At the beginning of April, we launched our newest online exhibit, ES Shrapnel’s Upper Canada Sketches. The exhibit features the works of Edward Scrope Shrapnel as they appeared in Thomas Conant’s book, Upper Canada Sketches, (1898). The illustrations are whimsical in nature and in many cases portray people, places and events known in Oshawa history. Each print is analyzed with historical context, and our good friend Eric Sangwine adds his own artistic perspectives for each print.
There was a period of time during the 1840s when Oshawa garnered some notoriety, known as one of the centres for the Millerite movement which was sweeping North America. During the winter of 1842-1843, many people were engrossed with the teachings of William Miller, an American farmer and evangelist, who preached that the Second Advent of Christ would occur shortly. His followers believed Christ would appear in person to claim his earthly kingdom, and the world would be destroyed by fire. Stories of local farmers giving away all their stock and implements were locally reported. One of the most interesting stories connected with this period is that of the unconventional Terwilliger sisters, Sarah and her older sister Clarissa. …
Preparing for our latest Sunday FUNday event at the Oshawa Museum, our first in person event since February 2020, brought me down the rabbit hole of newspapers. To celebrate Archives Awareness Week, I wanted the Sunday FUNday to be archives related, so newspapers were a good theme. We were able to bring out copies of papers from the education collection and I went Live on Facebook to talk about newspapers. Here’s a little of what I learned while getting ready for the livestream.
According to amateur historian, Samuel Pedlar, there have been newspapers in our community since the 1840s. His unpublished manuscript claimed that the earliest paper in our community was The Luminary, a Christian paper which started around 1844. Following it was a paper called The Literary Newsletter which started around 1848 and published by Oliphant and White. A name change to The Oshawa Reformer took place in 1850. According to Pedlar, “Its motto ‘cheap Government and trustworthy officials’ would indicate its purpose.” It is unknown when both of these papers ceased publishing. The 1877 County of Ontario Atlas made note of The Tribune and The Friendly Moralist, two papers they claimed to have been printed in Oshawa.
Around 1851, a new paper came onto the scene with The Oshawa Freeman, and shareholders in this paper included well known names: Dr. William McGill, Abram Farewell, Thos. N. Gibbs, and G.H. Grierson.
It appears most of these papers were short lived, but the next paper to establish itself in our community was around for decades.
Due to a fire at the Oshawa Times in 1971, the earliest archives of The Oshawa Vindicator were lost. It is unknown exactly when it started, as many sources give a different year, but it is safe to say that in the mid-1850s, James E. McMillan and James Luke purchased interests in The Oshawa Freeman; McMillan’s interests were purchased by WH Orr, and a new enterprise called The Oshawa Vindicator began. All was not lost for the Vindicator, thankfully, as issues through the 1860s were preserved on microfilm. These issues can be read online from our partner, Canadian Community Digital Archives.
The Vindicator operated with a conservative slant and supported conservative candidates and politics. In 1866, Orr was bought out by John S. Larke, and the paper ended up having a number of different owners through the years until it ultimately ceased publishing in 1917.
Offering the opposing liberal viewpoint to Oshawa readers was the Ontario Reformer. Under the direction of Mr. Climie of Bowmanville, the first issue was published in 1871. For a short time, Luke and Larke operated both the Reformer and the Vindicator until Mr. Mundy purchased the Reformer in the late 1870s.
The Reformer went through a number of name changes through the years, most notably when they became the Oshawa Daily Times in 1927. An amalgamation with the Whitby Gazette and Chronicle in 1942 resulted in the name change to The Oshawa Time Gazette, and a number of years later, the name was shortened to simply The Oshawa Times. In 1994, a labour strike impacted the paper, and this, in conjunction with the paper operating at a deficit for a number of years, led to the closure in 1994.
The oldest paper still operating today is This Week. It started in 1970 by Peter Brouwer, and through different mergers and changes, it is published today on a weekly basis by Metroland Durham Region Media Group.
From 2005 to late 2021, there had also been The Oshawa Express, another weekly paper. In late 2020, they shifted from in-print/online to a solely online news source, but there does not appear to be any new updates on their website since Fall 2021.
If you wanted to read through the historic newspapers, our microfilm collection to the 1930s and physical newspapers have been digitized and are available to read online: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/
As well, one of my favourite columns to research is The Month That Was, where we look at what was making the newspapers for a given month and year, and we publish them on this blog – you can read through the past articles by exploring the Month That Was category.
Samuel Pedlar’s unpublished manuscript
Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, M. McIntyre Hood, 1967
By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist, and Savannah Sewell, Registrar
Along with the exciting promise of summer and warmer weather, the beginning of April also brings an exciting week for the field of archives and the Oshawa Museum. Archives Awareness Week is from April 4-10, a week dedicated to the consciousness and understanding of the archival process and the importance of archival work.
Let’s do a quick breakdown of the archival process and the difference between collections and archival work. Here at the Oshawa Museum, we collect both physical and archival collections. The easiest way to separate the collections is that the physical collection is comprised of items and artefacts and the archives are committed to curating information. For example, the collection will have accessions of dresses, while the archives would acquire documents that detail the prices and origination of patterns or fabric sales.
Archival work, in turn, can be separated into two main sections – real-time research and safeguarding for the future. Our archivist, Jennifer, spends most of her day researching through the archival collection to respond to research requests from the community and other institutions. She is also, in conjunction with other museum staff, writing a book about the comprehensive history of Oshawa. On the other hand, collections are coming into the museum consistently and they need to be processed, accessioned, and appropriately homed. The collections, information, and artefacts that come to the museum will experience both the safeguarding process and the research process and a collection that we are most excited about right now is the David Dowsley Photograph Collection.
The Dowsley Collection presents the opportunity to plan for future research by contributing images of Oshawa, taken by Mr. Dowsley, that include captions describing the content and the date the photo was taken. This collection is expansive and includes images dating from the 1980s to this month. Mr. Dowsley continues to contribute to the collection, and the new images are actively being accessioned.
The David Dowsley Photograph Collection will address some current gaps in the archives. Many of the most common research requests are individuals asking for photos of their historic homes or of buildings or businesses that no longer exist. Unfortunately, we do not currently possess many of these images and do not have many options to offer community members; however, Mr. Dowsley’s attention to detail, construction, and change in the community will provide solutions for requests like these. Mr. Dowsley takes images of houses and streetscapes including street signs, like image A022.6.13 which shows a view of Cherrydown Street at Grandview Street South on April 6, 1994.
Mr. Dowsley also includes photos of events such as image A022.6.38, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Durham Trust Garage on November 24, 2015. Each of the individuals in this image is named and subsequent photos continue to monitor the construction of the garage until completion. These images will be simple to locate and use as they are being collected on the internal data system and digitized. Each image is given an accession number and a subsection under the collection which will make them easier to find based on the content. The subsections include houses, construction, businesses, schools, sports facilities, transportation, and waterfront, among others.
Archives serve as a repository of information and a means to access it. The David Dowsley Photography Collection demonstrates how modern efforts can provide invaluable context and insight into historic events. Archives Awareness Week encourages us to reflect on how archives have influenced historical accuracy and community nostalgia around us. Fortunately, community members and the Oshawa Museum’s archives have a wealth of information available.
All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator
5 April 1871, page 2
The House of Commons have virtually passed the bill admitting British Columbia into the Confederation. She is to enter with three members in the Senate and six in the commons. The financial arrangement, however, are the important part of the agreement. By these terms it is proposed to allow British Columbia an annual allowance of $35,000; And eighty cents per head of the population until it reaches the maximum of 400,000; an ask the debt of the provinces small, interest will be allowed upon the difference between its actual debt and the proportional indebtedness of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick…. The dominion binds herself to secure the construction of a railway to the Pacific within 10 years; And the province hands over to the dominion about 16 million acres of land, for which she, in turn, will receive $100,000 a year in half yearly installments to be paid in advance. Then it is proposed to guarantee the interest for ten years, at 5% per annum, dating from the completion of the works on a sum not to exceed 100,000 pounds sterling for the construction of a first class graving dock at Esquimault. The railway is not to be constructed by the government, but by companies, who will receive land grants and a cash bonus amounting to about 10 millions. the government have guaranteed that its construction shall not increase the taxation of the country, and are to add a rider to the bill expressive of the manner in which the road is to be built. Without the road the mere Confederation would be a farce. If the construction of the intercolonial is justifiable, the construction of the Pacific is 10 times more so, for it opens up not only a country, but almost a continent to settlement.
12 April 1871, page 2
The roads this spring have not been as bad at least, but they have been in many places almost impossible. The reach road between Oshawa and Prince Albert, has been very bad in a few places and requires a considerable outlay. We are glad to know that the council of East Whitby intend an outlay of something like $1500 including the county grant upon it. This will make the portion within the limits of the Township very fair. A rich Township like this ought to have every concession line gravelled. The outly would be amply repaid in a year or two by the saving of time, waggons and horseflesh. The council of the Township has paid great attention to this subject, and we hope that as before the ratepayers will approve and support their enlightened policy, even should they be more liberal than of old.
The constable has issued his edict against cattle running at large, and the boys are ready to carry it into effect by impounding all stray livestock.
Stealing horses from the hotel sheds seems to have become an institution here. On Monday evening about half-past six, Mr. W. May drove his horse and wagon into Hines’ shed. At half-past eight he entered the shed and found his property gone. It has probably been taken northward. A full description will be found in our advertising columns.
$25 Reward The above reward will be paid for the recovery or information leading to the recovery of my mare, light waggon, buffalo robe, and harness, stolen from the shed of Hines’ Hotel, Oshawa, last evening; and the apprehension of the thief. The mare is a light bay, nearly cream color, with dark mane and tail. She is five years old, and interferes in her hind legs. The waggon is a spring democrat, with name of maker (Lavis) on tail board. WM May Oshawa, April 11, 1871
19 April 1871, page 2
Sometime last week the barns of Mr. Petrie, on the base line, and Mr. Phillips, Cedar Dale, were entered. From the former, 10 or 12 bushels of oats and some poultry, and from the latter, a bag of clover seed, were stolen. The farmers of East Whitby will yet have to form a vigilance club to bring to justice these burn robbers. Probably all the thieving is done by one or two residents, and a proper watch on any suspicious characters would put an end to their depredations.
That portion of Moore’s Hill, in the road between Oshawa and Whitby, belonging to West Whitby is in very bad condition. One or two places require to be cross trained an additional gravel placed upon it. We hope the townships will keep up the good work begun buy them on this hill. A road with so much travel ought to be made one of the best, instead of one of the worst roads in the country. If the four municipalities interested would enter into some concerted plan this could be done at no great expense. Great improvements have been made during the last two or three years, but there is much that remains to be done. Let the councils try the union plan. A committee from each council could meet in Whitby or Oshawa and unite upon a scheme to be adopted by their respective councils. The same committee might have power to revive the Union Burial Ground question and suggest a plan for carrying out the two long neglected idea of making a cemetery worthy of the municipalities’ interested.
The horse and waggon belonging to Mr. Wm. May stolen from Hines’ shed on Monday evening last was returned on Wednesday. The horse was found next morning in the shed of Taylor’s tavern, Raglan. The advertisement inserted in the vindicator by Mr. May, identified the property on Wednesday, and the property was at once returned to the owner. Whether it was actually stolen and the thief became afraid, or whether some reckless scoundrel took it to obtain a ride to Raglan is not known. It has been taken from the shed as the altered condition of the harness testified. We regret there is no clue to the thief.
26 April 1871, page 2
The street in front of Hines’ hotel, was the scene of a most disgraceful breach of the peace on Saturday evening. It appears that a feud has existed between a number of disorderly characters in Oshawa, known as the Herring Gang, and a number of similar characters residing to the east of the town. The consequences is, that if one of them falls under after dark among his opponents, he receives a sound beating. On Saturday night, both sides mustered in force to fight it out. Constable Gurley having received notice appeared on the scene and with some aid of peaceable citizens broke up the intended fight, for which however, the belligerence appeared to have no great stomach. The Oshawa rowdies afterward marched up and down street shouting until midnight. On Monday, warrants were issued for Thos. Law, Jas. Dovey, Michael Caulfield, W. O’Driscoll, Richard Richens, Geo. Wilson, farmer, Willard Vanderhodd and J. Bladwin, who were charged with being present and aiding and abetting in the row. O’Driscoll, Wilson and Baldwin, put in an appearance before the magistrate, WH Gibbs, Esq., yesterday. The case against Wilson broke down, and he was discharged. O’Driscoll denied a longing to the Herring Gang, but was fined $2 for not leaving the crowd when ordered to by Constable Gurley, and afterwards parading the streets with the gang. Baldwin was charged with inciting the parties to fight. He was fined $5 for his share in the riot. Baldwin appears not to be a member of the gang. Of those who did not appear, Richens was fined $2 and the others $5 each. The Herring Gang are so called from wearing a fish shaped badge on their breast. They are regularly organized and some of them carry firearms and loaded bludgeons. The village authorities are determined to break them up, and anyone arrested with a weapon will at once be committed for trial. It is absolutely necessary for the peace and safety of the town that this organization shall be destroyed. Already a counter organization is said to be forming and a nice lot of faction brawls will follow.
Today, just like many days over the past week, I am faced with a wall of unknowns. An actual wall. I call this area of the archives the “Found in Collection” shelves. Many archives and museums face this challenge. Items that are found in the collection that can’t be identified either for historical content or even how they came into the museum. Every day is a new challenge.
The biggest challenge is when an item is both unknowns: no provenance or historical information. And of course, we have one such item.
The Beaver City Enterprise is truly a mystery. This newspaper was found in our collection around 2020. Searches through many archives have resulted in no answers to what this newspaper was. What we can tell from the contents of the newspaper is that it was focused on agriculture and machinery. It also dates to the late 1870s. Beyond these facts, we know nothing else.
This situation highlights the importance of proper provenance for archives and museums. In the archive/museum field, provenance is the origin of something, or the path that an item will take to come into archives/museums. For example, a person may buy something then donate it to an archive or museum. That provenance is clear. But our Beaver City Enterprise has no information of how it came to us thus making my job a little more challenging.
Although this post is a way for me to tell you all of the important and amazing work I am doing, it is also a call for information. If anyone has any information about the Beaver City Enterprise, please let us know! We want to make sure we have correct information about this unique newspaper.
Or if you are simply interested in looking through the Beaver City Enterprise, please check out the images below.