Street Name Stories – Windfields Farm

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

The Oshawa Museum is fortunate to have a relationship with a local artist named Eric Sangwine.  Eric is a talented artist who has created very whimsical paintings for the Museum, often inspired by local history, stories, legends, and lore. One of his recent series has been creating paintings based on the street names of Oshawa, and on one of his visits to the archives, Eric remarked about the seemingly unusual names that were found in Oshawa, north of Durham College. Snow Knight Drive, Aquatic Ballet Path, Arctic Actress Cres. Eric was certainly right about the uniqueness of these streets! And then it clicked – the streets are named after racehorses, and they are located on the former Windfields Farm property.

“Windfields Farm Drive,” Eric Sangwine. Oshawa Museum archival collection

The story of Windfields Farm starts in 1927 when Parkwood Stables was established by RS McLaughlin at the northwest corner of Simcoe Street North and Conlin Road West. In 1950, McLaughlin sold his stables to Edward Plunket (E. P.) Taylor, another prominent Canadian businessman.

A019.27.1 – Windfields Farm; Oshawa Museum archival collection

As stated by the City of Oshawa, “from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s Mr. Taylor’s operation at Windfields Farm became the home of Canada’s leading thoroughbred stallions and eventually the most successful thoroughbred operation in North America.” In 1961, Northern Dancer, one of the most well-known racehorses was born at Windfields Farm (then operating as the National Stud Farm). He would go on to win the Kentucky Derby – the first Canadian horse to do so – the Preakness Stakes, the Queens Plate, among other races, and became the most successful sire of the 20th century.

A019.27.2 – Windfields Farm; Oshawa Museum Archival collection

During the 2000s, portions of the farm were sold to the neighbouring Ontario Tech University (OnTechU), Durham College, and developers, and by the end of the decade, after years of downsizing, the farm officially closed.

A017.19.8 – Horse Theatre at Windfields Farm, 1984; Dowsley Collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

The legacy of the farm and its horses live on in the north of the city and beyond. Northern Dancer and EP Taylor have been inducted into numerous sporting Halls of Fames for their successes in either running races or contributions to the sport. A collection of artefacts related to Windfields Farm and EP Taylor are housed at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC. OnTechU has repurposed several structures that remained from the farm for use as either office space or storage.  Trillium Cemetery, the resting place for several
horses, was designated as being of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2015. And, of course, there are several streets of new residential developments that bear names related to Windfields Farm and its horses.


Student Museum Musings – Ephemeral Snowfall

By Thomas P., Co-op Student

There hasn’t been as much snow as I’d hoped there’d be so far this year. These late November and early December days have only been homely to dead leaves and a frigid lakeside breeze. Though my walks throughout Lakeview Park and in and around the Oshawa Museum have surely been cold, the only snow I’ve seen is on the occasional Saturday night, or perhaps it was actually morning, that has lifted my snowy spirits.

In my early teen years, I was rather ambivalent about snowfall. On one hand, I always found it to be a lovely ambiance to go along with late nights reading or immersed in some game on my computer, but I have also never been a fan of shovelling said snow off my driveway. Even still, this year, my final year in high school and first year working a co-op position at the Oshawa Museum, I’ve found myself missing snow just that little bit more than usual. There’s something about the quiet of it all, the long dark sense of soft snowflakes falling on one’s face in the latter half of 10pm. Even when it does snow, at 2am when you happen to look outside after a long night, it doesn’t last forever, which is, of course, the nature of things. The snow only stays on the ground for as long as nature will allow it to.

A close friend of mine was the one who taught me of the word ephemeral, the definition of the word being “lasting for a very short time.” It’s a word that’s meaning can be found in many places. It can describe the summer months that go by so fast when you’re out walking, the autumn breeze on the shores of Lake Ontario that doesn’t last nearly as long as it should, the quiet moments in the winter snow that only last as long as it takes for the chill to set into your bones.

Nevertheless, life is ephemeral. There’s always little moments overlooked and underappreciated. Little pieces of history only remembered years later by the archives and museums. Life is an unfinished symphony. Everyone you’ll ever know, every human being you can possibly imagine, only fits into the smallest puzzle piece of life. A singular snowflake in the blizzard of all life that’s ever lived and ever will live. Yet time, time is not ephemeral. Time will move on and last as long as you and your future generations will, but life only lasts as long as we do. The sands, or maybe even snows, of life are always falling. In fact, Memento Mori! Remember death, because the snows of life and sands of time only last so long. It’s not long now until the non-metaphorical snow falls too!

So dear reader, I advise you to take some time, it doesn’t matter when, to simply listen. Listen to the gentle brush of water against cold sand. Listen to the squirrels running along the branches of the trees. Listen to the gentle thrum of car engines, and listen to the life around you. Make life something more permanent than snow. At the end of the day, the end of time, it’s your choices that shape your history. This is why we’re still learning and will forever still be learning from the past. Time is forever unfinished, and life is what you make from time.

Glowing Regards,

The Month That Was – December 1866

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

December 05, 1866, Page 2

On Friday night last, some person or persons entered the office of the Cobourg Sentinel, and knocked into pi a large quantity of standing type, scattering the forms in all directions upon the floor, and thus causing very great trouble and loss. The matter disarranged was the first, third and fourth pages of the paper, two cases of small type, and a quantity of standing type, set up for last week’s Sentinel. The cause of the outrage was the appearance in a previous number, of a treasonable article. The editor, however, says it was written by a correspondent and set up without his first examining it.

The Port Perry Observer of last Thursday has the following: – Mr. Thos. Paxton of this place yesterday received a telegram from his agent in Petrolia, informing him that the oil well, in which he holds a large interest, commenced flowing at the rate of a thousand barrels a day.

We wish Mr. Paxton the best of luck, but we don’t believe the story. A Western paper reported an 800 barrel well but added that amount ought to be received with caution.

December 05, 1866 Page 03

A yacht race across the Atlantic has been arranged in New York and is now exciting a good deal of interest in that city. Three yachts – the Fleetwing, owned by Mr. Osgood; the Vests, by Mr. Lorillard; and the Henrietta, by J. G. Bennet, Jr., start from New York for Cowes on the 11th of December, the one arriving first to be entitled to the sum or $90,000, which has been staked on the result. The season selected for this race is the most inclement of the year, and the excursion under the circumstances is likely to be anything but a pleasant trip.

December 12, 1866, Page 2

We have been requested to state that the Rink is now open to the public. There is a capital sheet of ice on it. Tickets can be had at J. A. Gibson’s Book Store, or from any of the members of the committee.

On Monday David Webb and Wm. Tallamy were brought before S. B. Fairbanks, charged with being drunk and fighting on Saturday evening last. They were fined five dollars and costs each.

On Thursday last, Mr. J. O. Guy, Reeve of East Whitby, had narrow escaped with his life. He went over to the barn of Mr. Thomas Henry, who was there engaged in threshing. Whilst standing near the tumbling shaft talking to Mr. Henry a pin in the shaft caught his coat and winding it around and around and drawing him closer to the shaft. Mr. Henry seized Mr. Guy, and by their united exertions the coat was torn off. When the machine was stopped there was but a piece of one sleeve left.

December 19, 1866, Page 1

Two Irishmen engaged in peddling packages of linen, bought an old mule to aid in carrying the burdens. One would ride a while, then the other, carrying the burdens. – One day, the Irishmen who was on foot got close up to the heels of his mule-ship, when he received a kick on one of his shins. To be revenged, he picked up a stone, and hurled it at the mule but by accident, struck his companion on the back of the head. Seeing what he has done, he stopped, and begun to groan and rub his shin. The one on the mule turned and asked him what was the matter. ‘The crathur’s kicked me,’ was the reply, ‘Be japers,’ said the other, ‘he’s did the same thing to me on the back of the head.’

December 19, 1866 Page 03

Page 2

In Toronto, on the 12th inst., by Rev. S. Rose, Mr. Thos. Conant and Miss Margaret Gifford, both of East Whitby.

December 26, 1866, Page 2

Pursuant to the provisions of the new Municipal Act, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall for the nomination of candidates for the offices of Reeve, Deputy Reeve, and Councilors, for 1867. The number of ratepayers present at the opening of proceedings with small, about 50; And did not increase to the end. The following is the list of nominations with their proposals an seconders for the several officers:-

At the conclusion of the nomination, the old council were called upon for a statement of the affairs of the village for the past year.

SB Fairbanks came forward and gave an abstract of the village accounts. Before doing so, however, he alluded to some changes which had been made in the assessment act, whereby all property would be henceforth assessed upon its real value, and thus renters would not be compelled to pay more taxes in proportion than freeholders.- From an abstract of receipts and expenditures which he read, the Reeve showed that the receipts for the year were $8365.87, and the expenditures $7963.38, leaving a cash balance in the hands of the treasure of $402.49. This added to notes due on the 1st of January, and certain ammunition on hand valued at $147.96, would leave on the 1st of January a balance, after deducting some liabilities which now cannot be exactly determined, of about $750. …

Proceedings were then adjourned until the first Monday in January, when the election will be held. Who will run, and who will not, is a question that it would be difficult to answer; Some caucusing and scheming will take place before the tickets are made out. It is to be hoped that matters may yet be arranged to avoid a contest. It is not likely that all will go to the poll.- Mr. Duliea has already requested that his name be taken off the list.

THE LATEST- We understand that Messrs. Fairbanks and Michaels are to be the candidates for Reeve, and Messrs. WH Gibbs and Fowke for Deputy. The tickets further than this are not fully determined upon.

At Port Oshawa, on Friday morning, the 21st inst., Eliza Jane Henry, wife of Thomas Guy, aged 35 years.

In Oshawa, on Saturday evening, the 22nd inst., Julia Ann Bates, wife of Dr. William McGill, aged 48 years.

Our County – Empire Woolen Mills

Originally Appeared Whitby Chronicle, 18 Jan 1884

Our County

‘Travelers’ visits and describes the Empire Woolen Mills at Columbus – labouring under disadvantages which Whitby can and would wish to do away with.

(Special Correspondence of the Chronicle).

Empire Woolen Mills near Columbus, c. 1883 (AX995.169.1)

Columbus, Jan 12., 1884 – After leaving friend Liddle’s, as referred to in my last, I proceeded in a sort of zig-zag fashion, among the fine farms in the section, making many friendly calls, and having a good time generally. By the way, I seldom think of going around by the regular roads now. I have got so used to climbing fences for the sake of a short cut, that it would almost take a Chinese wall turn me. I finally drew up towards evening at the “Empire Woolen Mills” and having unearthed Mr. Robt. Gemmel, the courteous and intelligent Manager, I proceed it to interrogate him as to various matters of interest, to which he not only kindly responded, but showed me through the establishment from bottom to top. If you feel any special interest in seeing through a Woolen Mill, just step into our shadow and get as good a view as you can as it is getting dusky.

The factory is owned by Messrs. Bryce, McMurrich & Co., of Toronto, and went in full blast gives employment to about 40 hands, at wages ranging from 1 to 2 dollars a day. Mr. Gemmel informs me that he has very much difficulty in this out of the way place both in getting and keeping sufficient hands to properly run the mill. Owing mainly to the difficulty there is not more than half the work done and hands employed at present that there might be; a state of affairs that might of course must have its effect on the financial result. Tweeds and blankets are the staple productions, and are produced in great variety of texture and pattern. The goods are mainly sent to the wholesale house of the owners in Toronto, and distributed in all directions from that point.

The machinery in all departments is said to be first-class. That in the main building is run by water-power, but that in the winding and twisting and drying departments (conducted in separate building) is driven by steam. The main building is a wooden structure, in good condition, and consisting of four flats.

Perhaps, instead of taking you either from bottom to top, or from top to bottom, I had better follow the course of the manufacturing process from the wool to the finished bale of cloth. To do this we will have to strike in at the third flat, which is devoted to carding in all its phases. The machinery in operation evidently plays its cards well. When this primary operation of preparing the wool for being spun into yarn is performed, the material is sent up to the fourth flat, or spinning department, where it is converted into yarn of various grades, according to the purpose for which it is intended. The next department may be called the winding and twisting department. This work (as before stated) is done in a separate building, immediately east of the main building. The machinery here seems very complete, and is driven by steam, and the operations performed seem to the uninitiated eye to be both mysterious and marvelous. A 16 horse-power double eccentric engine is used. The twisting machine is a fine piece of mechanism manufactured by Sykes of Hudderford, England. The winding machine is made by McGee, of Paisley, Scotland. I understand that Mr. Gemmel, having a natural taste for machinery, and a quick perception of what is needed to accomplish certain ends, has added some important improvements of his own invention, in different departments of the factory. But I must hasten, as it is getting quite dusky. We will go back to the main building, up to the second flat, which we will call the weaving department. There are eleven looms at work, and the operations of spooling, warping and weaving are all very interesting; but to give a full description of the ins and outs is beyond my power, unused as I am to such operations. Let us return for a minute to the other building and take a look into the Drying department. This is a long room in which the blanketing and other cloth is kept revolving rapidly by a powerful machine said to be unsurpassed if not unequalled in this country. The Drying agent is hot air ingeniously admitted between the folds of revolving cloth, and with such effect that 1000 yards of flannel can be dried in an hour. We will not return to the basement or first flat of No. 1 which is called the finishing department. In this various goods manufactured in the establishment are sorted, finished, marked and put up in cases for shipment; to Toronto or elsewhere. The dye-house is at one end of the finishing room, where dying (sic) in all its branches is carried on. All this is done at various stages of the work, either in the wool, the yarn or the cloth, I need not more fully describe it.

I must now take my leave of the Factory and my friend Mr. Gemmel, as the sun has set, and I have a mile of rough walking ere I reach Columbus. I am well aware that in many respects my account of the Factory is very defective. It is in fact several weeks since my visit, and my notes are now hard to decipher, and my limited acquaintance with machinery would at best be a great hindrance to my giving a good description of it. Just take my sketch for what it is worth, and if you wish for more go and see for yourselves.

There is a store kept in an adjoining building; also kept by Bryce McMurrich & Co. in which goods are sold not only to employees of the Factory but to the inhabitants generally. The store is under the very efficient care of Miss Lawrence, into whose eyes one has only to look to feel fully assured both of her integrity and kindness of heart.

Now it is quite dark, and as my only way of going on is to stop, I will stop accordingly.


2021 – 100 Years of the Poppy Campaign

By Melissa Cole, Curator

From the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day, millions of Canadians wear a poppy as a visual pledge to never forget those who sacrificed for our freedom. This campaign goes back to 1921 when the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance by the British Legion. When the Royal British Legion adopted the poppy in 1921, so to did several other countries including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

The idea for the Remembrance Poppy was conceived by Madame Anna Guérin of France. She was inspired by John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” Anna had originally founded a charity to help rebuild regions of France torn apart by the First World War and created beautiful poppies made of fabric to raise funds.

The poppy was adopted in Canada on July 6, 1921, when Madame Guérin presented her concept to France’s allies, including The Great War Veterans Association, today’s Royal Canadian Legion. 

Poppies are a universal symbol of remembrance and sacrifice.  The tradition of wearing a poppy to honour veterans takes place in different countries around the world. Each country has tailored a unique design; therefore, poppies differ from country to country.

Poppies are frequently sent to and worn by expatriates living in other countries in Europe and beyond.  The English Poppy, produced by the Royal British Legion, is the poppy that is shipped out to different countries where expatriates live.  The English poppy worn in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has two petals, a green leaf and a black centre.  The Scottish poppy is similar, made of paper with a plastic centre, four petals and no green leaf.  The removal of the green leaf allowed for more funds to be directed to veterans and their families. 

Our poppy in Canada is sold by the Royal Canadian Legion, is made of moulded plastic covered in flocking.  The red piece of the poppy contains indents to mark four petals and contains a black centre.  The black centre was changed from green around 2001. 

The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign Posters.  These posters form part of a collection that was displayed each year in honour of Remembrance Day, in the front window at Mike’s Place, a local business located in downtown Oshawa.  The collection includes posters, brochures, two wreaths, and various styles of poppies.  

The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance in Canada, Great Britain, the nations of the Commonwealth, and in the United States for those who served or fell in service of their country.


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