When is Thanksgiving Day?

When is Thanksgiving Day? – It seems very strange that the Governor has not yet proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day for the present year.  There surely never was a year during which we as a people here received greater cause to be thankful. Three times have we been threatened with lawless invasion, and still we are saved from the devastations of war.  The dryness of the spring, the coolness of the summer, and the wet weather of the harvest threatened to destroy our crops, but out barns are filled plenty. Cholera has afflicted nearly every other nation, whilst we have been mercifully spared. Add to these the opening of a market after the abolition of the Reciprocity Treaty, the good prices obtained for our produce, the preservation of the land from internal dissentions, and we have a year which God has marked by a great display of his Providential care and goodness towards us.

Oshawa Vindicator, November 14, 1866

Why was there confusion about Thanksgiving Day? In Canada, Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October, right? Well, it’s only been observed consistently on that day since 1957.

The origins and basis for Canadian Thanksgiving isn’t as well known as the American holiday.  It is important to note that Indigenous people have had celebrations of thanks for good harvest and successfully faring through the winter well before the arrival of colonizing settlers.

Canadian Thanksgiving 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 for the holiday 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.

Regarding the article that appeared in the Vindicator in 1866, Thanksgiving had been declared by the Governor General for the Province of Canada (today’s Ontario and Quebec) six times between 1850 and 1865 for specific reasons, as follows:

Date of ObservanceReasons
Thursday, 3 Jan. 1850For God’s mercies and cessation of grievous disease
Wednesday, 4 June 1856For restoration of Peace with Russia
Thursday, 3 Nov. 1859For abundant harvest and continuation of Peace
Thursday, 6 Dec. 1860For God’s mercies
Wednesday, 11 Nov. 1863For abundant harvest and continuation of Peace
Wednesday, 18 Oct. 1865For God’s mercies

As it wasn’t a consistent holiday, it’s no wonder the editors of the paper were questioning if and when the holiday would have been declared.

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 changing date of Thanksgiving was noted on in the diaries of a man named William Elliot. The diaries are part of the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum. An entry dated November 25, 1896 lists that day as Thanksgiving Day, an indication that it was at the same time as the American Thanksgiving during this time period. However an entry from October 15, 1903 is listed as Thanksgiving Day, and in 1913 it is mentioned on October 20.

You can read the diaries on the Oshawa Museum’s website.


Sources:

https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/arts-culture-society/the-history-of-thanksgiving-in-canada

https://web.archive.org/web/20130628210214/http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/jfa-ha/graces-eng.cfm

World Postcard Day

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Hello to all deltiologists – that’s postcard collectors! October 1 is World Postcard Day, a date chosen because, according to worldpostcardday.com, postcards were officially issued and recognized by a postal operator on October 1, 1869.

‘Post Cards’ had been used to communicate before 1869, however, as the website states, an Austrian professor of Economics, Dr. Emanuel Herrmann,  “wrote an article in the Neue Freie Presse pointing out that the time and effort involved in writing a letter was out of proportion to the size of the message sent. He suggested that a more practical and cheaper method should be implemented for shorter, more efficient communications.”

Dr. Herrmann must have put forth a convincing argument, as this was put into practice on October 1, 1869, resulting in the Correspondenz-Karte. It was light-brown, 8.5 x 12cm in size, and it featured space for the address on the front (obverse) and room for a short message on the back (reverse). After the Austrian government issued the first postal card, other countries soon followed – Canada in 1871 and the United States in 1873.

A013.4.464 – postcard to Thomas Henry from his brother, William. You can see the front is exclusively for the addressee while the back is the correspondence.

A few decades later, postcards began featuring images on one side, and by the 1890s, as photography’s popularity was continuing to grow, postcards began featuring photographs. At the turn of the 20th century, 2,700 cards were mailed by Canadians, but by 1913 this figure had jumped to 60 million.  Considering the population of Canada was a mere 7.2 million in 1911, this figure is all the more incredible.

Postcards were an economical way of staying in touch with friends and relatives before the era of the telephone.

The postcard collection at the Oshawa Museum is rather sizable and varied in terms of scope and subjects. We have several postcards commemorating events, such as New Years, Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas. We have a number that feature rather Victorian/Edwardian depictions. We have a ‘Tall Tale’ postcard and a few that simply make me laugh.

Some are in the collection because of the pictures on the obverse, while others are treasured because of what it being communicated on the reverse.

We also have a few postcards made from leather! postcardhistory.net claims that postcards made from leather began around 1903 and that postcards dating before 1915 aren’t terribly uncommon.

The examples in our collection range in date from 1906 to 1908. One of the examples was destined for Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories – it is interesting to note that it is dated 1908, and Saskatchewan split from the Northwest Territories about 2 1/2 years prior.

Celebrate World Postcard Day by sending a message along to a friend! You can also tune into the Oshawa Museum’s Facebook Page for our Sunday FUNday LIVE on October 3 for a look at Postcards!

Changing the Narrative – The Early Jewish Community in Oshawa

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

The Oshawa Museum is working on an exciting new project to celebrate Oshawa’s 100th Anniversary of becoming a city in 2024, a book on the history of Oshawa with a focus on research and stories that expand the traditional narrative.  The book will highlight aspects of our community that previous local history books did not.  It will be a book of unwritten stories, and it will help to tell a more accurate and inclusive history of our community. To that end, one of the focuses in the new book will be the arrival of the early Jewish community.  We are working with the Ontario Jewish Archives to research the Jewish families who arrived in Canada, when they arrived, where they settled, and the wonderful impact they made on those communities.  We have a summer student sifting through census records, newspaper articles, and other primary source documents, piecing together the story from a data perspective. The focus will also be on the cultural traditions celebrated by members of the Jewish community, and for this focus we are reaching out to the members of the local Jewish community for their help.

Oshawa Hebrew Congregation, 2021

For many years, the Oshawa Museum has highlighted and celebrated the Christmas traditions in our community, but this year we are looking to do something different. As a part of our research, we are working on a video project that will examine the family traditions of Hanukkah within the local community.

The aim is that the video will become a partnership between the Museum and members of the local Jewish community. The video’s vision is that it will highlight the history of the Jewish community in Oshawa and then turn to focusing on the holiday traditions that help make Hanukkah such a special time.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in partnering with us and share your special family Hanukkah traditions, please reach out to us through email at archivist@oshawamuseum.org.

The Importance of Context When Examining Photographs

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

When leading our primary source workshop, I often pose the question to students “Are photographs accurate depictions of the events they are showing?”  Typically, students respond with “yes, of course.”  I prompt them to reconsider that response and ask what tools do we have available that may make that answer incorrect. This leads into a discussion of photo manipulation with tools such as Photoshop and staged or propaganda photographs and how we must use our cognitive thinking skills when examining photographs to use as evidence of events.

I was fortunate to attend the 2021 Archives Association of Ontario virtual conference in May.  The focus of the conference was doing the work to move our archival collections from their colonial roots into a more inclusive future.  The opening keynote address was entitled “Reimagining Our Futures: Photographs of Sports at Indian Residential Schools” and was delivered by Janice Forsyth.  Dr. Forsyth is an Associate Professor at Western University who specializes in exploring sport’s relationship to Indigenous and Canadian culture.

During her talk, Dr. Forsyth shared an image of a hockey team comprised of students from a residential school.  This image, along with hundreds of others, was an integral part of her research. The image was a typical hockey team pose.  Two rows of children, the ones in the front seated, those in the back standing, all wearing their equipment and smiling for the camera. If you just looked at the image without digging any further, it could be used to support those who argue that residential schools weren’t all bad. However, Dr. Forsyth wanted to know more about the image and the students in the photograph and was connected with one of the students.

Upon speaking with a gentleman who had been one of the students in the photograph, Dr. Forsyth was provided with a great deal of context that altered the information the photograph provided. In the photograph, the students are shown wearing new equipment; however, according to the former student, that equipment was brought in to be worn only for the photograph. In reality, the equipment they were provided with was very old and offered very little protection. He sat with Dr. Forsyth and provided context for more images from the school, all of which highlighted how the photographs were not accurate representations of what sports were like at that school but were stylized to provide a palatable representation of residential schools.

When looking at any photograph, it is always beneficial to include as much context as possible as it is context that allows us to better understand the image we are looking at.

The Month That Was – May 1864

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

May 4, 1864, Page 2
New Church Bell
The new Bell for St. George’s Church, of this Village, has arrived, and is now being placed in position, ready to speak when called upon. It is from the Foundry of Meneely & Sons, of Troy, NY, one of the best establishments of the kind in America; and it presents the appearance of being in reality, a very fine piece of workmanship. On Sabbath next we will all enjoy an opportunity of judging of its tone and power. It is said to be the largest bell between Cobourg and Toronto, and with favourable weather, will be heard at distances from ten to fifteen miles. Its weight is 816lbs, and its cost, when put up, will be about $350 currency.

Excursion to the Falls
There is some talk of an immense Sons of Temperance Excursion to the Falls being got up for some day next month, by Oshawa Div. of the Sons. The subject is to be taken up by the Division for consideration and final decision, on Monday evening next. The Grand Division of CW assembles at the Falls (Town of Drummondville) on Wednesday the 22nd, and it is probable that that day will be chosen for the excursion, should it take place.

Page 3
Married
At the residence of the bride’s father, Port Oshawa, on the evening of the 14th ultimo. by Elder H Hayward, Mr. Edward Dearborn and Miss Elizabeth A Henry, daughter of Elder Thomas Henry, all of East Whitby.

Anonymous Letters
The party who sent an anonymous letter from Oshawa to a young man in Whitby, is hereby respectfully informed by latter, that no more need be sent, as the subject of that communication is of no importance to him.
Whitby, April 30, 1864

May 4 1864, 3.

May 11, 1864, page 1
Pay Up.
Fair Warning
I hereby give notice to all parties indebted to me, either by note, book account or otherwise, that if their respective amounts are not paid forthwith, I shall take legal steps to recover the same, without further notice. I have waited long enough for the many small amounts due me since retiring from business, and am determined to make a speedy collection of the same at all hazards. I’ll sue every man that does not pay up at once! That’s so!!
DF Burk, Oshawa, Sept., 23rd, 1863

Page 2
A visit to Cedar Dale
On Thursday last we took a walk down to Cedar Dale, a thriving little village just outside the Corporation of Oshawa, on the south side of the grand trunk railway, and but a few rods from the station. Cedar Dale owes its existence to the fact that a splendid location for a millpond and waterpower has, for ages past, for ought we know to the contrary, existed in that vicinity on the property owned by Mr. Thomas Conant, which waterpower two enterprising Yankees named AS Whiting and EC Tuttle purchased in turned to account in driving the machinery of their Scythe, Hoe, and Fork Manufacturing.

The Oshawa Scythe, Hoe, and Fork Manufacturing with established by the two gentlemen above named some five or six years ago, soon after the failure of the Oshawa Manufacturing Company, in the north branch of that companies building. The entire premises owned by that company were soon afterwards sold at option and purchased by Joseph Hall, of Rochester. Messrs. Whiting and Tuttle carried on their business as usual in the old premises, until Mr. Hall’s run of that work became so large as to require the whole shop; when it was mutually agreed that the Oshawa Scythe, Hoe, and Fork establishment should move. Its proprietors, with an eye to the saving of the cost of steam power, examined Mr. Conant’s mill site, and firm in the conviction that it was the spot for them, being close to the railway station, to Oshawa, and to the harbour at Port Oshawa, they soon came to terms period two years ago last January, the axe was the first set at work towards clearing the forest on the site of the now thriving little manufacturing village of Cedar Dale. Not only was the immediate site of the factory an village cleared, but the whole of the flats on both sides of the Creek, which the water was to overflow, were also cleared of trees and rubbish—a thing not often done—and the consequence is that a fine, clear, wholesome sheet of water now fills the basin, instead of its being a dirty pool, build with dead, broken an unsightly trees, an rotten logs, once at once an eyesore and a breeder of disease for the neighborhood. Looking to the possibilities of the future, the dam was constructed in a very strong manner, and a very wide floodway built, so that it is believed that the breaking away of half a dozen mill dams above cannot affect this one.

The factory is built some 10 or 15 yards south of the east end of the dam, the water being conveyed to it by a raceway, along the brow of the hill, on the east side of the flats. All the manufacturing operations are carried on in the one building, which is 266 by 40 feet in extent and one and a half storeys in height. The water wheel, which is placed near the centre of the building, is a small but powerful affair. It is a turbine wheel of about four feet in diameter, but exerts a driving power equal to that of 70 horses…

…So long as Messrs. Whiting and Tuttle make scythes, hoes, and forks in Canada (which we may safely say will be so long as they live at least) they will make them cheaper and better than anybody else can, simply because they know how to do it, and are determined to do it, no matter what it temporarily costs.

May 11, 1864, 3.

May 18, 1864 page 2
Early Records of the Township of Whitby
We give, below, as promised, a list of the names of all the heads of families of the old Township of Whitby in the year 1822, as found recorded on six of the pages of the old record book from which we have been making quotations for the benefit, chiefly, of “our oldest inhabitants.” Following each name, in the record from which we copy, our figures showing the number of males and females in each family, the number over and the number under 16, and the number of servants, or hired men. For the sake of brevity, however, we omit all except the totals. The old Township of Whitby, to which this list relates, is now divided up into four municipalities, viz:—the two townships of Whitby and East Whitby, the town of Whitby, and the village of Oshawa.

Census of the Township of Whitby for the year 1822

Heads of FamiliesTotal of FamilyHeads of FamilyTotal of Family
Matthew Terwilligar6Wm. Maxim4
Samuel Dearborn8Alva Way2
Josiah Cleaveland4Michael Wood[6]
Reuben Warren11[Henry] Crawford3
Charles Annis5John Way3
Samuel Dorman2Lawrence D. Way3
Thomas Henry4James [Han      ]6
William Hall7David Jones5
William Pickel7Cornelius Jones7
Abraham Terwilligar5Israel Gibbs[8]
Charles Terwilligar5John McGregor, senr.3
William Farewell11Matthias Mackey7
Ackeus Farewell10Daniel DeHart, jnr5
George McGill6Samuel Jameyson9
Abraham Coryell10Daniel DeHart3
Benjamin Stone11Jabez Lynde12
George Hinkson8George Paxton4
Thomas Herriman8Hawkins Lynde4
William Karr7Joseph Edmunds5
John Karr9Alexander Armstrong1
John McGregor2John Warren4
Benjamin Rogers5John Demaray8
James Hall7Richard Martin8
Benjamin [Labrae]5William Huntington6
John Elliot3Richard Gardiner10
Joseph [Beuway]3Henry P. Smith6
Peter Lapoint8Thomas Moore7
Lewis Drolette2Edmund Oragan4
Wm. F. Moore5John Furguson1
John Hews3Isaac Beachman2
Richard Amsbary8John Blake5
Rufus Hall11George Moore4
David Demaray10Samuel Moore3
Enoch Davis7Thomas Liddle3
George Dean5Sylvester Lynde1
Josiah Farewell9Wm. Paxton4
Michael Wilcocks3Lawrence Smith5
Joseph Wileigh6Samuel Cochrane6
Joseph Witterfield7Joseph [I Losce][13]
Norris Karr2Stephen Smith7
Godfrey Avickhouser5Nicholas Demaray11
Wm H Wade5John Still[8]
John Starr2Caleb Elsworth11
Aaron Martin, 2nd1Gershum Herrick1
Samuel Demaray2David Young[8]
Widow Anna Martin5Moses Hemmingway9
[Russel Hoag]5Thomas Provost6
John King5Henry McGahan9
James Starr4W. Nancy Smith4
Edward Starr4Parnell Webb3
John Kent4[Ju     ] A Seeley9
Jabez Hall8Hass[  ]rd Watson2
Caleb Crawford9John Quick7
William Marsh8George Townsend5
Richard Demaray10Jacob Dehart5
Joseph Shand2Thomas Dehart[8]
John Williams7Barnabas Malby3
Jonathan Steward7James Young9
Randal Marsh9Thomas McGahan4
Joseph [LaHaire]2Abraham Brown5
Benjamin Varnum8Silas Watson5
Aaron Martin Senr.,13John Allen4
Alex C. Harlow3Ichabod Hodge6
David Stafford2Widow C Young10

Total Inhabitants,742

Accident – We learn that while Mr. Mackie, of Harmony, was on his way to (or from) church in this village, on Sabbath last, one of the horses which he was driving incautiously stepped up on a stick, one end of which flew up and  stuck into the horse’s body, making such a fearful wound that the animal speedily bled to death on the spot. Mt. Mackie appears to be rather unfortunate with his horses, having lost a valuable animal in a similar way only two years since.

May 25, 1864, page 2
Godey’s Lady’s Book – The June number of this best Ladies’ Magazine in the world is to hand.  This issue completes it’s thirty-fourth year, and they have been thirty-four years of regular success in the business of providing a first-class ladies’ monthly. A large amount of space in this number is devoted to patterns for children’s dresses. The Lady’s Book can be had at Allan’s and at Willox’s. Always inquire for Godey’s Book and buy it, and then you will have the best.

Page 3
House in Oshawa For Sale
For sale, on Water Street, Oshawa, that story and a half Frame House next south of the residence of GH Grierson, Esq., together with the Lot of land (half of an acre) on which it is situated. – There is a fine orchard of apple, plum, and pear trees, &c., and a large number of smaller fruit bushes, all in bearing. Will be sold at a great bargain for cash. Apply, if by letter, post paid, to
C. Warren, Oshawa, May 16th, 1864

May 25, 1864, 3.