The Month That Was – March 1863

All articles originally appeared in The Oshawa Vindicator

March 11, 1863
The Oshawa Volunteers
Yesterday being a holiday, the Oshawa Volunteer Force was out for exercise.  This branch of the service consists of two companies- one of Rifles, under command of Capt. John Warren and the other of Infantry, under command of Major S.B. Fairbanks. It must be admitted that the members of these companies, though under drill but a short time, began to assume the all manner and bearing of real soldiers. They have recently provided themselves at their own expense, with neat capes, which add very much to the effect of their uniform.


Mare Astray
Came into the premises of the subscriber, Lot No. 8, 3rd Con. of East Whitby, about the 1st of January last, A BROWN MARE rising three. The owner is requested to prove property, pay charges and take her away. James Ross, East Whitby, March 3rd, 1863. 390-w


Mar 63 1

March 18, 1863
Oshawa Grammar School
We are glad to learn that this Institution is now FULL of pupils, every desk being fully occupied. This speaks well for ability and test of Professor Lumsden to whose zeal and preservation the possession of a Grammar School by our village is almost wholly attributable.


B.C.S.S Anniversary
We are happy to learn that the second anniversary of the Bible Christian Sabbath School.

Oshawa was a complete success in every respect. The attendance was very large, the preparations and performance were good, and the income, after paying the expenses, something like $50. The provision of eatables was abundant, so much that notwithstanding the large company fed, a considerable quantity was disposed of by auction at the close of the proceedings. This will no doubt prove a welcome addition of the funds of the school, and evinces on the part of the members with which the school is connected, a lively interest in the welfare of their “nursery”—one worthy of imitation elsewhere.

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March 25, 1863
Save Your Teeth – How to do it
Mr. Beccher, who is something of a physiologist, as well as a theologist, farmer, editor, author, lecturer and reformer generally, says, “Our teeth decay. Hence unseemly mouths, bad breath, imperfect mastication. Everybody regrets it. What is the cause? It is a want of cleanliness. A clean tooth never decays. The mouth is a warm place—98 degrees. Particles of meat between the teeth decompose. Gums and teeth must suffer. Cleanliness will preserve the teeth to old age….

Sugar, acids, salertus are nothing compared to food left in the teeth. Mercury may loosen the teeth, use may wear them out, but keep them clean and they will never decay. This advice is worth more than a thousand dollars to each boy and girl. Books have been written on this subject. This brief article contains all that is essential.


In Oshawa, on Friday the 27th, a BLACK WOOL VEIL with lilac flowers on it. Any person leaving the same at the Vindicator office, will confer a favor upon the owner. March 4th, 1863.


“Shall I Learn to Dance?”
Certainly, by all means. Commence with the ‘quickstep’ out of bed in the morning and keep it up until the ‘chores’ are all finished. The boys of course will have a ‘cow drill’, while the girls are engaged in a ‘country dance’, in the kitchen. After this, all hands ‘change’, and ‘promenade’ to school, keeping step to the music of merry laughter. Repeat the same of the way home at night, with an occasional variation by ‘tripping the toe’, and having a ‘break down’ in the snow bank. A ‘reel’ now and then will be quite in place for the girls who have learned to spin, but the boys should never think of it. If these and kindred dances are thoroughly [practiced] they will leave little time and no necessity for the polkas, schottisches, rnd (sic) other immodest fooleries of the ball-room.

The Alger Press

Ora M. Alger began the Alger Press after making a dramatic career change in the early 1900s.  A schoolteacher by trade, Alger began publishing a weekly newspaper after purchasing the Embro Courier in Oxford County.  The change in careers seemed to agree with Alger, as he sold the Embro Courier after seven years and purchased the Tweed News, a larger newspaper.

While in Tweed, Alger expanded his focus to include commercial printing, as well as running another weekly newspaper, the Pembroke Standard.  During this time, Alger’s two sons Ewart and Stewart joined the family printing business.  Although the business flourished, in 1919 Alger decided to sell his holdings in Tweed and Pembroke and move to Oshawa to begin a new printing business.

Alger purchased a small parcel of land across from the Oshawa Post Office and constructed a two-story plant.  This new business focused on commercial printing.  However, Alger soon returned to newspaper publishing and began the Oshawa Telegram.  The newspaper was a success, switching from a weekly to a daily newspaper, Oshawa’s first daily newspaper.  In 1926 however, the commercial business was so successful that Alger decided to sell the newspaper holdings to Charles Mundy and Arthur Alloway, partners in The Ontario Reformer and focus solely on commercial printing.


37 King Street

The company faced its first major setback when a fire destroyed the building.  The company quickly built a new single story building on a location approximately a block away.  A four-story office building, the Alger Building, was then constructed on the old site.

In 1936, the Algers began to feel as though they were falling behind other printing presses, as they had no lithographic equipment.  After a research tour of various sites throughout Canada and the U.S., the Alger Press Limited entered into the lithographic field.

The outbreak of World War II saw business rapidly expand and it became necessary to enlarge the bindery and finishing departments.  Space was rented in the old Williams Piano Building, but this was only temporary.  In 1946, the company happily accepted the opportunity to purchase a building at 61 Charles Street. For many decades, this was known as the Alger Press Building. 

Spring Axel and Oriental

This building had a long history beginning in 1903 when the T. Eaton Company of Toronto began the manufacturing of textiles in the three-story brick facility, built by noted builder John Stacey. In the late 1910s, the Oriental Textile Company operated out of this building for approximately 18 years, producing fabrics for General Motors prior to the depression; they closed their doors in 1934. During the war years, it had been home to the General Motors War Parts plant.


61 Charles Street, the Alger Press Building, now UOIT Campus building

The Alger PRess remained a successful entity in commercial printing and bookbinding and is known in Oshawa for printing the very popular Pictorial Oshawa series.  However, this success was not ongoing, and in 1993 the company declared bankruptcy.

In 2010, the building was renovated and refurbished for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (now Ontario Tech University), and students started using the building, now known simply by its address as 61 Charles Street, as another downtown campus building in 2011.


“61 Charles Street,” Ontario Tech University website.  Accessed from:

Cole, Melissa. Alger Press Building, 61 Charles Street. 2006.  Accessed from:

Doole, William E. The Alger Story, Canadian Printer and Publisher. Offset Lithographic Section, November 1948. 36-56.

Follert, Jillian. “Durham students go to school in old underwear factory,” Oshawa This Week, February 24, 2011.  Accessed from:

Hood, McIntyre. Oshawa: The Crossing Between Waters, A History of “Canada’s Motor City” and Oshawa Public Library.  Oshawa: Alger Press, 1978.

McClyment, John.  “90 Jobs Are Lost as Alger Press Goes Bankrupt,” The Oshawa Times, June 8, 1993.

Oshawa Museum Archival Collection: Oshawa Telegram file.


OM Blog Rewind: “To My Valentine…” A history of Valentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day Cards

This post was originally posted on February 13, 2015.

The history of Valentine’s Day in surrounded by legends and is not a certainty. One common thing among these legends is Saint Valentine, the person after whom the date is named.

One legend is that Saint Valentine was a priest, and when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those who are married, he outlawed marriage of young men. Saint Valentine defied this law, wedding young men in secret; he was then put to death when his actions were found out.  In another legend, Valentine was imprisoned and sent his first valentine to a young girl, maybe the daughter of his jailer. The last letter he wrote to her before his death was signed “Your Valentine.”

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February; some believe that it is the day he was buried or put to death, while other believe that the Christian Church moved it to this date in an effort to “Christianize” Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival and fertility rite, typically observed on February 15. The Christian Church under the Pope Gelasius I, in 494 CE, appropriated the form of the rite as the Feast of Purification.

Around the 17th century in Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated. In the middle of the 18th century, all social classes were exchanging hand written notes. In the 19th century, printed cards replaced written letters thanks to the improvement of the printing press. In America, Esther A. Howland sold mass-produced valentines in the 1840s; these postcards had paper lace, real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.   Esther A. Howland is often known as the “Mother of Valentine.” The Greeting Card Association estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cars are sent each year, and approximately 85% of Valentine’s Day cards are bought by women. In the United States $14.7 billion are generated by Valentine’s Day.

The Oshawa Community Archives has a number of Valentine’s Day postcards in their holdings, and what follows are a selection from their collection.



You Asked, We Answered: Where are the Henrys Buried?

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

While on tour, our Visitor Hosts are often asked questions that they may not be able to answer in that moment. However, we take note of the questions and try to find the answers afterwards. Here is one such question asked during a tour.

Where are the Henrys buried?

A large number of the Henry Family are buried in the cemetery which has become known as the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.  This cemetery may be one of the oldest in our community with an interesting history.


The earliest known burial, based on headstones, is that of Nancy Henry, the mother of Thomas, who died in 1816.  As described in Thomas’s memoirs:

Autumn came and wreathed its many colored drapery around the mighty forests’ head, but the bright tints faded, the red leaves fell, and when the heavy frosts came down on the bare brown earth, a great affliction fell on the little household in their lonely, forest home. The wife and mother died.  Almost without precursor or warning she went, and left anguish and desolation behind her. Far from sympathizing friends, far from religious comforters, with none but her own little family around her, she bowed her head, and closed her eyes in death… [S]he was buried with Christian rites, on a little hill beside the lake… (The Annotated Memoirs of Rev. Thomas Henry, page 27).

Grave M13

It is likely this cemetery had been used for burials before the death of Nancy, but there are no burial records existing from that time.

Thomas is laid to rest at this cemetery, as are both his wives, his father John, five of his children, and three grandchildren.

PicMonkey Image

Headstone for Thomas Henry & family; left photo dates to 1947 and shows original topper for headstone.  It is no longer there (right photo)

Originally, this cemetery was located to the east of the harbour, on an area known as Gifford’s Hill, however, the cemetery was moved to Bonnie Brae Point in 1975 to accommodate harbour expansion.  There were 195 individuals removed to the point, and an additional ten burials have taken place since then.

The Month That Was – February 1926

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Daily Reformer

Sees Fishworm, Is It a Sign of Spring?
Monday, February 1, 1926

That spring is not far away is quite evident. Yesterday morning while on his way to the Y.M.C.A, Mr. W. J. Richards overtook a tiny fishworm making its way to the “Y” also. On giving it a lift, the wriggler made it quite plain to “Bill” that what it desired most was a few swimming lessons from instructor Cliff James, so Bill put it in a glass in the private office of the “Y” where it is patiently waiting for the first of a series of swimming instructions which Cliff will commence this afternoon.


See Views of Japan
Tuesday, February 2, 1926

Japan was the theme of the pictures shown by Mr. Elliot last evening in the Westmount school. These proved to be interesting and of an educational nature. There were views of Yokohama and its neighbouring shrines of the different industries, silk, rice, carving, weaving and fishing. Some of the slides showed the beauty of these small islands with their wistaria vines and cherry blossoms and the Japanese in their native dress. A short comedy was given as well. Preceding the pictures and during intermission a program was given by Misses Stacey, Salter and Rundle. Proceeds $9.15.


Minstrel Show Tonight
Wednesday, February 3, 1926

The minstrel show being presented by the Anglican Young Men’s Club tonight in the Parish Hall promises to eclipse former efforts. The play will be given again tomorrow night. Next Tuesday the troupe will play in Brooklin and on Wednesday night it will be given at the Centre Street Home and School Club.


Local Water Supply Of Good Quality
Thursday, February 4, 1926

The report on the samples of Oshawa’s water supply is again described as “very good quality” by the Provincial Laboratories. Samples taken from a number of wells received a similar report, according to D. A. Hubbell, who received the report this morning.


Local Druggist’s Fine New Store
W.H. Karn Now Occupies Elaborate Quarters In New Henry Block.
Thursday, February 4, 1926

To cope with the rapid increase in the volume of business is the reason given by Mr. W. H. Karn’s Drug Store, for moving into the new store at King and Ontario streets, directly opposite the Post office. With the increased space better facilities are offered for the filling of prescriptions which tends to faster delivery. A new store which is equipped with the most up-to-date fixtures is arranged into departments which gives greater display and makes it easier for the store’s patrons to select their purchases. The centre of the store is kept comparatively clear of show cases which gives customers ample room to see the various displays. Increased window space has also been obtained by the move.

Mr. Karn, who was a graduate of the 1921 class of the Ontario Pharmacy College, entered the old store, located one door west, four years ago. He is now employing three graduate druggists and four apprentices.


New Machine Is Heard In Oshawa
Demonstration of Panatrope At Luke Furniture Co. – Latest Product.
Friday, February 5, 1926

The Panatrope, the latest addition to the musical world was demonstrated in Oshawa last night before about one hundred local citizens in the new Music Department of the Luke Furniture Company, King street east by D. A. Tait who is in charge of that section. From the comment expressed by the Panatrope made a favourable impression on the minds of those who had the opportunity of hearing this exceptional instrument.

Public demonstrations will be given this evening and again tomorrow night at the Luke Furniture Company while on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it will be heard at the Regent Theatre.

The machine which will be placed on the barket in the near future has the appearance of an ordinary talking machine but from then on it is entirely different. AN explanation of the machine is given in the name Panatrope which is derived from the Greek words Pana and Trope, pana meaning all and trope meaning octaves, hence the word Panatrope or all octaves. The machine which was demonstrated here was the original factory model and has traveled over 30,000 miles on demonstration trips which took it twice across the United States and Canada.


Oshawa Bonspiel Opens Tomorrow
Monday, February 8, 1926

Everything promises well for the biggest bonspiel Oshawa has held yet. Eight sheets of ice will be in operation and the first sixteen rinks will draw for the McLaughlin trophy at 10:30 o’clock tomorrow morning. At 11:30 o’clock, the draw for the A.J. Sykes Memorial trophy and the losers of the first two events enter into the consolation event for the W.F. Eaton trophy. Entries are expected from Peterboro, Lindsay, Lakefield, Millbrook, Picton, Colborne, Cobourg, Napanee, Belleville, Agincourt, Stouffville, Markham, Toronto Granites, Oakwoods and Queen City Clubs. From 20 to 30 local rinks will be entered and endeavour to carry away the prizes.


Police Raid The Hotels In Whitby
Take Samples of Beer Which Will be Analyzed in Toronto.
Tuesday, February 9, 1926

The squad of provincial officers who made the sensational raids on Oshawa residences in search of liquor on Saturday night also visited Whitby and searched the Royal Hotel and the Whitby House. Samples of beer were taken at both places and will be analyzed by provincial authorities at Toronto.


Valentine Masquerade
Friday, February 12, 1926

About seventy-five turned out to the Valentine masquerade dance held in the G.W.V.A. Hall last evening. Three prizes only were given out, and these to ladies, as no men came masked. Mrs. J. Smoker captured the best dressed lady’s prize, Mrs. C. Lemon, representing Santa Claus, won the best dressed man’s prize, and Mrs. Roller won the prize for the most comic lady. Around $15 in proceeds were taken in.

Annotation 2019-12-19 095944l

February 13, 1926