to in the article, it is unclear.

Thomas Henry, as displayed in the Henry House study, Oshawa Museum collection (A973.13.1)

From these gentle women, the late Mrs. Ellis inherited her skill in needle craft. Her daughter treasures a patchwork quilt, composed of pieces of silk, satin, and velvet, joined by fancy feather-stitching that her mother made for her trousseau.

Again, the artefact photographed for the article was donated to the OM as part of the Ellis Estate.  This quilt is in fragile condition and is not always on exhibit.  The needlework is indeed impressive.

Henry family quilt, in the collection of the Oshawa Museum (973.13.2)

Most beautiful of all are her decorative pieces of raised embroidery on crimson velvet. The examples shown depict white velvet roses with calyx, stems and leaves in shaded green chenille and a cluster of hydrangea, the flowers mounded high and each floret applied separately.

Mar 6 - Henry Articlee.jpg

‘European War’ Stereographs

The Victorians were ahead of the game when it comes to the latest trend of 3-D entertainment.  Before you needed sill glasses to view all the summer blockbusters, and before the even sillier blue and red eyed glasses, there was the Stereoscope, all the rage in trendy Victorian Parlours.

Stereoscope made of wood and metal. The metal components are where the viewer's eyes would be, and the wooden components are where the stereoview card would sit, and the handle for holding the stereoscope.
Stereoscope made out of wood and metal; Oshawa Museum collection, 963.14.1abc

The stereoscope was a devise that allowed the viewer to see 3-D images.  Stereoscopic cards would have two nearly identical images side by side, and when viewed through the stereoscope, our eyes would view the images as one, and certain elements would become 3-D.  Remember when you were a kid and you had the plastic ViewMaster?  The stereoscope worked the same way.

A998.21.1ab - European War Stereograph Collection
A998.21.1ab – European War Stereograph Collection

In 1998, the Oshawa Community Archives received a fascinating collection of Stereographs.  They were published by Underwood and Underwood in New York, and these 22 cards were housed in a brown case, labeled ‘European War.’  Depicted on the cards are various scenes from World War I, and the images range from stoic to devastating.  A harsh reminder that war is bitter and real.  It does not care for nationality, religion, or status.  War devastates.

A selection from the collection.  Some images may be disturbing to the reader.  Please be advised.

A998.21.2a - Stereoview - Captured German guns on view in Parade grounds, St. James Palace, London
A998.21.2a – Stereoview – Captured German guns on view in Parade grounds, St. James Palace, London
A998.21.2d - Stereoview - Where all is still and cold and dead, Lens France
A998.21.2d – Stereoview – Where all is still and cold and dead, Lens France
A998.21.2h - Stereoview - Canadian artillery proceeding to the front
A998.21.2h – Stereoview – Canadian artillery proceeding to the front
A998.21.2n - Stereoview - 'And now we lie in Flanders Field', Vallee Foulon, France
A998.21.2n – Stereoview – ‘And now we lie in Flanders Field’, Vallee Foulon, France
A998.21.2t - Stereoview - Three British motorcycle despatch riders passing through Senlis
A998.21.2t – Stereoview – Three British motorcycle despatch riders passing through Senlis

The Tackabury Map

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

In an earlier post, I discussed a few of the wall hangings inside the Henry House Study.  Today, I’d like to share about the largest hanging we have in the study, and my favourite artifact on tour of the museum, our Tackabury Map.


992.2.1 - 1862 Tackabury Map
992.2.1 – 1862 Tackabury Map

With the frame measuring at 6×7’ (or, 182.5 x 217cm), this hanging dominates the north wall of the Study.  It fit with the interpretation of the room because Thomas was a travelling minister for the Christian Church, who would have utilized a map when planning his travels.  It also fits with the interpretation time period as it dates from 1862.


Detail of the Tackabury Map - Can you see Port Oshawa?
Detail of the Tackabury Map – Can you see Port Oshawa?

The map is of Canada West, featuring an overall map of the province, and surrounding this, there are inset maps of the major cities, including Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and Hamilton.  There is also an inset map of North America, and several drawn images from around Canada West (Toronto, Niagara Falls, University of Toronto, etc).  It is a detailed map of Canada West (Ontario), showing major roads, railroad and proposed railroad lines, concessions and lots, and county, township and town boundaries. Place names, post offices and telegraph stations are also identified. Census figures for 1861 and a mileage table are also shown.  Port Oshawa can be seen on the map on the very eastern edge of the County of Ontario.  Many visitors will often look for Oshawa within the boundaries of Durham County, as we are now in the Region of Durham, however, boundaries changed in the 1970s; before then, we were geographically in the County of Ontario, which stretched from Pickering in the west, to East Whitby and Oshawa in the east, and as far north as the Township of Rama, where Orillia and Casino Rama are.


Detail showing the Time Table
Detail showing the Time Table

One of my favourite features, and my favourite thing to talk about, is the ‘Time Table.’  Because there was no ‘standard time’ in 1862, it showed what time is would be across the province (Ottawa = 12pm; Whitby = 11:47; Toronto = 11:43, 8s).  Today, if it is 12 o’clock noon, that would be time across the province and the time zone, however, in 1862, 12 o’clock noon was set by the sun.  This fascinating vestige from days past always gets an interesting reaction from visitors.

Around Henry House – Our Paintings in the Study

By Lisa Terech: Youth Engagement/Programs and Digitization Assistant

Throughout the summer, I have been slowly, but surely, working my way through Henry House, photographing and cataloging the artifacts on display in this heritage house.  The room being exhibited as Thomas Henry’s study was my second last room to complete, with some of my favourite artifacts on display; it is great to catalogue artifacts that you love and have great interest in.

Room furnished as a Victorian Study. Green walls, window behind a table. There is a bookcase/bureau in the left corner and a stovepipe
The Henry House Study

Hanging on the walls are three pieces of artwork: portraits of Thomas Henry, Lurenda Henry, and Buena Vista.

Framed painting of a man, wearing a white dress shirt and black waist coat and over
A973.13.1 – Elder Thomas Henry

Thomas and Lurenda are on opposite walls, or, as I’ll joke on tour, staring into each other’s eyes!  I love the portrait of Thomas.  He looks so stately, dignified, and, dare I say, handsome!  The portrait of Lurenda always receives strong reactions from visitors on tour.  She looks to be a very formidable woman from the image.  It was painted in Toronto by HC Meyers, and it appears to have been created based on a photograph.  When our visitors react to Lurenda, I am always careful to remind them that, firstly, it is based from a photograph, and early photograph techniques made smiling rather labour intensive.  I also remind them that Lurenda was rather sick, especially as she was older, and, last but not least, this woman was step-mother to 5 boys, who had 6 boys and 4 girls of her own!  If you had 15 children, you would look formidable as well!

framed painting of a woman, dressed in black and wearing a frilled bonnet/hat
70-L-140 – Lurenda Henry

I removed the portrait of Lurenda from the wall to photograph it, and when I did, I was able to get a closer look at this image that I have seen almost daily for 3 years.  I couldn’t help but notice how striking her eyes are.  Maybe it’s the work of a skilled artist, but you cannot deny there is wisdom and warmth behind those eyes.

A framed painting of a grand two storey house. There is a white fence with an open gate in front of the house.
Buena Vista, the Conant Homestead, by ES Shrapnel

The final painting we have hanging on the wall is of Buena Vista, the homestead to the Conant family.  The home was built c. 1873 by Thomas Conant, best known as the author of Life in Canada and Upper Canada Sketches, detailing the history of his family and a history of the Oshawa area.  The home was located at 1050 Simcoe Street South, the southwest corner of Wentworth and Simcoe Streets.  Premier Gordon Conant was born in this home in 1885, and Thomas Conant housed over 6,000 books in his personal library.  The house, however, was demolished in 1985 to make way for a housing complex.  The complex today is known as Conant Place.

The painting was completed by ES Shrapnel in 1899, the same artists who illustrated Thomas Conant’s Upper Canada Sketches.  Shrapnel (1845 – 1920) was born in England, and eventually settled in Canada, teaching at the Ontario Ladies’ College (Trafalgar Castle) before moving to British Columbia in the late 1880s.   While the painting is, admittedly, outside of the interpretation period of Henry House (set in the 1860s/1870s), the image is one way of honouring another prestigious home, vestiges of Oshawa’s days gone by.

Information from the Oshawa Community Archives, and information on Shrapnel from and

Student Museum ‘Musings’ – Emily

Hi there, it’s Emily again, and I’ve continued the transcribing of the Thomas Henry Correspondence Collection, which I mentioned in my previous post. Through the transcribing and digitizing I have looked at numerous very interesting pieces related to Thomas Henry, and the Henry Family. But there are two pieces in particular that stand out for me within this collection. One of which is a photograph taken by E.E. Henry, the son of Elder Thomas Henry. This photograph is titled a “Spirit Picture,” and contains the image of two men and one women, one of the men however is deceased, being “[b]orn again into the spirit life, July 20th, 1825.” The second piece from this collection that is very interesting is a correspondence letter, which was written by Thomas Henry, June 10th, 1873, and addressed to E.E. Henry. This letter is especially interesting because it is Thomas Henry’s response to the Spirit Picture sent to him by his son.

A013.4.449 - Spirit Photograph
A013.4.449 – Spirit Photograph

The elder Henry’s response to his son is a very interesting read after looking at the Spirit Picture, because being a Christian Minister, one could assume that Thomas Henry has very firm beliefs in regards to the spirit word. The correspondence letter sent to E.E. is strongly worded, long, and firm, scolding his son for taking part in what Thomas believes is unsavory activities. Thomas states in his letter, “I do not dispute but what the picture has been taken. It is not of god, in my humble opinion, But of the Divil[SIC], and show very clearly to me a falling away from God, and disbelieving his word.” Thomas Henry continues through his letter to argue to his son the abomination that is the Spirit Picture sent to him, and writes of the story of King Saul, Samuel, and the Medium at Endor.

Ebenezer Elijah Henry, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Ebenezer Elijah Henry, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

The relationship between Thomas and E.E. Henry is very fascinating because after scolding his son through this letter, and yet Thomas ends is letter by writing, “you might have taken the old prophets picture, and now I would not wonder, but what Dr. Taylor and his medium might get a picture of some of your friends if so send me one.” In another unrelated letter from this collection E.E. writes to his father, “you well know you have left me out in the cold as it were, and I have had to paddle my own canoe for myself. You have as you say in your letter helped all the rest, but me, and now you tell me that I am the favorite. Well God knows I am glad and hope it is so.” It seems to me that parental approval was one of, if not the most important aspects of life for Victorians. And that the Spirit Picture may have been a way that E.E. was seeking that approval by showing to his father his work.


This collection has been fascinating to go through, and has helped me understand the Henry family, and Victorians, much more than I had before by the digitizing and transcribing of these letters and pictures.

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