An Evening of Lamplight: The Annual Lamplight Tour

For over two decades, the Annual Lamplight Tour has been a signature event at the Oshawa Museum, the unofficial start to our holiday season, and a staff favourite.


On Saturday, December 5, we invite you to experience an evening of Lamplight. Activites include costumed guides in Henry House, an Edwardian schoolroom, and photos with Father Christmas!

Father Christmas fun!
Father Christmas fun!

We are also excited to launch two new displays! The Gift of Play: Toys of Yesterday is open, showcasing toys from days gone by! Reminisce and remember your childhood through this exhibit, located in Robinson House.

The Gift of Play: Toys of Yesterday
The Gift of Play: Toys of Yesterday

Also in Robinson House is our latest engagement activity, our Winter Wonderland Selfie Station! Take a picture against the snowy backdrop; share it with us by hashtaging: #oshawamuseum

Don't forget to take a selfie!
Don’t forget to take a selfie!

The Annual Lamplight Tour is Saturday, December 5, from 6-8pm.
We hope to see you there!

We thank our 2015 Sponsors

Lamplight 2015 - 11x17


Lest We Forget: Profiling Alfred Hind

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For the past few weeks, I have been deep into research/writing mode, which admittedly isn’t out of the ordinary.  We were asked by a local Scout troop to lead a Union Cemetery tour, focusing on soldiers in honour of Remembrance Day.  We talk about the Veteran’s plots in general on many of our tours, but we did not have one looking at specific individuals.  Speaking with the leader, I became excited about the possibilities of this tour and about filling in a gap with our current program offerings.  So I turned to the archives and various online databases, and I began my research.

There are two Veteran’s Plots in Oshawa’s Union Cemetery: World War I and World War II.  Looking at the stones and learning more about these brave men and women was truly fascinating, that I could have written this post about any one of them.  There was Ernest Bush, who in WWII fought with the Princess Pats, married an English woman while stationed overseas, but succumbed to military Tuberculosis upon his return home.  There is also the mystery of Nursing Sister Hayes, for whom we need to do more research to learn more about this brave woman who enlisted and helped the wounded.  Of course, we have the story of Private William Garrow, who enlisted for WWI and was killed in action less than 10 months later.  He was 22 years old.

For some soldiers, there was little information available, but for the more prolific, like Albert Hind, we were able to learn quite a bit about him.

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

Albert Frederick Hind was born in England in 1877, and came to Canada in 1907.  He was a police chief constable for the Town of Oshawa at the time of the outbreak of World War I.  He earned the rank of Major with D Company of the 34th Regiment, and would serve overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Upon returning from the war, he was promoted to Police Magistrate, a position he would hold until his death.

Certificate appointing Alfred Hind to Police Magistrate
Certificate appointing Alfred Hind to Police Magistrate

He passed away at age 53 in 1930.  His cause of death, heart inflammation, was attributed to his service during WWI; the maple leaf on his headstone is indicative of this.  His funeral was at his house on Simcoe Street in Oshawa, and he was buried in Union with full military honours.  The regiment paraded from the Armouries on Simcoe Street to the cemetery, and three traditional volleys of the gun were fired at the graveside.

Hind Headstone, World War I Soldier Plots, Oshawa Union Cemetery
Hind Headstone, World War I Soldier Plots, Oshawa Union Cemetery

Because of the position he held in the community, his death was reported in the local newspapers, and his colleagues remembered him fondly.  Magistrate Willis of Whitby said of Hind:

“He placed many an erring young man on the path of right.  His work has left the world the better for his acts of kindness in placing men on the right path.  He is a victim of the Great War, and just as much a hero as those who died on the field. He went to fight for freedom and liberty and returned broken in health.  Since his return he has not been the physical man be was before he went… Major Hind used his best judgement at all times, without prejudice of vindictiveness. He will be missed in Oshawa.”


Hind was only one of many men and women from Oshawa who fought for Canada.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us and those who still see action in combat.  On November 11, we will pause and remember.  Lest we forget.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We ‘Dig’ History! Archaeology Day at the OCM

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For a third year, the Oshawa Museum is proud to host International Archaeology Day on October 17!  With fun for the whole family planned, visit us and see for yourself why this event has quickly become a favourite amongst Oshawa Museum staff!

Archaeology is an important part of the interpretation at the Oshawa Community Museum.  Our Grandview Gallery in Robinson House helps tell the story of the Lake Ontario Iroquois, a group of First Nations who called this area home over 500 years ago. For far too long, the history of Oshawa began with Benjamin Wilson, an American who settled here in 1790 with his family, and so on and so forth.  By saying our history begins with Wilson, we are completely omitting the Lake Ontario Iroquois, who were settled with 10-15 longhouses, who hunted, who fished, and who farmed for a period of over 70 years.  Archaeology and the evidence it has given us helps us challenge the ‘traditional story,’ and we do so on every tour, through our interpretation and through the artifacts we have on display that were discovered during the excavation of the Grandview site in 1992.

Inside the Grandview Discovery Gallery
Inside the Grandview Discovery Gallery

Fun fact: there were over 11,000 artifacts unearthed during that salvage dig excavation, and all 11,000 are part of our collection at the Oshawa Museum.  Not all 11,000 are on display of course, but you can view exceptional examples when you visit!

Tools on display from the Grandview Archaeological excavation
Tools on display from the Grandview Archaeological excavation

There were two Aboriginal villages discovered through archaeological excavations; the MacLeod Site at Rossland and Thornton was discovered in the late 1960s, and the Grandview Site, around Grandview and Taunton, was discovered in 1992.  Both sites provide valuable information about the lives of the Lake Ontario Iroquois and have helped us at the Oshawa Museum shift how we tell the history of our City.

When people think about archaeology, ancient ruins, Egypt, Greece, Maya, or early First Nation settlements is what frequently comes to mind.  At the Oshawa Museum, we are fortunate to have two collections from late-historic archaeological sites: the Farewell Cemetery Collection and the Henry House Collection.  These two sites date to the mid to late 1800s and they provide information about Victorian lives and culture.

Coffin handle found during the removal and excavation of the Farewell Cemetery
Coffin handle found during the removal and excavation of the Farewell Cemetery

The Farewell Cemetery Collection is on display in conjunction with our latest exhibit, Mourning After: The Victorian Celebration of Death, and included in the display are a selection of coffin jewelry, coffin hardware (like handles), as well as nameplates and viewing glasses.  Curator Melissa Cole gives information on why the excavation took place and about the artifacts in her June 2015 Podcast.

The Farewell Cemetery excavation was performed by the Toronto based firm, Archaeological Services Inc., and they will be joining us for Archaeology Day, bringing along artifacts discovered locally, as well as delivering a talk on the Don Jail excavation.

Dr. Helen Haines (centre) and students from Trent Durham from the latest Henry House excavation
Dr. Helen Haines (centre) and students from Trent Durham from the latest Henry House excavation

Another proud Archaeology Day partner is Trent University Durham, who have partnered with us on this event from its inception.  This year, Dr. Helen Haines and Trent students will discuss the two archaeological digs that have happened here at the Museum.  In 2011 and again this past summer, the heritage gardens of Henry House have been investigated, and the findings have helped us re-evaluate what we know about the Henry family, strengthening our understanding on how they lived.  Artifacts that were discovered in 2011 will be on display, and Dr. Haines will deliver a talk on the two excavations.

Archaeology is a fascinating field, and Archaeology Day is an event where we get to celebrate and showcase the amazing history that has been unearthed here in Oshawa!  Please join us on October 17 for International Archaeology Day!

Archaeology Day 2015 Poster copy

Ghostly Stories from our Visitor Hosts, Part 2

It is a commonly asked of our Visitors Hosts: Are the Museum buildings haunted? Guests are quick to relay the stories they have heard, and they are seeking confirmation that there might be spirits who call the museum their home.

Tomorrow night, the paranormal research team Proo{f} will host an interactive presentation at the Oshawa Museum about ghosts, hauntings and all things paranormal.

Tickets are sold out for this event. However, if you weren’t able to get your ticket, we still have a few stories to share!


We turned to our Visitor Hosts, both past and present, and asked them if they had any paranormal experiences inside the houses of the Oshawa Museum.  Here is what they shared with us:

Jill Passmore (Visitor Experience Co-ordinator, 2002-present)

Throughout my time at the Museum I have had a few paranormal experiences. The first occurred in the winter of 2004. After the Guy House fire, part time staff was working out of Henry House on the weekends; in the old Curator’s office.  It was very quiet with barely anyone in the park, and lots of snow on the ground (It must have been January or February.) I was waiting for the other staff member to arrive. The front door was already open; I left the summer kitchen door open as well, in case anyone came in. Then I opened the other back door to the porch to see if the other staff member had indeed arrived. It was at that point that I clearly heard footsteps definitively walking through the hallway, as if someone had come through the front door and was coming into the kitchen. When I went to check and greet the visitor, no one was there.

My second experience was also in Henry House. I was closing up at the end of the day; my second last room to close was the bedroom. I had been tidying the house as well, so I straightened the mirror on the dresser. After I pulled the south blind and turned around, the mirror was tipped again – it was only a matter of seconds!

Finally, on a separate occasion when closing up in the parlour I turned towards the dining room and noticed the bottom back of a large skirt turning the corner.

Carmela D. (Visitor Host, 2014-present)


Last Fall, Kathryn and I locked up Robinson House (RH) after an evening Scouts Tour. We went together because it was dark. On our way back to Guy House, we glanced back at RH and the light in the left, top, front room was really brightly on. We were puzzled because we just shut off the main control/breaker panel when we set the alarm and locked the house!

Secondly, when I was stationed in RH for the Accessioned event in May, I was standing in that same room by myself for a very brief snippet of time. When I stood in the corner by the doorway into the hallway, next to the embalmer’s table/fluid jars, I heard a ticking sound, like that of a clock/watch. There was nothing in that corner that would appear to tick! Someone came in downstairs, so I quickly left the area to greet them, got busy speaking with people, had no time to process it….. Then not too long afterward, a lady I had been talking with a lot told me that she had just experienced a ticking sound in that very same spot! I was so relieved that she heard it too, but we both agreed it was odd. We knew there was nothing there that resembled a watch/clock. When we stood still to try and hear it again, we couldn’t. In my mind, I figured someone was trying to tell us that we might be looking at The Mourning After exhibit, but they wanted us to know they were not really gone, but right there with us, ticking along when others believed their time had passed.  …

The interesting thing is that the 5 or 6 experiences I’ve had have always been when I’ve been with others; never alone thankfully! I hope it stays that way!

Interesting things happen at the Oshawa Community Museum that cannot just be set aside on a shelf.

These houses down here on Oshawa’s Lake Ontario are pretty unsettling at times. Of course, things have happened to me when I have least expected it!  Honestly, I have always been caught off guard and thought…. yikes, did I really see that!


Kathryn H. (Volunteer 2005-2014; Visitor Host 2014-present)

My very first encounter with a “paranormal event” was when I was walking through Henry house from the back kitchen down the hall; something caught my eye to the left and I quickly focused and saw the sway of the bottom of a long, brown full skirt move from the dining room to the parlor. Several times over the years coming into work at the museum my eyes have been pulled to Henry House, the south window of the study and felt someone was watching me.

Also even weirder incident was when my colleague and I on a cold blustery fall afternoon had locked up Robinson House which had included turning off all the household lights. We were chatting as we had left the building and for some reason I looked over my shoulder and saw the light on escaping from under the blind in the second floor south window. We both were really spooked and decided that the house was locked up and neither of us wanted to go back into the house.

I have often felt uneasy in the Robinson House, particularly in that same room. It feels as if there have been children there, the room at times almost feels playful. However, sometimes I just feel like I have to get out of there fast. It is confusing each time for me. Another area in the Robinson House that I am certain has paranormal energy is the basement. I have only been down there once with a group of people and the visit was uneventful, nevertheless the area at the door leading down to the basement has certainly made me uneasy and actually I must admit frightened. I just feel like my skin is tingling and I have to move from that area instantly.

My last most recent experience was in the winter, a dark evening event in Guy House. My colleague and I were returning with a group of Scouts from a tour of Henry House. The children were excited and lively. As I opened the Guy House front door to let the children in I looked into the store and saw a male figure dressed in dark clothes scurry out the east window. At the time I thought to myself “oh, someone is leaving the kitchen”. Horrified, I realized what had happened and tried to preoccupy myself with the children.

These houses are old; people lived and died here but gosh sometimes I just wish they would not startle me!


And for a more skeptic perspective:

Karen A. (Volunteer 2011-2014; VIsitor Host 2014-present)

I personally cannot determine if there are ghosts in the houses or not, I have never met a ghost. However when in the houses, especially in Robinson house, I do encounter a creepy ghost like feeling. Sometimes I hear the floor creeping yet no one else is in the house but me. My own experiences are few but nonetheless interesting. Let me tell you about one in particular…

It was a Wednesday, which is a very important fact to the story, I was locking up the houses for the day. I started to Robinson house, which is an extremely creepy house to go into alone especially with the Mourning After exhibit. I went through the house, lowering the blinds and after turning off the lights, I finally locked the door. Heading to Henry House, I stopped to shut the drive shed doors, where is when I noticed the light in the Henry House dining room was on. I told myself these lights are motion sensor which made me stop and question what set off the sensor. My mind was running a mile a minute thinking about the possibilities, and then I came to the realization that someone must have left the light turned on instead of on auto.  So I put my jitters aside and calmly continued to the front door of Henry House. I put the key into the door and turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. The door made a loud creek noise when it opened and that’s when I heard it, a long deep “hello”. I freaked! First I thought the ghost of Thomas Henry was talking to me. After all this time Thomas wanted to communicate today. However I quickly put that though away and then began to think, what if someone who was on a tour got locked inside the house? We locked someone inside the house alone? And now he’s out to get me! I was about to cry but gathered up the words to get out a little “hello, someone here?” That’s when in reply I heard “it’s just me, the cleaning guy.” He came out of the back closet and I saw him, standing no more than five and a half feet with a broom in his hand. This was my ghost.


Ghostly Stories from our Visitor Hosts, Part 1

It is a commonly asked of our Visitors Hosts: Are the Museum buildings haunted? Guests are quick to relay the stories they have heard, and they are seeking confirmation that there might be spirits who call the museum their home.

On September 26, we are selling tickets to an evening with Proo(f).  Join the paranormal research team Proo{f} as they host an interactive presentation about ghosts, hauntings and all things paranormal. Hear about their experiences researching paranormal phenomena. Lean how to ghost hunt and use tools of the trade. Review audio, video and photographic evidence with the team.

03-20-2012 - By Victoria

In anticipation of this event, we turned to our Visitor Hosts, both past and present, and asked them if they had any paranormal experiences inside the houses of the Oshawa Museum.  Here is what they shared with us:

Victoria S. (Summer Student and Visitor Host, 2007-2009; 2011-2012)

Story #1
While I worked at the museum, it was always Robinson House that creeped me out just a titch more, especially when working alone in the house. Henry House was never a problem and was always my favourite house to work in. However, very suddenly whenever I would close the house, when I would enter the Thomas’s office I would suddenly feel very uneasy; almost like somebody was watching me, and I would have to quell the feeling of wanting to turn around constantly. As soon as I would leave the office, the feeling would subside a bit but I would still feel wary while closing the rest of the house.

After a couple weeks of this, the feeling eventually subsided completely and things went back to normal. Shortly after this, another co-worker shared that she had been having the same experience as me! With a little research and discussion, we realized that the feeling had only lasted during the month of September….the same month that Thomas had died in.


Story #2
One evening, a co-worker and I were running an education tour for a group of Girl Guides. Each of us took a house and led a group around that house, then switched groups.

After both groups had gone through and were leaving, my co-worker ran over from Robinson House and demanded that I come lock up with her. Knowing that the houses can be a little bit creepy at night, I didn’t think much of it, but asked her why anyways – her urgency made me very curious about what had freaked her out.

She started asking me if I remembered this one Guide who had been in my first group, and if she had acted strangely. I did remember the girl, but she had seemed lovely and asked a couple questions but nothing out of the ordinary.

My co-worker then proceeded to tell me about how the same girl had walked into Robinson House and instantly gone white as a ghost. Throughout the majority of the tour, she looked as though she was about to pass out. My co-worker had asked the girl if she was alright a few times, and the girl always replied she was fine. It wasn’t until the tour was over and the Guides were given a chance to have a look around on their own that the girl had gone up to my co-worker and asked her if anyone had died in the house. My co-worker said, “yes, probably” as lots of people had lived in the house since it was built. The girl then told my co-worker that she was very sensitive to spirits and she could feel a very heavy presence in the house, somebody who had died in that house, and they didn’t seem very happy.

We locked up very fast that night.

Ashley L. (Summer Student & Programs Assistant, 2008-2011)

I had one creepy/weird-ish incident at the museum when I was accessioning the collection in the Robinson Attic one summer.

While I was working with the medical collection, I felt a weird presence around me…but saw nothing. Then I recall seeing a black shadowy shape that came towards me and went right through me. After which I felt a bit nauseas and goosebumpy.   Whether my body was playing tricks or it was a spirit connected to the house or the items it defiantly gave me some heebee jeebees.

The Henry House Basement always made me feel a bit on edge but I think thats casue I was told there was a ‘vortex’ there lol.

Carey B. (Summer Student, 2015)

I’ve only had one real experience in the houses. This happened in Robinson house while I was on a tour. After we entered the home I made sure that the door was closed behind us before I began to tour. We took our time on the bottom floor and it was a great tour over all. After we finished the bottom floor we went upstairs to finish it off. While in the Archaeology room I heard the door close with its usual solid ‘thump’ noise. I did not hear it open and the outside door did not close or open either, I just heard the sound of the door close. The woman who was with me heard it as well and we sped up the rest of the tour to get out of the house. Thankfully we managed to laugh about it afterward.


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