The Month That Was – October 1870

Oshawa Vindicator, October 5, 1870, page 1

For Sale
A Brick House, 36 x 24, 2 ½ stories high, with stable, shed, driving house, &c., connected to the Lot on which they stand, being 58 square perches, the property of John Robinson, Port Oshawa. Terms liberal. Apply to either Ralph Robinson, Oshawa, or John Thompson, Paitley Mills, Whitby.

Newspaper ad for Weaving at Columbus
Oshawa Vindicator, 5 October 1870, page 1

Page 2
Whitby and East Whitby Fair
Every preparation is being made by the directors to make the Fall Fair to be held here on the 26th, better than any that has preceded it. Fifty three dollars have been collected in the town, as special prizes for equestrianship. Two of these are a portrait valued at $15, to be given to the best lady rider, and one valued at $8, to the best lady equestrian under fifteen years of age, both presented by Mr. JE Hoitt. The prizes for equestrianship have been divided into four classes, three prizes being offered to young ladies under 15, and three to boys under 16 years of age. Several new prizes have been offered in the photographic department, for the purpose of inducing a strong competition. Mr. J Porter offers for special prizes of $18, for suckling colts after Sir Walter Scott. The bills have been issued to the several directors and can be had of them.

Newspaper ad for Walter Wigg & Son, furniture & undertaking
Oshawa Vindicator, 5 Oct 1870, p 3

Died
In Oshawa, on the 4th inst., Louisa, wife of JB Warren, Esq., aged 64 years. The funeral will leave the residence of her husband for St. George’s Burial ground, at 3pm to-morrow (Thursday).

Newspaper ad for Wolfenden's Marble Works
Whitby Chronicle, 6 Oct 1870 p4

Oshawa Vindicator, October 12, 1870, page 2
As the funeral of the late Mrs. Warren was on its way to the St. George’s Burial Ground Thursday, it was met by the waggon of the Dominion Telegraph Company, which frightened some of the horses. In the fright, the carriages were backed upon each other, and one, that of Mr. Burk, of Bowmanville, was forced into the ditch and broken.

Mr. W. Rundle has a bill against the town of $17.50 for damages done to his horse by a broken street crossing. The hole is repaired now.

Wanted
A first-class servant girl, two kept in the family. Good wages given. Mrs. JO Guy. Port Oshawa, Oct 10, 1870

Newspaper ad for George Gurley's tailoring business
Oshawa Vindicator, 12 Oct 1870, p 3

Whitby Gazette, October 13, 1870, page 2
The Harvest of 1870
The following is the annual report of the GTR officials of the harvest in this locality: …

Oshawa – hay, very light and not an average crop; Wheat, very light crop, average not over 10 bushels per acre; Barley, average 15 bushels per acre; Peas, average 20 bushels per acre; Oats, an average crop; root crops good; Quality of grain very fine, having been secured in splendid condition.

Oshawa Vindicator, October 19, 1870, page 2
The schooner Kate, of this port, was blown ashore in the gale Monday night, near Cobourg. She was loaded with barley belonging to R & A Smith. The grain was insured. No one was lost.

In the same blow, a schooner loaded in the harbor carried off posts and a portion of the wharf to which she was fastened.

By the New York papers we see that Mr. Carswell is keeping up his old time reputation in that city. He leaves soon on a lecturing tour in the Southern States, under the auspices of the National Division of the Sons.

Stolen or Strayed
From Lot 6 2nd Concession East Whitby, on the 2nd Oct., a RED COW, with white spots on left hip and left shoulder, with star in her forehead, three years old. Anyone returing the same will be liberally rewarded.
Sarah Terry, East Whitby, Oct. 18, 1870

Newspaper ad for Atkinson's Drug Store
Oshawa Vindicator, 19 Oct 1870, p 3

Whitby Gazette, October 20, 1870, page 2
Masonic Charts – We have received from Dr. Vars, of Oshawa a sett of masonic charts, copies of which should be in the hands of every “brother of the mystic” in the country. The charts are magnificently engraved, and cleanly and neatly printed and, besides illustrating the different grades and forms of Masonry, are beautiful ornaments for the parlor at home. Parties can be supplied with the charts by Dr. Vars, Oshawa, or at this office.

Newspaper ad for hats
Whitby Gazette, 27 Oct 1870, p 4

Oshawa Vindicator, October 26, 1870, page 2
Oshawa Fire Brigade – The following offices were duly elected at the regular annual election for 1871:

Brigade Officers – PH Thornton, re-elected Chief Engineer and Treasurer; Jos. Craig, Assistance Chief Engineer; R. Dillon, Brigade Secretary

Fire Co. Rescue No. 1 – Thos. Hall, Captain; R. Burdge, 1st Lieut; T. Kirby, 2nd Lieut; B. Robinson, 1st Branch; E Martin, 2nd Branch; ——- Best, 3rd Branch; W. Trewin, Sec’y; T. Lukes, Treasurerl T Hern, Steward.

Hose Co. Rescue No. 1 – O. Manuel, Captain; G. Graham, 1st Lieut; J Mitchel, 2nd Lieut; Ed. Nickle, Sec’y; Geo. Wilson, Treasurer.

Dreadnought Hook & Ladder Co. – Geo. Kelly, Captain; C. French, Lieut; A. Cameron, Treasurer. Sec’y not elected.

All members in connection with the Oshawa Fire Brigade, are requested to meet at the Fire Hall to-day, at one o’clock, sharp. They will muster in the evening at the appointed time to form a torchlight procession, (weather permitting).

Newspaper ad for Village taxes to be paid
Oshawa Vindicator, 26 Oct 1870, p 3

Whitby Gazette, October 27, 1870, page 2
DEATH OF DR. ROLPH
Dr. Rolph died at Mitchell on Wednesday afternoon of last week, at the advanced age of 78 years. As his name and efforts have been very intimately connected with the history of Canada, it is but right that his death should receive more than a passing notice. He was a man of most excellent parts –in science and the law, as well as in politics. Referring to him, a contemporary, the London Free Press, says: He was a reformer that always had a “policy,” and the downfall of the family compact was due, in a great measure, to his exertions. Being implicated in the rebellion of 1837 intentionally or by mistake…, but after the subsidence of political troubles returned to it, and entered the government in 1851 under Mr. now Sir Frances, Hincks. During his day he aided in the settlement of the Clergy Reserves difficulty; saw Reciprocity gained; was present at the birth of the Railways in Canada; and witnessed Upper Canada rise from the condition of a wilderness to the dignity of a nationality. In later years he established the Medical School, in connection with the Victoria College, and labored assiduously and with much success as it Principal. He was a man of kind heart, and a sound head. His natural abilities were great, but were heightened by a wide culture. As an orator his eloquence was proverbial, and no man of the day was listened to with more pleasure and instruction by the people than the “old ma eloquent.” The flow of his language was steady and uninterrupted, his articulation sweet and distinct, and he always made a deep impression.

His life has been a most useful one ; devoted to his fellow-creatures rather than to himself, and his memory will be dear to all that knew him or were acquainted with his career. Since 1856 he has not taken any active prominent part in political affairs, though his counsel was not neglected. He leaves behind him an honored name an unblemished reputation, which will long live, and with may make the wise prevail, upon recounting his history, that there were more like “good old Dr. Rolph.”

Newspaper ad for Lowes & Powells
Whitby Gazette, 27 Oct 1870, p 4

Page 2
THAT EARTHQUAKE – On Thursday morning last, between the hours of ten and eleven o’clock, Canada was visited by a slight shock of earthquake. The “quake” appears to have visited nearly every place in Ontario and Quebec, (if we are to believe the telegraph reports.) and to have shaken several towns in the United States. At Greenwood village, the shock was felt by Mr. Fred Meen, in his store, and by Mr. Samuel Green, while a person a few years distant in a hotel was entirely ignorant that there had been an earthquake. Again, some men working in a barn, a mill or so from Greenwood, were terribly frightened at the shaking of the building, and ran out, fearing it would fall. The shock appears also to have visited Whitby, and – a telegram to the Toronto paper affirms – lasted from three to five minutes. This startling item may be true, but, after diligent inquiry, we have not found the first person that knew a word about the earthquake, until the Toronto papers were received on the following morning. Nevertheless, the report MAY be true ; and of such be the case, the people of Whitby ought to be ashamed of themselves, to have a real live earthquake in their midst and to be ignorant of its whereabouts. It is really too bad. Where, we ask, were the police? We will candidly admits that, at the time mentioned, there was a good deal of shaking in town; but we really thought it was caused by the Court of Assizes, then in session. Most assuredly there was staggering, but, honestly, in our innocence, we believed that rot-gut played a lone hand in it. But we may have been mistaken, and a real earthquake might have been with us. If so, we are really sorry that we didn’t know.

Married
On the 19th inst., at the residence of the bride’s brother, in East Whitby, by the Rev. Dr. Jeffers, John S. Larke, Esq., publisher and editor of the Oshawa “Vindicator,” to Miss Elizabeth Baine, of Oshawa.

Anniversary Years for Two Oshawa Polish Landmarks

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

This year, 2022, marks anniversary years for two of Oshawa’s landmarks of importance to the Polish community. Branch 21 of the Polish Alliance of Canada is celebrating 100 years, while St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church is commemorating its 70th anniversary.

Oshawa’s Polish community grew throughout the early years of the 20th century. In August 1922, 19 Polish residents met at the home of Stanisław Leśniak to discuss establishing a Polish organization in the community; this came to realization in September of that year when the Polish Society of Fraternal Help was established. The first president was Józef Mazurkiewicz.  The group changed their name to the Polish Society in Oshawa in 1924. 

In 1925, the organization decided to build a Polish hall, and construction began shortly afterwards at 219 Olive Avenue.  All members donated $10 towards construction, and an interest-free loan from members was also approved. Fundraising initiatives looked outside the Polish community as well with a door to door collection.  The hall was completed in 1928, and this year, 2022, saw improvements to the façade of the hall.

Red brick building. At the top, it is flying a Canadian flag and a Polish flag, and there is a sign at the top centre reading "Polish Alliance of Canada" and a sign in the right window reading "Poznan"
Polish Alliance Hall on Olive Avenue

A number of community groups began operating out of the hall, including a library, choir, Polish language school, and amateur theatre group. As well, a Polish Veterans group started their base operations from the hall. During the Second World War, the group supported Poland and organized fundraising towards a relief fund. Members of the United Polish Relief fund visited each Polish family in Oshawa, held dances, and organized banquets, raising over $1800 towards the cause.

In April of 1944, the Polish Society of Oshawa decided to join the National Polish Alliance of Canada; they merged with another Branch in Oshawa, Branch 16, and together became Branch 21 of the National Polish Alliance of Canada. Wincenty Kołodziej was the first president of Branch 21.

Building with beige stucco facade and brick detailing around the bottom. It has signs reading 'Polish Alliance of Canada' and 'Poznan,' and there is a Canadian flag and a Polish flag
Polish Alliance of Canada, Branch 21 Hall, 2022; photo taken by OM Staff

Branch 21 has actively participated in Oshawa’s annual Fiesta Week for decades with dancing and traditional food being served. They operate as the “Poznań Pavilion.”

St. Hedwig’s Roman Catholic Church was built in a number of stages. There had been talk in Oshawa’s Polish community of establishing a Polish church since the late 1920s; by the 1950s, the work began. Before the establishment of St. Hedwig’s, Catholics in the community worshipped at St. Gregory’s or Holy Cross (which was built between 1940-1945). In 1952, the first mass for the Polish parish was celebrated, taking place at the Polish Hall at 168 Banting Avenue, and immediately after the mass, St. Hedwig of Silesia was chosen as the patron of the parish. That same year, a plot of land was purchased at Olive Avenue and Central Park Blvd., and fundraising began. The cornerstone was blessed in 1954, which was when the first mass was celebrated in the ‘lower church’ (basement).

A yellow brick church with a tall steeple at the front of the building. There is a large white cross to the left of the building, and there are many stairs and railings going to the front doors. There are many clouds in the sky.
St. Hedwig’s, 2021; taken by OM Staff

Construction of the upper church began in 1960, and the church was blessed by Archbishop Philip Pocock on June 25, 1961. He remarked in his homily, “The new church is now blessed and set aside for divine purposes. This means that you the parish have given it to God. Today He has accepted it. You have put your offerings, sacrifices and prayers into it. I offer my congratulations to the Pastor and parishoners for a job well done, in building this beautiful temple to Almighty God.”  There were approximately 700 people in attendance for this dedication mass.

In the 1970s, Pope John Paul II visited the church; at the time, he was a cardinal and not yet the Pope.

The church offers services seven days a week in Polish and an English mass on Sunday.

Since the early years of the 20th century, Oshawa became a place of settlement for Eastern European settlers. The longevity of several community hubs, including the Polish Alliance and St. Hedwig’s church, is a legacy of the hard work and dedication of the early settlers and of those who continue with them to this day.

To learn more about Oshawa’s Eastern European communities, particularly the stories of the Displaces Persons who arrived after the Second World War, visit the OM and see our exhibit, Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa: Displaced Persons and Stories of Immigration.

Street Name Stories – The Stacey Streets

Adapted from Oshawa Historical Society’s Historical Information Sheet

John Stacey came to Canada, from Devonshire England, in 1872 at the age of 5.  His family settled on a farm in Courtice.  When he was 15 years old his father met with an accident which left him an invalid.  John took over the responsibility of the farm and caring for his 11 siblings. 

A sepia photograph of seven Caucasian men. The four in the front are seated, and three behind are standing. They are all dressed in suits.
The Stacey Brothers, c. 1925. Back row: Henry, Walter, Samuel. Front Row: Edward, William, John & Charles. Oshawa Museum archival collection (A000.2.1)

In 1907 John Stacey entered civic life as an alderman.  Over the next 36 years he was to serve Oshawa as Alderman, Deputy Reeve, Chairman of Public Utilities Commission and Mayor from 1919-22 and again in 1936.  As a politician and property owner he campaigned on a platform of “Straight Business and Fair Play for the Interests of the Town and Taxpayer.”  A frugal man, John Stacey did not believe in unnecessary expenditure.  He was, however able to maintain a balance of thrift and needful spending, for the betterment of Oshawa.  In his position as a civic administrator, he played a major role in many improvements to Oshawa’s parks, roads and sewers, including Oshawa’s first paved surface as Chairman of Public Works in 1909.

In addition to his many years in public service, John Stacey contributed much to Oshawa in a professional capacity as a stonemason and builder, building over 700 homes and manufacturing facilities such as the McLaughlin Carriage Company Building, the Fittings Ltd., and the T. Eaton Company (later Alger Press Building / OnTechU’s 61 Charles St building).

Black and white photograph of several rows of identical houses. Simple, two storey structures with triangular rooves. There are trees and flat land in the distance.
Staceyville, c. 1910. Oshawa Museum archival collection (A980.5.7)

As a builder he worked on the “assembly line” principle.  He employed many men to speed up the process while still maintaining high standards of workmanship.  He claimed to have built 60 houses in 59 days for the Ontario Malleable Iron Co., and indeed many of these houses still stand today in the area of Albert Street and Front Street, a testament to these high standards.  He also built 100 houses in 90 days along the Don River in Toronto.  Perhaps his most well-known buildings are the terraces on Olive Avenue in the area that became known as Staceyville.

John Stacey died on February 18, 1949, aged 82.  In his eulogy the Rev. J.K. Moffatt said of Stacey “he was a man to whom life was a very full and rich experience, who knew in perhaps greater measure than most people the meaning of the words of God when he spoke of Abundant Life.” He is interred inside the Union Cemetery Mausoleum.

A number of engraved crypt stones. There are two columns of four stones each. To the left there are names of the Trick family, and on the right, there are names of the Stacey family.
Stacey family crypt stones, inside the Oshawa Union Cemetery Mausoleum, 2022.

The Stacey family home was at 471 Simcoe Street South, at Elena Ave.  Elena Avenue is just one of the streets named for members of John Stacey’s family.

  • Stacey Avenue takes its name from the family’s surname.
  • The names of his children, Eldon, Elena, and Emma, are all streets in Oshawa, although Eldon Street was later renamed to Banting Avenue.
  • John’s first wife’s maiden name was Hogarth, another street, found just off Albert. There were a few marriages between Staceys and Hogarths.
  • John’s nephew, Howard Stacey, claimed Barrie Avenue’s name was inspired by his mother’s maiden name, Newberry.
  • John had a niece named Olive Christina Isabelle Smith (1907 – 1926), and Olive Avenue was named for her.

References:

Howard Stacey Interview, 1981; Oshawa Museum archival collection, audio collection.

The Vindicator, December 30, 1910.

The Vindicator, April 7, 1911

The Oshawa Times-Gazette, January 31, 1948.

The Oshawa Times-Gazette, February 22, 1949.

The Oshawa Times, May 24, 1961.

The Oshawa Times, September 19, 1967.

A Good Citizen-City of Oshawa Retirement Testimonial Brochure, 1944.

The Month That Was – September 1868

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

2 Sept 1868, Page 2

Runaway – On Wednesday last, a horse belonging to Mr. King, hitched to a light waggon, ran away. Mr. King was engaged in moving some rubbish preparatory to putting up an addition to his store occupied by Messrs. R. and A. Smith, when the horse walked off and became frightened by the load. Turning down Simcoe street, it tipped load and waggon against the horse and carriage of Mr. Morgan, hitched to a post. The latter was seized and quieted before it could make off, and further damage was saved. The damage to Mr. King’s waggon was slight.

Another Horse Shot – As one of the volunteers was practicing quick loading with a Snider riddle, in the rear of the premises of Messrs. Gibbs, Lobb & Co., the cartridge was exploded. The ball passed through the wood shed of Mr. JO Henry, into the stable of TN Gibbs, MP. It then entered the right shoulder of one of his carriage horses, a valuable blood made. Mr. Smith, of the Toronto Veterinary College, was telegraphed for and came down, but he could not find the ball. The mare is doing as well as can be expected, and may possibly recover.

Patents – The list of patents granted for the year past has been published. It is of unusual length, numbering 379. The following are those to persons in this county. They are all for fourteen years

No 2659, Joseph Dick, the younger, of Oshawa, Machinist, ‘A certain new and useful improvement in the rake, in ordinary use, in connections with the Reaping Machine, for removing the Grain, as cut from the table thereof, to be called ‘Joseph Dick’s Junior, Improved Harvester Rake.’ – (Dated 26th June, 1868.)

Newspaper ad for Hawthorn's Boot and Shoe Manufactory, and there is a picture of a boot on the ad
Oshawa Vindicator, 2 Sept 1868, page 3

Advertisements
Photographs
Mr. JO Henry’s Photograph Gallery Will be opened on Saturday next, with every facility for a first class business. Oshawa, Aug. 26th, 1868.

Page 4
Union Burying Ground
Near the residence of Rev. Dr. Thornton, Main Road
As these grounds are very desireable for location and beauty, parties wishing to purchase lots are respectfully informed that they may have an opportunity by applying to the undersigned or to the care taker, James Carruthers, on the premises.
Alex Burnet
Chairman of the Committee
Oshawa, March 2nd, 1868

September 9, 1868, Page 2
Assault – On Saturday night about twelve o’clock, a stranger coming from Whitby was struck on the back with a large stone thrown by some person secreted near the bridge, over the creek. He was [seriously] injured and was found by constable Gurley lying upon the sidewalk. He recovered soon after and was enabled to walk off. The miscreant who threw the missle is yet unknown, although one or two are suspected, and a sharp eye is kept upon them, Had the man been struck on the head, his life would have been endangered.

Newspaper ad for St Joseph's Select School, Oshawa
Oshawa Vindicator, 9 Sept 1868, page 2

Mammoth Plums – The Vindicator establishment was favored with a basket of mammoth plums, from JO Guy, Esq., Reeve of East Whitby. – Twelve of them weighed nineteen ounces. They are the Duane Purple. We hope Mr. Guy’s trees may never be troubled with worm or robber.

16 Sept 1868, Page 2
Changed the Date – The Fall show of the Whitby and East Whitby Union Agricultural Society, will be held on Thursday the 15th of October, and not the 22nd as announced last week. This change has been made as it has been found that it will not interfere with the fair at Bowmanville, as nothing will be done there other than receiving a few entries, on that day.

Newspaper ad for RC Steele & Co., Grocers
Oshawa Vindicator, 16 Sept 1868, page 3

23 Sept 1868, Page 2
Whalen – Whalen has behaved himself in a less violent manner since the trial than before. It is reported that the reason for the long delay between the sentence and the date of execution, was to give the Local Government an opportunity to introduce and carry a bill to have all prisoners condemned to death executed in private. American papers, as well as Canadian, agree that the verdict of the jury is a righteous one. The American Fenians have indulged in a little threatening, but upon the whole are comparatively mild. The Doctors have examined Buckley, and report that his insanity is feigned. Eagleson and Enright have not yet been admitted to bail.

Note – this article is discussing the verdict of the Thomas D’Arcy McGee murder trial.  McGee was shot and killed in Ottawa in April 1868. He denounced the Fenian Movement, a group dedicated to Irish independence, and was found assassinated outside of his Ottawa home. Patrick James Whelan, a tailor, was arrested. He was found guilty and sentenced to death on September 15, 1868; the public execution took place on 11 Feb 1869. At the time of the initial arrest, 40 others were also arrested, including Buckley, Sir John Alexander Macdonald’s cabman, and Peter Eagleson, a tailor in Ottawa, likely who is being referenced in the article.

House and Lot For Sale
The House and Lot now occupied by Mr. Robinson, South Oshawa. For terms, apply to Mr. John Bone, South Oshawa. E Bone, Oshawa, Sept 16, 1868

Newspaper ad for JO Henry's Boot and Shoe Store
Oshawa Vindicator, 16 Sept 1868, page 1

30 Sept 1868, Page 1
Dr. Clarke begs to announce to his friends that he has resumed the practice of his profession, and may be found, as heretofore, at his own Cottage, corner of Athol and Centre Streets, Oshawa. Nov 25th, 1867.

Profiling: George Kenneth Lancaster

By Sara H., Summer Student

As my summer at the museum is wrapping up, it has been the perfect time to reflect on my time at the museum and how much I have learned about museums and Oshawa’s history.  My last blog post talked about past industries in Oshawa that were featured on the  Discover Historic Oshawa website.  When looking through the website to find places to talk about, I came across the entry for the Lancaster Hotel.       

Last summer, I was the Heritage Engagement Intern at the McLaughlin Library.  When I was learning about the Oshawa City Directories, Nicole, the awesome Local History Librarian, gave me the name “Lancaster” to look up. The directories collection covers many years, but it was not until 1936 that I came across “Lancaster.”  Charles Lancaster was listed as the president of the Commercial Hotel, located at 27-29 King St. W.; his wife, Ellen was also listed, as well as Kenneth and Reginald G. who lived at the same address.  In 1941, Kathleen N. was listed as a stenographer at General Motors and as living at the same address.  Kenneth’s name disappeared between 1937-1943, but I didn’t think much of it as I assumed he moved away.  In 1944 however, his name was listed with a new title, RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force).  In 1945, Kenneth’s name was gone but a new name was added, another Charles.  In 1946, Kenneth was still missing, but Charles had married M. Joyce, and Reginald had married Gertrude.  I kept looking through the rest of the directories and noticed other changes with the family, but Kenneth never reappeared.        

1944 Directory (Lancaster entries from 1944 Vernon’s City of Oshawa Directory, Internet Archive) and 1946 Directory (Lancaster entries from 1946 Vernon’s City of Oshawa Directory)

George Kenneth Lancaster was born on May 29, 1918 in Birmingham, England.  His parents were Charles and Ellen Lancaster, and he had two brothers, Reginald Graham and Charles George, and one sister, Kathleen.  The family owned and operated the Commercial Hotel from 1936-1975, and changed the name to Lancaster Hotel in 1957.  Kenneth Lancaster attended Oshawa Collegiate & Vocational Institute from 1932-1937 for Junior Matriculation (high school diploma), and from 1937-1938 for a 1-year special commercial certificate. Kenneth was a professional magician and a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. His hobbies included skiing, swimming and photography.  He worked as a commercial traveller (travelling salesman) for Carlton Cards in Toronto from 1938 until October 1941 when he was called up to the R.C.A.F.

Black and white photograph of a Caucasian man standing in front of a backdrop for measuring height
G.K. Lancaster photo (Photo of George Kenneth Lancaster, submitted by Operation Picture Me on Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

I figured that Kenneth was probably in his early 20s and enlisted to fight in the Second World War.  I assumed he studied and maybe worked at the Lancaster Hotel for a bit before going off on his own and working at Carlton Cards.  His temporary absence from 1937-1943 worried me, but it made sense that he moved or started his training during that time.  Seeing his name again in 1943-1944 was a relief, but I did have a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that something else caused his disappearance. Once I searched his name, “George Kenneth Lancaster,” the first search result I was met with was a page from Canadian Virtual War Memorial.  Flying Officer George Kenneth Lancaster, son of Charles and Ellen Lancaster, was killed in action on June 13, 1944 at the age of 26.  Kenneth is buried at the Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard in France with the rest of the crew.  Their names are Flying Officer John Frederick Wyllie, Flying Officer John Samuel Ritchie, Flying Officer George Kenneth Lancaster, Pilot Officer Douglas Idris Davies, Pilot Officer James Edward Byers, Pilot Officer Mungo William Couper, and Sergeant William Duncan

I found a copy of Kenneth’s World War II Record and Service File on Ancestry, and through these I was able to create a more complete picture of his life.  I saw the forms he had filled out, complete with his signature, and one where he listed his hobbies useful to the R.C.A.F. as “professional magician and photography.”  I saw the forms where he listed his father as who to contact in case of causality and his mother as the sole beneficiary of his will.  I saw the forms that confirmed who his siblings were, who his parents were, where he attended school and where he lived.  And finally, I saw the report created concerning his death and the letters sent to his parents notifying them of the renumbering of Kenneth’s grave and awarding their son the Operational Wings and Certificate in recognition of the gallant services rendered by Kenneth. 

I found out that we both attended the same high school, albeit 81 years apart, and lived in Oshawa.  Kenneth was 26 when he died, and many of his crew members were around the same age, which is close to the age of my friends and I.  Even though I did the majority of my research last summer, reviewing it and finding out more information about Kenneth, the crew and his family made me think more about what life was like during the Second World War and how families, like mine and Kenneth’s, would have had to deal with it and the constant stream of loss.  Even though I have no connection to the Lancaster family, I still felt a great deal of sadness upon learning about Kenneth’s death and I cannot imagine what his family must have felt when they learned.  This experience made me realize that you can make connections with individuals even with the barrier of history in between; and even though the hotel is no longer standing, the lives and stories of the people who lived and worked there are still available to us.    

Commemorative page featuring a photograph of a Caucasian man in an army uniform, and writing underneath
Lancaster Book of Remembrance Page (George Kenneth Lancaster’s page in Oshawa’s Book of Remembrance, Oshawa Public Libraries Heritage Collection)

Resources consulted:

Ancestry.com. Canada, World War II Records and Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Service Files of the Second World War―War Dead, 1939–1947. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada. George Lancaster file, pages 153-210. Accessed from: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9145/images/44485_83024005549_0573-00153?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=17b1eb71bc87746257e717e899cac81f&usePUB=true&_phsrc=kIK8&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&_gl=1*16ykklw*_ga*MjAwMjk3NTQ2Ny4xNjU5NDQyOTM1*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY1OTQ0MjkzNS4xLjEuMTY1OTQ0MzMwNC4w&_ga=2.22429499.1230264848.1659442937-2002975467.1659442935&pId=202

Canadian Virtual War Memorial – https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2847022

Commonwealth War Graves – https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/2847022/george-kenneth-lancaster/

Discover Historic Oshawa: Lancaster Hotel – http://discoverhistoricoshawa.com/listings/lancaster-hotel/

Find a Grave –
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56199788/george-kenneth-lancaster
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233697106/charles-lancaster
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/231977253/reginald-g-lancaster

Graves Registration Report, Commonwealth War Graves – https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/2847022/george-kenneth-lancaster/#&gid=1&pid=1

Oshawa’s Book of Remembrance, Oshawa Public Libraries Heritage Collection – https://images.ourontario.ca/oshawa/details.asp?ID=3688171&n=1 

Oshawa City Directories –
https://archive.org/details/vernonscityofoshawadirectory1944/page/n145/mode/2up
https://archive.org/details/vernonscityofoshawadirectory1946/page/n171/mode/2up

%d bloggers like this: