Oshawa Celebrates Canada Day

On July 1, 1867, The British North America Act came into effect on July 1, 1867, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as “One Dominion under the name of Canada. “

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

In Oshawa, the passing of the BNA Act was a relatively quiet affair, even though it had been designated as a celebration of Confederation for the country.  The day started with the firing of guns and ringing of bells, and many houses flew flags.   There was a parade along King Street and speeches were given in front of Gibb’s Store and Fowke’s. A picnic was held later in the day at Cedar Dale for those people of the community who did not go elsewhere such as the town of Whitby to celebrate.  It is estimated that 7,000 were present for the events in Whitby.

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation of Governor General Lord Monck called upon all Canadians to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of Canada on July 1st.  The proclamation stated, “Now Know Ye, that I, Charles Stanley Viscount Monck, Governor General of Canada, do hereby proclaim and appoint WEDNESDAY, the FIRST day of JULY next, as the day on which the Anniversary of the formation of the Dominion a Canada be duly celebrated. And I do hereby enjoin and call upon all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the due and proper celebration of the said Anniversary on the said FIRST day of JULY next.”

Oshawa residents observed this proclamation and celebrated the one year anniversary of Confederation.  The Oshawa Vindicator reported on July 8, 1868 that the 34th Battalion (later renamed the Ontario Regiment) assembled at 3 o’clock on Dominion Day on the Agricultural grounds in Whitby to receive a flag in the colours of the Queen.  The paper reported that “the attendance of spectators was immense, rendering it almost impossible to preserve sufficient space for moving the force.”

There was also a picnic held by the employees of the factories at Morris’s Grove on Dominion Day, and the Vindicator stated it was a success.  The picnic itself was slightly overshadowed by the presentation of the Colors, but nonetheless, attendance was still large.  There were games and a “friendly rivalry” between Foundry and Factory, and the Freeman family band played music throughout the day.  In the evening, the events continued in the drill shed where prizes were distributed, addresses were delivered and cheers given to the Queen, Messrs Miall, Glen, Whiting and Cowan, and to members of the committee.  Picnic attendees danced to the “late hour” to the music of the Freeman band.

Although not officially recognized as a holiday (it would be recognized as such in 1879), Oshawa residents celebrated Dominion Day in the years following confederation in similar manners.  Picnics were held, games were played, fireworks lit up the sky, and dancing continued into the night.  The 34th Battalion typically played a role in Dominion Day celebrations.

Canada’s Diamond Jubilee year was 1927, and both Canada and Oshawa celebrated this landmark.  The Oshawa Daily Reformer issued a special edition of their paper for June 30, commemorating 60 years since Confederation, particularly highlighting Oshawa’s achievements through the years.  In Lakeview Park, the Jubilee Pavilion was open for business on June 30th, 1927, with the official opening on Dominion Day.  The pavilion was named in honour of this landmark year.   Jubilee celebrations lasted for two days in Oshawa and included parades, sporting events, picnics, the playing of a speech from King George V, dancing, and fireworks.  The Ontario Regiment Band played, along with the Salvation Army Band, the Oshawa Kilties Band and the General Motors 75 member choir.  Dominion Day also included a commemorative ceremony for those who died during the Great War.  Memorial Park and Alexandra Park served as appropriate locales for Jubilee celebrations on Friday July 1, and on July 2, the party continued at Lakeview Park.

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

In 1967, the year of Canada’s Centennial, Oshawa appropriately celebrated this milestone.  The Oshawa Folk Festival had a Centennial Week celebration with events leading up to and including Dominion Day.  On July 1, there was a parade through to Alexandra Park and events through the afternoon, as well as events and fireworks at the Civic Auditorium.  Oshawa also took part in the “Wild Bells” program, with all church bells, factory whistles and sirens sounding when July 1 came in.  Hayward Murdoch, Oshawa’s Centennial Committee Chairman commented, “This seems like an excellent and appropriate way to usher in Canada’s 100th birthday.  We want to have as many bells, whistles and sirens sounding as possible.”

Celebrations for East Whitby Township took place in the Village of Columbus with the unveiling of a centennial plaque, a band concert, school choirs, barbeque and fireworks.

Oshawa also had a centennial house constructed at the corner of King Street and Melrose Street (just east of Harmony Road).  The project was coordinated by the Oshawa Builders Association, and profits of the sale of the home went to the Oshawa Retarded Children’s Association (now operating today as Oshawa/Clarington Association for Community Living).

In 1982, the name of the holiday was officially changed from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day.”  Since 1984, Oshawa’s largest Canada Day celebrations have taken place in Lakeview Park.  In 1985, the opening of Guy House coincided with Canada Day festivities, and the opening of the new pier also took place on July 1, 1987.  In 1988, an elephant from the Bowmanville Zoo was part of the festivities, participating in a tug of war with city aldermen.  Canada’s 125th anniversary was in 1992, and the City organized a big party down at lakefront.  Every year, fireworks mark the end of the celebrations.

Canada Day at Henry House
Canada Day at Henry House

The City run Canada Day celebrations have been very successful over the years, drawing tens of thousands to Oshawa’s lakeshore.  They have also attracted a certain level of prestige, making Festivals and Events Ontario’s list of top 50 (later top 100) celebrations in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

Located in Lakeview Park, the Oshawa Community Museum takes part every year in Canada Day celebrations.  Over the years, the museum has had historical re-enactors, special displays, woodworking and blacksmithing demonstrations, and a Strawberry Social in the Henry House Gardens.  Currently, the Museum offers costumed tours of Henry House on Canada Day, and our Verna Conant Gallery is open in Guy House.

 

We will be open from 2-5 on July 1, 2013! Please visit!

 

References:

The Oshawa Vindicator, 1868-1870, various editions
Oshawa Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927
Oshawa Daily Times, July 4, 1927
Oshawa Community Archives (Subject 0012, Box 0001, Files 0003-0006, 0011, 0015)

Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Shawn

Authored by Shawn, Returning Summer Student, 2013

The skies have not seemed entirely welcoming as we have jumped into this first week of June. In fact I think the temperature has been growing more miserable as we approach summer! However, this has not impeded the Oshawa Museum. On Thursday afternoon Lisa and I managed to brave the rain in Downtown Oshawa as we practiced for the Downtown Walking Tour to be held this Sunday. The windy weather has also been unable to prevent some amazing visitors such as George Gordon who came to explore our Railway Exhibit and told us much of his own personal experiences working on the Oshawa Railway.

The inside of Guy House has also been anything but dreary. It now seems a bustling full house with the other new summer students – especially with the recent and excitingly large donation of documents relating to Thomas Henry. It has also been pleasant to catch up with the full-time staff – I had almost forgotten the unfamiliar healthy foods these ladies have exposed to me. Jenn Weymark makes the topic seem an entirely different language.

Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives!  Welcome back Shawn!
Shawn at the research station in the Oshawa Archives! Welcome back Shawn!

 

Primarily, I have been busying myself with research for the Guy House book. This means taking on the intimidating records of plot sales and learning of Thomas Guy Jr.’s ‘active’ marriage life. It is certainly intriguing to handle and learn from the documents themselves and I hope than I can be of some use putting the story of the house in perspective. While looking into the Guy House history I also accidentally stumbled upon an informative collection of papers of Philips Jesse Phillips compiled by his grandson, Alan Philip Dickson. This was quite interesting because I had been recently collecting and organizing some information on World War One Veterans from Oshawa. It so happens that this Philip Phillips, which has been staring at me through a portrait for some years now in the Archive Office, was born in 1875 and actually enlisted in the army in 1915 – fighting in the 18th Battalion until he was killed at Vimy Ridge. He also worked for the Williams Piano Company in Oshawa and had at one point been asked to make a piano for the King of Siam! I was surprised to learn so much history behind this man on the wall. So, despite the cloudy weather it has been an en’light’ening (I’m so sorry) week!

The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips
The Oshawa Archives; the oval framed photo on the left is Philip Jesse Phillips

 

The Month That Was: April 1954

Thursday April 1, 1954

For Success in Business

What makes one less successful than he feels he should be?

Surveys at the Illinois Institute of Technology show that laziness is often the cause; if you’re well educated have a good vocabulary and are not applying yourself.

Sailors Friends of Orphans

OTTAWA (CP)-Canadian sailors on destroyers in the Far East have been spending some of their shore leave looking after orphans.

The Crusader recently entertained 70 youngsters from an orphanage on the island of Yang Pyong-Do, the navy said Wednesday and the Huron, on her last patrol before returning to Canada, left $110 and baskets of food and candy for the 30-odd children of Eden orphanage on Paengnyong-Do

The Haida, a navy release said, has taken up where the Huron left off. A recent patrol took her to Paengnyong-Do, and the destroyer’s chief and petty officers visited the one-room hut housing more than 30 children. They donated $20 and quantities of food, candy, nuts, soap, and toothpaste for the homeless young South Koreans.

Star-Gazer 14 years old

MONTREAL (CP)-Morton Fels, 14-years-old amateur astronomer has built a telescope with which he and his father can see the satellites around Jupiter and the craters on the moon.

Morton, a student at Westmount junior high, started 10 months ago to grind the mirror for his telescope. The work had to be done by hand and he estimates he spent 150 hours on the job.

He first learned from the Royal Astronomical Society that it was possible to build the telescope. Now is he is a member of that body.

Morton is no novice at making things. On his basement wall he has a contraption that feeds his guinea pigs automatically.

 

Monday April 5, 1954

Household Hint

To remove food from boiling water without burning the fingers, use a pair of tongs. Tongs are handy utensils to keep in your kitchen, not only fro removing articles from hot water, but getting olives out of bottles, and similar chores.

 

Saturday April 10, 1954

50 Year Promise Kept

CHICAGO (CP)-Fifty years ago, Alfred Arndt, 18, shook his head over the high price of a suit-15. Said the clothier, Max Hyman: “You buy that suit today, and 50 years from now I’ll give you one for nothing.” Friday Arndt, 68, appeared in Hyman’s store. Hyman, now in his 80s remembered the bargain. He invited Arndt to pick his free suit, and Arndt selected a $70 number.

 

Tuesday April 20, 1954

U.S to Probe Comic Books

NEW YORK (AP) – An investigation into “sadistic comic books and their impact upon adolescents” will be launched today by a U.S. Senate judiciary sub-committee on a juvenile delinquency.

Sunday Robert C. Hendrickson (Rep. N.J.) said Monday “we are conducting these hearings in New York, the heart of the comic book industry, because of the thousands of letters we have received in which the writers expressed deepest concern over comic books and other mass media of communication.”

Hendrickson said the sub-committee is “vitally interested n evaluating the impact of horror and crime comics … which glorify graft and corruption and ridicule honesty or produce fantastic pictures of violence, brutality and torture.”

 

Wednesday April 21, 1954

(Advertisement) Boys and Girls in Ontario This Pony could be yours

Now today … Enter the Little Joe Colouring Book Contest Open to all Ontario Children Under 12!

One pony for Ontario Girl – Grand Prize winner

One pony for Ontario Boy – Grand Prize winner

… Also as Ontario Regional Runner-up prizes, there are 12 brand new C.C.M. Bicycles

Entry form tells you all about it. If YOU are under 13, get your FREE entry form and Little Joe Colouring Book from your Langmuir Paints dealer … TODAY! Nothing to buy!

It’s easy! It’s fun! All you have to do is colour the LITTLE JOE COLOURING BOOK!

Every eligible child has a good chance to win!

And judges will consider ability according to age

There are six regions in Ontario … each with its own contest, for two brand new C.C.M. Bikes … and a chance to win Ontario Grand Prize of a pony.  Contest closes June 11th 1954. Winners announced June 26th 1954. Think how wonderful it would be to have your own PONY … or a brand new C.C.M. Bicycle!

And just think how much fun you could have this summer with a real little Shetland Pony all your very own … or a brand new Bicycle to go on picnics or a fishing trip with the gang.

The Month That Was… March 1922

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer

Thursday March 2, 1922:

Daughter Had to help Mother

-Now can do all her housework alone because Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable compound helped her.

Jasper, Minn, – “I saw in the paper about Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and took it because I was having such pains in my stomach and through my back that I could not do my work. I had tried other medicines, but none did me the good that your Vegetable Compound did. Now I am able to do all my work alone while before I had my daughter staying at home to do it. I have told a number of friends what it has done for me and give you permission to use my letter as a testimonial.” – Mrs. Jesse Patterson

There is no better reason for your trying Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound than this- it has helped other women. So if you suffer from displacements, irregularities, backache, nervousness or are passing through the Changes of Life remember this splendid medicine. What it did for Mrs. Patterson it may do for you.

Good time For Walking

Providence Journal: Spring and the late autumn are undoubtedly the most popular seasons for walking. But at this time of the year when the snow crunches with weird sounds under the heel and the winter wind has a vigor-stirring sting in it, the walker may experience joys that have a meaning all their own. The man who walks the trodden and untrodden paths these days for the love of it need not worry much about his health.

Women are Against Travelling Carnivals

The Local Council of Women in a letter to the town Council Tuesday evening at the special meeting, heartily endorsed the stand taken by Chief of Police Friend a few weeks ago regarding the banning from the town of travelling carnivals.

The ladies asked the Town Council to endorse the stand taken by the chief, pointing out that not only did these carnivals take away a lot of money from the town and leave very little behind, but they also had an evil influence. The letter was referred by the council to the License Committee.

Saturday March 4, 1922:

Train Derailed At Whitby Today

Passengers from Oshawa intending to take the 2.50 G.T.R train points east had a long wait this afternoon.

A freight train was derailed at Whitby early in the afternoon, and the cars blocked all east bound traffic. At 4.30 o’clock this afternoon local G.T.R officials ‘had no idea when the track would be cleared, or when the passenger train would arrive. The non-arrival of the train also caused inconvenience to The reformer and delayed publication of the paper, as cuts intended for today’s paper were expected in the Toronto mail.

 

Editorial Comment

Even in the age of the women citizen one of the surest approaches to the male heart is the “line” that begins : “Oh, Mr. Jones, I don’t know a thing about politics, so won’t you please tell me what you think?”

Tuesday March 7, 1922:

Coming events

-Irish Concert March 17, Regent Theatre

-Engel’s Bargain Basement, opens Thursday morning with sensational bargains

-The Adanac Orchestra are holding a dance next Friday night in the Engel’s Assembly Hall

-Scientific Palmist – has read the hands of hundreds of distinguished people. Here all this week. Central Hotel, Room 6, hours 10 to 9: terms $1.00

Tuesday March 14, 1922:

 Presented Bride With Casserole

Gathered together at the home of Mrs. William Questard, Whiting Ave., last Wednesday evening, and presented her with a beautiful casserole on the occasion of her marriage to Mr. Questard on March 4.

Wednesday evening was most enjoyable spent, whist being played part of the evening, for which prizes were given for the highest and lowest scores and the prize winners were Mrs. Chas. Holder, ladies first, and Mr. H. Carter, gentlemen’s first, and the ladies lowest prize was won by Mrs. Lottie Thompson and the gentlemen’s lowest went to Mr. Chas. Tuson. Afterwards a nice lunch was served by Mrs. Questard and the evening finished up with a few songs.

Automotive Industry: In the Words of Col. R.S. McLaughlin

img-3011221-0001I recently came across a fascinating magazine in our archival collection.  The magazine, entitled The Canadian Military Journal featured a lengthy article on Col. Sam to celebrate his 100th birthday.

What stood out in the article were quotes from Col. Sam regarding the birth of the auto industry here in Oshawa.  The development of the auto industry in Oshawa has been well documented but this is a truly unique view from the man who played such a pivotal role.

“The day before I had wired William C. Durant, head of the young Buick company in Flint, Mich., to ask for help. The McLaughlin automobile, which we had started to make ourselves after I had failed to arrive at a co-operative manufacturing arrangement with Durant and other U.S. car makers, had run into trouble. Two days before, with the parts of our first car laid out ready for assembly – and the components of one hundred more in various stages of completion – our engineer had suffered a severe attack of pleurisy. In my wire I asked Durant to lend us an engineer until our own man recovered.

Durant arrived in Oshawa not with an engineer but with two of his top executives. He took up the discussion of our last meeting – when we had failed to get together on a manufacturing arrangement – Justas if we had merely paused for breath. “I’ve been thinking it over,” he said, “and I have the solution to the problem we couldn’t overcome in our figuring.” The deal he suggested was pretty close to what I had in mind in the first place, and I said : “ That will work.”  Durant nodded. “I thought it would,” he said, in that voice of his that was always so gentle – and always so much to the point.

We went into my father’s office with my brother George and Oliver Hezzelwood, who looked after our books, and in five minutes we had the contract settled. It ran just a page and a half and was a model agreement for lawyers to study. Chiefly it covered the terms under which we had 15-year rights to buy the Buick engine and some other parts. We could build and design out own bodies.”

What a defining moment in Oshawa’s history.  I was left wondering what could have been if the engineer hadn’t gotten sick or if Durant had sent only an engineer.  Would the McLaughlin automobile have succeeded without the Buick engine or would it have been amongst the many car companies that came and went?

Moments such as this, from those who lived it, are what make the study of history so fascinating.

%d bloggers like this: