Oshawa Celebrates Canada Day

On July 1, 1867, The British North America Act came into effect on July 1, 1867, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as “One Dominion under the name of Canada. “

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In Oshawa, the passing of the BNA Act was a relatively quiet affair, even though it had been designated as a celebration of Confederation for the country.  The day started with the firing of guns and ringing of bells, and many houses flew flags.   There was a parade along King Street and speeches were given in front of Gibb’s Store and Fowke’s. A picnic was held later in the day at Cedar Dale for those people of the community who did not go elsewhere such as the town of Whitby to celebrate.  It is estimated that 7,000 were present for the events in Whitby.

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation of Governor General Lord Monck called upon all Canadians to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of Canada on July 1st.  The proclamation stated, “Now Know Ye, that I, Charles Stanley Viscount Monck, Governor General of Canada, do hereby proclaim and appoint WEDNESDAY, the FIRST day of JULY next, as the day on which the Anniversary of the formation of the Dominion a Canada be duly celebrated. And I do hereby enjoin and call upon all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the due and proper celebration of the said Anniversary on the said FIRST day of JULY next.”

Oshawa residents observed this proclamation and celebrated the one year anniversary of Confederation.  The Oshawa Vindicator reported on July 8, 1868 that the 34th Battalion (later renamed the Ontario Regiment) assembled at 3 o’clock on Dominion Day on the Agricultural grounds in Whitby to receive a flag in the colours of the Queen.  The paper reported that “the attendance of spectators was immense, rendering it almost impossible to preserve sufficient space for moving the force.”

There was also a picnic held by the employees of the factories at Morris’s Grove on Dominion Day, and the Vindicator stated it was a success.  The picnic itself was slightly overshadowed by the presentation of the Colors, but nonetheless, attendance was still large.  There were games and a “friendly rivalry” between Foundry and Factory, and the Freeman family band played music throughout the day.  In the evening, the events continued in the drill shed where prizes were distributed, addresses were delivered and cheers given to the Queen, Messrs Miall, Glen, Whiting and Cowan, and to members of the committee.  Picnic attendees danced to the “late hour” to the music of the Freeman band.

Although not officially recognized as a holiday (it would be recognized as such in 1879), Oshawa residents celebrated Dominion Day in the years following confederation in similar manners.  Picnics were held, games were played, fireworks lit up the sky, and dancing continued into the night.  The 34th Battalion typically played a role in Dominion Day celebrations.

Canada’s Diamond Jubilee year was 1927, and both Canada and Oshawa celebrated this landmark.  The Oshawa Daily Reformer issued a special edition of their paper for June 30, commemorating 60 years since Confederation, particularly highlighting Oshawa’s achievements through the years.  In Lakeview Park, the Jubilee Pavilion was open for business on June 30th, 1927, with the official opening on Dominion Day.  The pavilion was named in honour of this landmark year.   Jubilee celebrations lasted for two days in Oshawa and included parades, sporting events, picnics, the playing of a speech from King George V, dancing, and fireworks.  The Ontario Regiment Band played, along with the Salvation Army Band, the Oshawa Kilties Band and the General Motors 75 member choir.  Dominion Day also included a commemorative ceremony for those who died during the Great War.  Memorial Park and Alexandra Park served as appropriate locales for Jubilee celebrations on Friday July 1, and on July 2, the party continued at Lakeview Park.

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In 1967, the year of Canada’s Centennial, Oshawa appropriately celebrated this milestone.  The Oshawa Folk Festival had a Centennial Week celebration with events leading up to and including Dominion Day.  On July 1, there was a parade through to Alexandra Park and events through the afternoon, as well as events and fireworks at the Civic Auditorium.  Oshawa also took part in the “Wild Bells” program, with all church bells, factory whistles and sirens sounding when July 1 came in.  Hayward Murdoch, Oshawa’s Centennial Committee Chairman commented, “This seems like an excellent and appropriate way to usher in Canada’s 100th birthday.  We want to have as many bells, whistles and sirens sounding as possible.”

Celebrations for East Whitby Township took place in the Village of Columbus with the unveiling of a centennial plaque, a band concert, school choirs, barbeque and fireworks.

Oshawa also had a centennial house constructed at the corner of King Street and Melrose Street (just east of Harmony Road).  The project was coordinated by the Oshawa Builders Association, and profits of the sale of the home went to the Oshawa Retarded Children’s Association (now operating today as Oshawa/Clarington Association for Community Living).

In 1982, the name of the holiday was officially changed from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day.”  Since 1984, Oshawa’s largest Canada Day celebrations have taken place in Lakeview Park.  In 1985, the opening of Guy House coincided with Canada Day festivities, and the opening of the new pier also took place on July 1, 1987.  In 1988, an elephant from the Bowmanville Zoo was part of the festivities, participating in a tug of war with city aldermen.  Canada’s 125th anniversary was in 1992, and the City organized a big party down at lakefront.  Every year, fireworks mark the end of the celebrations.

Canada Day at Henry House
Canada Day at Henry House

The City run Canada Day celebrations have been very successful over the years, drawing tens of thousands to Oshawa’s lakeshore.  They have also attracted a certain level of prestige, making Festivals and Events Ontario’s list of top 50 (later top 100) celebrations in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

Located in Lakeview Park, the Oshawa Community Museum takes part every year in Canada Day celebrations.  Over the years, the museum has had historical re-enactors, special displays, woodworking and blacksmithing demonstrations, and a Strawberry Social in the Henry House Gardens.  Currently, the Museum offers costumed tours of Henry House on Canada Day, and our Verna Conant Gallery is open in Guy House.

 

We will be open from 2-5 on July 1, 2013! Please visit!

 

References:

The Oshawa Vindicator, 1868-1870, various editions
Oshawa Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927
Oshawa Daily Times, July 4, 1927
Oshawa Community Archives (Subject 0012, Box 0001, Files 0003-0006, 0011, 0015)

Month That Was … May 1929

Saturday May 4, 1929

Family is Saved as Child Coughs

Guelph, May 4 – Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Johnston, 14th concession of Peel, and their three children narrowly escaped being burned to death in a fire that destroyed their home and all its contents. Mrs. Johnston found the house on fire and aroused her husband. Wrapping the children in comforters, they climbed out a back window onto a kitchen roof and making their way to a woodshed below, dropped to the ground.

 

Human Chess

Ramsgate – Human chess was played here recently as a feature of the Kent Country Chess association meet.

The players sat on top of lawn tennis umpire seats.

Fifty boys, all masters of chess themselves, were used as “pieces” in three great games of chess in which mighty mean of this “moving” pastime took part. One of these players was the world-famous champion, Capablanca himself.

Capablanca on a stool calling out his moves to the living boy pawns and kings and bishops was a sight to which all chess-loving Ramsgate flocked.

The mayor gave a reception to the chess association members, by way of start-off for a week’s congress and living chess was the feature of the meeting.

 

Thursday May 9, 1929

Helped Boy on Way

Kingston, May 9 – Just out in this country six months and suffering from lonesomeness, Frederick George Edwards, aged 15, a bright looking chap, wandered into the office of Mayor W.H. Craig at the City Hall at noon today, and bursting into tears, stated that he wanted to go home to his mother in Liverpool. After making inquiries regarding the lad, Mayor Craig gave him a railway pass as far as Montreal, and upon arrival there the youngster will report at the immigration office and ask to be sent home.

 

Friday May 10, 1929

Chilly Rescue by Girl Swimmer

Ottawa, May 10 – Without so much as removing her gloves or overcoat, Miss Gladys Smirle dived into the chilly waters of the Rideau Canal to save 5-year-old Jack Macdonnell from drowning yesterday. Miss Smirle formerly was a star member of the Ottawa Collegiate Aquatic Team. It took her less than a minute to dive from the Bronson Bridge, clutch the child as he was sinking and safely bring him home to shore.

The boy fell into the water from a pier of the bridge on which he was playing.

 

Saturday May 11, 1929

Kitten shows its Liking for the Prince

London – A kitten Saturday selected, of all the gathering of the “Toch H” was veterans society in Church House, Westminster, the Prince of Wales with which to make friends. Delegates from all Britain present to see the Prince light the lamps of maintenance for new branches let their attention wander when the animal jumped on the arm of the chair of the Prince, and showed lively pleasure at his stroking its head.

Once the Kitten deserted the Prince for a caress from Field Marshal Lord Plumer, but soon returned to the heir to the throne, and slept in his chair for the remainder of the meeting.

 

Monday May 13, 1929

Editor’s Comments:

The Younger Generation

It is odd that of all the critics of youth who go on earning their weekly guineas by tapping out on their typewriters the old tale of cocktails late nights, immodest speech and scanty clothing not one, so far as I am aware, her pointed out the one fundamental failing of the whole of the younger generation – that is their almost complete lack of any qualitative standards. They spend half their lives learning which side of their bread is buttered when they cannot tell the difference between butter and margarine.

 

Monday May 13, 1929

Girl Meets Wolf

Apsley – Miss Amy Lean filled the role of a modern Red Riding Hood on Tuesday afternoon when walking through a fellow close to the house, she came face to face with a large wolf. Only a few yards separated them, but owing probably to the fact that the lady was accompanied by her dog, unlike the wolf of the fairy tale, it evinced no interest for a closer acquaintanceship, but retreated to the woods, much to her relief.

Quilt Stories, Part V; Our Quilting Conclusion…

The final stories I want to tell through quilts are the stories of the Henry’s quilts.  The Henry’s are one of the families that are closely associated with the Oshawa Community Museum.  Their family home (built c. 1840) is still standing in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park, and it is one of the three historic houses that make up our museum.

Henry House, Oshawa
Henry House, Oshawa

The Henry Family lived in this home from the time it was built through to the turn of the century.  The family’s patriarch was Thomas Henry, a farmer, minister in the Christian Church, and a harbourmaster for a number of years.  With his first wife Elizabeth, he had a daughter (Nancy, who died in infancy), and five sons: John, William, George, Thomas Simon, and Ebenezer.  After Elizabeth died, Thomas married Lurenda Abbey, and they had a total of 10 children: Eliza, James, Phineas, Albert, Elizabeth, Joseph, Jesse, Clarissa, William, and Lurenda Jane (Jennie).

Thomas, left, and Lurenda, right
Thomas, left, and Lurenda, right

The Oshawa Community Museum has many cherished artifacts which once belonged to members of the Henry Family; some are on display in Henry House while others are in storage for safe keeping.  Some of these artifacts are textiles and quilts.

973.13.2 - Victorian Crazy Quilt
973.13.2 – Victorian Crazy Quilt

This Victorian crazy quilt was once owned by Mary Myrtle Ellis (nee Henry).  Mary’s father was Albert Henry, and her mother was Harriett Guy.  Harriett died while Myrtle was young, and for a time in the 1870s, Myrtle and her sister Alberta lived in the family’s stone house with their grandparents Thomas and Lurenda.  Many of the patches on this beautiful quilt feature floral patterns.  On the left side of the quilt, second patchwork square from the top, there is a blue patch which has been embroidered with the words “Flora 1889.” The middle right, top square has a patch which features the wording: “Tammany Hall, Toronto, Granite Island Camp, Thousand Islands – 1887”.  This quilt was on display for some time in the Henry House bedroom, however, the bottom of the quilt is now rather frayed and delicate, and it is now safely in storage.

973.13.3 - Tied cotton quilt
973.13.3 – Tied cotton quilt

This quilt has the same provenance, belonging to Myrtle Henry.  In one corner, embroidered in red, are the initials MH.

70-L-136 - Woven wool blanket
70-L-136 – Woven wool blanket

While not a ‘quilt,’ there is an interesting story behind this blanket.  As the story goes, the wool for this blanket was prepared by Lurenda Henry herself.  The wool was then sent away and was professionally woven into this blanket.  There is a blue piece of fabric which has been attached to the top to allow the blanket to hang.

For more stories from the Oshawa Community Museum’s quilt collection, be sure to check out our newest exhibit for the summer: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt Collection!  Opening in June 2013!

Co-op Student’s Thoughts

HI, my name is Caitlan and I am a co-op student here. I’m in grade 12 and I plan on going to university in September for Social Media. When we had to start applying to universities I had no idea what I wanted to take and how should I know, I’m only 17 and I wanted to make sure the program I was going to take, I would enjoy. After all I would be stuck in it for a year and A LOT of money is involved! I started to research different programs and the only one that stood out for me was Social Media (which is radio, television/film, journalism etc.) So I decided to do co-op that would have, to some degree, of what I would be doing in university, just so I know money is not going to waste. That is how I found my way here.

Although I never thought of myself has a person really interested about history especially since my brother is a history buff and is getting a degree in history. So naturally, many people thought it was strange to do co-op at a museum. But I have found my co-op experience here is going really well and enjoyable. I have learned quite a bit about Oshawa’s past, and many things that actually surprised me or I found amusing. So what exactly have I been doing here? Well, when I first started I researched a lot about Oshawa’s railway, which is one thing I never even knew Oshawa had. I started to create tweets about the railway to help create awareness about the Railway exhibit (opening May 1st) which started to go out on the first of April. I was able to create 31 tweets, one for each day of April and one for May 1st. I also created two different posters for the Railway Exhibit and the poster for the Summer Lecture & Tour Series which starts June 5th. Since then I have been getting ready the ‘Month that was’ and so far that is one of my favourite things to do here! The reason is some of the things that people thought was news or even just the way that wrote was very opinionated and if some of the things that were printed back then was put in a newspaper today, let’s just say someone would be getting fired or in quite a bit of trouble. Even the advertisements in the papers and comics are written completely different (for example an ad. for a colouring contest, the grand prize winner would receive a pony!). In addition to that, I have also been helping Lisa photograph artifacts over in Henry House and I can now say I officially know how to correctly number an artifact! I have seen some really cool artifacts, some of which I think should have stayed around today and some creepy artifacts but I will not go there!

For the next 3 months I hope to complete a few short videos, a press release for the Downtown Walking Tour and a few more blogs, as well as continuing to photograph artifacts and more of the ‘Month that was’. Overall I am really happy I have co-op here! I know that I will enjoy my program starting in September and I cannot believe I get to start my days off in a new and interesting way, every day with a wonderful and friendly group of people!

As I said above I have been taking some photograph’s and I thought I would share a couple with you! …

This is  a shot form the Henry House desk!
This is a shot form the Henry House desk!

 

Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!
Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!

 

 

This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!
This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!

 

 

Quilt Stories, Part III

This quilt story has a special meaning to me because I found my own family history on this quilt!

990.21.1 - South Oshawa Methodist Church Autograph Quilt, c. 1914
990.21.1 – South Oshawa Methodist Church Autograph Quilt, c. 1914

First, about the quilt.  This autograph quilt features over 200 names embroidered on it.  It was made c. 1914 as a fundraiser for the South Oshawa Methodist Church.  The church later went by the name Albert Street Methodist (United) Church.  For a dime, a name could be embroidered on the quilt.

In the centre of the quilt is an embroidered picture of the South Oshawa Methodist Church, and the quilt is red and cream in colour.  The quilt has been completed with the hourglass or broken dish pattern.

The original Albert Street United Church, from the Ontario Reformer, June 30, 1927
The original Albert Street United Church, from the Ontario Reformer, June 30, 1927

The church was established in 1910, operating as the South Oshawa Mission of the Methodist Church.  A small, white building was erected for this new mission in 1914, and it served the congregation until 1928 when a new building was erected at the southwest corner of Albert Street and Olive Avenue.  This building is still standing, however the Albert Street United Church closed in 1996, amalgamating with the Centennial United Church to become the Centennial-Albert United Church.  This church was described by Rev. Pogue as “a typical working class church, very family oriented, that’s what made it really strong.”

990.21.1 - Detail of quilt showing the name of Mr. G. Trainer
990.21.1 – Detail of quilt showing the name of Mr. G. Trainer

As I mentioned, names were embroidered on the quilt for 10 cents.  One of the names embroidered near the top is ‘Mr. G. Trainer.’  My grandfather was married twice; his second wife, my beloved Grandma, was born and raised in Oshawa, around St. Lawrence Street.  Her father, George Trainer, was a local barber.  He also supported the South Oshawa Methodist Church in 1914 as his name was found on this autograph quilt!  I never expected to find a little touch of my family on any of the quilts in the Oshawa Community Museum Collection, and I was quite surprised when I found this name among hundreds others.

George Trainer, a local barber in Oshawa
George Trainer, a local barber in Oshawa

‘Lest we forget – the quilters!  God bless them! They sew and sew and sew some more to fill orders for beautiful quilts.  They also raise a lot of money thereby!” – Memories of Albert Street United Church, 1990, Oshawa Community Archives.

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