Changing the Narrative – The Early Jewish Community in Oshawa

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

The Oshawa Museum is working on an exciting new project to celebrate Oshawa’s 100th Anniversary of becoming a city in 2024, a book on the history of Oshawa with a focus on research and stories that expand the traditional narrative.  The book will highlight aspects of our community that previous local history books did not.  It will be a book of unwritten stories, and it will help to tell a more accurate and inclusive history of our community. To that end, one of the focuses in the new book will be the arrival of the early Jewish community.  We are working with the Ontario Jewish Archives to research the Jewish families who arrived in Canada, when they arrived, where they settled, and the wonderful impact they made on those communities.  We have a summer student sifting through census records, newspaper articles, and other primary source documents, piecing together the story from a data perspective. The focus will also be on the cultural traditions celebrated by members of the Jewish community, and for this focus we are reaching out to the members of the local Jewish community for their help.

Oshawa Hebrew Congregation, 2021

For many years, the Oshawa Museum has highlighted and celebrated the Christmas traditions in our community, but this year we are looking to do something different. As a part of our research, we are working on a video project that will examine the family traditions of Hanukkah within the local community.

The aim is that the video will become a partnership between the Museum and members of the local Jewish community. The video’s vision is that it will highlight the history of the Jewish community in Oshawa and then turn to focusing on the holiday traditions that help make Hanukkah such a special time.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in partnering with us and share your special family Hanukkah traditions, please reach out to us through email at archivist@oshawamuseum.org.

The Month That Was – August 1862

All articles originally appeared in The Oshawa Vindicator

August 6, 1862, Page 01
Petroleum
Experiment to Determine its Comparative Illuminating Power with Gas and Candles
(From the Scientific American)

It is not the difference in price per gallon between two burning fluids, or other agents employed in artificial illumination, that determines their respective cost for use. One burning fluid, such as a mixture of alcohol and turpentine, that costs only sixty cents per gallon, may be more expensive than sperm oil costing one dollar and a quarter; because the latter possesses three times the illuminating power of the former. It is well known that refined petroleum has lately driven all other burning fluids out of use, and one reason for this is its very low price. But, as we have already stated, this cannot determine its economy- its comparative illuminating power must also be known, to form a just estimate of its cost. Heretofore this has been unknown, but now we have a most valuable contribution to science in the record of a series of experiments conducted by Professor James. C. Booth, and Mr. Thomas H. Garret, of Philadelphia, and published in a later number of the Journal of the Franklin Institute.

Page 02
The War
 Memphis, July 28

Gen. Grant has ordered Gen. Sherman to take possession of all unoccupied dwellings, stores and manufactories for the Government, and also where the owners are absent rebels, to collect their rents for the Government. The Military Commissions has commenced taking a list.

The guerillas captured prominent citizens of Haywood county on Saturday, for selling cotton. One was shot dead while attempting to escape. The rest were taken to Mississippi.

Price has got 25 cannon across the Mississippi near Napoleon, and is endeavoring to cross his whole army. The rebels say Price is command Missouri, Hindman, Arkansas, and Magruder to be over both. The Union forces are ample to check them.

Washington, July 30

There is a report hero through contraband sources to the effect that large bodies of rebel troops are crossing the James River, South. The contrabands say they are evacuating Richmond.

Paris, Ky., July 30.

Yesterday a party of over 200 guerillas from Boone County under Col. Bullet, demanded the surrender of Mount Sterling, Ky. This being refused they attached the place but were repulsed by the Home Guards. During the retreat, the guerrillas were met by a party of the 8th Kentucky Volunteers under command of Major Braclit, who drove them back towards the town where they were again attacked by the Home Guards. The result was a complete stampede of the guerillas who lost all their horses, 8 killed and 48 taken prisoners. The number of wounded is not known.

Cairo, July 30.

The steamer “Platte Valley,” from Memphis, brings the news of the capture of the despatch boat “Sallie Wood,” by rebels 150 miles above Vicksburg. The rebels had a masked battery and succeeded in hitting her steampipe, disabling her. They took quite a number of prisoners and destroyed the boat. The “Queen of the West” was also fired into on her way up. Two or three were killed and several wounded.

Oshawa Grammar School
This institution proceeds with its fall session on Monday the 11th inst., and will, for the future, be carried on in the old English Church, near the western limits of the corporation. The Court House, where it had been located for the at six months, was found a very inconvenient place, owing to the proximity of the lock-up., and the interference with studies caused by taking prisoners through the school room. We are gratified to learn that our Grammar School gives promise of success in the hands of Professor Lunsden, to which success the move to the Church building will add materially.

The Temperance Society
The meeting on Friday evening last, for the appointment of Officers of the above mentioned Society, was not so largely attended as it ought to have been. The following chief officers were appointed:

President, A. Farewell, Esq.,
Secretary, P. Thornton,
Treasurer, C. R. Cook.

Very little other business was transacted, except to make arrangements for the next meeting, which, it was decided, should be held on the evening of Friday the 15th inst. It is expected that Rev. J. Smith, of Bowmanville, will be present and speak at next meeting. At the close of the lecture, some further arrangements for the enlargement and success of the Society will be made.

Page 03
Oshawa Shoe Factory

Oshawa, through the enterprise and liberality of her chief citizens, is becoming celebrated for manufacturers of various kinds. Among these is the shoe factory of Messrs. Thompson & French. This establishment was commenced in December last, with a few hands and two machines. The proprietors are both practical men; Mr. Thompson being thoroughly acquainted with the leather trade, having previously been engaged in the tanning business; and Mr. French is one of the first manufacturing hands in the Province. -They have all the machinery and conveniences necessary to a large business, which is steadily on the increase.

August 6, 1862, Page 014

August 13, 1862, Page 01
Drugs and Dysentery in the Army

One of our friends writing from the army, says: – “We have a number of sick in our division; their disease is principally diarrhea and intermittent fever, and the worst of it is, that all the drugs in God’s kingdom won’t cure them. I have had some experience in that line, having been hospital steward for the last six months; and I am fully convinced that if they would throw away their medicines and adopt the Water-Cure, the Grand Army of the Potomac would be better able to cope with traitors, because of the health of the men.”

There is truth in this. We have never seen a case of diarrhea that would not succumb to the syringe; and drugs produce intermittent fever instead of curing it.

The Tribe Prize Strawberries
From personal inquiries, and from letters and comments of the press, we judge that a little explanation is necessary. In the first place, we fully believe all that has been stated about the good qualities of these new seedling strawberries, not only from the repeated reports of competent and entirely disinterested gentlemen acting as judges, but from actual observations of the growth of the plants at many different times, and testing of the quality of the fruit by our own taste, year after year, when we had no idea of giving them to the subscribes of The Tribune.

Page 03
Enticing to Desert

The Captain and Mate of the City of Madison, a schooner plying between Toronto ad Oswege, and principally owned by Messrs. F. W. Cumberland and Lewis F. Grant, of the Northern Railway of Canada, have been committed to stand their trial at the ensuing Assizes, on a charge of enticing British soldiers to desert. It became known that several missing men of the 30th regiment, stationed at Toronto, had reached the United States by this schooner, and on four more being missed on Wednesday last, it was determined to search the vessel. The result was the finding of the four men secreted in the hold. The schooner was to have sailed in the evening. The Captain and Mate, who are Americans, and four other hands, were taken into custody, and examined at the Police Court.

August 13, 1862, Page 03

August 20, 1862 Page 01
Fruit as Medicine

The present year promises to be an excellent fruit year, and if so, we may congratulate the public on the prospect. Ripe fruit is the medicine of nature. Nothing could be more wholesome for men or child, and altho’ green fruit is, of course, almost as fatal as so much poison, the ripe is fully as thorough a health restorer and health preserver. Strawberries are certainly abundant in this direction, and have been for a long time. They are quite cheap, and being a favorite with all classes, constitute a popular luxury. But who can compute the amount of general health promoted by this relish for strawberries? Who can imagine how many pills that relish throws out of the market; or, in other words, to what extent that pills prepared by Mother Nature and sugar-coated, as it were, to render them more palatable, crowd out of use those prepared by the chemist and apothecary?

Page 02
Arrival of THE GLASGLOW
Cape Race, Aug. 15.

The steamship Glasglow, from Liverpool, on Wednesday the 6th, via Queenstown 7th inst., passed Cape Race at 3:30 p.m. to-day, en route to New York. She was boarded by the Press yacht, and her news obtained.

The steamship Norweigan from Quebec, arrived at Londonderry on the 5th.

The steamship Great Eastern, from New York, was off Queenstown on the 5th.

The City of New York, from New York, arrived at Queenstown on the 6th.

Page 03
The New Comet

Within the past few evenings an object of unusual interest has made its appearance in the northern portion of the heavens, and has been noted with interest by several of our citizens. It is the second comet of 1862, discovered first by Prof. Tuttle, of the Cambridge, U.S. observatory, on the night of the 18th of July last, but now first apparent to the naked eye. Its distance from the polar star is about eight degrees, being on a line with the two “pointers” of the “plough,” from the neared of which it is distant about twice as far as the pole. It is also on a line with the two principal stars in the body of the Little Bear. In brilliancy it resembles a star of the third magnitude, but when examined closely has a hazy appearance; while the tail may be with difficulty perceived streaming nearly in the direction of the pole.

Diseased Cattle
In the report issued by the Registrar-General of Scotland, he calls the attention of the public to the fact that ever since pleuropneumonia broke out among cattle of this country, a few years since, the returns of mortality show that carbuncle, a disease formerly very rare, had become comparatively common. Dr. Livingstone observed in Africa that if the flesh of animals which die from pleuropneumonia is eaten, it causes carbuncle in the persons who eat it, and that neither boiling nor roasting the flesh, nor cooking it in any way, gets rid of the poison. It is true that if such cattle are ever sold for food they are killed before they fall victims to the disease naturally, but still the poison is in them. The report suggests, as a subject for inquiry, whether the new form of disease which we term diphtheria may not be partially induced by the use of diseased flesh.

August 26, 1862, Page 01
The War
Washington, Aug. 20.

A special despatch to the Times says that Mr. Stanton stated today that the order for drafting to fill up the old regiments would be enforced without fail by the 1st of September. The old regiments which have not been recruited up to the full strength before that time, will be filled by draft.

Sedalia, Mo, Aug. 20.

Advices from the west are to the effect that the Confederate forces under Coffee, Quantrel, Cockwell, Tracy and others which were lately menacing Lexington, are in full retreat southward. – They are 4,00 strong and have 2 spiked cannon, captured from Major Foster, at Lone Jack on Friday last.

Nashville, Aug. 20.

Col. Hefferon, of the 15th Indiana Regiment, proceeded to Gallatin to-day without orders, with a force of 250, who had been posted at a bridge. He made a number of arrests of civilians. While Col. Hefferon’s party were gone on this expedition, the guerrillas burned the bridge. He made a number of arrests of civilians. While Col. Hefferon’s party were gone on this expedition, the guerrillas burned the bridge at Landorsville, and captured 14 men.

House Burned
The frame dwelling house of Mr. Robert Karr, on the Reach Road, about four miles north of Oshawa, was totally consumed by fire on the afternoon of Friday last. At the time of the accident no person was in or about the premises, Mr. Karr being at work in the harvest field on an adjoining lot, and Mrs. Karr having about half an hour previously gone up to her father’s – Mr. James Shand. The first alarm was given by a number of small children who were on their way home from school.

August 26, 1862, Page 04

Sons of Temperance Insignia

By Melissa Cole, Curator

The Temperance movement heavily criticized excessive alcohol use, promoted abstinence, and pressured the government to completely prohibit the use of alcohol. The trend of temperance caught on in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its effects were felt in many countries around the world.  Reverend Robert Dick of Toronto arranged to form an organized Temperance movement in Oshawa. After little debate, The Sons of Temperance attained their 35th Chapter with the addition of the Oshawa Division on November 6, 1849.

Oshawa’s Sons of Temperance Hall

The Oshawa Division held their meeting at the Commercial Hotel at the corner of Centre and King Streets and later moved their meetings to the Simcoe St. Methodist (United) Church.  The group discussed many issues on the topic of temperance.  The issue of most importance was that of creating sweeping reforms that would eliminate “local groggeries” and bar rooms.  The group had a very talented orator named Edward Carswell who would travel through the United States and Canada speaking on the topic of abstinence and the evils of drink. The Oshawa Division gave the movement a strong and passionate speaker as well as a gathering place for Ontario’s annual Sons of Temperance meeting.  Any decisions that were reached and toasts that were made were all celebrated with a glass of cold water in this alcohol free environment.

The Sons of Temperance created a constitution, the primary article of which was Article 2 which stated that “No brother shall make, sell or use as a beverage, any Spirituous or Malt Liquors, Wine or Cider.”  Should a brother violate Article 2 of the constitution that brother will be investigated and a “trial” will occur and presiding over this “trial” will be a panel of 5 brothers.  Should the charge be sustained, the brother may be expelled from the organization. 

The organization had a strict set of rules and expectations for anyone who wanted to become a member. Their constitution stated that the candidate must be at least 18 years of age, be nominated by someone within the brotherhood, and have good moral character.  He must also have a proper way of earning a living and therefore have visible means of support.  Although the constitution stated that the age of maturity into this fellowship was 18, a number of their members were younger than that.  The youngest member of No. 35, the Oshawa Division, was 14 years of age.

The brotherhood provided support for each other in their constitution in case of any misfortune.  The constitution provided benefits to the family in the amount of no less than 15 dollars if a brother should die; should the wife pass away then the benefit is no less than 10 dollars towards their funeral costs.  Should a brother become ill with a sickness or disability he was entitled to no less than one dollar a week, however, if it can be proven that the sickness/disability was due to improper conduct then the brother forfeits his benefit.

In our collection, we have a wooden object that can be described as Triangular in shape, open in the middle and in the centre of that is a wooden star. There are words written on the three sides of the triangle: in white on side one is ‘PURITY;’ on another side in blue is written ‘FIDELITY;’ and, the third side features the word ‘LOVE’ written in red. 

What do these three words represent?  The Sons of Temperance held passionate moral views about the evils of excessive drinking.  Their slogan was “Love, Purity, Fidelity.”  The group had a strong international voice on the issues of temperance and survived into the new century with a large following and legislation that aided them in their quest for purity.  This particular artefact is an example of moral views that were held by the Sons of Temperance in Oshawa. 


Watch Melissa’s video podcast about the Sons of Temperance Insignia

Profiling: John Terech

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

This is a departure from the usual ‘Profiling’ Series on our blog.  Our past profiles have been for people like James O. Guy, Dr. McKay, Frederick Fowke, and George McLaughlin – typically well known and certainly well-researched and well-written about individuals. With plans and preparations ongoing for our latest feature exhibit, Leaving Home, Finding Home in Oshawa, it made me reflect on my own Polish heritage and roots in our community, so this profile is of someone whose name will likely never be stumbled upon in history books, my great-grandfather, John (Jan) Terech.

John was born in 1885 in Mała Wieś, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland, one of five known children born to Vincenty (Wincenty) Terech and Ewa Karwacki (Karwacka). His brother Joseph (Jozef) (1891-1963) resided in Canada for a number of years before ultimately settling in the United States.  One sister, Antonia (1894-1945), married a man named John Novak.  She is laid to rest in St. Catharines, ON.  Sisters Julianna (born 1881), and Sofia (married name Porębska) apparently remained in Poland.

The exact year he arrived in Canada is unknown, but it was likely between 1906 and 1910, settling in Toronto where he met Stella (Stanislava) Urban; they were married on the 23rd of November, 1912 at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Toronto. This church is the oldest Polish parish in Toronto.  While living in Toronto, the family grew but suffered loss. Twins Mary and Josepha were born in 1913, but Josepha died a short two days after her birth; Cecylia was born in March 1915 but died that November; both sisters are buried in Toronto’s Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery. Daughters Anne, Jean, Charlotte (Lottie), and Frances were born in 1916, 1919, 1921, and 1923, respectively, with the family living at 418 Prospect Street, Oshawa, by 1921. By the time their last child, Edward, was born in 1926, John was so pleased that, as family stories go, he was handing out drinks to passers by of 116 Olive Avenue, where the family lived since 1924, because he was overjoyed by the birth of a son. Family stories also state that he was so pleased that he registered the name not as Edward, as my grandfather and his mother believed, but as Stanislaus; Grandpa had his name legally changed to Edward years later.

John, Stella, and family, c. 1921

Stories from my Grandpa and great-aunts were of many happy years living in the Olive Avenue rowhouses, a neighbourhood of Oshawa which, at that time, was heavily settled by eastern European immigrants. The rowhouses were hot in the summer, and some nights were spent by the children sleeping across the road in Cowan Park for relief from the heat. My great-grandparent’s home on Olive was, at that time, a double unit. The size of the home, although still modest, would have been well used by the six children, a few of whom would live in the family home after getting married with their new spouses. In 1947, John, Stella, and Eddie moved to 299 Verdun Road, a short 10-minute walk from the rowhouses.

John worked for Malleable and Fittings, two industries where many eastern European immigrants found employment. Work in these plants were hard and dirty, and John suffered many negative health effects from working in these industries. He reportedly worked until he retired in 1948, and my grandfather stopped his formal education at a young age, instead seeking work to help support the family. Grandpa spent most of his working life at Duplate (later known as PPG), which is where he met my grandmother, Mary, and my step-grandmother, Doreen.

John and Stella received their Certificates of Naturalization in 1929. A cousin shared with me that John (“dziadek – proper Polish but we called him jaja the Western version”) never learned English, although another cousin believed that he did understand the language but preferred conversing in Polish. Stella, “on the other hand self taught herself [English]; she would study the school books that [Lottie] and others brought home.”  John and Stella were active within the local Polish community. Both were involved in Branch 21 of the Polish Alliance of Canada and were supportive of the establishment of St. Hedwig’s parish.

Their Catholic faith was important to them. Before the establishment of St. Hedwig’s and Holy Cross, the family would venture from Olive Avenue to St. Gregory The Great at Simcoe and (today) Adelaide to attend services. Information from St. Hedwig’s notes that by 1928, the Polish community were starting discussions of establishing a Polish Catholic church, and in November 1928, a weekly mass at St. Gregory’s began being held for the Polish community.

John and Stella celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1962 with a banquet and dance in St. Hedwig’s parish hall. As reported in the Oshawa Times, there was a nuptial mass with vow renewal, greetings presented, toasts, dancing, feasting, and, of course, the singing of ‘Sto Lat, Sto Lat.’

The Oshawa Times, Thursday, November 29, 1962

John passed away in 1964 and Stella died in 1969. Both are laid to rest at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Whitby.

Oshawa was often where Displaced Persons settled after World War II – the availability of industries was a draw, but the establishment of communities, churches, and groups like the Polish Alliance increased the appeal of our City. It would be a big, daunting undertaking to leave home and move to a new country, but settling somewhere amongst others who spoke your languages, knew your traditions, and cooked the same food, certainly would have helped with this big life transition. The contributions of those who arrived at the turn of the century and in the following decades helped pave the way for the waves of immigrants who arrived in the late 1940s and onwards.

Oshawa’s Educational History

By Quinn J., Summer Student

In 1894, The Globe (which would go on to merge with The Mail and Empire into the Globe and Mail) did a profile on Oshawa. At the time, Oshawa was only a village of “4,000 souls,” but already it was noted for two things: its prominence as a manufacturing centre, a reputation Oshawa would hold on to up until the present day, and for its high quality educational institutions.

The Globe article not only mentions the high quality public schools but also the Bishop Bethune and Demill Ladies’ Colleges, both of which were renowned institutions outside of the province, and they attracted students from across the country. But today, this past as a centre for education is rarely remembered. I only learned about the two ladies colleges and the early Canadian public school system when I began working for the Oshawa Museum last month. My question is, why this is the case? If the Globe felt it was important enough to mention Oshawa’s status as an educational leader in its profile, why has it been so easy for us in the modern day to forget?

One possible explanation is that the signs of the educational institutions of the past haven’t been preserved as well, through no fault of the town or anyone in it. Bishop Bethune College was located in the house of former mayor T.N. Gibbs, but when the school closed in 1932 amid financial troubles, the land was sold to the city and a new school, the Central Collegiate Institute, was founded on the spot (it has since been home to Village Union School and currently Durham Alternative Secondary School). The Demill college was destroyed by a fire just two years after the publishing of the Globe article, and the college eventually moved to St. Catharines. This lack of standing physical evidence that could tie the city to its educational past could present an answer as to why that aspect is much better remembered, especially when contrasted with the large number of not only buildings that were built around Oshawa’s manufacturing, but the amount of people still alive who were there to witness the city’s manufacturing based economic boom.

In the same vein, education in the past was very much shaped around the industrial revolution that all of Ontario was experiencing in the mid to late 19th century. Public schooling during this period heavily focused on preparing children for their new roles in industrial society, as both labourers and citizens of the British Empire and Dominion of Canada. The close ties created between industry and education could provide a further example of why Oshawa’s educational past was not as common in the collective memory of the city; when creating new workers for manufacturing was the end goal of education, it could have become a lot easier to forget what got workers to their positions in the first place.

The history of Education in Oshawa is something that surprised me personally with how deep it went and how much history there was in something that I, and many others, take for granted in today’s age. It’s caught my attention, and I hope to dive even further into it as I continue my research with the museum over the summer.


Sources

“Oshawa: A Manufacturing Centre R. S. Williams & Son F. L. Fowke D. Cinnamon The Queen’s Hotel Eli. S. Edmonson Mrs. M. E. May The Joseph Hall Machine Works Demill College Ed. E. Rogers Bishop Bethune College Provan’s Patent Car, Fork And Sling The McLaughlin Carriage Company.” The Globe (1844-1936), Oct 27, 1894.

French, Olive. “DeMill (1871-1920)”, The Olive French Manuscript, https://olivefrench.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/demill-1871-1920/.

Hood, M. MacIntyre. “Bishop Bethune College Recalled,” Daily Times Gazette, Nov. 17th, 1955.

Houston, Susan E. Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth Century Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.