While there are several, earlier, unverifiable claims to the bicycle invention, the earliest verifiable claim is to a German inventor in the early 1800s. This simple mode of transportation has seen evolution, adaptations, and various safety enhancements through the years.
This post is inspired by photographs in our collection that feature bicycles and, coincidentally, is published a day before World Bicycle Day on June 3. So, in the famous words of Freddy Mercury, “Get on your bikes and ride!” Enjoy the read!
By Karen A., Visitor Host Born in Jackson Township, Stark County, Ohio, on May 28th 1840, Joseph Dick was a machinist in Oshawa from 1863 util 1874, later becoming a proprietor of his own business, Dick’s Agricultural Works, located in Canton, Ohio. What’s really interesting about Joseph is his patent from 1869 for the “improvement…
As summer heat builds, more people will rely on air conditioning units to keep cool. No air conditioning? No problem! There were a variety of options for ‘cooling off’ on a hot summer day before the days of air conditioning! Here are a few of the creative ways people in Oshawa beat the heat at the turn of the 20th century.
Parks are a wonderful place to cool off; trees absorb heat, and ponds and lakes help further cool the temperature in the air. The development of city parks boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.1 Early city parks were usually privately owned land made available, for a small fee, to the public. This model evolved after WWII.
An example of this type of privately owned park was Prospect Park (located where Parkwood Estate is today). In 1880, Eli Edmondson landscaped the grounds with ornamental gardens, gazebos, and water fountains that would have provided an easy way to cool off in the summer!
One of the best parks to cool off in would be Oshawa-on-the-Lake (today’s Lakeview Park). For the citizens of our community, it is a favourite location to spend a summer’s day, swimming and relaxing along the sandy beach. There is an abundance of large trees providing shade to sit under to escape the summer sun or to take an afternoon nap!
Awnings became popular as a way to block out the sun while still allowing daylight and air to enter into storefronts that needed ventilation. On rainy days, awnings made it possible for passersby to enjoy window-shopping excursions. Throughout their history, awnings have had great appeal. Along with drapes, curtains, shutters, and blinds, they provided natural climate control in an age before air conditioning. By blocking out the sun’s rays while admitting daylight and allowing air to circulate between interior and exterior, they were efficient and cost effective.
Covered porches, such as the one pictured below, helped reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting the outside walls and downstairs windows. A covered porch also allowed people to sit outside during the evening and early in the night when it was cooler. The porch eventually turned into a place to socialize with friends and family while cooling off after a long hot day.
Summer kitchens during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Ontario had a number of practical applications. They were usually a wing constructed on the rear of the home. Often, the wood stove in the home would be disassembled and moved into the summer kitchen.2 At Henry House, the summer kitchen is located at the back of the house, off the main kitchen. This extension of the home was used during the hot summer months to separate hot kitchen activities from the rest of the house during the warmer months – a key way to survive the summer before the advent of the modern air conditioning.
Fans, hats, and parasols are not just fashion accessories. They were useful tools used to beat the heat of the summer months. Since the sun heats the earth through radiation, one of the best defences against the summer heat for a Victorian woman was protection from the sun’s rays. Wide-brimmed hats and parasols not only protected but were essential fashion accessories. After a stroll in the sun, what better way to cool down than to let nature protect—with its cooling canopy of shade.
One of my current projects here in the archives is re-organizing our oversize photograph and document boxes. This will make finding photographs and documents much easier. Of course, going through these boxes sometimes brings about mysteries or excitement, especially when I find something that hasn’t been seen in some time.
One such document that made many of us here at the museum stop and look was a poster from the Jubilee Pavilion, advertising Ozzie Williams and his Orchestra. No one had seen the poster in some time, which led to the question, who was Ozzie Williams and his Orchestra, and what was his connection to the Jubilee Pavilion?
Ozzie Williams, writes the website The Toronto Historical Jukebox, started his career all the way back in the early 1930s. Williams made his name as a band leader leading orchestras at popular dance halls in Toronto, like the Kingsway Club and the Embassy.
The 1930s were the time of the “Big Band,” large orchestra-type bands that played jazz music. Big Bands enjoyed wide success through their radio work and public appearances, like in dance halls.
Thinking of dance halls, the Jubilee Pavilion has a special place amongst many residents of Oshawa. Built in 1927, it has served as the venue for many bands over their almost 100 years in service. Thanks to some sleuthing in the Toronto Star Archives through the Toronto Public Library, I learned that Williams played at the Jube in 1936. In his book, Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions, Peter Young writes, “Big Bands were usually hired [at the Jube] for the whole summer, performing six nights per week, and would often stay in cottages very nearby… Some of the popular bands to perform at the Jube included Ozzie Williams, Stan Williams and His Blue Marines, Boyd Valleau, Jack Denton and Pat Riccio.”
From Young’s excerpt, we learn more of Williams’s time here in Oshawa. The fact that bands were hired for an entire summer explains why the poster has June, July, and August on the bottom. Also, that many bands stayed in cottages in Lakeview Park explains why we have a photograph of Williams in our Lowry Collection. The Lowry Lakeview Park Collection contains hundreds of photographs of Lakeview Park, mostly from the 1930s. In this photograph, Williams sitting with an individual named Georgie Robinson. We can assume that this photograph was taken when Williams lived in the Park
Although Williams’s entire life is still a mystery, his time here in Oshawa seemed rather busy, with many nights played at the Jube. I absolutely loved looking in Williams’s time here in Oshawa. All of this really gives us a snapshot at what nights were like at the Jube and the bands that played there.
Located in central Oshawa, there is a modest park named Sunnyside which features greenspace, a playground, a ball diamond, and a clubhouse. Many parks around the city have their names derived from streets they are located on or local people who are influential with the area development. I had never given much thought to the name of Sunnyside Park until summer 2022 when two instances came across my desk.
While digitizing a collection of glass plate negatives, our Registrar Kes came across references to Sunnyside. This collection was related to the Albert Street Church and the Mission associated with it. Established by Alfred Schofield as early as 1907, the mission was named Sunnyside. In a column that appeared in The Christian Guardian, Rev. Henry H. Manning talked about the mission and the people it served who are “living in a section of the town of Oshawa known as Sunnyside.” One thing that is unclear is if the area was known as Sunnyside before the mission, or if the area became known as Sunnyside due to the mission. There was a house on Stacey Street which was used for mission work and a Sunday School, and it was, reportedly, called Sunnyside Hall. Finally, there is one photograph in that collection of glass plate negatives which is identified as “Mission Park, Sunnyside, May 24.”
Shortly after learning about Sunnyside and the Albert Street Church, I came across the second instance of the name Sunnyside.
I was listening to a recorded interview with a man named Howard Stacey, the nephew of builder and Oshawa Mayor John Stacey. The interviewer asked him many questions about the building of Staceyville (the area around Olive Avenue), about the city’s growth through the years, and about his family.
To get more information about the neighbourhood around Olive, the interviewer asked, “Now was there a park in there called Summerside or Sunnyside?” and Mr. Stacey replied,
“Oh, Sunnyside. Sometimes it was called Sunnyside. After Staceyville some people got kind of fed up with Staceyville and… they elevated the name Sunnyside to get away from Staceyville. It was always some that felt they wanted Sunnyside instead of Staceyville, that’s the way it is.”
These seem to be the only two references to a ‘Sunnyside’ neighbourhood in the archives. There is scant information about the park in the Parks subject files, and there appears to be no information about the Sunnyside Neighbourhood Association.
While it might be unclear exactly when the Sunnyside Park began, in 1922, the Ontario Reformer reported “installation of some playground equipment in the new Sunnyside Park” was addressed at the inaugural meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners in 1922.
During the 1940s, there was talk of new playground equipment, courtesy of the Kinsmen Club and also talk of expanding the park, which was “referred to the Town Planning Commission for consideration” (Daily Times-Gazette, 29 Apr 1947, p 1).
In 1967, the Oshawa Times reported that Sunnyside Park was larger around the turn of the century than it was in the Centennial year as church league baseball was played there. It reportedly “extended both north and east of its present boundaries and included the area that is now Stacey Avenue, James Street and the portion of Drew Street, north of the ‘Olive Avenue Terraces.’”
Recently, the City of Oshawa announced plans to refurbish ten city parks, Sunnyside included, and proposed changes include replacement playground equipment, site furnishings, tree plantings, and naturalization areas.
Campbell, George H. “King’s Field, Sunnyside, Prospect, Neighborhood Parks Of Their Day.” Oshawa Times, June 24, 1967. 3G.
“Commission Will Ask Council For Half Mill To Improve The Parks.” Ontario Reformer, February 11, 1922. 1.
Manning, H. M. “A Needy Community—South Oshawa Mission.” The Christian Guardian, February 19, 1913. 28.
Pogue, Barry R. The Church With A Challenge: The Story of the South Oshawa Methodist Mission and Albert Street United Church. 1997.
One of the projects the Archives has been focusing on is digitization of the image collection. The reasons for this is twofold. The first reason is that digitization acts as a method of preservation. Creating a high resolution digital copy means that information will not be lost as the images starts to naturally degrade over time. The second purpose in digitizing the image collection is to allow easier access to the items.
Over the past six months, we have been working to digitize the glass plate collection. This collection is comprised of glass plate negatives, developed as part of early photograph methods which were used with early projection equipment such as “magic lanterns,” the popular term for 19th and early 20th century slide projectors. They are unrefined versions of modern-day slide projectors.
The images held on these glass plate slides are phenomenal in their clarity and their stability. If properly stored in individual enclosures protected from long term light exposure, these images are remarkably stable. They are, however, glass and thus must be handled with care.1
Digitizing the glass plates means that we can provide access to the amazing images while also limiting their handling and exposure to light. As we have been methodically working through each of the different collections, one stood out to me as being exceptionally interesting.
The series of slides, donated in 1996, showcases the Oshawa Creek around 1899, followed up by two images of Prospect Park. Constructed around 1865 by the Gibbs brothers, the estate consisted of a large three storey Victorian mansion with a mansard roof. When their business failed, the property passed through the hands of a Colonel Mulligan of Manitoba before being sold to Eli S. Edmondson, who named it Prospect Park.
Edmondson made the most notable improvements to the site, having the grounds landscaped and the gardens ornamented with fountains and coloured lights. He encouraged the public to visit his “park,” for a small fee, and provided ample entertainment for when they arrived. Guests could engage in lawn bowling, tennis, watch a game of lacrosse, or walk the grounds. It is this era of the estate that is documented on the glass plate slide.
The beautifully clear image on the slide shows the two of the gazebos constructed by Edmondson for the enjoyment of the paying public. The development of city parks boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.2 Early city parks were simply privately owned land made available, for a price, to the public. This model began to evolve, particularly in the post WWII period, and eventually became the publicly owned spaces that we enjoy today.