Future Planning at the Oshawa Museum

By Laura Suchan, Executive Director

OHS-60-FNL-RGBThe Oshawa Historical Society is celebrating 60 years of presenting the history of Oshawa.  Throughout the year we have been taking a look back at what we have accomplished, assessing where we are now and creating a vision for what our future will look like.  We consider the three historically designated buildings the most important artefacts in our collection, however they do present some challenges with regards to the scope of programming we can offer.  The physical limitations of the three heritage buildings are reflected most acutely in two areas: a severe lack of programming space which restricts the number of participants in our events and the kinds of events we can host, and a lack of suitable exhibit space to accommodate our collections and travelling exhibits.

In 1996 Sears & Russell completed a Facility Study of the Oshawa Museum (OM) and concluded:

“The existing structures do not fully support the OSMA’s [OM’s] current curatorial, programming and administrative activities.  The artifact and archival collections storage facilities are totally inadequate in terms of spatial requirements, accessibility, security and environmental conditions.  Both permanent and temporary exhibits are limited by space and environmental conditions.  Educations and other public programs are restricted by size and other demands on the program room in Guy House.  The administrative area, also in Guy House, is overcrowded.  There are no curatorial work areas, and the archival area is inadequate and inappropriate.” (Sears & Russell Feasibility Study, pg. 45).

In 2016, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) was engaged by the Board of Directors to conduct a facility assessment which concluded that the OM, in partnership with the City of Oshawa, are managing the preservation risks to the Museum collection despite limited resources within heritage facilities that are not well designed for the purpose. The recommendation was to:

“Consolidate collections in new, purpose-designed collection spaces. Lack of space is a key constraint for all Oshawa Museum activities, putting existing collections at risk of damage and restricting future collection of Oshawa’s heritage. Oshawa Museum staff have exhausted options for using historic spaces efficiently; therefore, new space is needed.” (CCI: Oshawa Museum Facilities Assessment Final Report, December 2016, pg. 11.)

Furthermore the CCI review noted “the key recommendation of the 1996 Sears & Russell master plan is even more pertinent today, twenty years later.” (CCI:  Oshawa Museum Facilities Assessment Final Report, December 2016, pg. 44).

The Board of Directors is committed to providing space and facilities that are both aesthetically pleasing and effective in preserving and interpreting Museum collections and can perform these functions efficiently and sustainably.  To provide the best conditions for our collection, improved visitor experience and better community engagement, the Board of Directors has decided to move forward with plans for a facilities expansion project.

 

What Does this Mean to the Oshawa Museum/Oshawa Historical Society?

Collections

Spaces

People

  • Improved collection care
  • Improved collection storage areas
  • Curatorial support areas
  • Repatriation of Oshawa archival records from Archives of Ontario
  • Improved visitor amenities
  • Rental opportunities
  • Improved exhibition areas
  • Purpose built space allows for enhanced visitor experiences
  • Potential partnership opportunities
  • More community engagement

 

Our Curator, Melissa Cole, looks at our current facility and the challenges we face in this video, accessible HERE from our YouTube Channel.

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Host Files: History of Dr. F. J. Donevan Collegiate

This blog series comes from our dedicated and awesome Visitor Host staff, and topics range from favourite artifacts, thoughts on our latest exhibits, and anything else in between!

By Karen A., Visitor Host

The Olive B. French Manuscript was written by Olive French, a local Oshawa woman, in 1968. The Manuscript gives a detailed history of education in Oshawa from the early 1800s until present time (1967). But what of Oshawa’s education after 1967? What happened to Oshawa’s schools? After doing some research, I have been able to fill in the gaps completing the history of Oshawa’s schools to our present day (2017).

Dr. F. J. Donevan Collegiate, a high school which was built in 1957 in Oshawa was permanently closed in 2010 and was recently torn down. The last class graduated from Donevan Collegiate in 2010, and the rest of the students enrolled in the school were relocated to Eastdale Collegiate.

Donevan Collegiate, located on Harmony Rd. South and Olive Avenue, first opened its doors to students in 1958 with a maximum capacity to hold 840 students, grades nine to twelve. The school saw an expansion in 1962, creating a larger cafeteria, a larger library and more classrooms.

The school was named after Dr. Frederick James Donevan who was born on July 18th, 1880 in Gananoque, Ontario. The Donevan family settled in Canada in 1850, arriving from Ireland. Frederick was educated at the Gananoque High School, later graduating from Queen’s University in 1907, completing his Doctor of medicine and master of surgery. He became an intern at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, and practiced as a doctor in Seeley’s Bay, Ontario and Smith Falls, Ontario. During World War I Frederick served overseas for four years in England and France with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

After World War I, Dr. Donevan moved to Oshawa with his wife, Lydia Evangeline Emsley, and daughter, Constance Marie.  In 1919 Donevan set up a large and eventually successful practice in Oshawa.

Dr. Donevan was very active in the development of Oshawa’s education and the facilities which were being built. A member of the Board of Education for twenty two years, Dr. Donevan was first elected in 1926. He was chairman of the Board in 1931 and 1932.

There was much debate over the closure of the school, as parents, students, teachers and Board Trustees had varying opinions. Factors in deciding the fate of the school was the decrease in population starting in 2009, when only 628 students were enrolled. That number was expected to drop by 600 in 2010, and 436 by 2016. In the end the school was closed after fifty-two years. In 2016 the site of the school was up for sale, as the Durham District School Board concluded the land was a surplus and decided to sell the nearly 13.5 acre site. At the moment I am not certain who has purchased the land or what purpose it will be used for.

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Image © Oshawa Express, accessed from Possible Buyer for Donovan Site, April 21, 2016.


For more information on Dr. F. J. Donevan collegiate check out these articles:

If you are interested in reading the Olive French Manuscript go to: https://olivefrench.wordpress.com/

ArteFACTS: The Walking Wheel

By Melissa Cole, Curator

One of our featured artefacts for Celebrating 60: Sixty Years of Collecting is our Walking Wheel, or Great Wheel, an earlier types of spinning wheel. The fiber is held in the left hand and the wheel slowly turned with the right. This wheel is thus good for using the long-draw spinning technique, which requires only one active hand most of the time, thus freeing a hand to turn the wheel. The great wheel is usually used to spin wool, and can only be used with fiber preparations that are suited to long-draw spinning.

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The walking wheel is approximately five feet in height.   The large drive wheel turns the much smaller spindle assembly, with the spindle revolving many times for each turn of the drive wheel. The yarn is spun at an angle off the tip of the spindle, and is then stored on the spindle.   To begin spinning on a great wheel, first a leader (a length of waste yarn) is tied onto the base of the spindle and spiraled up to the tip. Then the spinner overlaps a handful of fiber with the leader, holding both gently together with the left hand, and begin to slowly turn the drive wheel clockwise with the right hand, while simultaneously walking backward and drawing the fiber in the left hand away from the spindle at an angle. The left hand must control the tension on the wool to produce an even result. Once a sufficient amount of yarn has been made, the spinner turns the wheel backward a short distance to unwind the spiral on the spindle, then turns it clockwise again, and winds the newly made yarn onto the spindle, finishing the wind-on by spiraling back out to the tip again to make another draw.

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This particular artifact arrived at the museum in the late 1960s.  It originally belonged to Mrs. David Fleming who used this wheel for over 70 years of her life while she lived in a cabin north of Cobourg.   In the summer of 2011 Mrs. Fleming’s great grand-daughter came to see the walking wheel that her great grandmother had used.  While at the museum that day she provided me with a photograph of Mrs. David Fleming pictured beside her walking wheel and a poem that was written by Mrs. David Fleming on April 14, 1914 in Cobourg, Ontario.

I’m putting you away, my dear old wheel,
With an aching pain in my heart,
And in spite of all that I can do,
The tears from my eyes will start.

We’ve been friends for over 60 years,
Day by day I’ve walked by your side,
Drawing the threads of fleecy wool,
With a happy, contented pride.

And you and I together have made,
The yarn for mitts and hose,
Which kept hands and feet of my children warm,
Protected from frost and snows.

The years roll on with ceaseless tread,
And no change have they brought to you,
And I, dear old wheel, have grown old and gray,
And far from as good as new.

The bloom of youth has left my cheek,
And my step is less sprightly than then,
For I am some years past the mark
Of my three score and ten.

When I am gone, who will love you, my wheel,
As I so long have done,
And who will walk by your side and spin,
The wool as I have done?

Some ruthless hand may break and burn,
And put you out of the way,
And the thought makes me sigh with an ache in my heart,
As I put you away today.

The hum and buzz of you, dear old wheel,
Has been music in my ears.

~ Mrs. David Fleming, 1914

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/

The Month That Was – September 1929

The Month That Was – September 1929
The Oshawa Daily Times
Governor-General to Visit Oshawa on September 16
Edition 04 September 1929

Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General of Canada, will pay an official visit to Oshawa on Monday, September 16, the city council was informed at its meeting last night. A special committee has been named to make arrangement for the civic reception to the Governor-General.

On his official visit, Viscount Willingdon will be accompanied by Vis-countess Willingdon and by several members of his staff, the official communication received by the council stated. The party will arrive at the Canadian National depot by special train at 10 o’clock Daylight Saving time, Monday morning, and from 10 o’clock to noon will be entertained by the city. At noon Viscount Willingdon will be the guest of R. S. McLaughlin at luncheon at Parkwood, and in the afternoon will make a tour of the local plants of General Motors.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
Helped Him
Edition 04 September 1929

“You know, Dad, he always said he’d never marry until the right girl came along.”
“Well, how does he know you are the right one?”
“Oh, I told him I was.”

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The Oshawa Daily Times
GOODYEAR ‘BLIMP’ VISITED OSHAWA THIS AFTERNOON
Edition 04 September 1929

Took Series of Motion Pictures and Photos from the Air

Oshawa was visited this afternoon by the dirigible of the Goodyear Tire Company, the now well-known “blimp” coming on here from the Canadian National Exhibition, where it was taking part in today’s air circus. On board the dirigible was a party of photographers and camera men, who took a series of still and motion pictures of the General Motors plant as seen from the air. After circling over the city for a short time, the big airship turned round and returned to Toronto, where it is making its headquarters for the next few days. The pictures taken from the air today are to be used in Chevrolet sales promotion work throughout Canada in the near future.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
DRUG TRAFFICKERS HAVE MANY TRICKS
Edition 04 September 1929

CARRIER PIGEONS USED TO TRANSPORT SUPPLIES OF DOPE

New Methods- Many Private Houses Are in the Guise of Clubs

Montreal – Behind closed doors and heavily curtained windows bogus West End night clubs are again selling liquor after hours and catering for drug addicts.

Following certain rumors of their renewed activities, I determined to find what really was happening in the West End, which after midnight is supposed to be drinkless. But the new proprietors are cautious – newcomers are not welcomed as in the old days.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
New G. M. C. Building for Oshawa
Edition 07 September 1929

ERECTION OF NEW PARTS AND SERVICE BUILDING TO START IN TWO WEEKS

Wrecking of Three Houses on Site of New Building, Bond and Mary Streets, Has Already Started – Tenders Close Next Friday on the Building

H. A. Brown, General Manager of G. M. C. of Canada, Announces That Unit Will Probably Be Completed About January 1

A new parts and service building will be erected immediately by General Motors of Canada, Limited, it was announced this morning by H. A. Brown, vice-president and general manager of the company. The building will be erected on the north-east corner of Bond and Mary streets, immediately west of the present parts and service building.

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Pictured from left to right: John H. Beaton, general sales manager of General Motors of Canada; Geo. E. Amsely, sales manager of McLaughlin-Buick Motor Car Co.; H. A. Brown, vice-president and general manager of General Motors of Canada; Charles H. Ricketta, manager of the McLaughlin-Buick factory branch in Toronto; and R. S. McLaughlin, president of General Motors of Canada.

The Oshawa Daily Times
Highest Award for Local Poultryman
Edition 07 September 1929

John Thomas Wins Grand Championship Prize at C. N. E.

Whitby, Sept. 7. – The grand championship for the finest bird on display at the poultry show of the Canadian National Exhibition has been awarded to a barred rock cockerel owned by Constable John Thomas of the Whitby police force. This year constable Thomas displayed ten chickens at the poultry show and besides the high honor mentioned above his chickens have been awarded three first and two second prizes and the challenge shield for the best display of barred rocks.

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The Oshawa Daily Times
FIREMEN ROUTE ANGRY HORNETS
Edition 07 September 1929

Insects Were Attacking Pedestrians on Centre Street

“How doth the bust bee improve each shining hour?” is a question asked in a familiar ditty which was answered yesterday for local people by a number of hornets, which if not bees, may be at least regarded as near relatives. These particular hornets had built a nest in a tree in fornt of the residence of Dr. C. E. Wilson, Centre street, and they knew how to improve each shinning hour. Individual members of the colony took great delight in bussing down from the nest and attacking pedestrians as they passed along the street. The infirm, the aged and the very young were not spared and it was remarkable the impetus which pedestrian traffic received through the application of a few hornet stings. They did not complain to the police but laid their troubles before the fire department.

The local brigade is called upon to do many unusual things even though there are no Doukabhors in Oshawa who may require a soaking with streams from a fire hose as in Nelson, B. C. But Chief Elliott’s department is equal to any emergency and the fireman immediately prepared to make war upon the hornets. Instead of rushing to the scene with bells ringing and sirens blowing they crept up quietly on the unsuspecting insects. The nest was located and promptly set on fire.