Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Part V: Durham and his Report

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.  Missed the first four posts?

Part I looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People
Part II looked at the early European Explorers
Part III looked at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
And, finally, Part IV looked at the War of 1812 and figures of that conflict
As we know, the results of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 was a completely altered political landscape.  New France was ceded to Great Britain; Britain found itself in debt over the Seven Years War and thought taxing its colonists in America would be a great way to solve this problem. Yeah, about that… Flash forward to the American Revolution.  The population of Canada grew steadily during the Revolution and afterwards as many who remained loyal to Britain moved to her closest colony. In 1791, the Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were created with the Constitutional Act.

The next forty or so years passed without major internal incidents.  There was, of course, the two-to-three years where we found ourselves at war against the Americans who were once again displeased with Great Britain. The War of 1812 had Canadians, First Nations, and British regulars joined against the Americans, and by December 1814, the Treaty of Versailles brought it to an end.

Repercussions from the Constitution Act of 1791 played themselves out in 1837.

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Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, drawing by Charles William Jefferys. Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

The people of Upper Canada at the time were displeased with the current form of government in place: an aristocracy, ruled by a powerful few.  They were nicknamed ‘the Family Compact’ and they wielded a lot of influence in politics at the time.

This feeling of discontentment from the farmers, labourers and tradesmen came to a head when on December 4, 1837, a premature call to rebel was given.  Between December 5 and 8, a group of about 1,000 rebels gathered at Montgomery’s Tavern in Toronto, and although this Loyalist militia quickly won initial small skirmishes in the city, the British forces were ultimately successful.  As a result, hundreds of men were arrested, some were sent to Tazmania, or Van Diemen’s Land, as punishment, and two men, Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, were executed as a result of their involvement in the Rebellion.

At the same time, the people of Lower Canada were also discontent with the government, adding additional grievances of economic depression for French Canadian farmers in the 1830s, and rising tensions with the largely urban anglophone minority, all of which led to an armed insurrection between 1837-1838.  The two Lower Canada uprisings left 325 people dead, all of them rebels except for 27 British soldiers. Nearly 100 rebels were also captured.

The aftermath of the Upper Canada Rebellion, as well as a rebellion in Lower Canada, also in 1837, resulted in Lord Durham investigating the situations. Who was Lord Durham?

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Lord Durham, image from Library and Archives Canada (C-121846). Accessed from the Canadian Encyclopedia

John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham was a politician, diplomat and colonial administrator.  He was born in London, England on April 12, 1792 to a wealthy Northumberland family.  Wealth opening up the doors that it does meant that Lambton was educated at Eton.  He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1813 and was raised to the House of Lords in 1828.  Upon the recommendation of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, he was appointed Governor General and high commissioner to British North America.  He was tasked with reporting on the 1837 Rebellions.  Having spent less than six months in Lower Canada, he wrote the majority of his (now) famous Report on the Affairs of British North America, also known as the Durham Report, completed in January of 1839.

The Durham Report recommended the establishment of responsible government for the colonies, the merging of Upper and Lower Canada into a single political unit, which became the nucleus for modern-day Canada.  In 1841, the Province of Canada was created, Upper Canada and Lower Canada now known as Canada West and Canada East respectively.  Interestingly, Durham is not such a popular fellow in Quebec, as his report recommended the government-sponsored assimilation of French Canadians to the English language and culture. His particular assertion, that the French speaking population are people without history or culture, did not (and still does not) garner him respect within Quebec. Louis-Joseph Papineau, one of the top Lower Canada rebels, wrote his own response to the report, La Revue canadienne as Histoire de l’insurrection du Canada en réfutation du Rapport de Lord Durham (History of the insurrection of Canada in refutation of the Report of Lord Durham).

For a number of years, the government of the Province of Canada (Canada West and Canada East) met and was quite effective, however, by the mid-1860, it was clear that the system that was established by the Act of Union was no longer working.  Besides the political deadlock, other factors, including the desire to strengthen the colonies, the Fenian Raids, and the ongoing Civil War in the US, were factors for creating a new political union.

A series of conferences were held with the British North American colonies to discuss the creation of a country.  The Charlottetown Conference took place in September of 1864, followed by the Quebec Conference in October of that year.

At the Québec Conference, the delegates passed 72 Resolutions, which laid out a constitutional framework for a new country. The Canadian Resolutions outlined the concept of federalism — with powers and responsibilities strictly divided between the provinces and the federal government and they also outlined the shape of a national Parliament, with an elected House of Commons based on representation by population, and an appointed Senate, a framework still in place today.

The final conference was held in London in 1866, and on July 1, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect, creating the Dominion of Canada.

As for Lord Durham, he had been in ill health for much of his life, and he passed away in Cowes, England on July 28, 1840.

The Regional Municipality of Durham, the upper-tier municipality where Oshawa is located, is named for Lord Durham, as is Durham Street, located one street west and running parallel to Stevenson Road.

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The Importance of Continued Research

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

For a number of years, I have been undertaking research into early Black history in the Oshawa area. This inquiry is part of a larger shift in our focus here at the Oshawa Museum.

Prior to 2011, there had been minimal research into the history of the Black population in Oshawa. Some initial work had been done examining census information but that was the extent. When we were approached to take part in Trent University’s inaugural Black History event, we realized how little time had been dedicated to this area of Oshawa’s history. The invitation to the event spurred a new project that helps to tell the history of a local family from the 1790s to today. It also helps to tell a more inclusive and, more importantly, a more accurate history of early Oshawa settlers.

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Portion of 1851 Census of Canada West; lines 40-43 are for Wealthy Andrews and her three children. The enumerator has marked the column for ‘Colored person – Negroes.’  Wealthy and her family were one of two Black families living in East Whitby Township in the 1850s.

This project signaled a shift in where we focus our research, to help fill the gap in our knowledge of our community. A great deal of research has been conducted on the many industries and industrialists who helped shape Oshawa; what was missing was looking into those who worked for the industrialists, those whose labour made the factories so successful, and telling their stories. It is the experiences of the “everyday person” who help to truly understand what the community looked like in the past and how it has evolved today. Currently, we are working to tell the history of women, those who arrived in Oshawa as Displaced Persons post WWII, the Indigenous population who called this area home long before European settlers arrived and those whose names may not be recognizable but who helped shape our community.

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l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983). They were the great-grandchildren of Wealthy Andrews

I presented a paper on the research into early Black history at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual conference at the end of May. The paper discussed how shifting our research focus not only helps to tell a more accurate history of the community but helps to make the past more relatable the current Oshawa residents, strengthening the sense of community and spurring interest in our past with those who may not have been interested previously.


For more information on the Andrews/Dunbar/Pankhurst family, please read our three part series from Black History Month 2014

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part 1

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part II

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part III

Blog Rewind: Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!

This post was originally published on October 9, 2015.

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Since 1957, the second Monday in October has been observed in Canada as Thanksgiving.  The history and lore of American Thanksgiving is well known, that it is a celebration of when the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together in the 1600s and shared a meal.  The origins and basis for Canadian Thanksgiving, in turn, isn’t as well known.  It is frequently tied to the story of Martin Frobisher who was one of many to search for the Northwest Passage.  He made three attempts, and on his third in 1578, there was a celebration on what is now known as Frobisher Island.  Another possible origin could be the harvest celebrations that occurred in New France in the 1600s.  The popularity of Thanksgiving increased in the late 1700s/early 1800s upon the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.  While ‘Thanksgiving’ was being celebrated, it was informal, being recognised by those celebrating and not as a publicly recognised holiday.

The first time Thanksgiving was formally recognized as a civic holiday after Confederation was on  April 5, 1872.  Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, recovered from a serious illness, and Thanksgiving was marked to celebrate this.

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year since 1879.  Initially, Thanksgiving was held on a Thursday in November, but in 1957, it was officially declared to be the second Monday in October.

 

The following are a selection of postcards from the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection.  From the staff and volunteers at the Oshawa Museum, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Month That Was – October 1862

All stories were reported in the Oshawa Vindicator.

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October 1, 1862, Page 2

The War
Washington, Sept 26 – The governors of the following states arrived here this morning from Altoona, OA, viz: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Indiana.

The last named (Indiana) was represented by Col. Rose.

Between 12 and one o’clock the governors of the states above named had an interview of an official character with President Lincoln…

The governors were courteously and kindly received, and their suggestions listened to with close attention by the President.

It is ascertained from those who had the best opportunities for knowing that there was no proposition made at the recent conference at Altoona, nor even a suggestion ventured, touching the removal of General McClellan, or was any proposition of suggestion made as to the promotion of General Fremont to the head of the army, or as to the future disposal of that gentleman.

 

Cincinnati, Sept 29 – Gen. Jefferson C. Davis shot Gen. Nelson at the Galt House, Louisville, this morning, killing him almost instantly

All business was totally suspended in this city yesterday, from 2 till 5pm, all the citizens being under drill. The turn-out was large.

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Hall’s Factory Burned!
It becomes our painful duty to announce the total demolition of the well-known Woollen Factory owned by Mr. Samuel Hall, located just north of Oshawa, and occupied by Mr. Geo. Brook.  It took fire it is not known how, near midnight on Monday evening, and in short time the building, and all the valuable stock and machinery, were reduced to a heap of ashes and smoking ruins.  Two men or horse-back were sent to Oshawa to give the alarm, and the fire engine and a lot of the men went out and did good service in assisting to save the property in the neighbourhood of the factory from the devouring element.

We learn that Mr. Hall had an insurance for $7,000 on the building, and the stick and machinery was insured in about $4,000.

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October 15, 1862, Page 1

To Abolish Fruit Stealing
As we grow older (and more charitable?) we are the more included to imagine that the stealing of fruit springs from an ignorant, heedless sportiveness, rather than from deliberate wickedness.  They who steal have never learned how much time and labor it costs to raise fruit; and seeing it in tempting plentifulness around, they think it can harm nobody very much if they take a little.  We do not justify this, nor do we depreciate the use of legal suasion at times; but would not a little moral influence and tact also be well? –American Agriculturalist

 

October 15, 1862, Page 2

Reception of Lord Monck at Whitby
Whitby, Oct 6th, 1862
The passage of His Excellency the Governor General through Whitby was seized upon by the laymen of the town and county as a suitable opportunist for the display of their attachment to the Mother Country, and their gratification at the assumption of the government of the Province by the present popular representative of Royalty. It became known that Lord Monck should be at the Whitby Station about one o’clock pm, and for some time before that hour men, women, and children began to wend their way thither.  A platform had been erected for His Excellency’s reception, with a canopy which was decorated with evergreens; a large motto proclaimed “welcome” to His Excellency, and several flags added to the gaiety of the scene. The Stouffville Brass Band discoursed sweet music before and during His Excellency’s stay. About a thousand persons were present, many of htem leading men from different parts of the County.

 

October 22, 1862, Page 2

Sudden Death
On Wednesday last, Mr. Daniel Robinson, living on lot No. 2 in the 9th Concession of East Whitby, came to Oshawa with a load of wheat. When within 2 ½ miles of his home, in returning, he was taken with terrible pains in his breast and stomach, and turned into the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. John McCullough.  As his condition did not improve, his wife was sent for, and on the following evening, sad to relate, his sufferings were relieved by death. He was a steady and industrious man of about 40 years of age, and leaves a wife and family to mourn over their sudden bereavement of their chief dependence and mainstay in life.

Future Planning at the Oshawa Museum

By Laura Suchan, Executive Director

OHS-60-FNL-RGBThe Oshawa Historical Society is celebrating 60 years of presenting the history of Oshawa.  Throughout the year we have been taking a look back at what we have accomplished, assessing where we are now and creating a vision for what our future will look like.  We consider the three historically designated buildings the most important artefacts in our collection, however they do present some challenges with regards to the scope of programming we can offer.  The physical limitations of the three heritage buildings are reflected most acutely in two areas: a severe lack of programming space which restricts the number of participants in our events and the kinds of events we can host, and a lack of suitable exhibit space to accommodate our collections and travelling exhibits.

In 1996 Sears & Russell completed a Facility Study of the Oshawa Museum (OM) and concluded:

“The existing structures do not fully support the OSMA’s [OM’s] current curatorial, programming and administrative activities.  The artifact and archival collections storage facilities are totally inadequate in terms of spatial requirements, accessibility, security and environmental conditions.  Both permanent and temporary exhibits are limited by space and environmental conditions.  Educations and other public programs are restricted by size and other demands on the program room in Guy House.  The administrative area, also in Guy House, is overcrowded.  There are no curatorial work areas, and the archival area is inadequate and inappropriate.” (Sears & Russell Feasibility Study, pg. 45).

In 2016, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) was engaged by the Board of Directors to conduct a facility assessment which concluded that the OM, in partnership with the City of Oshawa, are managing the preservation risks to the Museum collection despite limited resources within heritage facilities that are not well designed for the purpose. The recommendation was to:

“Consolidate collections in new, purpose-designed collection spaces. Lack of space is a key constraint for all Oshawa Museum activities, putting existing collections at risk of damage and restricting future collection of Oshawa’s heritage. Oshawa Museum staff have exhausted options for using historic spaces efficiently; therefore, new space is needed.” (CCI: Oshawa Museum Facilities Assessment Final Report, December 2016, pg. 11.)

Furthermore the CCI review noted “the key recommendation of the 1996 Sears & Russell master plan is even more pertinent today, twenty years later.” (CCI:  Oshawa Museum Facilities Assessment Final Report, December 2016, pg. 44).

The Board of Directors is committed to providing space and facilities that are both aesthetically pleasing and effective in preserving and interpreting Museum collections and can perform these functions efficiently and sustainably.  To provide the best conditions for our collection, improved visitor experience and better community engagement, the Board of Directors has decided to move forward with plans for a facilities expansion project.

 

What Does this Mean to the Oshawa Museum/Oshawa Historical Society?

Collections

Spaces

People

  • Improved collection care
  • Improved collection storage areas
  • Curatorial support areas
  • Repatriation of Oshawa archival records from Archives of Ontario
  • Improved visitor amenities
  • Rental opportunities
  • Improved exhibition areas
  • Purpose built space allows for enhanced visitor experiences
  • Potential partnership opportunities
  • More community engagement

 

Our Curator, Melissa Cole, looks at our current facility and the challenges we face in this video, accessible HERE from our YouTube Channel.