You Asked, We Answered: 2022 Round-up

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

While on tour, our Visitor Hosts are often asked questions that they may not be able to answer in that moment. However, we take note of the questions and try to find the answers afterwards. Here are a few of the questions that we were asked throughout 2022

Is John Henry, former Oshawa Mayor and current Durham Regional Chair, related to the Henry family?

We asked His Worship this question upon his first election as Mayor in 2010, and he claimed that there was no connection.

What year is the Fire Insurance Map from?

In Robinson House, in the Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa exhibit, there is a large map showcasing a neighbourhood in Oshawa with many landmarks of significance to the eastern European community. That map dates to 1948, and you can read more about it in a previous blog post!

Did the Henry family know how to speak French?

As far as we know, it doesn’t seem to be a language that was spoken at home. The 1891 Census has a column for ‘French Canadian,’ 1901 has a column for ‘Mother Tongue’ and 1911 has a column for ‘Language Commonly Spoken;’ the Henry siblings all indicate English in these columns.

In 1960, Thomas’s Granddaughter, Arlie DeGuerre, shared family history in The Life and Times of Thomas Henry. When recalling Thomas’s War of 1812 involvement, she stated,

“Thomas Henry… was employed to attend this new Judge on an official trip to Montreal. He remained in Montreal a month and learned something of the French language” (page 2).

A grain of salt is always taken when using this source as there are some inaccuracies within.

Did the Henry family have a cat/have pets?

This was one I was also asked on a tour this fall. The 1851 Agricultural Return tells us that, for livestock, they had:

  • 4 bulls, oxen or steers
  • 4 milch cows (a cow in milk or kept for her milk)
  • 3 cows/heifers
  • 3 horses
  • 27 sheep (with 100 lbs of wool)
  • 7 pigs

There is no apparently mention to pets in the Memoir of Thomas Henry, nor any mention in Arlie DeGuerre’s writings.

What year was the music box in Henry House made?

For this answer, I’ll direct you to a post written by Kes back in December.

Overhead view of an open music box. It is made of dark wood, and inside the box, there is a gold coloured cylinder.
995.1.1 Inside top view.

When did someone last live in Henry House?

The last Henry family member to live in Henry House was William. He lived there until the 1910s. Between 1917 and into the early 1920s, the Mackie family called the house home. It was used for a time as a ‘rest room’ for mothers, a place to rest while their children were playing in the park. It was home to Nasion and Emelline (Ned & Lina) Smith from the 1930s to 1942, and Harry Smith, a Parks Board of Management employee and in charge of Lakeview Park maintenance, lived in the home into the 1950s.

A sepia toned photograph of two adult women and two children posed for a picture outside. They are beside a stone house, there is snow on the ground, and they are all wearing winter clothes.
The Mackie Family and friend outside Henry House, c. 1920; from the Oshawa Museum archival collection (A983.3.8)

In 1959, the Oshawa Historical Society received word that they could use Henry House as a local museum. Doors opened in 1960, and we’ve welcomed thousands of visitors every year since.

Black and white photograph of people lined up to go inside a stone building. There is a sign outside the house that reads 'Henry House Museum' and there is a Union Jack flag flying.
Opening of Henry House, May 1960; Oshawa museum archival collection

Thank you for visiting!

Fire Insurance Maps

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

Fire insurance maps are one of those hidden gems within an archives as they can help a wide variety of researchers.

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1911 Fire Insurance Map

These maps are incredibly detailed drawings of neighbourhoods showing the footprints of the buildings that existed at the time the map was created. The original purpose of these maps was to assist insurance underwriters with determining risk when assessing insurance rates.

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Page 21 from the 1911 Fire Insurance Map

The maps not only show the footprint of a building but also provide construction details such as the number of stories, the building materials and the use of the building.  The buildings were colour coded to indicate the materials used in their construction.  The colour red indicated that it was a brick building, whereas yellow indicated a wooden building. These maps can help researchers track the history of a certain building, learn more about growth of areas, and how construction methods have changed.

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Page 6 from the 1911 Fire Insurance Map

The Oshawa Museum’s archival collection is fortunate enough to have three of these maps in our holdings.  The earliest in our collection is from 1911.  Some of the highlights found in the 1911 map are the footprints of early industries such as Williams Piano Company, the McLaughlin Carriage Company, and a very new company by the name of McLaughlin Motor Car.  Interestingly, there is also the footprint of Oshawa’s other carriage and auto maker, Matthew Guy and Co.

 

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Page 19 of the 1911 Fire Insurance Map; the Olive Avenue Row Houses are seen in the centre right of the image

The Olive Avenue Row houses are also included in the 1911 Fire Insurance Map.  This collection of terrace homes was constructed in 1910 by John Stacey and are considered to be architecturally significant in Oshawa.

The maps are a wonderful resource for tracking the changes to the downtown of Oshawa.  The 1911 map shows three different hotels located along King Street East.  Oshawa once again offers hotel service downtown with the opening of La Quinta just a couple of blocks east of where the American Hotel once stood at the corner of King St. East and Celina Street.

We were fortunate enough to, with the assistance of Heritage Oshawa, digitize two of the fire insurance maps in our collection.  The 1948 map had been previously digitized and now we have the 1938 and 1911 in digital versions. The digital version will be made available to researchers and the 1911 will be made available online in the near future.  Until then, all three of our fire insurance maps are available in archives for researchers to enjoy.

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