The Importance of Continued Research

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

For a number of years, I have been undertaking research into early Black history in the Oshawa area. This inquiry is part of a larger shift in our focus here at the Oshawa Museum.

Prior to 2011, there had been minimal research into the history of the Black population in Oshawa. Some initial work had been done examining census information but that was the extent. When we were approached to take part in Trent University’s inaugural Black History event, we realized how little time had been dedicated to this area of Oshawa’s history. The invitation to the event spurred a new project that helps to tell the history of a local family from the 1790s to today. It also helps to tell a more inclusive and, more importantly, a more accurate history of early Oshawa settlers.

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Portion of 1851 Census of Canada West; lines 40-43 are for Wealthy Andrews and her three children. The enumerator has marked the column for ‘Colored person – Negroes.’  Wealthy and her family were one of two Black families living in East Whitby Township in the 1850s.

This project signaled a shift in where we focus our research, to help fill the gap in our knowledge of our community. A great deal of research has been conducted on the many industries and industrialists who helped shape Oshawa; what was missing was looking into those who worked for the industrialists, those whose labour made the factories so successful, and telling their stories. It is the experiences of the “everyday person” who help to truly understand what the community looked like in the past and how it has evolved today. Currently, we are working to tell the history of women, those who arrived in Oshawa as Displaced Persons post WWII, the Indigenous population who called this area home long before European settlers arrived and those whose names may not be recognizable but who helped shape our community.

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l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983). They were the great-grandchildren of Wealthy Andrews

I presented a paper on the research into early Black history at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual conference at the end of May. The paper discussed how shifting our research focus not only helps to tell a more accurate history of the community but helps to make the past more relatable the current Oshawa residents, strengthening the sense of community and spurring interest in our past with those who may not have been interested previously.


For more information on the Andrews/Dunbar/Pankhurst family, please read our three part series from Black History Month 2014

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part 1

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part II

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part III

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Blog Rewind: Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!

This post was originally published on October 9, 2015.

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Since 1957, the second Monday in October has been observed in Canada as Thanksgiving.  The history and lore of American Thanksgiving is well known, that it is a celebration of when the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together in the 1600s and shared a meal.  The origins and basis for Canadian Thanksgiving, in turn, isn’t as well known.  It is frequently tied to the story of Martin Frobisher who was one of many to search for the Northwest Passage.  He made three attempts, and on his third in 1578, there was a celebration on what is now known as Frobisher Island.  Another possible origin could be the harvest celebrations that occurred in New France in the 1600s.  The popularity of Thanksgiving increased in the late 1700s/early 1800s upon the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.  While ‘Thanksgiving’ was being celebrated, it was informal, being recognised by those celebrating and not as a publicly recognised holiday.

The first time Thanksgiving was formally recognized as a civic holiday after Confederation was on  April 5, 1872.  Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, recovered from a serious illness, and Thanksgiving was marked to celebrate this.

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year since 1879.  Initially, Thanksgiving was held on a Thursday in November, but in 1957, it was officially declared to be the second Monday in October.

 

The following are a selection of postcards from the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection.  From the staff and volunteers at the Oshawa Museum, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Month That Was – October 1862

All stories were reported in the Oshawa Vindicator.

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October 1, 1862, Page 2

The War
Washington, Sept 26 – The governors of the following states arrived here this morning from Altoona, OA, viz: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Indiana.

The last named (Indiana) was represented by Col. Rose.

Between 12 and one o’clock the governors of the states above named had an interview of an official character with President Lincoln…

The governors were courteously and kindly received, and their suggestions listened to with close attention by the President.

It is ascertained from those who had the best opportunities for knowing that there was no proposition made at the recent conference at Altoona, nor even a suggestion ventured, touching the removal of General McClellan, or was any proposition of suggestion made as to the promotion of General Fremont to the head of the army, or as to the future disposal of that gentleman.

 

Cincinnati, Sept 29 – Gen. Jefferson C. Davis shot Gen. Nelson at the Galt House, Louisville, this morning, killing him almost instantly

All business was totally suspended in this city yesterday, from 2 till 5pm, all the citizens being under drill. The turn-out was large.

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Hall’s Factory Burned!
It becomes our painful duty to announce the total demolition of the well-known Woollen Factory owned by Mr. Samuel Hall, located just north of Oshawa, and occupied by Mr. Geo. Brook.  It took fire it is not known how, near midnight on Monday evening, and in short time the building, and all the valuable stock and machinery, were reduced to a heap of ashes and smoking ruins.  Two men or horse-back were sent to Oshawa to give the alarm, and the fire engine and a lot of the men went out and did good service in assisting to save the property in the neighbourhood of the factory from the devouring element.

We learn that Mr. Hall had an insurance for $7,000 on the building, and the stick and machinery was insured in about $4,000.

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October 15, 1862, Page 1

To Abolish Fruit Stealing
As we grow older (and more charitable?) we are the more included to imagine that the stealing of fruit springs from an ignorant, heedless sportiveness, rather than from deliberate wickedness.  They who steal have never learned how much time and labor it costs to raise fruit; and seeing it in tempting plentifulness around, they think it can harm nobody very much if they take a little.  We do not justify this, nor do we depreciate the use of legal suasion at times; but would not a little moral influence and tact also be well? –American Agriculturalist

 

October 15, 1862, Page 2

Reception of Lord Monck at Whitby
Whitby, Oct 6th, 1862
The passage of His Excellency the Governor General through Whitby was seized upon by the laymen of the town and county as a suitable opportunist for the display of their attachment to the Mother Country, and their gratification at the assumption of the government of the Province by the present popular representative of Royalty. It became known that Lord Monck should be at the Whitby Station about one o’clock pm, and for some time before that hour men, women, and children began to wend their way thither.  A platform had been erected for His Excellency’s reception, with a canopy which was decorated with evergreens; a large motto proclaimed “welcome” to His Excellency, and several flags added to the gaiety of the scene. The Stouffville Brass Band discoursed sweet music before and during His Excellency’s stay. About a thousand persons were present, many of htem leading men from different parts of the County.

 

October 22, 1862, Page 2

Sudden Death
On Wednesday last, Mr. Daniel Robinson, living on lot No. 2 in the 9th Concession of East Whitby, came to Oshawa with a load of wheat. When within 2 ½ miles of his home, in returning, he was taken with terrible pains in his breast and stomach, and turned into the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. John McCullough.  As his condition did not improve, his wife was sent for, and on the following evening, sad to relate, his sufferings were relieved by death. He was a steady and industrious man of about 40 years of age, and leaves a wife and family to mourn over their sudden bereavement of their chief dependence and mainstay in life.

Union Cemetery’s Mausoleum

This article originally appeared in The Oshawa Daily Times, August 11, 1928. It has been supplemented with contemporary images, taken by curator Melissa Cole in 2016 (unless otherwise noted).

Like a beautiful chapel dedicated to sainted memories and undying affection, the Oshawa Mausoleum in the Union Cemetery invites the reverent glance of all who pass into or out of Oshawa on the westward approach of the Kingston Highway.

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(l): 1928, Oshawa Daily Times; (r) 2013, Oshawa Museum Oshawa Museum photograph

That noble structure is an essay in stone upon the beauty rather than the grimness of death. Sheltering within its stately corridors the remains of Oshawa citizens whose lives helped to shape its destinies, it stands a firm defiance against the ravages of time and mortal mutability.

The building of stately mausoleums in Ontario has been one of the significant phases of life following the late great war.  Many hearts torn by the tragedies of battlefields, where, at the best, loved ones have been left to keep eternal vigil on the field of their last supreme sacrifice, and where, at worst, stones which carry the poignant reminder that underneath lies one “Known to God” tell of those who gave even their identity in the battle for freedom, thoughtful men and women have turned with a sense of relief to the steadfast security and permanence of mausoleum interment for their loved ones.

The Canada Mausoleums, Ltd., with head offices in the Metropolitan Building, Adelaide and Victoria Street, Toronto, has rendered a splendid service to Canadians by fostering the erection of such beautiful structures as that which adorns the Union Cemetery. …

Floor Plan Oshawa Mausoleum

Oshawa’s mausoleum is built in an adaption of Egypto-Roman architecture.  Its chief beauty is that of line and mass, enhanced by the facade’s central arch which is as impressive as it is beautiful, and typifies the Christian belief that death itself is but a gateway to immortal happiness. The exterior is of cut Indiana limestone. Massive bronze doors open on the vestibule and central chapel at one end of which a window of beautiful stained glass, carrying its pictured message of comfort and hope, throws a jewelled arabesque of light upon the Wallace sandstone, bordered by black and green Missisquoi marble, which forms the floor of chapel and crypt inside.

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Two aisles, north and south with the building’s greater dimension, lined with the 310 permanent crypts, all but a small percentage of which are owned by local and district families.

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Oshawa Museum photograph

 

At either end of the crypt corridors are private chapels, separated from the corridors by bronze gates, which are owned by prominent Oshawa families.

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An important feature of the Oshawa mausoleum is that the basement contains forty-two crypts forming the Union Cemetery’s receiving vault for winter use. …

Union Cemetery’s many solemn beauties are enhanced by the Mausoleum, near which is the group of graves which closely resemble the war cemeteries of Canadian heroes who died in France. These graves are all headed with the Imperial War Graves’ headstones, and a central monument commemorates the sacrifices of those who, though living to return home, yet succumbed to the actual wounds or disabilities incident to service overseas.

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Oshawa Museum photograph

 


Scenes FB

Discover the stories of Oshawa’s Union Cemetery like never before. Actors bring history to life in Scenes from the Cemetery, a dramatic tour through Oshawa’s history.

Last year’s popular event returns with a look at Canada’s 150th! On Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10, take a tour through Oshawa’s Union Cemetery with the dramatic tour Scenes from the Cemetery. On this walking tour, actors will bring stories to life, portraying people from Oshawa’s past, celebrating these exceptional individuals and how their actions led to Canada’s genesis and growth.

The event runs on Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10, 2017; Show start times: 2pm; 2:20pm; 2:40pm; 3pm

Tickets are $20 each; tickets can be purchased in person at Guy House or online https://scenesfromthecemetery.com/tickets/

Blog Rewind: Automotive Industry: In the Words of Col. R.S. McLaughlin

This post was originally published on March 1, 2013.

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

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I recently came across a fascinating magazine in our archival collection.  The magazine, entitled The Canadian Military Journal featured a lengthy article on Col. Sam to celebrate his 100th birthday.

What stood out in the article were quotes from Col. Sam regarding the birth of the auto industry here in Oshawa.  The development of the auto industry in Oshawa has been well documented but this is a truly unique view from the man who played such a pivotal role.

The day before I had wired William C. Durant, head of the young Buick company in Flint, Mich., to ask for help. The McLaughlin automobile, which we had started to make ourselves after I had failed to arrive at a co-operative manufacturing arrangement with Durant and other U.S. car makers, had run into trouble. Two days before, with the parts of our first car laid out ready for assembly – and the components of one hundred more in various stages of completion – our engineer had suffered a severe attack of pleurisy. In my wire I asked Durant to lend us an engineer until our own man recovered.

Durant arrived in Oshawa not with an engineer but with two of his top executives. He took up the discussion of our last meeting – when we had failed to get together on a manufacturing arrangement – Justas if we had merely paused for breath. “I’ve been thinking it over,” he said, “and I have the solution to the problem we couldn’t overcome in our figuring.” The deal he suggested was pretty close to what I had in mind in the first place, and I said : “ That will work.”  Durant nodded. “I thought it would,” he said, in that voice of his that was always so gentle – and always so much to the point.

We went into my father’s office with my brother George and Oliver Hezzelwood, who looked after our books, and in five minutes we had the contract settled. It ran just a page and a half and was a model agreement for lawyers to study. Chiefly it covered the terms under which we had 15-year rights to buy the Buick engine and some other parts. We could build and design out own bodies.

What a defining moment in Oshawa’s history.  I was left wondering what could have been if the engineer hadn’t gotten sick or if Durant had sent only an engineer.  Would the McLaughlin automobile have succeeded without the Buick engine or would it have been amongst the many car companies that came and went?

Moments such as this, from those who lived it, are what make the study of history so fascinating.