Memories of Lamplights Past

For over two decades, the signature event at the Oshawa Community Museum has been our Lamplight Tour.  Henry House, our traditional Victorian home, is lit with oil lamps, in Robinson House, the General Store exhibit is ready to party like it’s 1899, Father Christmas makes an appearance, and there is food, drinks, and music to be enjoyed.

OCM Staff took time to reflect on their favourite memories from the Lamplight Tour.

Laura Suchan, Executive Director
My favourite memories of Lamplight are of my children participating in the schoolroom activities.

Dylon, left, in 2004, and Tyler, right, in 2008.
Dylon, left, in 2004, and Tyler, right, in 2008.

Jennifer Weymark, Archivist
My memory of Lamplight was the year that (OHS Member) Don Sloman dressed as Father Christmas.

Don Sloman dressed as Father Christmas, 2000 Lamplight
Don Sloman dressed as Father Christmas, 2000 Lamplight

Melissa Cole, Curator
My favourite memories are the years that Anderson CVI students participated.  In Henry House, they dramatized the Henry Family getting ready for the wedding of Jennie Henry.

Anderson CVI Students, at 2004 Lamplight
Anderson CVI Students, at 2004 Lamplight

Jillian Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator
I don’t necessarily have a favourite memory of Lamplight, but to me, the smells of Henry House, from the greenery, to the cloves, and the lamp oil, help to begin the holiday season.  Lamplight is the beginning of Christmas.

Jillian decorating the tree in Henry House, 2009 Lamplight
Jillian decorating the tree in Henry House, 2009 Lamplight

Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
My favourite memories are of my first Lamplights, my first as a volunteer where I was in the General Store, and the first as a staff in the Henry House Kitchen.  Since 2010, I am the staff member in the Kitchen, and I love talking about preparing the plum pudding!

Preparing plum pudding, 2010 Lamplight
Preparing plum pudding, 2010 Lamplight

We hope that you’ll join us for this year’s Lamplight Tour and make memories of your own!
Saturday, December 6, 2014

Oshawa’s Disney Brothers: Less Animated, More Grave

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name ‘Disney,’ my mind automatically jumps to the infamous mouse and anything animated.  Oh, the great strength and success of branding.  Because Disney is such a notable name, one might wonder why there is a building in Downtown Oshawa called the Disney Building.  I’ll just come out and say it, no, Walt has no known ties to our City!  But Oshawa did have its own set of Disney brothers who left a lasting mark on Oshawa’s downtown.

The Disney Building, 27-33 King Street East
The Disney Building, 27-33 King Street East

In 1882, John E. Disney married Sarah McKittrick, and together they had three sons.  William Frederick was born in 1883, Llewellyn Victor was born in 1888, and Roy Stanley was born in 1893.

LV and RS made their names known through their successful furniture and undertaking business.  In 1888, a man named Alex McLean began the business, which LV bought in 1909.  The brothers established an ambulance service, which was boasted as the finest ambulance between Toronto and Montreal.

Horse drawn ambulance, owned by LV Disney, c. 1912. From the Oshawa Community Archives
Horse drawn ambulance, owned by LV Disney, c. 1912. From the Oshawa Community Archives

The undertaking business operated at various addresses around downtown Oshawa, including along Simcoe Street and on Bond Street.  By 1923, the Disney Funeral Service was found at 31 King Street East; in 1924, the building at 27-33 King Street East is known as the Disney Block. It was originally built in 1920, and still stands in our downtown, remarkable due to the archway and the identifying ‘Disney Building’ lettering.

The Disney Building
The Disney Building

LV Disney had a variety of other interests, including real estate and local politics, serving as an Alderman.  In 1930, Matthew F. Armstrong purchased the funeral business, changing the name to Armstrong Funeral Home.  It still operates today at 124 King Street East, a location they have occupied since 1936.

Student Museum Musings – Jodie

By Jodie, Collections Assistant Co-op Student

Hello, my name is Jodie and I am a co-op student that started my placement with the museum in early September. My placement here is based around archaeological studies and the aspects of those that are found in the museum. I have been given the amazing opportunity to work with the Harmony Road Farewell Pioneer Cemetery artifacts and I have been cataloging and photographing the collection pieces.

My first day here I was taken on a tour of the houses and taught some facts about the families that lived there and about the other collections that are open to the public. I was then shown the collection storage areas where they keep all of the items that are not on display at the moment and afterwards was shown the boxes of artifacts that I would be working with for the next few weeks. I spent the next few days going over the archaeological report of the site and over articles of the families and other articles that pertain to the site and the families that were buried there for background information and so I would know what to expect when I started to work with the artifacts themselves.

Working on the actual boxes has been incredible; almost all of the coffin decorations are in very good shape and have intricate designs on them and some of the name plate engagements are still legible.  This has been an amazing learning opportunity for me as an archaeology student and I am very thankful to the wonderful people here at the Oshawa Museum for this experience.


The following are artifacts that Jodie has photographed and cataloged from the Farewell Cemetery Archaeological Collection (994.28)

994.28.5d, Coffin Hardware
994.28.5d, Coffin Hardware
994.28.14q - Coffin Handle
994.28.14q – Coffin Handle
994.28.32x - 'At Rest'
994.28.32x – ‘At Rest’
994.28.4a - Portion of coffin hardware
994.28.4a – Portion of coffin hardware

Archaeology in Oshawa – the MacLeod Site

The MacLeod archaeological site, located at the corners of Thornton and Rossland Roads in Oshawa, is a Lake Ontario Iroquois village dating from 1450 A.D.   It is one of the first known settlements in the Oshawa area.   It was first discovered in the fall of 1967 on the property of Howard MacLeod.  Several groups excavated in different areas of the site until 1972.

The MacLeod excavation, c. 1969, Rossland and Thornton Roads
The MacLeod excavation, c. 1969, Rossland and Thornton Roads

The village was located on 3-4  acres  and  consisted  of  five  longhouses  surrounded by a high protective  wall  or  palisade.   During the excavation, portions of two of the longhouses were uncovered.  The larger of the two, the Alpha house measured 58 metres in length and 8.2 metres in width.  The interior was arranged to allow several families to live together.  A row of hearths was located down the centre of the house and holes in the roof allowed smoke to escape.  Sleeping benches were located down either side of the longhouse.  A replica of one of the longhouses is on display at the Oshawa Community Museum in the Grandview Site Gallery.

Model longhouse, on display in Robinson House
Model longhouse, on display in Robinson House

The inhabitants of the MacLeod site were agriculturists and did not generally hunt large game.  They subsisted on diet of corn, beans, fish, small game and wild plant foods which were gathered.  Charred remnants of corn and beans were discovered at the site.  The women were responsible for planting, tending and harvesting the crops as well as gathering foodstuffs such as nuts and berries.

EX992.35.1 - Rim Shard found at the MacLeod Archaeological site
EX992.35.1 – Rim Shard found at the MacLeod Archaeological site

Over  18 000  artifacts  were  uncovered at  the  MacLeod  site  of  which  the vast majority were ceramics,  lithics  (stone)  and  worked faunal specimens (bone).  A large number of ceramic pipes were found at the MacLeod site.  Pipes were generally made of clay and shaped around a grass core which burned off once the pipe was baked leaving a hole in the middle.  An interesting specimen from the MacLeod site is the reptile effigy pipe bowl.  Lithics or stone tools were prominent amongst the artifact assemblage.  Projectile points were the major hunting tools of the Lake Ontario Iroquois and were roughed out from pieces of chert or flint by striking them with a large stone.  Most of the stone tools found at the MacLeod site were made of chert found on the north shore of Lake Erie or in the Trent Valley.  The natives used bone to make a number of tools and ornaments including beads, awls (used to pierce skins) and scrapers (used to scrape bits of fat from animal hides).

The MacLeod excavation, c. 1969
The MacLeod excavation, c. 1969

Archaeologists believe that MacLeod site was abandoned after a period of twenty years possibly due to the fact that the fields had lost much of their fertility.  In addition, game and trees from the surrounding forest had probably been depleted as well.  The majority of the artifacts from the MacLeod site are housed at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus while some remain a part of the educational collection of the Oshawa Community Museum.


The Oshawa Community Museum is proudly hosting Digging Up The Past: International Archaeology Day on October 18, 12-3PM.  Please Join Us!

The Month That Was – October 1932

Only Oshawa Men to Work in City
October 10th, 1932

Mayor Ernie Marks received a report this morning to the effect that eight men, residents of East Whitby, a gang employed on excavation work for the Ontario Shore Gas Company, were employed on Simcoe Street and that men of Oshawa who applied to be employed could not obtain work.

Bearing in mind the fact that Reeve Ross of Easy Whitby complained very vigorously just recently because one lone Oshawa man was found to be employed on similar work in the township, the Mayor immediately referred this report to John T. Milner, general manager of the Ontario Shore Gas Company, who assure the Mayor that while he had no personal knowledge regarding the matter he would immediately make it his business to investigate the circumstances of the case.

Mr. Milner assured the Mayor the policy of the company to employ Oshawa men only within the city limits was being enforced so far as laid in his power, and that id non-residents were being employed he would see that the matter was rectified immediately.


New Microscope Shows Electrons
October 16th, 1932

Rome.-Invention of a microscope for observing and measuring the velocity of ‘the infinitesimal electrons was announced recently by Professor A. Millikan, of California, a winner of the Noble prize, at the meeting here of 50 world famous physicist.

How scientists detect the antics of the nuclei of atoms also was demonstrated at the meeting.

The instrument announced by Professor Millikan consists an x-ray microscope, which he termed a multiple crustal spectrometer. He credited its invention to Professors Jesse Dumond and Harry Kirkpatrick of the California institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Dr. Millikan projected photograph made with the machine, and described it as giving the first evidence of the inner workings of the dynamic, instead of the static atom.


Wonder Gasoline Developed for Modern Engines
October 17th, 1932

When engineers produced a compact, efficient, high-compression motor to give greater power and high speed to automobiles it was with the idea that there would be developed a super-refined, top-quality gasoline with high anti-knock rating, especially suitable for such engines.

With the appearance of the new motors there arose an instant widespread demand for a new-type gasoline having satisfactory anti-knock, instant-starting, gum-free and power-developing qualities. Refiners scrambled to produce and deliver as quickly as possible, a motor fuel that would meet the new requirements.

The new type fuel was produced in due time and is now available at all Supertest stations. Naturally, it had to have a name, something descriptive, by which the public could identify it. Many minds were engaged on the problem and much time was spent before a choice was made. “Why not”-finally said on official of the Company- “call it what it really is, Wonder gasoline.”


Divorce given as cause of Crime
October 19th, 1932

St. Petersburg, Fla.- Dr. Carleton Simon, criminologist and former deputy chief commissioner of New York, recently told the international association of chiefs of police here one of the fundamental causes of crime is traceable to divorce “and its accompanying evil-alimony.”


Warren and Hicks Sent Up for Trial
October 22, 1932

Courts heard the rough evidence against Ewart Warren and Harold Hicks for the murder of Dr. More and five robberies while armed. It is said that Warren, dressed in a dark blue suit with a fedora on top, was looking rather “Cold” in this warm setting, showing his discomfort.

It is also known that Mr. Warren’s father tried to attend the trial but was caught up in the crowd after hiding from the paparazzi and was stuck out in the hall. It is still unknown if Mr. Warren was able to see his son before the officials took him away. The case was heard in the Men’s Police Court in October, 1932.


News of the world in a Nutshell (Newspaper segment from October 1932)
October 17, 1932

University of Vienna and Polytechnic were closed October 17, 1932 due to Nazi and socialist students rioting.

Herman F. Rutstein (Age 32), was kidnapped in Boston and brought to a cottage where he was bound to a bed and blindfolded. Three men were in the cottage and all were arrested.

Managua, Nicaragua was menaced by the rebel leader General Augusto Sandino of Mexico.

In Alaska on October 17, 1932, a man named Clyde Hannagen was hunting, and shot a deer. He proceeded to carry the deer out of the hunting grounds when Mickey Wells, another hunter, saw the deer head moving and shot it. The bullet hit Mr. Hannagen and brought down him and the deer.

In Massachusetts Manuel G. Fontes stormed into the Police head quarters on October 17, 1932, and admitted to murdering his wife Julia and Manuel L. Fernandez whilst the children were in the front yard.

The Romanian Cabinet of Premier Vajda-Voevod resigned on October 17, 1932, and the king reserved the decision for the new Member of Parliament.


“Gold Mine” Found in Africa
October 22, 1932

A gold mine was found in October 1392 in Johannesburg, South Africa, estimated at weighing 278,000,000 tons. It was found partially by chance, like most mines in Africa, by a German geologist who came to study the rock two years previous to 1932.

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