Archives Awareness Week – Archives A to Z

Throughout March 2021, Archives took to Twitter and shared their collections from A to Z. Never one to skip social media trends, the Oshawa Museum played along with the daily #ArchivesAtoZ prompt and were excited to showcase our collection.

Here is our round up of #ArchivesAtoZ:

A is for Audio – our collection contains documents, photographs, and many hours of audio interviews! Through the pandemic, at home volunteers have been working to transcribe these audio files, making them accessible and simpler for searching!

B is for Boxes – Hollinger Boxes, to be precise. The majority of our collection is stored inside these boxes, organized by by subject, collection, or Fonds. Designed for long-term storage, they were LIFE SAVERS (or, I guess, collection savers, in the 2003 Guy House Fire.

C is for Collections – Our archival holdings have a number of collections. A favourite is the Dowsley photograph collection, a series of photo donations, images taken by Mr Dowsley through the years. It is a wonderful documentation of Oshawa through the last few decades.

Bruce Street, east of Drew taken in 1990 (Dowsley Collection, A016.10.198)

D is for Digitization – A focus within the archival field for well over a decade, the purpose of digitization is two fold: preservation and access. In one of our podcasts, our archivist looks into the process of digitizing the archives for access.

E is for Exhibit – We have a number of online exhibitions, featuring the archival collection. One of our newest was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lakeview Park: https://lakeviewparkoshawa.wordpress.com/

F is for Fire Insurance MapsFire Insurance Maps are one of those hidden gems within an archives as they can help a wide variety of researchers. These incredibly maps show the footprints of the buildings that existed at the time the map was created, and their original purpose was to assist insurance underwriters with determining risk when assessing insurance rates.

G is for Granny – Perhaps one of our largest archival items, the portrait of Harriet Cock. We often just call her Granny. It was donated just over a decade ago, & after some restoration and reframing, she has been on display in Guy House since 2012.

H is for House – One of our commonly asked questions is how to research the history of your house. We partnered with Heritage Oshawa and developed a guide with helpful steps on how to do this research: https://oshawahistoricalsociety.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/researching-your-house.pdf

I is for Immigration – We have been actively seeking to fill gaps in the collection, and our Displaced Persons Project came from this. We have been collecting oral histories of people who immigrated after WWII for several years now, and these stories will not only become an important part of the archival collection, they will also form the basis of an exhibition we plan on opening Summer 2021: https://oshawaimmigrationstories.weebly.com/

J is for Jennifer – Meet our archivist, Jennifer Weymark. She’s been part of the OM team since 1999 and the archivist since 2000. She manages the archival collection and ensures this information is preserved and made available to those interested in researching.

K is for King St – This is what Oshawa calls our section of Highway 2, and the story of King Street has been whimsically painted by local artist Eric Sangwine. His paintings, depicting his interpretations of local history, are a beloved part of our archival holdings.

L is for Letters – Our 2013 donation of letters, photographs, & receipts, all relating to Thomas Henry, helped us better understand one of the patriarchs of our Museum buildings. The letters formed the basis of a book, To Cast a Reflection: The Henry Family in their Own Words, and this book can be bought from our online store.

M is for Marriage Certificate – This was included in the 2013 Thomas Henry donation; he was a witness for this marriage. It was received at the same time that our research into Oshawa’s early Black History was underway. This marriage between George Dunbar and Mary Andrews was interracial, and Mary’s family was one of two Black families who settled in Oshawa in the 1850s. Research through documentary evidence has helped us to better understand the history of early Black settlers in the area and has helped us to share this important aspect of our history. While we work to fill in the gaps left by earlier collecting practices, we are also working to tell the histories that were lost in that gap. Items like the marriage certificate are a part of work.

N is for Newspapers – Our collection of early Oshawa newspapers were digitized and made available to researchers: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/newspapers.html

*These newspapers also are the resource used for the blog series: The Month That Was

O is for Oshawa – Oshawa is our mandate, to collect the history of our city from the earliest Indigenous inhabitants to present day.

P is for Photographs – Our collection is over 10,000 images & growing yearly! Photos help us understand how our community has changed, and what events & experiences were like. Our oldest images are from the c. 1860s, and our newest are the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q is for Query – Does your research have you wondering about something in Oshawa’s past? Contact our archivist with your query and we’ll do our best to help!

R is for Robson – Robson Leather was an industry in our community for almost a century. Did you know that during WWI, 70% of all upper leathers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force were produced at Robson? Learn more: https://industryinoshawa.wordpress.com/tanneries/robson-tannery/

S is for Storage – We underwent a large storage upgrade project in 2012, improving our storage room and shelving. While this project was incredibly beneficial and allowed us to increase our collecting capabilities, it was a band-aid for the larger issue we’ve faced at the Oshawa Museum for decades. We are at capacity and are in need of a purpose built museum facility to allow us to continue to collecting Oshawa’s history and open that collection up to researchers.

T is for Telegram – This is part of a special collection of correspondence of a man named William Garrow. He enlisted in 1915 & wrote letters to his sisters at home. His family received this telegram, notifying of his death in June 1916. https://lettersfromthetrenches.wordpress.com/

U is for Union Cemetery, a decades old partnership. We offer walking tours of Union, researched using archival resources. In the 1980s, the Durham OGS Chapter transcribed headstones in that cemetery, and copies of those transcriptions are part of the collection.

V is for Vacuum – Why Vacuum? We have a small vacuum that we’ll use for very carefully cleaning the spines of books.

W is for Weights – We have weights in the archives which helps our archivist hold down documents when working on them.

X is for eXamination – X is hard, ok… BUT examination of documents and photographs are an important part of archival work. In this video, Jennifer works out the critical thinking examination she uses for photographs:

Y is for Yacht Club – In 2014, our exhibit was Reflections of Oshawa, a community rooted exhibit, and one participant, Linda, shared her memorabilia from the Oshawa Yacht Club.

Z is for Zoom, the NEW way to meet the archivist! If you’re an educator and would like to book a Q & A with Jennifer, let us know! We want to help however we can with these new ways of learning.

ArteFACTS – St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

Our archival collection features a number of postcards of a variety of topics and themes. Below are a sampling of some of the St. Patrick’s Day postcards in our collection, in honour of St. Patrick’s Day next week!

The Month That Was – March 1868

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

March 4, 1868, page 2
Toll Cask – On Monday, Messrs. GH Grierson and W Karr were brought before the Reeve, charged by WH Thomas, with not closing up their fences and thus allowing persons to pass over their property in order to avoid paying toll. The case was adjourned until Saturday next.

Village Council
The council held a special meeting on Saturday evening for the purpose of passing a license by law, and granting licenses for 1868….

Mr. Gibbs, seconded by Mr. Wilcox, introduced a license by-law. The by-law limited the number of Tavern licenses to five, and shop licenses to two. It required Tavern keepers and applicants for a shop license to give a bond with two sureties in the sum of $200 for the proper observances of the provisions of the license act. The village fee is placed at $70, and a shop license at $65. In addition a stamp fee must be paid of $5 each, making the total $75 for Tavern and $65 for shop license. The bar room is to be closed and lights out at seven o’clock on Saturday evenings, and not later than eleven on other evenings. No liquor is to be sold to a person whilst in a state of intoxication, or to any person under eight years of age.— No quarreling, fighting, obscene, or profane language is to be allowed, about the present premise, as also no gambling or raffle. No liquor shall be sold to any person addicted to liquor, after having been requested not to do so by the wife of such person, or by the license inspector. No shopkeeper holding a shop license shall sell less than a quart, and this must not be drank on the premises. No liquor is to be sold after 7:00 o’clock on Saturday evening period of fine of $20 is levied for an infraction of the bylaws.

Mr. Gibbs, seconded by Mr. Glenn, moved that certificates for Tavern licenses be granted to Malachi Quigley, Michael Brooks, DH Merritt and Alphonso Hinds, on production to the Reeve, of the treasurers certificate for the payment of the sum of seventy dollars, and the required bond as set forth in the bylaw.

Mr. Quigley, who was present, complained of the large amount of the license, and still more strongly of the provisions requiring two sureties. He however took out the license.

The Snow Storm
The oldest inhabitant has declared that the snowstorm of Monday and Tuesday, the 23rd and 24th ult., was, unmistakably, the severest ever remembered. Although it extended all over that part of the province west of Toronto, and its eastern limits scarcely reached beyond Belleville, Toronto in its neighborhood seemed to be its centre. In some other places more snow may have fallen, yet here the drifts were higher and more numerous. The drifts in our own neighborhood range from an occasional giant of 14 or 15 feet downwards. The roads north and south were completely blocked. Some of them still remain so; the only outlet being through the woods and fields. Simcoe Street seemed to suffer worse than most others. In many places, the snow extended for a considerable length of perfect level from fence to fence, and in some cases burying the topmost rails. On Wednesday, the stage started for the north, and after five hours driving through woods and fields, managed to reach Columbus, but then had to return to Oshawa again. North of Prince Albert, the drifts were not so bad; The Manilla stage on Wednesday making its regular trip. On the next day, Simcoe Street was dug out, and it now presents, for this part of the Dominion, a curious spectacle, the road consisting of a narrow canal, in some places 6 feet deep with occasional switches excavated in the high snowbanks to enable teams to pass each other. The mail routes from the north were in an equally impassable state.

No council –  the East Whitby Council had no session on Monday. – On account of the storm, the Reeve was unable to get even to Oshawa. He got stuck in a drift, and it was with difficulty he got out. A meeting of the council will be held on Monday next. Pathmasters and others will please take notice.

March 4, 1868, p1

March 11, 1868, page 2
Valuable Property – In another column will be found the advertisement of Mr. M. Luke, offering his residence and adjoining land for sale. Lying on the street between the town and the railway station, and midway between both, it is one of the small number of pieces of property left for sale on this, the most growing street in the town. – Mr. Luke will, we believe, sell very cheaply.

34th Battalion – The following appointments have been gazetted for No. 8 Columbus Company: Lieu. JE Farewell to be Captain, and Ensign Scurrah to be Lieutenant.

Page 3
Union Burying Ground

Near the Residence of Rev. Dr. Thornton, Main Road

As these grounds are very desireabe for location and beauty, parties wishing to purchase lots are respectfully informed that they may have an opportunity by applying to the undersigned or to the care taker, James Carruthers, on the premises.

Alex. Burnet
Chairman of the Committee
Oshawa, March 2nd, 1868

Dr. Clarke
Begs to announce to his friends that he has resumed the practice of his profession, and may be found, as heretofore, at his own Cottage, corner of Athol and Centre Streets, Oshawa
Nov. 25th, 1867

March 11, 1868, p2

March 18, 1868, page 2
St. Patrick’s Day – Yesterday was the festival of Ireland’s Patron Saint. The only speciality here was the holding of a service in the Catholic Church. Everything was quiet; a great contrast to former years, when the day was certain to be celeb rated by a general fight. Yesterday’s celebrations throughout the country were marked by an unusual good feeling and unanimity amongst Irishmen. At Ottawa, Mr. McGee was feted by a union party of Irish Protestants and Catholics; and in Montreal, besides the usual ceremonies in the Church and in the street, there was a social dinner of Irish friends at the St. Lawrence Hall, at which all differences were to be forgotten.

Snow Cases – On Friday last, indefatigable Constable Gurley, at the instigation of the Reeve, summoned some 30 or 40 ratepayers to come to court and be fined for neglecting to clear the snow from the sidewalks in front of certain premises owned or occupied by them. The list was a most respectable one –  being headed by TN Gibbs, Esq, MP, and Dr. McGill, MPP. The majority duly made their appearance at 9:00 o’clock on Saturday morning , and as it was their first appearance, the Reeve allowed them to go provided the sidewalks were cleared that day. As the number of rods to be cleared was many, and the laborers just then a few, some had no resource but to take off their coats and do it themselves. The sidewalks were cleared, but from the bent manner in which several walked, and the agonized way in which the dexter arm was placed on the small of the back, they had evidently become acquainted with manual labour for the first time.

March 18, 1868, p3

March 25, 1868, page 2
Board of School Trustees
Still meeting of the Board of School Trustees was held on Wednesday evening. Present: the Chairman and Messrs. Carmichael, Gibbs, Hodder, Boyd, Fairbanks, Glen and Edwards.

The chairman read some very favorable testimonials in favor of Miss Victoria Halton, now teaching at Prescott. After hearing from Mr. McCabe, who had visited several applicants, Mr. Fairbanks, seconded by Mr. Glen, moved that the secretary be empowered to offer the situation of assistant teacher to Miss Victoria Halton, at a salary of $425 per annum.

The selection of a teacher to fill the vacancy in the second division was left in the hands of the Committee of School Management, in Connection with the Chairman of the Board and the Principal of the School.

March 25, 1868, p3

The Lowry Collection

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

In 1996, Marjorie Lowry donated a photograph album filled with amazing images of Lakeview Park in the late 1930s. The photographs are a glimpse into the lives of a group of friends who spent the summer of 1938 at the lake. They can be seen playing on the beach, joking around with one another and just enjoying Lakeview Park.

Lloyd and Bill White (A996.20.97)

What was Mrs. Lowry’s connection to the photograph album? The connection is the White family, specifically Lloyd White, who can be seen in numerous photographs throughout the album. Lloyd was Mrs. Lowry’s paternal uncle. There is a further connection to the Jubilee Pavilion , as Lloyd’s sister Ruth was once married to Owen McCrohan, proprietor of the pavilion during the time of the photographs.

Throughout the album, friends and members of the White family can be seen enjoying Lakeview Park and all the amenities the park offered. The album features photographs of bands who played at the Jubilee Pavilion, large picnics, and carnival rides. The majority of the photographs appear to be from the summer of 1938, just after Owen McCrohan and Tom Bouckley took over as proprietors of the Jube. It is a unique glimpse into the summer fun before the world faced war in 1939.

Ruth White with Owen McCrohan(A996.20.98a)

The album is not only a snapshot of Lakeview Park in the late 1930s but also a photographic snapshot of the White family. The photographs show Lloyd, his sister Ruth (not yet married to McCrohan), and his brothers Bruce and Bill (Mrs. Lowry’s father). The captions hint at some hard times in the family and also indicate that the Second World War would impact the family as we know for certain that Lloyd served overseas.

Personally, this photograph album is one of my favourites in the archives. I love the light-heartedness in the images. I thoroughly enjoy that this is one of the few photographic examples of the ethnic and racial diversity that has been a part of Oshawa for much of its history. Friendship, love, and fun are documented throughout the album, and that is why it is such a wonderful part of our archival collection.

Oak Crawford with The Tramp Band (A996.20.125)

The Month That Was – October 1873

All posts originally appeared in the Ontario Reformer

October 3, 1873
Page 2
Gone from our Gaze – One Paul Horn, a tenant on Mr. Charles Farewell’s property, disappeared from this locality a few nights ago.  It seems that he was in debt to Mr. Farewell some three hundred dollars, and having sold his grains and surreptitiously disposed of his farming implements he slung his gentle hook for the land of Uncle Sam.  He leaves us a sorrowing creditor to the extent of two years subscription. “May jackasses sit on his uncle’s grace.”

Fire – an alarm of fire was sounded about midnight on Wednesday evening, and it appeared that a house situated on the north side of the town, was in flames.  It burned to the ground before anything could be done.  The loss will be about $600, Mr. Jas. Horn, of Whitby, being the owner of the building.  As it was unoccupied, it is supposed to be the work of an incendiary.

Scandal in Whitby – The county town is just now highly excited over what is known as the “Campbell difficulty.”  It seems that Mr. Robert Campbell, of the firm R & J Campbell, claims to have good grounds for accusing his wife of infidelity; alleging, it is said, to have found the partner of his happiness flagranti delicto.  Be that as it may he has a suit of crin. con. against her to come off at the Fall Assizes in Toronto. The lady (a daughter of the Rev. Peter Byne) on her part repudiates the charge, and has sued her spouse for $10,000 damages for defamation, the party of the third part also entering a similar action for a like amount.  On Wednesday 26th, Mr. Campbell forcibly ejected his wife from the home which he thinks she has disgraced, and on Tuesday last he was ‘np’ before the magistrates for that he did “assault, beat, ill-treat and drag her down stairs the said Eliza Maria” his wife.  The case is still pending.

October 3, 1873, page 2

October 17, 1873
Page 2
Runaway – a lively runaway occurred on Simcoe Street, on Wednesday morning. A horse belonging to Mr Western, cooper, started for some unknown locality in a southerly direction from Fowke’s Corner.  Luckily for the driver, who had lost control of the brute, he was stopped by Mr. T. Lawless before any damage was done.

Thanksgiving Day – The Ontario Government have issued a proclamation ordering Thursday, 6th November prox. To be observed throughout this Province as a day of Thanksgiving.  We believe all religious denominations in this Village will hold their annual thanksgiving services on that day, and so afford a public opportunity of returning thanks to the Author of all our Bounties in a manner befitting a Christian community.

October 17, 1873, page 2

October 24, 1873
Page 2
Hard on the cow – Rumor saith that an Oshawa butcher killed a cow the other day, belonging to another man,  It was a case of mistaken identity, of course, but a sad mistake for the cow.

Education in Ontario – The High Schools of this County take high rank among the schools of this Province, as judged from the results the recent Examination this speaks highlight for the efficiency of the teachers.

Accident – On Monday last a little boy, a son of Mr. John Barnard, merchant, met with a painful accident while playing on the verandah of his father’s house.  By some mischance he fell, breaking the outer bone of the small part of the right leg. Under care of Dr. Coburn he is progressing favorably.

The Agnes Wallace Troupe – This troupe played to full houses here on Friday and Saturday evenings last, notwithstanding adverse weather on the latter night.  They created a most favourable impression, and proved themselves worthy of the reputation they have earned as one of the best troupes travelling.  They will receive a cordial welcome if they should return again.

October 24, 1873, page 2

October 31, 1873
Page 3
Hallowe’en – This evening will be the anniversary of All Halloween, and great will be the strife between cabbage and cabbageheads.  We trust the bhoys won’t perpetuate any tricks of a serious nature, but we would not interfere with innocent sport; they are welcome to all the vegetables in our neighbours’ cabbage gardens.