The Tackabury Map

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

In an earlier post, I discussed a few of the wall hangings inside the Henry House Study.  Today, I’d like to share about the largest hanging we have in the study, and my favourite artifact on tour of the museum, our Tackabury Map.

 

992.2.1 - 1862 Tackabury Map
992.2.1 – 1862 Tackabury Map

With the frame measuring at 6×7’ (or, 182.5 x 217cm), this hanging dominates the north wall of the Study.  It fit with the interpretation of the room because Thomas was a travelling minister for the Christian Church, who would have utilized a map when planning his travels.  It also fits with the interpretation time period as it dates from 1862.

 

Detail of the Tackabury Map - Can you see Port Oshawa?
Detail of the Tackabury Map – Can you see Port Oshawa?

The map is of Canada West, featuring an overall map of the province, and surrounding this, there are inset maps of the major cities, including Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and Hamilton.  There is also an inset map of North America, and several drawn images from around Canada West (Toronto, Niagara Falls, University of Toronto, etc).  It is a detailed map of Canada West (Ontario), showing major roads, railroad and proposed railroad lines, concessions and lots, and county, township and town boundaries. Place names, post offices and telegraph stations are also identified. Census figures for 1861 and a mileage table are also shown.  Port Oshawa can be seen on the map on the very eastern edge of the County of Ontario.  Many visitors will often look for Oshawa within the boundaries of Durham County, as we are now in the Region of Durham, however, boundaries changed in the 1970s; before then, we were geographically in the County of Ontario, which stretched from Pickering in the west, to East Whitby and Oshawa in the east, and as far north as the Township of Rama, where Orillia and Casino Rama are.

 

Detail showing the Time Table
Detail showing the Time Table

One of my favourite features, and my favourite thing to talk about, is the ‘Time Table.’  Because there was no ‘standard time’ in 1862, it showed what time is would be across the province (Ottawa = 12pm; Whitby = 11:47; Toronto = 11:43, 8s).  Today, if it is 12 o’clock noon, that would be time across the province and the time zone, however, in 1862, 12 o’clock noon was set by the sun.  This fascinating vestige from days past always gets an interesting reaction from visitors.

Around Henry House – Our Paintings in the Study

By Lisa Terech: Youth Engagement/Programs and Digitization Assistant

Throughout the summer, I have been slowly, but surely, working my way through Henry House, photographing and cataloging the artifacts on display in this heritage house.  The room being exhibited as Thomas Henry’s study was my second last room to complete, with some of my favourite artifacts on display; it is great to catalogue artifacts that you love and have great interest in.

Room furnished as a Victorian Study. Green walls, window behind a table. There is a bookcase/bureau in the left corner and a stovepipe
The Henry House Study

Hanging on the walls are three pieces of artwork: portraits of Thomas Henry, Lurenda Henry, and Buena Vista.

Framed painting of a man, wearing a white dress shirt and black waist coat and over
A973.13.1 – Elder Thomas Henry

Thomas and Lurenda are on opposite walls, or, as I’ll joke on tour, staring into each other’s eyes!  I love the portrait of Thomas.  He looks so stately, dignified, and, dare I say, handsome!  The portrait of Lurenda always receives strong reactions from visitors on tour.  She looks to be a very formidable woman from the image.  It was painted in Toronto by HC Meyers, and it appears to have been created based on a photograph.  When our visitors react to Lurenda, I am always careful to remind them that, firstly, it is based from a photograph, and early photograph techniques made smiling rather labour intensive.  I also remind them that Lurenda was rather sick, especially as she was older, and, last but not least, this woman was step-mother to 5 boys, who had 6 boys and 4 girls of her own!  If you had 15 children, you would look formidable as well!

framed painting of a woman, dressed in black and wearing a frilled bonnet/hat
70-L-140 – Lurenda Henry

I removed the portrait of Lurenda from the wall to photograph it, and when I did, I was able to get a closer look at this image that I have seen almost daily for 3 years.  I couldn’t help but notice how striking her eyes are.  Maybe it’s the work of a skilled artist, but you cannot deny there is wisdom and warmth behind those eyes.

A framed painting of a grand two storey house. There is a white fence with an open gate in front of the house.
Buena Vista, the Conant Homestead, by ES Shrapnel

The final painting we have hanging on the wall is of Buena Vista, the homestead to the Conant family.  The home was built c. 1873 by Thomas Conant, best known as the author of Life in Canada and Upper Canada Sketches, detailing the history of his family and a history of the Oshawa area.  The home was located at 1050 Simcoe Street South, the southwest corner of Wentworth and Simcoe Streets.  Premier Gordon Conant was born in this home in 1885, and Thomas Conant housed over 6,000 books in his personal library.  The house, however, was demolished in 1985 to make way for a housing complex.  The complex today is known as Conant Place.

The painting was completed by ES Shrapnel in 1899, the same artists who illustrated Thomas Conant’s Upper Canada Sketches.  Shrapnel (1845 – 1920) was born in England, and eventually settled in Canada, teaching at the Ontario Ladies’ College (Trafalgar Castle) before moving to British Columbia in the late 1880s.   While the painting is, admittedly, outside of the interpretation period of Henry House (set in the 1860s/1870s), the image is one way of honouring another prestigious home, vestiges of Oshawa’s days gone by.

Information from the Oshawa Community Archives, and information on Shrapnel from http://www.shrapnell.org.uk and http://www.askart.com

Musing about our Student Musings

As summer is winding down, we will shortly be saying goodbye to this year’s summer students.  Some will continue to volunteer, and others will inevitably return to visit, so it’s not a true goodbye, but we want to take this moment and thank them for all of their work this summer and sharing their thoughts about the Museum and their projects!

Shawn, Emily, and Caitlan, thank you for all of your hard work! All the best for your upcoming school year!

Awesome Students of Summer 2013!
Awesome Students of Summer 2013!

Read their past posts here:

Student Museum Musings – Caitlan

Student Museum Musings – Caitlan

Student Museum Musings – Emily

Student Museum Musings – Emily

Student Museum Musings – Shawn

Student Museum Musings – Shawn

How Oshawa Celebrates the Civic Holiday – McLaughlin Day

As the dog days of summer carry on, the long weekend in August comes as a nice break.  The Civic Holiday is known by several names across the country;  British Columbians enjoy British Columbia Day, Saskatchewaners take in Saskatchewan Day, and New Brunswickers celebrate, you guessed it, New Brunswick Day.

Generally, the holiday is known as the Civic Holiday in Ontario, although different regions have their own names for the day, many of them taking the day as an opportunity to recognize important citizens or founders.  Toronto recognizes the day as Simcoe Day, it is Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough, and John Galt Day in Guelph.  

RS McLaughlin
RS McLaughlin, from the Oshawa Community Archives

Oshawa is no exception.  We honour one of our favourite citizens every Civic Day, where we proclaim the first Monday of August to be McLaughlin Day after Col. RS McLaughlin.  Sam McLaughlin was an automotive pioneer and philanthropist, and he loved this City as much as the City loved him.

A983.39.1 - button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week
A983.39.1 – button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week

McLaughlin Day was first celebrated in 1983, and Oshawans were encouraged to visit the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Parkwood, and the Automotive Museum, and even though it rained, ‘spirits were high,’ and the day ended with fireworks in Lakeview Park!  McLaughlin Day was the beginning of a week long celebration known as McLaughlin Celebration Week.

Parkwood National Historic Site
Parkwood National Historic Site

This McLaughlin Day, visit RS McLaughlin’s former home, Parkwood National Historic Site for special basement tours, or come down to the Oshawa Community Museum and regale in the history of the City that Sam so loved.  We are offering tours from 12-4 on Monday, August 5.

“I love the old town and am always glad to do anything towards its improvement.” 
-Col. RS McLaughlin

 

Happy McLaughlin Day!

References:

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Civic Holiday”, from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/civic-holiday

Canada Info, “First Monday in August Holiday,” from http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/symbols_facts&lists/august_holiday.html

Oshawa This Week, ‘Hats off to McLaughlin Day,’ August 3, 1983

From Exploding Cigars to Whoopie Cushions! Novelty Items

By: Melissa Cole, Oshawa Community Museum Curator

So what does a Joy Buzzer, Whoopee Cushion, chattering teeth and the old “fly in the ice cube” have in common……they are novelty items.  Throughout history people have loved to play practical jokes on each other.  From one of the earliest being the exploding cigar to the Whoopee cushion, which is still funny today.  Novelty items became a lucrative business in the 19th and still are today.

Recently the museum received a large donation of items that belonged to Gladys Muriel Mowbray (Adelaide McLaughlin’s sister).  This collection contained over 50 items that included a wedding dress, jewellery, shoes, hats and many personal items including a few novelty items that were practical jokes.  At first I thought the one was a tin that resembled others that were already in the collection held at the OCM so I inspected the items further and realized they were novelty items.  This is something that I do not come across often in a donation to a local museum.   I wanted to find out a bit more about the two novelty items that were donated and discover more about the history of practical jokes in general.

The first novelty item is called Adams Salted Mixed Nuts also known as the “snake nut can”.

013.3.12 - an 'innocent' can of Adam's Salted Mixed Nuts
013.3.12 – an ‘innocent’ can of Adam’s Salted Mixed Nuts

The “snake nut can” is a practical joke device that closely resembles a can of nuts but contains a wire spring covered in cloth or vinyl, some are even printed like snake skin but not this particular one, which  leaps out of the can and startles the unsuspecting victim.  This could have been me….. I was very thankful to the donor who actually informed me of what the tin contained before I proceeded to open the tin of “Salted Mixed Nuts”.  The reason I always open the tins when a donation comes in is because quite often they are filled with little treasures that even the donor may not be aware of.

013.3.12 - not so innocent!
013.3.12 – not so innocent!

The “snake nut can” was invented by Soren Sorenson Adams, was known as Sam Adams, the king of Professional Pranksters,  of the S.S. Adams Co. circa 1915.  Adams’ wife Emily had been complaining about the jam jar, saying that it wasn’t properly closed or that it was sticky.  Adams was inspired by her nagging, then invented a spring snake – coil of wire wrapped in a cloth skin and compressed the two-foot snake into a little jam jar so that it would jump out when the lid was removed.  The snake jam jar then evolved into the snake nut can.  In 1928, S.S. Adams created the Joy Buzzer, and in later years also sold the squirting nickel and fake plastic ice cubes with bugs in them.  He was considered the industry leader in the field of practical jokes after creating over 650 novelty joke items.    He actively managed his company until the time he passed away in the 1963 at the age of 84.

The second item was a New Shaving Kit – with the headline WHAT EVERY MAN WANTS – NO BRUSH NO LATHER NO ELECTRICTY.

013.3.11 - The New Shaving Kit
013.3.11 – The New Shaving Kit

Around the edge of the lid are line drawings of assorted razors but inside the box is a fake pocket knife, a few sticks of wood and wood shavings.   It has a 1939 copyright date by H. Fish love & Co. of Chicago. Stamped lightly on the front is; Souvenir of Wichita, Kansas. The back of the box is a mailer label with a place for To and From and it could be mailed anywhere in the U.S.A. for only 3c.  The Howard Fishlove company was known for their fake vomit called “Whoops” the company manufactured 60, 000 units per year.

Practical jokes and novelty items have been making people laugh since the 19th century I am sure these two novelty items highlighted here have brought back memories for many.   

References:

Demaris, Kirk (2006). Life of The Party: A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Company. Neptune, NJ: S.S. Adams Co.

Newgarden, Mark (2004). Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item. New York: Abrams.

Rauscher, William (2002). S.S. Adams: High Priest of Pranks and Merchant of Magic. Oxford, CT: David E. Haversat.

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