Blog Look Back – Top 5 of 2018

Happy New Year! Throughout 2018, we shared 72 posts articles on the Oshawa Museum Blog, showcasing so many different stories from our city’s past. It was a highlight to partner with Durham College Journalism Students in the spring who shared 8 articles about ‘The Land Where We Stand.’  This series uncovered hidden stories about the land upon which our community is built and was a feature series for the Durham College Newspaper, The Chronicle.

We’re planning our new and dynamic posts for 2019, but to start the year, let’s look back at our top 5 posts of 2018

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Where the Streets Get Their Names: Oshawa Boulevard

One of the common questions asked (besides if the Oshawa Museum is haunted!) is what does the word ‘Oshawa’ mean? We used our popular ‘Street Name Stories’ series to help answer this question.  The current alignment of Oshawa Boulevard is a result of consolidating three consecutive streets, and we also highlighted how this road evolved through the years and what happened to Oshawa’s Yonge Street and St. Julien Street.

The 1918 Plane Crash

It was dubbed Oshawa’s most heavily photographed event; on April 22, 1918, a plane crashed into the northwest corner of King and Simcoe.  To mark the 100th anniversary of this event, we looked at how this was covered in the media and shared a few amazing photographs from our collection!

Where the Streets Get Their Names: Harmony Road

Two of our top five posts were looking at the stories behind Oshawa street names.  In 2017, we profiled streets that contributed to building our nation; this year, we used a number of posts to examine the history of Oshawa’s many villages and hamlets, including the former Harmony Village, through which Harmony Road traverses.

The Scugog Carrying Place

In honour of Indigenous Month, which takes place in June, Melissa Cole, OM Curator, highlighted at an interactive map that is found in our exhibition: A Carrying Place: Oshawa’s Indigenous Story.  This map depicts the approximate location of the Scugog Carrying Place trail, and Melissa explains how this map was carefully created.

Llewellyn Hall

In advance of the opening of our 2018 feature exhibit Community Health in the 20th Century: An Oshawa Perspective, Melissa looked at the history of Llewellyn Hall, its inhabitants through the years, and its brief history as a Maternity Home!

 

These were our top 5 posts written in 2018; the top viewed post for the year was actually written a few years ago, Keeping Warm: The Ways The Victorians Did! Perhaps our readers have an interest in vintage bedwarmers, or perhaps some are looking for inspiration for keeping warm during the cold Canadian winter months!

Thank you all for reading, and we’ll see you all in 2019!

The 1918 Plane Crash

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

“This is the most heavily photographed episode in the history of Oshawa.” So claimed Thomas Bouckley, photographic historian in his adored Pictorial Oshawa Vol II.

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On April 22, 1918, between 5 & 6 o’clock in the evening, a pilot lost control of his plane, and it crashed into the northwest corner of King and Simcoe Street.  Miraculously, only one person was injured in the incident.  A woman named Mrs. Guy was leaving Porter’s Dry Goods at 8 King Street West and was struck on the shoulder by a falling brick.  Thankfully, her injuries were minor.

To take the plane off the side of the building, the wings were removed after ropes secured the fuselage, and it was then lowered and slid down piles placed against the building.  The plane was removed by staff of the Leaside Training camp, with the military refusing to let the local firemen do the removal.

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Naturally, an event like this was covered in the local media.  Despite gaps in Oshawa’s historical newspapers, the newspaper after this incident survived, and the Ontario Reformer featured this story on its front page of the April 26 edition.  The Reformer called it a “as fine an exhibition of aeroplaning as will be seen here for many a day,” and the pilot who “swooped up and down over the town like a bird” was acting in a manor “we are told…is mild compared with what aviators in the battle squadrons at the front are called upon to do when in action.”  The Reformer went on to report “something went wrong with the engine… [The pilot] tried to land on the street but was unable to do so on account of the wires.” He ultimately ended up on top of the Dominion Bank building, and wires which acted as a net for the plane were so badly damaged that power in Oshawa and Whitby was knocked out.

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The reporting of the Ontario Reformer seemed to take a light-hearted approach to the story, as though it was a unique sense of excitement.  Reviewing other news reporting of story seems to perhaps take a harsher view.  The headline of The Globe reads “Airman Makes Two Towns Dark,” demonstrating the outcomes from the incident, while the Reformer has the headline “Oshawa Sees an Areoplane (sic) Light on Bank Building” focusing on the incident rather that its outcome.

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The Globe makes mention of the pilot was “entertaining practically the entire population of this town with his various stunts – looping the loop, figure eight, flying upside down” and the crash was a result of “misjudging the distance” and crashing into the Dominion Bank.

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Both the Reformer and Globe say the pilot refused to give his name; The Toronto Daily Star, however, reported that the actions of Cadet Groom of the Leaside Camp would be investigated by the RAF (in Pictorial Oshawa, Thomas Bouckley named the pilot as Cadet Weiss).  Of note, the Star’s reporting on the incident was the shortest of all three papers reviewed.

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This incident occurred during wartime; World War I was raging on across the Atlantic, and it was the first major conflict where the skies served as a battlefield.  Looking locally, there were flying fields for training pilots in Leaside and Long Branch, and according to Bouckley, ‘several mishaps occurred in Oshawa.’  The Oshawa Museum’s archival collection features not only photographs of the ‘infamous’ Four Corners crash, but also of a crash that occurred in 1916 at Alexandra Park, a plane that landed on the lawn of Parkwood, and a crash at the Golf Links on April 28, 1918.

While it may no longer be ‘Oshawa’s most heavily photographed incident,’ 100 years have passed and the Four Corners plane crash remains a captivating story from our past.


References

“Oshawa Sees an Areoplane (sic) Light on Bank Building,” The Ontario Reformer, April 26, 1918, 1.  Accessed from: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/the-ontario-reformer/1918-04-26/001/newspapers.html#

“Airman Makes Two Towns Dark,” The Globe, April 23, 1918, 3.

“RAF Will Investigate” Toronto Daily Star, April 23, 1918, 13.

Thomas Bouckley, Pictorial Oshawa Vol II (Oshawa: The Alger Press Ltd., 1976), 115-116).