Profiling: John Terech

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

This is a departure from the usual ‘Profiling’ Series on our blog.  Our past profiles have been for people like James O. Guy, Dr. McKay, Frederick Fowke, and George McLaughlin – typically well known and certainly well-researched and well-written about individuals. With plans and preparations ongoing for our latest feature exhibit, Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa, it made me reflect on my own Polish heritage and roots in our community, so this profile is of someone whose name will likely never be stumbled upon in history books, my great-grandfather, John (Jan) Terech.

John was born in 1885 in Mała Wieś, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland, one of five known children born to Vincenty (Wincenty) Terech and Ewa Karwacki (Karwacka). His brother Joseph (Jozef) (1891-1963) resided in Canada for a number of years before ultimately settling in the United States.  One sister, Antonia (1894-1945), married a man named John Novak.  She is laid to rest in St. Catharines, ON.  Sisters Julianna (born 1881), and Sofia (married name Porębska) apparently remained in Poland.

The exact year he arrived in Canada is unknown, but it was likely between 1906 and 1910, settling in Toronto where he met Stella (Stanislava) Urban; they were married on the 23rd of November, 1912 at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Toronto. This church is the oldest Polish parish in Toronto.  While living in Toronto, the family grew but suffered loss. Twins Mary and Josepha were born in 1913, but Josepha died a short two days after her birth; Cecylia was born in March 1915 but died that November; both sisters are buried in Toronto’s Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery. Daughters Anne, Jean, Charlotte (Lottie), and Frances were born in 1916, 1919, 1921, and 1923, respectively, with the family living at 418 Prospect Street, Oshawa, by 1921. By the time their last child, Edward, was born in 1926, John was so pleased that, as family stories go, he was handing out drinks to passers by of 116 Olive Avenue, where the family lived since 1924, because he was overjoyed by the birth of a son. Family stories also state that he was so pleased that he registered the name not as Edward, as my grandfather and his mother believed, but as Stanislaus; Grandpa had his name legally changed to Edward years later.

John, Stella, and family, c. 1921

Stories from my Grandpa and great-aunts were of many happy years living in the Olive Avenue rowhouses, a neighbourhood of Oshawa which, at that time, was heavily settled by eastern European immigrants. The rowhouses were hot in the summer, and some nights were spent by the children sleeping across the road in Cowan Park for relief from the heat. My great-grandparent’s home on Olive was, at that time, a double unit. The size of the home, although still modest, would have been well used by the six children, a few of whom would live in the family home after getting married with their new spouses. In 1947, John, Stella, and Eddie moved to 299 Verdun Road, a short 10-minute walk from the rowhouses.

John worked for Malleable and Fittings, two industries where many eastern European immigrants found employment. Work in these plants were hard and dirty, and John suffered many negative health effects from working in these industries. He reportedly worked until he retired in 1948, and my grandfather stopped his formal education at a young age, instead seeking work to help support the family. Grandpa spent most of his working life at Duplate (later known as PPG), which is where he met my grandmother, Mary, and my step-grandmother, Doreen.

John and Stella received their Certificates of Naturalization in 1929. A cousin shared with me that John (“dziadek – proper Polish but we called him jaja the Western version”) never learned English, although another cousin believed that he did understand the language but preferred conversing in Polish. Stella, “on the other hand self taught herself [English]; she would study the school books that [Lottie] and others brought home.”  John and Stella were active within the local Polish community. Both were involved in Branch 21 of the Polish Alliance of Canada and were supportive of the establishment of St. Hedwig’s parish.

Their Catholic faith was important to them. Before the establishment of St. Hedwig’s and Holy Cross, the family would venture from Olive Avenue to St. Gregory The Great at Simcoe and (today) Adelaide to attend services. Information from St. Hedwig’s notes that by 1928, the Polish community were starting discussions of establishing a Polish Catholic church, and in November 1928, a weekly mass at St. Gregory’s began being held for the Polish community.

John and Stella celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1962 with a banquet and dance in St. Hedwig’s parish hall. As reported in the Oshawa Times, there was a nuptial mass with vow renewal, greetings presented, toasts, dancing, feasting, and, of course, the singing of ‘Sto Lat, Sto Lat.’

The Oshawa Times, Thursday, November 29, 1962

John passed away in 1964 and Stella died in 1969. Both are laid to rest at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Whitby.

Oshawa was often where Displaced Persons settled after World War II – the availability of industries was a draw, but the establishment of communities, churches, and groups like the Polish Alliance increased the appeal of our City. It would be a big, daunting undertaking to leave home and move to a new country, but settling somewhere amongst others who spoke your languages, knew your traditions, and cooked the same food, certainly would have helped with this big life transition. The contributions of those who arrived at the turn of the century and in the following decades helped pave the way for the waves of immigrants who arrived in the late 1940s and onwards.

Oshawa’s Educational History

By Quinn J., Summer Student

In 1894, The Globe (which would go on to merge with The Mail and Empire into the Globe and Mail) did a profile on Oshawa. At the time, Oshawa was only a village of “4,000 souls,” but already it was noted for two things: its prominence as a manufacturing centre, a reputation Oshawa would hold on to up until the present day, and for its high quality educational institutions.

The Globe article not only mentions the high quality public schools but also the Bishop Bethune and Demill Ladies’ Colleges, both of which were renowned institutions outside of the province, and they attracted students from across the country. But today, this past as a centre for education is rarely remembered. I only learned about the two ladies colleges and the early Canadian public school system when I began working for the Oshawa Museum last month. My question is, why this is the case? If the Globe felt it was important enough to mention Oshawa’s status as an educational leader in its profile, why has it been so easy for us in the modern day to forget?

One possible explanation is that the signs of the educational institutions of the past haven’t been preserved as well, through no fault of the town or anyone in it. Bishop Bethune College was located in the house of former mayor T.N. Gibbs, but when the school closed in 1932 amid financial troubles, the land was sold to the city and a new school, the Central Collegiate Institute, was founded on the spot (it has since been home to Village Union School and currently Durham Alternative Secondary School). The Demill college was destroyed by a fire just two years after the publishing of the Globe article, and the college eventually moved to St. Catharines. This lack of standing physical evidence that could tie the city to its educational past could present an answer as to why that aspect is much better remembered, especially when contrasted with the large number of not only buildings that were built around Oshawa’s manufacturing, but the amount of people still alive who were there to witness the city’s manufacturing based economic boom.

In the same vein, education in the past was very much shaped around the industrial revolution that all of Ontario was experiencing in the mid to late 19th century. Public schooling during this period heavily focused on preparing children for their new roles in industrial society, as both labourers and citizens of the British Empire and Dominion of Canada. The close ties created between industry and education could provide a further example of why Oshawa’s educational past was not as common in the collective memory of the city; when creating new workers for manufacturing was the end goal of education, it could have become a lot easier to forget what got workers to their positions in the first place.

The history of Education in Oshawa is something that surprised me personally with how deep it went and how much history there was in something that I, and many others, take for granted in today’s age. It’s caught my attention, and I hope to dive even further into it as I continue my research with the museum over the summer.


Sources

“Oshawa: A Manufacturing Centre R. S. Williams & Son F. L. Fowke D. Cinnamon The Queen’s Hotel Eli. S. Edmonson Mrs. M. E. May The Joseph Hall Machine Works Demill College Ed. E. Rogers Bishop Bethune College Provan’s Patent Car, Fork And Sling The McLaughlin Carriage Company.” The Globe (1844-1936), Oct 27, 1894.

French, Olive. “DeMill (1871-1920)”, The Olive French Manuscript, https://olivefrench.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/demill-1871-1920/.

Hood, M. MacIntyre. “Bishop Bethune College Recalled,” Daily Times Gazette, Nov. 17th, 1955.

Houston, Susan E. Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth Century Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.

Oshawa’s Rotary Park

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

In 1925, Rotarians in Oshawa were looking for a worthwhile service project. One of the suggestions was a new playground near the Oshawa Creek. In 1926, they purchased land with frontage on Centre Street for $2,000.

In November 1926, local industrialist and philanthropist, J.D. Storie, donated an additional $2,000 to purchase a second, adjoining, plot of land. The playground included swings and other equipment for children. In 1931, construction began on the swimming pool and only took three weeks to complete.

For $1,200 and gifts of materials, local contractors Bathe & McLellan built the pool. The pool seen in the postcard is 125 by 50 feet with sloping depth from the wading end to allow small children to paddle and swim and was rebuilt in 1960. Swimming lessons have been a regular feature at Rotary Park until the pool’s closure in 2019 due to structural issues and declining use.

The Month That Was – July 1864

All articles originally appeared in The Oshawa Vindicator

July 6, 1864, Page 1

Great Improvement in Canadian Politics and Politicians
There are some things occurring in Parliament which we notice with great satisfaction. 1st. The very magnanimous and dignified positioned assumed throughout the present extraordinary crisis by the late Lower Canada Premier, Mr. Dorion.-That gentlemen fully conceded the right of Mr. Brown or any other to act as he thought best for the country, entirely irrespective of past political or party relations, or of individual claims. This is high and patriotic ground. The country first; parties and individuals afterwards. Such a course will not hurt Mr. Dorion, who may be truly called the Bayard of Canadian politics, – the chevalier sans peur et sans reprochee.

Page 2

From Sherman’s Army
New York, July 1. The Herald’s correspondent with Sherman, under date 22nd ult. Says of the battle of Kenesse on the 17th: Heavy skirmishing opened, and towards night the rebels commenced firing fiercely. Bradley’s and Bridges’ batteries were brought to bear upon them with considerable effect, and Logan and Blair’s batteries also fiercely shelled their weeks. Hooker having repulsed them, was pressing forward while Schofield was swinging around their left, capturing many prisoners. Soon heavy musketry firing was heard, and the rebels made repeated onslaughts upon the position our troops had taken from them, but were repulsed each time.

Closing Taverns
Section 44 of Mrs. Dunkin’ Temperance Act provides that no sale of liquor, except for medicinal purposes or to travellers or boarders, shall take place at any hotel between the hours of nine o’clock on Saturday evening and six o’clock on Monday morning. This is not so stringent a provision as war formerly the law, but if it is carried out strictly, will be productive of some good at least, while the law, as it has herefore stood, has been very generally violated. We are informed that it is the intention of our Village Constable to see that the new law, with reference to sales after nine o-clock, is strictly enforced.

Oshawa School Board
On Wednesday, of last week, and adjourned special meeting of the school board took place, for the purpose of deciding upon the tender out in by Messrs. George Edwards and William T. Dingle for the erection of the addition to the school house.

July 6, 1864, Page 3

Page 4

Idle Girls
The number of idle, useless girls in all of our large cities seems to be steadily increasing. They lounge or sleep through the morning, parade the streets during the afternoons and assemble in frivolous companies of their own and the other sex to pass away their evenings. What a store of unhappiness for themselves and others are they laying up for the coming time, when real duties and high responsibilities shall be thoughtlessly assumed. They are skilled in no domestic duty-may they despise them; have no habits of industry, not taste for the useful. What will they be as wives and mothers? – Alas, for the husbands and children, and alas for themselves! Who can wonder if domestic unhappiness or domestic ruin follow! It is one of the world’s oldest maxims, that idleness is the nursing mother of all evil and wretchedness. How sadly strange is it that so many parents – mothers especially – forget this, and bring up their children in dainty idleness. They are but sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind.

July 13, 1864, Page 2

Bridge Broke Down
On Friday evening last, as Mr. John Bone was crossing the bridge near the tannery, just below the dam of Grans’ mill-pond, with a load of flour, one of the braces of the bridge gave way at the tenon, causing the bridge to break in two at the centre and precipitate Mr. Bone, with his team, wagon and flour into the stream beneath. The way was not deep, but horses, flour and driver were considerably injured by the fall. Very fortunately Mr. Bone escaped without broken bones, but got his leg sprained, and came very near being crushed under the weight of the barrels, two of them falling one on each side of him.

Unfortunate Children
On Thursday evening last, three of Mr. John Clifford’s children, two boys and a girl, were convicted of stealing iron from Mr. Arkland’s premises, and sent to Jail at Whitby, to await their trials at the next […]. Subsequently some of their friends entered bail for their appearance at court, and they were allowed to return home. It would be a mercy if they were sent off, after trial, to the Reformatory for a year or two, to give them time to overcome the propensity to which they have repeatedly shewn such a remarkable partiality.

Letter from a Canadian in the War
About a year ago the youngest brother of the editor of this journal, a lad of about 17 years, crossed the lake to Rochester to visit some friends, and finally, attracted by the $700 bounty, enlisted in an artillery regiment and went to Elmira. Here he was transferred to the 1st N.Y. Veteran Cavalry, and received the appointment of the Corporal in Co. C. As soon as the regiment- an old one- had fully recruited and drilled its raw reinforcements, it was sent to join Gen. Sigel’s command, at Martinsburg, Va., some twenty miles north west of Harper’s Ferry. Since that time he has been in all the battles under Sigel and Hunter.

July 20, 1864, Page 1

Another Great Display of Falling Stars Expected
The writer of this was among the fortunate few who witnessed the wonderful shower of meteors in the night of Nov. 13, 1833. Being at a large boarding-school, it enhanced that some of the boys caught sight of the fiery rain, and the around the whole school. For an hour to two we sat watching the sublime spectacle with mingled interest and awe. The sky was constantly lighted with hundreds of stars, shooting forth from the neighbourhood of the senith, and streaming across the heavens; each leaving a bright streak in its track that has gradually faded away.

Page 2

The War
The rebel raid into Maryland has come to an end, and is now found to have consisted of only about 15,000 troops. If its object was to capture Washington by a surprise, the involvement was a failure. But if it was merely a foraging expedition, it was exceedingly successful, for while we have accounts of an immense quantity of plunder going towards Richmond, we have not the first word of either rebels or plunder being captured by the […] of Hunter and Sigel, who are supposed to be in pursuit of the retreating columns.

The New Temperance Act
Through the kindness of Mr. Dunkins, M.P.P. we have been enabled to public, in full, in advance of all our contemporaries, the temperance act of 1864, generally known as Mr. Dunkin’s Bill. The Act is two distinct parts. The portion which we published last week, is that which provides for complete prohibition of the retail traffic in intoxicating liquor in any municipality wherein a majority of the electors are in favor of such prohibition, and furnishes the machinery for carrying out the prohibition and rendering it effectual.

July 20, 1864, Page 3

July 27, 1864, Page 2

Physical Exercise
The position of children in school is most unfavorable to sounds lungs, healthful bodies, and grateful forms. Stewart says – “A variety of exercises is necessary to preserve the animal frame is vigor and beauty.” Spursheim appropriately remarks, that “Children are shut up, forced to sit quiet, and to breathe a confined air.” This error is the greater, the more delicate the children, and the more premature their mental powers; and a premature death is frequently the consequence of such a violation of nature. Bodily deformities, curved spines, and unfitness for various occupations and the fulfillment of future duties, frequently result from such mismanagement of children.

A Public Park
A respectably signed requisition- embracing forty tolerably influential names- has been presented to the Reeve asking him to call a public meeting for the purpose of considering the propriety of securing a plot of ground, by the issue of debentures, to be used as a public park for the village, for all time to come. In response, the Reeve has called a meeting for the purpose, to be held at the town hall on Saturday evening next, commencing at half past seven o’clock.

Do Not Kill the Frogs
All night long these musical little fellows are busy singing; a few moments, and they stop to eat the larvae of insects so rabidly bred in stagnant waters. Frogs are clean animals, and love clean water, but they subsist mainly on insects. Would you kill a frog when he sings for you part of the time and spends the rest of the night in destroying mosquitoes, gnats, flies, or the eggs, are resting or deposited in the plants by the water pools? Toads in the garden are estimated as worth five dollars even to the gardener for they are constantly, night and day.

July 27, 1864, Page 3

The Science of Homemaking

By Grace A., Summer Student

In May of 1930, The Oshawa Daily Times cut the metaphorical ribbon on Oshawa Collegiate’s new technical wing with a thirty-page special edition paper. The headline read “What Technical Education Means to the Youth of Oshawa,” implying, of course, that the opening of a vocational school meant opportunity. Industry-based learning was intended to prepare students who wouldn’t be attending university for direct entry into the trades. For boys, this meant taking courses in Motor Mechanics, Drafting, Woodworking, Electricity and Blue Print Reading. The curriculum was designed by the city’s most prominent industry men. With their vast knowledge and resources, the program was state-of-the-art. Across the hall, the young girls of Oshawa were also thinking about their future. That is, as Miss V. I. Lidkea, Head of Household Science, put it – “their life work of matrimony.”

“Some of the Special Vocational Department Classrooms,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

Lidkea’s program was one of many educational opportunities which emerged in the early twentieth century that was specifically designed for girls. Home Economics was a response to the question of how women’s work might be able to adapt to industrial society. Through technical training, young girls would learn the science behind sewing, cooking, laundry, home nursing, and the management of household appliances- and it was a science. At Iowa State College, women could receive a degree in homemaking after completing rigorous courses in physics and math, as well as instructions on electric circuits and household equipment. The ideal 1930s housewife could not only use an oven, but she could take it apart and put it back together again too. Despite their proficiencies in a multitude of technical subjects, it was clear that female students would be directed towards homemaking. Perhaps the question that economists actually meant to ask was, “how can we industrialize women’s labour while maintaining the idea of separate spheres?”

In the one-page feature, “Oshawa Girls Will Take Courses in Home-Making Arts,” Lidkea specified what technical education meant for the girls of Oshawa. Like the boy’s program, Oshawa Collegiate’s Homemaking Arts courses were created for girls who would not be pursuing further education. In a rather progressive effort, Lidkea assured readers that the girls would also be given the skills to meet the needs of industry. If a student decided to contribute to the family income through waitressing or nursing, she would be considered a competitive candidate. She would be able to earn a wage, regardless of whether she was single or married. (Lidkea explained that statistics showed both single and married women were working those days.) Above all, girls could use their education to improve the standard of living in their household. She would be a more efficient cleaner, launderer, cook, and dressmaker. She would run her home like a factory. Thus, the opening of Oshawa Collegiate’s technical wing seemed to walk the line between women’s work and economic activity. Was she a wife or a worker- or both?


Sources

Bix, Amy Sue. “Equipped for Life: Gendered Technical Training and Consumerism in Home Economics, 1920-1980.” Technology and Culture 43, no. 4 (2002): 728-754.

Leonard Turner, Katherine. “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done: Cooking, Class and Women’s Work.” In How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working Class Meals at the Turn of the Century, 121-140. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014.

“Oshawa Girls Will Take Course in Home-Making Arts,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

“Some of the Special Vocational Department Classrooms,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

“What Technical Education Means to The Youth of Oshawa,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.