Pandemic Reflections

By Melissa Cole, Curator

I recently joined my fellow Gen Xers and received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.  When my age category was announced, I was eager to get my name on a list and get my vaccine appointment booked.  I admit to feeling a bit of anxiety, mainly due to the media.  There is a lot of controversy about the vaccine and that 1 out of 100,000 people may experience a blood clot.  Yes, I could be that one person, and many friends also expressed the same concerns.  Fortunately, I received my vaccine early and was able to share my experience with them after receiving my first dose.  Hopefully this helped them with their decision.  I did feel a bit sluggish the next day and had a slight headache for a few days. 

My decision came down to doing my part, outweighing the risks and protecting my family, especially my 13-year-old daughter who is not currently eligible for the vaccine.  I also spoke with my family doctor as that is who I booked my vaccine appointment with at the Oshawa Clinic.

This makes my wonder about the experiences of individuals that lived through past pandemics in our community such as the 1918 Flu and smallpox.  What decisions did they have to make to contribute to limiting the spread of a virus in their community? 

Vaccines were not available for the 1918 flu pandemic. Control efforts worldwide were limited to isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings.  Vaccines were available for small pox, and when a mild strain of smallpox hit Oshawa in early November 1919, the Board of Health ordered all should be vaccinated. Provincial Chief Officer of Health John McCullough ordered all civil servants to receive shots.1  

Canadian Statesman, November 13, 1919

This information is what we know from researching local newspapers and provincial/county health records.  But these records do not always tell you what the average person was experiencing during the 1918 flu and smallpox pandemic.  How did people feel about the vaccination for small pox in 1919?  

COVID-19 has reinforced my perspective on impactful historical events and how they are told in the historical record.  Living through this pandemic reinforces that the history of the individuals involved in a large event are just as important as the history of the event itself.  Although we are all living through this pandemic together, how we are dealing with it and the challenges that we face changes from person to person.  These are the stories that allow for connections that contribute to a better understanding of our history. 

If you are interested in sharing your COVID-19 experience with us and ensuring history reflects those individuals living through this pandemic in Oshawa, you can learn more about our project here:

https://covid19oshawa.com/


The Globe, November 8, 1919. Editorial.

The Month That Was – May 1864

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

May 4, 1864, Page 2
New Church Bell
The new Bell for St. George’s Church, of this Village, has arrived, and is now being placed in position, ready to speak when called upon. It is from the Foundry of Meneely & Sons, of Troy, NY, one of the best establishments of the kind in America; and it presents the appearance of being in reality, a very fine piece of workmanship. On Sabbath next we will all enjoy an opportunity of judging of its tone and power. It is said to be the largest bell between Cobourg and Toronto, and with favourable weather, will be heard at distances from ten to fifteen miles. Its weight is 816lbs, and its cost, when put up, will be about $350 currency.

Excursion to the Falls
There is some talk of an immense Sons of Temperance Excursion to the Falls being got up for some day next month, by Oshawa Div. of the Sons. The subject is to be taken up by the Division for consideration and final decision, on Monday evening next. The Grand Division of CW assembles at the Falls (Town of Drummondville) on Wednesday the 22nd, and it is probable that that day will be chosen for the excursion, should it take place.

Page 3
Married
At the residence of the bride’s father, Port Oshawa, on the evening of the 14th ultimo. by Elder H Hayward, Mr. Edward Dearborn and Miss Elizabeth A Henry, daughter of Elder Thomas Henry, all of East Whitby.

Anonymous Letters
The party who sent an anonymous letter from Oshawa to a young man in Whitby, is hereby respectfully informed by latter, that no more need be sent, as the subject of that communication is of no importance to him.
Whitby, April 30, 1864

May 4 1864, 3.

May 11, 1864, page 1
Pay Up.
Fair Warning
I hereby give notice to all parties indebted to me, either by note, book account or otherwise, that if their respective amounts are not paid forthwith, I shall take legal steps to recover the same, without further notice. I have waited long enough for the many small amounts due me since retiring from business, and am determined to make a speedy collection of the same at all hazards. I’ll sue every man that does not pay up at once! That’s so!!
DF Burk, Oshawa, Sept., 23rd, 1863

Page 2
A visit to Cedar Dale
On Thursday last we took a walk down to Cedar Dale, a thriving little village just outside the Corporation of Oshawa, on the south side of the grand trunk railway, and but a few rods from the station. Cedar Dale owes its existence to the fact that a splendid location for a millpond and waterpower has, for ages past, for ought we know to the contrary, existed in that vicinity on the property owned by Mr. Thomas Conant, which waterpower two enterprising Yankees named AS Whiting and EC Tuttle purchased in turned to account in driving the machinery of their Scythe, Hoe, and Fork Manufacturing.

The Oshawa Scythe, Hoe, and Fork Manufacturing with established by the two gentlemen above named some five or six years ago, soon after the failure of the Oshawa Manufacturing Company, in the north branch of that companies building. The entire premises owned by that company were soon afterwards sold at option and purchased by Joseph Hall, of Rochester. Messrs. Whiting and Tuttle carried on their business as usual in the old premises, until Mr. Hall’s run of that work became so large as to require the whole shop; when it was mutually agreed that the Oshawa Scythe, Hoe, and Fork establishment should move. Its proprietors, with an eye to the saving of the cost of steam power, examined Mr. Conant’s mill site, and firm in the conviction that it was the spot for them, being close to the railway station, to Oshawa, and to the harbour at Port Oshawa, they soon came to terms period two years ago last January, the axe was the first set at work towards clearing the forest on the site of the now thriving little manufacturing village of Cedar Dale. Not only was the immediate site of the factory an village cleared, but the whole of the flats on both sides of the Creek, which the water was to overflow, were also cleared of trees and rubbish—a thing not often done—and the consequence is that a fine, clear, wholesome sheet of water now fills the basin, instead of its being a dirty pool, build with dead, broken an unsightly trees, an rotten logs, once at once an eyesore and a breeder of disease for the neighborhood. Looking to the possibilities of the future, the dam was constructed in a very strong manner, and a very wide floodway built, so that it is believed that the breaking away of half a dozen mill dams above cannot affect this one.

The factory is built some 10 or 15 yards south of the east end of the dam, the water being conveyed to it by a raceway, along the brow of the hill, on the east side of the flats. All the manufacturing operations are carried on in the one building, which is 266 by 40 feet in extent and one and a half storeys in height. The water wheel, which is placed near the centre of the building, is a small but powerful affair. It is a turbine wheel of about four feet in diameter, but exerts a driving power equal to that of 70 horses…

…So long as Messrs. Whiting and Tuttle make scythes, hoes, and forks in Canada (which we may safely say will be so long as they live at least) they will make them cheaper and better than anybody else can, simply because they know how to do it, and are determined to do it, no matter what it temporarily costs.

May 11, 1864, 3.

May 18, 1864 page 2
Early Records of the Township of Whitby
We give, below, as promised, a list of the names of all the heads of families of the old Township of Whitby in the year 1822, as found recorded on six of the pages of the old record book from which we have been making quotations for the benefit, chiefly, of “our oldest inhabitants.” Following each name, in the record from which we copy, our figures showing the number of males and females in each family, the number over and the number under 16, and the number of servants, or hired men. For the sake of brevity, however, we omit all except the totals. The old Township of Whitby, to which this list relates, is now divided up into four municipalities, viz:—the two townships of Whitby and East Whitby, the town of Whitby, and the village of Oshawa.

Census of the Township of Whitby for the year 1822

Heads of FamiliesTotal of FamilyHeads of FamilyTotal of Family
Matthew Terwilligar6Wm. Maxim4
Samuel Dearborn8Alva Way2
Josiah Cleaveland4Michael Wood[6]
Reuben Warren11[Henry] Crawford3
Charles Annis5John Way3
Samuel Dorman2Lawrence D. Way3
Thomas Henry4James [Han      ]6
William Hall7David Jones5
William Pickel7Cornelius Jones7
Abraham Terwilligar5Israel Gibbs[8]
Charles Terwilligar5John McGregor, senr.3
William Farewell11Matthias Mackey7
Ackeus Farewell10Daniel DeHart, jnr5
George McGill6Samuel Jameyson9
Abraham Coryell10Daniel DeHart3
Benjamin Stone11Jabez Lynde12
George Hinkson8George Paxton4
Thomas Herriman8Hawkins Lynde4
William Karr7Joseph Edmunds5
John Karr9Alexander Armstrong1
John McGregor2John Warren4
Benjamin Rogers5John Demaray8
James Hall7Richard Martin8
Benjamin [Labrae]5William Huntington6
John Elliot3Richard Gardiner10
Joseph [Beuway]3Henry P. Smith6
Peter Lapoint8Thomas Moore7
Lewis Drolette2Edmund Oragan4
Wm. F. Moore5John Furguson1
John Hews3Isaac Beachman2
Richard Amsbary8John Blake5
Rufus Hall11George Moore4
David Demaray10Samuel Moore3
Enoch Davis7Thomas Liddle3
George Dean5Sylvester Lynde1
Josiah Farewell9Wm. Paxton4
Michael Wilcocks3Lawrence Smith5
Joseph Wileigh6Samuel Cochrane6
Joseph Witterfield7Joseph [I Losce][13]
Norris Karr2Stephen Smith7
Godfrey Avickhouser5Nicholas Demaray11
Wm H Wade5John Still[8]
John Starr2Caleb Elsworth11
Aaron Martin, 2nd1Gershum Herrick1
Samuel Demaray2David Young[8]
Widow Anna Martin5Moses Hemmingway9
[Russel Hoag]5Thomas Provost6
John King5Henry McGahan9
James Starr4W. Nancy Smith4
Edward Starr4Parnell Webb3
John Kent4[Ju     ] A Seeley9
Jabez Hall8Hass[  ]rd Watson2
Caleb Crawford9John Quick7
William Marsh8George Townsend5
Richard Demaray10Jacob Dehart5
Joseph Shand2Thomas Dehart[8]
John Williams7Barnabas Malby3
Jonathan Steward7James Young9
Randal Marsh9Thomas McGahan4
Joseph [LaHaire]2Abraham Brown5
Benjamin Varnum8Silas Watson5
Aaron Martin Senr.,13John Allen4
Alex C. Harlow3Ichabod Hodge6
David Stafford2Widow C Young10

Total Inhabitants,742

Accident – We learn that while Mr. Mackie, of Harmony, was on his way to (or from) church in this village, on Sabbath last, one of the horses which he was driving incautiously stepped up on a stick, one end of which flew up and  stuck into the horse’s body, making such a fearful wound that the animal speedily bled to death on the spot. Mt. Mackie appears to be rather unfortunate with his horses, having lost a valuable animal in a similar way only two years since.

May 25, 1864, page 2
Godey’s Lady’s Book – The June number of this best Ladies’ Magazine in the world is to hand.  This issue completes it’s thirty-fourth year, and they have been thirty-four years of regular success in the business of providing a first-class ladies’ monthly. A large amount of space in this number is devoted to patterns for children’s dresses. The Lady’s Book can be had at Allan’s and at Willox’s. Always inquire for Godey’s Book and buy it, and then you will have the best.

Page 3
House in Oshawa For Sale
For sale, on Water Street, Oshawa, that story and a half Frame House next south of the residence of GH Grierson, Esq., together with the Lot of land (half of an acre) on which it is situated. – There is a fine orchard of apple, plum, and pear trees, &c., and a large number of smaller fruit bushes, all in bearing. Will be sold at a great bargain for cash. Apply, if by letter, post paid, to
C. Warren, Oshawa, May 16th, 1864

May 25, 1864, 3.

Profiling: George McLaughlin

George William McLaughlin was born in Tyrone, Ontario on February 17, 1869. He was the third of five children born to parents Robert and Mary McLaughlin, along with his siblings John James (b. 1865), Mary (b. 1867), Robert Samuel (b. 1871), and Elizabeth Ann (b. 1874).

At an early age George showed an interest in the carriage business owned by his father.  He began his apprenticeship with the company by age 16, working first in the trimming shop. In the early days there were no conspicuous advantages to being the boss’s son.  George worked 70 hour a week, earning $3.00 per week ($2.50 of which was deducted for room and board).  His personality was well suited to salesmanship, and by 1892 he had become a junior partner in the McLaughlin Carriage Company.

A year later, in 1893, George married Annie Hodgson.  Annie had grown up in Tyrone, across the road from the McLaughlin homestead.  She and George would have four children – Ewart, Ray, Dorothy and Kathleen.

George McLaughlin, Annie (nee Hodson) with children, Dorothy, Ray, and Ewart. Oshawa Public Libraries, Local History Collection

In 1907 the McLaughlin Motor Car Company was formed.  With George as Treasurer, the McLaughlins began producing Buick car bodies for the Buick Motor Company of Flint, Michigan.  By 1915 they were producing Chevrolets.  The carriage company had been sold to Chevrolet Motor Company, and the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited was incorporated, with George as President.   In 1918 General Motors purchased the two businesses.  Younger brother Sam became President of the newly incorporated General Motors of Canada, while George fulfilled the role of Vice-President until his retirement at the age of 55 in 1924.

George is seated, first row, third from left

George McLaughlin was not idle in his retirement.  He remained on the boards of various companies, and his interest in them continued.  He travelled to Europe, the Mediterranean, and South Africa.  He also turned his attention to farming, which had been a life-long interest for George.  He purchased the McLaughlin family farms around Tyrone and land to the north of Oshawa and established progressive farming operations, importing pure-bred cattle which benefited the farming industry of Ontario and ultimately the whole of Canada.  George was known for his Clydesdale horses, Holstein cattle and prize-winning apples, and earned the distinguished title of “Master Farmer” for his contributions to farming.

During his lifetime, George McLaughlin made generous contributions to the community. He was modest about his philanthropic activities, such as the large amounts of time and money he devoted to community services and civic improvements.

George was the first president of various newly formed groups in Oshawa, including the Oshawa Welfare Board, the Boy Scout movement in Oshawa, and the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.  He involved himself with the Children’s Aid Society, serving as President for a while, and devoted some of his best years to municipal office.

George and Annie made numerous donations towards school and church improvements, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross.  For many years, George served on both the Board of Education and as Superintendent of the Sunday School at St. Andrew’s United Church.

In 1920 George and his brother Sam, in the name of General Motors of Canada, bought the land that would become Lakeview Park and sold it to the Town of Oshawa for one dollar.  In 1924 George tried to start a zoo in the park by introducing buffalo from Wainwright, Alberta.  Unfortunately the idea did not succeed, and the buffalo were relocated to the Riverdale Zoo in Toronto. 

Sam and George also donated the McLaughlin maternity wing to the Oshawa General Hospital, and contributed generously to the hospital endowment fund over the years.

On July 1, 1922 George McLaughlin presented the Union Cemetery to the Town of Oshawa.  He had purchased all outstanding stock of the holding company that operated the cemetery and turned it over to the town, making the cemetery a municipal affair from that point onward.  He also generously donated $500 towards the creation and upkeep of a soldiers plot in the cemetery.  A monument donated by George was erected in the cemetery in honour of the “boys from Ontario County, who served, fought and died for Canada in the Great War.”

DS Hoig noted that before the cemetery was transferred to the city, it had fallen into almost a state of neglect. Hoig wrote:

From this depth it was finally rescued by an outstanding citizen, well known for his interest in the affairs of this town. By buying stock in the Cemetery Corporation, found himself after a time in possession of a majority of the stock. From that moment no further dividends were paid, all monies that accrued from the sale of lots were applied year after year to the improvements and beautifying of the grounds… The whole business was carried through with so little fuss or publicity that the identity of this gentleman is known only to a few that were connected with this transaction.

George McLaughlin died of bowel cancer at the age of 73 on October 10, 1942.  Upon his death the family homestead near Tyrone was passed on to his son Ewart. He is laid to rest inside the Mausoleum at Union Cemetery.

His contributions to the automotive industry, to farming, and to the community are the legacies for which George McLaughlin should be remembered.


References:

A Pictorial Biography of George W. McLaughlin (CD produced by and with the permission of Mary P. Hare) – MBE.

Henderson, Dorothy.  Robert McLaughlin:  Carriage Builder. Griffin Press Ltd., 1972.

McLaughlin Genealogy file, Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

Petrie, Roy.  Sam McLaughlin. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd., 1981.

Robertson, Heather.  Driving Force.  McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1995.

The Importance of Change in Historical Interpretation

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

For the past decade or so, I have been speaking about the importance of changing the traditional historical narrative and how, by doing so, we begin to see a more accurate and inclusive look at our past. This idea has informed my research and changed the way we interpret the history of Oshawa.

According to Dictionary.com, “history is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs”. 

This is a simple, to the point definition that doesn’t truly delve into the complexities of studying and sharing history.  At its heart, history is the study of people and their interactions with the world around them. It is told to us through the lens of the storyteller, and it is through changes to that lens that results in history changing and evolving over time.

The study of history is filled with fact and interpretation.  A great deal of history is about interpreting the facts to understand the human motivation and how that has impacted our lives today.

But historical interpretation is more than opinion. It must be informed by a knowledge of the facts, procured from sources such as government documents, personal letters, diaries, and oral histories, to name a few, and an understanding of how they fit together to create a coherent story of the past.

It is also about understanding that some points of view, some experiences, have been ignored in past historical interpretations. The reasons for this are varied but are based in the fact that the narrative has been typically written to represent the experience of those in power. History has traditionally been interpreted through a very narrow lens.

The first time I began to understand the importance of change and evolution in historical interpretation was when I was in my third year public history course, which, given that I have been at the museum for almost 22 years, was a while ago.  It was in this course that we delved into the need for widening the lens of historical interpretation to allow for a more accurate look at the impact of historical events on people.

The example that stood out for me was in regards to the exhibiting of the Enola Gay in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. The Enola Gay is the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and was to be a part of the display commemorating the 50th anniversary of that mission. The proposed exhibit was to have focused on the bombing as the start of the story and would have examined the impact of that decision on the U.S., on Japan, and on the world as a whole.  This would have been a shift in the historical narrative, a widening of the lens through which this event had been examined and it was met by outrage. It was argued that the bombing was the end of the story.  It was the push that ended World War II; it was a technological achievement and needed to be exhibited as such. Eventually the fuselage of the plane was exhibited with no interpretation, simply a sign informing the visitor the name of the plane and that it was part of the Hiroshima mission.

Both of those interpretations were accurate but only one fit the traditional narrative.  

The struggle with shifting historical interpretations and the need to allow for change intrigued me, so much so that it became the basis of my Masters thesis as I examined the similar issues faced by the Canadian War Museum as they were developing the exhibits for their new building.

It continues to intrigue me as I work to research and interpret Oshawa’s history. Oshawa has a really rich and diverse history beyond what has been traditionally written. Re-examining our history and allowing for a wider focus has meant we are telling different stories, we are looking at our historical figures in different ways and we are seeing more of our community in the history being shared.

The 1940s One Egg Cake

Since early 2020, grocery store shelves haven’t been as well stocked. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, people were in short supply of toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels and antibacterial cleaning supplies. But this isn’t the first time the world has experienced shortages like this. In the 1970s, due to tensions in the Middle East and rising oil prices, there was a gas shortage throughout North America and other countries around the world. The era of rationing that people most remember though, is that during and after World War II.

In 1942, The Government of Canada rationed everyday grocery items and gasoline for civilians. This system of rationing managed with small coupon books distributed to families. By 1943, the Canadian Bankers Association had a system in place whereby shopkeepers deposited ration coupons into the banks that then issued cheques to the shopkeepers.

During the War, the government issued over 11 million ration books throughout the country. Families needed to keep these ration books very safe because if they were lost, it meant going without until they could replace it.

Even though the War had ended, rationing still continued while the world got back on its feet.

For Family Day 2021, the OM took to social media and encouraged our followers to spend some family time together in the kitchen. We shared a cake recipe which is heavily influenced by wartime rationing. The ingredients needed are all things that women would typically have had in their home, regardless of rationing. There are other recipes that are made with much less in terms of what is needed, a true mark of the creativity and ingenuity of the people during the time of rationing.

The recipe served as an advertisement for Swans Down cake flour and Calumet baking powder, but use whatever you have in your kitchen.


And here is the recipe, typed out:

One Egg Cake

This recipe appeared in the Toronto Daily Star, 19 Oct 1944, page 18, as an advertisement for Swans Down Cake Flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour (1:1 substitute with all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Calumet baking Powder
  • 1/3 cup butter or other shortening (2.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  • Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times.
  • Cream butter, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat very thoroughly.
  • Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.
  • Add vanilla. Bake in two greased 8-inch layer pans, in moderate oven (375°) for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Cover with Sugarless Chocolate Frosting—you’ll find the recipe on the Baker’s Choice package—or with your own favourite Chocolate Frosting.