You Asked, We Answered – The Photos in the Henry Hallway

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

For two weeks, at the end of April and beginning of May, I had given tours almost every day we were open. It was a wonderful return to how Spring at the Museum looked before COVID-19.

In the hallway of Henry House, there is a frame holding six Victorian era photographs, and it felt like on every tour, I was asked, “who was in the photos?” It pained me to say that I didn’t quite know. Two of them looked very Henry like (there is a distinct look to all the siblings), but beyond that, I couldn’t say.

A photo frame, holding six black and white photos of Victorian era people.

While closing up one day, and with our Curator’s permission, I took the photo off the wall to see who was in the photos.

I was very pleased that the two that I kept identifying as Henrys were, indeed, Henrys. George Henry (top right) was the son of Thomas and his first wife, Elizabeth. His wife was Polly Henry, and we’ve profiled her before on the blog. The couple would live out their lives in nearby Bowmanville.

Also photographed are James O. Henry (bottom left) and his first wife, Adelaide Hall (bottom right). James was Thomas’s eighth child, the second born to Thomas and his second wife, Lurenda. James and Adelaide had four children together before her death, and after her passing, James remarried and had one child with his second wife. He was an enterprising man, a farmer, photographer, and exporter of apples. He was reportedly the first exporter to Britain, his brand remained popular for many years.

There are three more photos depicting four people. Their identities are still, somewhat, a mystery, although, thanks to information in the archival collection and on the back of the frame, it is very likely they are members of the Hall family, Adelaide’s relatives.

I always appreciate it when I’m asked questions on tours that I don’t know the answer to. Even after 11 years of tours, there are still ones that will leave me without an answer, and this means I have the opportunity to learn something new myself.

Information on George and James from If This House Could Talk: The Story of Henry House (Oshawa Historical Society, 2012).

Archives Awareness Week – The David Dowsley Collection

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.

A022.6.164 – Durham Regional Courthouse, Oshawa Ontario, February 3, 2009. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection)

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.

Inside a large grocery store, looking down upon the aisles.
A016.10.286 – Superstore near Taunton and Harmony, July 2013. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival 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.

Two women, wearing winter jackets, standing in front of a yellow house, with the windows boarded up. There is yellow caution tape in front of the house. There is snow on the ground
A022.6.167 – “Dec. 19/03 Lakeview Park Oshawa Fire at Guy House Historical Bldg. December 17/03 Historical Soc. Employees L-R Angela Siebarth & Melissa Cole (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection).

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.

A snowcovered streetscape with several houses and two cars on the road.
A022.6.13 – Cherrydown St., Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. April 6, 1994. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

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.

Seven people wearing hardhats, each with a shovel in hand, for a sod turning ceremony.
A022.6.38 – “Groundbreaking for the new Durham Transit Garage, Farewell Avenue Oshawa, ON, November 24, 2015; included in picture: Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and CEO Durham Region; John Henry, Mayor of Oshawa; Granville Anderson, MPP Durham. (Dowsley collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

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.

The Beaver City Enterprise: A Conundrum

By Kes Murray, Registrar

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 “Found in Collection” Shelf

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.

The Month That Was – March 1872

All articles appeared in the Ontario Reformer

March 1, 1872, Page 1

Poetry – Fashionable Wedding

“Wilt thou take the brown stone front,
These carriages, this diamond,

To be the of thy husband,

Fast locked in bonds of Hymen !
And wilt thou leave thy home and friends
To be his loving wife
And help to spend his large income
So long as thou hast live ?”

“I will,” the honest maid replies,
The lovelight beaming in her eyes.

“And wilt thou take this waterfall,
This ostentatious pride,
With all these unpaid milliner’s bills
To be thy chosen bride?
And wilt thou love and cherish her
Whilst thou hast life and health,
But die as soon as possible,
And leave her all thy wealth?”

“I will,” the fearless man replies,
And eager waits the nuptial ties,

“Then I pronounce you man and wife,
And what I join together,
The next best may dignite
And the first divorce court never.”

Page 2
Attempted Assassination
Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, at half past five o’clock, while the Queen was driving on Constitution Hill, a man named O’Conner, a Fenian, ran to the side of her carriage, and presenting a pistol within a foot of her head demanded her to sign a paper granting an amnesty to the Fenian prisoners, or die. Prince Arthur knocked the scoundrel down, and he was then immediately seized by the attendants, and safely secured.

Ontario Reformer, 1 Mar 1872; page 3

Page 4
Atmospheric Bath
For the cure of all kinds of diseases, both acute and chronic. Prof. Stone would announce to the people of Oshawa and country at large that his condensed Air Bath is now in successful operation in Oshawa, and he is ready to treat all diseases on the principles of Airpathy, or a condensed Atmosphere. He has purified and disciplined it to become one of the greatest sanitary agents of the age, and perhaps the world. As a cure of diseases, it must unquestionably hold a place as far above all other curative and sanitary agents as its relation to animal life is above all other elements or agencies known to science. Acute diseases such as Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Bilious Fever, Acute Inflammation of the Lungs and Bowels, Dysentery, with all other forms Acute Diseases, can be cured in their early stages in a very few hours without fail,, so if you or your family are attacked with any acute disease come to the bath and save the suffering of a long protracted illness. The cure is sure and certain as above stated, which others can testify, who have tried it.

March 8, 1872, Page 1

Saving and Storing Ice
The notion that to keep ice through this heat of summer we must put up an expensive building with double walls, &e, is now exploded. The difficulty and expense of keeping ice for summer use on the farm or the dairy is now so small that no farmer of any pretensions to intelligence need be without it. The ice must be cut, drawn and piled when the weather is very cold. The colder the temperature when the ice is put away the better it will keep. To put up ice after a thaw commences is almost labor thrown away.

Page 2
Hayloft Fire
On Monday evening last, a fire was discovered in the loft of the stables adjoining Quigleys hotel. By some unaccountable means, the gay took fire, and had it not been discovered at the time it was, there is no telling where the fire would have ended, as there was a strong wind blowing at the time. One of the men stopping at Mr. Quigley, with great presence of mind, rushed up and turned some of the loose hay over the fire, completely smothering it. A few pails of water were then thrown on it, and all danger was past.

News ad for a new dressmaking establishment in Oshawa, operated by Miss Room
Ontario Reformer, 8 Mar 1872; page 4

Page 4
A Good Memory
We read too much, and think about what we read too little; the consequence is that most of the people we meet know something, in a superficial way, about almost everything. Not a tenth part of what is read is remembered for a month after the book or newspaper is laid aside. Daniel Webster, who had a rich store of information on almost every subject of general interest, said that it had been his habit for years to reflect for a short time on whatever he had read, and to fix the thoughts and ideas worth remembering in his mind. One who does this will be surprised to find how retentive his memory will become, or how long after reading an interesting article, the best portions of it will remain with him.

March 29, 1872, Page 1

Alcoholic Beverages To Sick Persons
It is believed that inconsiderate prescription of large quantities of alcoholic liquids by medical men for their patients has given rise, in many instances, to the formation of intemperate habits, the undersigned, while unable to abandoned the use of alcoholic treatment of certain cases of disease, are yet of opinion that no medical practitioner should prescribe it without a sense of grave responsibility. They believe that alcohol, in whatever form, should be prescribed with as much care as any powerful drug and that the directions for its use should be so framed as to not be interpreted as a sanction for excess, or necessarily for the continuance of its use when the occasion is past.

Page 3
On the 21st instant, at Brown’s hotel, Darlington, by Elder T. Henry, Mr Geo. Lankin, of East Whitby, to Miss Mary M. Smith of Darlington.

News ad for Village Lots for Sale
Ontario Reformer, 29 Mar 1872; page 3

Page 4
In Memoriam
Against expenditures in honor of the dead, Heaven has uttered no prohibition, and Earth is not injured, but benefitted, by them. All those beautiful emblems which adorn the many tombs around which we love to linger, assure us we are in a world of warm and loving hearts; the adorning of the sepulchers of the “loved ones” alleviates our grief and soothes the wounded heart. It also cheers the bereaved to know that an additional embellishment of the grave presents stronger attractions to arrest the attention of the stranger, and causes him to pause and learn the name of one who has shared so largely in the life of others.

Oshawa’s Early Postal Service

This was originally written by the Oshawa Historical Society as a Historical Information Sheet

Prior to 1850, it was necessary for settlers to go to the general store for postal services as there were no stand alone post offices.  Stage coaches and sleighs delivered the mail to the store and picked up any outgoing mail.  Trans-Atlantic mail delivery was started in 1840 when Samuel Cunard was contracted with the Admiralty to provide two trips monthly each way between Liverpool and Canada.  Mail reached Quebec from Liverpool in 18 days and from Quebec was sent to the regional centres.  In 1854 the first Post Office on rails was established.  Clerks were on board the trains sorting mail between communities in Southern Ontario.

The first post office in the area was opened in the general store operated by John and William Warren in Hamar’s Corners (now Whitby) in 1824.  Stage coaches would stop to pick up and deliver mail during their run from Kingston to York (Toronto). In 1827 Donald Campbell obtained consent from the Postmaster General to have mail carried between Hamar’s Corners and Beaverton.  Kenneth Campbell was appointed postmaster and made the trip once every two weeks.

Black and white sketch of a one and a half storey building, featuring a black and white checkerboard facade. There is a wooden sidewalk in front of it.
Edward Skae’s checkered store

In 1842 Edward Skae, owner of a general store located on the southeast corner of King and Simcoe Streets, made application to the legislature for a post office. John Hilliard Cameron, representing Skae’s Corners as part of the Home District in parliament, replied that a name other than “Corners” must be chosen for the post office as there were already too many place names containing corners.  Oshawa was chosen and Edward Skae became the first postmaster on October 6, 1842. According to the Ontario Reformer, May 19, 1905, Mr. Glenney opened the first mail bag brought to Oshawa.  It contained 4 letters, 2 British Colonists and one Examiner and from the east, and 2 Montreal Gazettes.  By 1844 Oshawa had post every day. After the opening of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856, mail was no longer carried by stage coach.  Mr. John Bone drove the last stage coach with mail into Oshawa.

Sepia toned image of a storefront and three women and one man are standing in front of it.
Oshawa Post Office when it was located on King Street East, 1903; OM Thomas Bouckley Collection A985.41.49

In 1907 Oshawa’s first official stand alone post office was opened on the northeast corner of Ontario Street and King Street East.  Custom offices were located on the second floor of the building and the third floor was a flat for the caretaker. The central post office remained at 40 King Street East until a new building was opened at 47 Simcoe Street South in 1954-1955.  The original Romanesque Revival style post office was demolished in 1957.

Colourized image of a three storey, red brick building with prominent central tower

 List of Postmasters in the Nineteenth Century:

Edward Skae1842-10-06
*Gavin Burns18531861-01-07Death
David Smith1861-01-011862-04-26Resignation
Fraser Keller1862-05-011866-10-24Resignation
David Smith1867-04-011877-11-07Death
James Carmichael1877-11-01Jun-03Death

* In 1851, authority for postal administration was transferred from the Imperial Government to the Province of Ontario.  Information prior to 1853 is not available through Canada Post Archives.


Post Office file – Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

Details, published by Canada Post, April-June 2001

Postcard Educational Kit – Oshawa Museum

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