Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Pt. III, Plaines d’Abraham

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Posts, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.  In Part I, we looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People who have called the our country home for thousands of years, and Part II looked at the early European Explorers.

There are many moments one can look at in the history of Canada which are clearly a defining moment, a turning point. September 13, 1759 is one such moment: the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

First, context. In the mid-1700s, North America was home to many different European colonies; New France was well and successful, while to its south, England’s Thirteen Colonies were also thriving, not quite yet feeling the sentiments of discontent that would lead to the American Revolution. Those were coming. An ocean away, the colonizers, England and France, were none to pleased with each other.  Everything came to a head in 1854, the start of what would become the Seven Years War.  Its name is derived from the seven primary years of conflict, from 1856 to 1863, and it would result in conflicts in Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines, five continents in all. The Seven Years War could be considered one of the first global conflicts, a world war.

In North America, the English were at war with the French and First Nations.  After a series of skirmishes, including the capture of  Louisbourg on Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) and other French possessions in the Atlantic, the British forces continued their campaign further into New France, eventually reaching Quebec City.

Through the summer of 1759, the French were secure in their fortified city.  The British, led by General James Wolfe, tried to deplete stock and supplies and also tried a few strategic maneuvers to ‘lure’ the French to attack, but Marquis de Montcalm, the French officer leading the troops, held firm.

PicMonkey Collage

Photographs from around the Plains of Abraham

Wolfe saw opportunity on the morning of September 13; in the very wee hours, the British force managed to secure their position.  As described by the Canadian Encyclopedia:

…By 8 a.m. the entire force of 4,500 men had assembled. The British force stretched across the Plains of Abraham (named for 17th-century fisherman Abraham Martin) in a shallow horseshoe formation about 1 km long and two ranks deep.

I would imagine this was quite the sight for Montcalm and the French forces. Montcalm had a force of roughly the same size; where they differ is in experience.  The French forces were comprised of soldiers, militia, and First Nations; the British forces were regular soldiers, highly experienced and well trained.  Montcalm decided to attack immediately, hoping to catch the British unprepared.

Here’s where hindsight comes in handy: many historians believe that if Montcalm waited for reinforcements rather than act right away, the result of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham may have turned out differently.  The battle resulted in a retreat from the French forces, and both Wolfe and Montcalm died due to wounds.

Benjamin_West_005

“The Death of General Wolfe,” by Benjamin West, oil on canvas. The Royal Ontario Museum has this portrait in their collection, an ‘Iconic’ artefact. This Video has a great analysis of its importance and symbolism.

The Plains of Abraham wasn’t the final battle of the conflict, but it represents the turning point in the North American theatre. By September 1760, British forces manage to capture Montreal, and the Treaty of Paris in 1763 brings an end to the Seven Years War. This treaty results in New France being ceded to the British, the start of British rule of what would become Canada.

 

Wolfe Street is found off Simcoe Street, south of Bloor; Oshawa’s Harmon Park Arena is located on Wolfe Street.  Montcalm is located one street south of King Street between Waverly and Stevenson.


References

Official website for the Plains of Abraham, National Battlesite Commission: http://www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca/en/

The Canadian Encyclopedia: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/battle-of-the-plains-of-abraham/

The Month That Was – July 1867

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 03 July 1867
NOTICE.
Columbus

THE ANNIVERSARY of the Columbus Bible Christian Sabbath School will (D.V.) be held on Sunday and Monday, the 7th and 8th of July.

On Sabbath two sermons will be delivered, at 2 1.2 and 6 o’clock p.m., and collections taken up.

On Monday the children will meet at 1 ½ and the exercises will commence at 2 o’clock p.m., and continue for two hours. Tea will be served to the children at 4 o’clock, and to the public immediately after. Tickets 25 cents; for children not members of the school, 12 ½ cents. The public are cordially invited. A good time may be expected.

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 03 July 1867
Confederation Day

The first morning of the New Dominion was ushered in Oshawa with the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon, including a salute from the guns of the juvenile battery. The chief occupation of all seemed to be to make preparations to leave town. The greater portion of the population went to Whitby, others to Toronto, and a few Eastward. The afternoon here was one of unusual quietness. The numerous flags flying from flagstaffs and private houses was the only mark of the day. Everyone store was closed and every workshop was silent, and Oshawa was literally the deserted village. The few people that had not left in the morning wended their way to Cedardale to a private picnic, where the afternoon was heartily enjoyed. In the evening the Ontario Bank and some other buildings were illuminated. The people of Oshawa having agreed to give way to Whitby and join in the celebration there, strictly kept her faith.

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 03 July 1867
Coalition

Our beloved queen has entrusted the formation of the first cabinet which is to govern the Dominion of Canada to Sir. J. A. McDonald (sic) and we doubt not that. Her advisers were careful before he left England to impress upon him the advisability of having all sections of the country fully represented therein.

We have every reason to believe that Sir John has since the Coalition of 1864 full realized, the importance of the work in which he has taken so active apart, and that he has aimed to bring it to such a conclusion as every true patriot would deserve.

Now, while we cannot endorse his past career, and though we have energetically opposed the Tory party of which he was the leader in the past, we are quite open to believe that he, together with the rest of us, sees in the prospects of the new Dominion a future worthy of a statesman; that he is willing to waine considerations of minor party importance – and taking his stand upon a constitution – itself the outcome of a fusion of party hitherto antagonistic, to devote himself to the … administration of the laws of Canada, for the benefit of the whole country.

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 10 July 1867
The Trees

On Saturday night one of the finest and largest trees in Centre street was broken off by the wind. Upon examination, the cause of this was easily discovered, the three having been much injured at the place where it broke off by chafing against the guards. Numbers of others are in the same condition. Some remedy ought at once to be adopted. The most of the trees are now firmly enough rooted to do without the guards, and these ought to be removed. Where this cannot be done with safety, the trees ought to be secured from injury with bandages.

The Road and Bridge Committee are now taking action in the matter. The law, however, give the owners control of the trees opposite their property. It would be well if they exercise their right to look after them. The village has planted and protected the trees thus far, and it is not too much to ask property owners to do the little that remains to be done.

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The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 10, July, 1867
Mowing Match

One of the largest trials of movers ever held in Canada, was held in the Township of Fullarton, Country of Perth, a few days ago. Nine machines took part in the competitions, five of them being varieties of the Ohio pattern. The machines were tested upon these points: lightness of draught, quality of the work done, and quality of material and style of workmanship upon the machine. After a thorough test and examination of each of these particulars the Ohio Combined Reaper and Mover, manufactured at the Joseph Hall Works here, was awarded the first prize, as being the best made, having the best material, being the lightest draught, and having the closest and neatest work of any machine upon the ground. About a thousand farmers witnessed the contest, and the manner in which they followed the Hall machine whilst at work, and the strong commendations bestowed upon it afterwards showed they heartily agreed with the judges – This adds another to the long list of first prized which these machines have obtained in fairly contested fields.

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 24 July 1867
Mr. Gibbs Meeting in Oshawa

Mr. Gibbs held a meeting of his friends on Saturday evening. Nearly three hundred rate payers were present. Several addresses were delivered by the most prominent men of the town. A unanimous vote pledging Mr. Gibbs their support of the meeting, moved by Mr. Cowan and seconded by Mr. Glen, was passed. The most enthusiastic feeling prevailed. It is pretty clear what the result will be in Oshawa.

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The Oshawa Vindicator
July, 1867
MARRIED

In Oshawa, on the 17th last, by the Rev. L. B. Caldwell, Miss Sophia Maria Graham, of Whitby, to Mr. Will Clarke, of Pickering.

At Colbourne, July 16th, BY Rev. Mr. Lomas, Bowmanville, the Rev. D. Simpson, Primitive Methodist Minister, formerly of Oshawa, to Miss Mary Grace Barrett, of Bruse Mines, Algoma District.

By Rev. G. Abbs, of the “Christian Advocate,” at Palermo, June 15, 1867, Rev. W. Pirrette, of the Brooklin M. E. Church, and Grand Worthy Patriarch of the Sons of Temperance of Canada West, to ALvina L. Winehell, of Palermo, formerly of Barringon, Mass, U.S.

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 31 July 1867
Devil Worshippers

This singular race, called the devil-worshippers, who dwell among the Koorde, numbers about one hundred thousand, and are from and ancient Persian race. They speak the Koord’s language. Their symbol is the Peacock, an image of which they worship at their sacred shrine. They are largely under the control of their priests, who teach them that it is essential to manhood to lie, steal, murder, and be a dog. To kill someone is necessary to become a man.

To sin on quietly because you do not intend to sin always is to live on a reversion which will probably never be yours.

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The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 31, July, 1867
United Grammar and Common Schools, Oshawa

Wanted for the above, A FEMALE TEACHER for the Primary Division. Salary $220 per an.

Also, a Female Teacher for the Senior Division of the Female Department; one capable of teaching French and Drawing preferred.

Applications, with testimonials &e., to be forwarded to the undersigned, not later than 10th August.

  1. Carswell,
    Secretary

 

The Oshawa Vindicator
Edition 31 July 1867
What is Soda Water!
ATKINSON’s Drug Store

Soda water is pure water highly charged with Carbonic Acid Gas. This gas exists in great purity in marble. In extracting it, vessels capable of resisting great pressure, 100 to 200 pounds to the inch are required.

The New York Board of Health says: “we regard Soda Water (Carbonic Acid Gas in water) as the only innocent drink of all the mineral waters in use.

Dr. Maxwell of Ouloutts, remarks: “In the treatment of Cholera I found Soda Water both grateful and beneficial.” This kind of Soda Water you can only obtain in its true purity and strength at ATKINSON’s Drug Store.

Blog Rewind: Oshawa Celebrates Canada Day

This post was originally published on June 26, 2013.

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 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 2-6pm on July 1, 2017! Please visit and help us celebrate the 150th anniversary of the creation of Canada

 


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

Canada: 150 Years… or is it?

This blog series comes from our dedicated and awesome Visitor Host staff, and topics range from favourite artifacts, thoughts on our latest exhibits, and anything else in between!

By Sarah C., Visitor Host

This year is Canada’s 150th birthday!  It has been 150 years since Canada became a Dominion. But oddly enough, we have only been celebrating Canada Day for the last 35 years. It is interesting the changes Canada has gone through over the last 150 years.

The progression from British colony to independent nation of the Commonwealth was not as simple as turning on a light. In 1867 the British North America Act created Canada with its first four provinces and it allowed for some level of autonomy. Canada as we know it has been developing ever since then.

It was not until 1947 that people were ‘citizen of Canada’ previously they had been British citizens. Changes such as this, the introduction of our own flag and anthem were all steps in creating an independent Canadian identity.

Provinces and territories have been added to create the physical layout of Canada that we know today. The last change occurring in 1999 with the creation of Nunavut.  That is 132 years of changes to get to the country we recognize today!

This year is the 86th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster. Though 64 years after Dominion Day, it also had significant impact on the Canadian government’s ability to act independently from the British government. It provided clarification to the Dominion’s legislative independence, particularly in regard to foreign policy. More changes would follow to allow Canada to further act independently of Britain. I always think of it as a significant action in Canada’s independence, but really it was another action in a gradual progression to the country that we see today.

As I was writing this I was shown this CBC video which helps to ask the question of how old Canada really is. It is really cool and it highlights more notable changes that have occurred in Canada over the last 150 years.


References & Resources:

http://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/canadian-citizenship-act-1947

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/constitution-act-1867/

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/statute-of-westminster/

Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Pt. I, The Indigenous People

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Post, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.

In telling this story, we’ll start at the beginning, before European contact.

The place we know as Canada has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. There is not one narrative to tell the story, as different regions were settled by different diverse and distinct groups, each with their own names, languages, traditions and cultures.  In the 16th and 17th century, Europeans began their exploration and settlement of the ‘New World;’ the fishing banks off the coast of Newfoundland were of great interest to these explorers, and relations were established with the First Nations of the Atlantic.  The British and French not long after established settlements such as New France and the 13 Colonies; alliances and partnerships with the First Nations were critical for survival.  As the years continued, settlements grew, and tensions between the French and English came to a head in the mid 1750s, resulting in the fall of New France, the Treaty of Paris and the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is seen as an important landmark moment for relations between First Nations and Europeans.  As described by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in First Nations in Canada:

The original intent of the Royal Proclamation was to slow the uncontrolled western expansion of the colonies and tightly control the relationship between First Nations and colonists. But crucially, the Proclamation also became the first public recognition of First Nations rights to lands and title.

The Royal Proclamation can also be seen as one of the first of many pieces of legislation that would dictate Indigenous rights, as many treaties and Acts would be passed as the years went on.  What also would follow was a systematic attempt to decimate Aboriginal cultures, languages, and traditions with the creation of Residential Schools, a horribly ugly chapter in our nation’s history; treaties were ignored and rights overlooked.  In the last few decades, an importance has been placed on trying to make amends for what took place; the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Report has brought new attention and importance to these issues.

The 2011 census reported that Aboriginal peoples in Canada (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) totaled 1,400,685 people, or 4.3% of the national population.

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Archaeological artefacts recovered from the Grandview excavation, 1992.

Looking locally, we have artefacts in our collection which tells us that ancestral Wendat lived in Oshawa from 1400-1470CE.  Currently undergoing an expansion, we will open our new First Nations Gallery in the summer of 2017, entitled A Carrying Place: Oshawa’s Indigenous Story.

Around Taunton and Simcoe, you can find streets named after Indigenous groups or famous individuals, such as Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), Seneca, Brant (after Joseph Brant) and Sarcee (Tsuut’ina [Tsuu T’ina]).

The name Oshawa is also an Aboriginal word, which translates to: “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”

 


I do not claim to be an expert in Canada’s Indigenous History, but I would highly recommend reading further about this topic.  Here are a few resources I consulted when preparing this post

Canadian Museum of History’s First Peoples of Canada virtual exhibit
http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/fp/fpint01e.shtml

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, First Nations in Canada e-book
https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1307460755710/1307460872523

Truth and Reconsiliation Report
http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=890