Oshawa’s Newspapers, Past and Present

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Preparing for our latest Sunday FUNday event at the Oshawa Museum, our first in person event since February 2020, brought me down the rabbit hole of newspapers. To celebrate Archives Awareness Week, I wanted the Sunday FUNday to be archives related, so newspapers were a good theme. We were able to bring out copies of papers from the education collection and I went Live on Facebook to talk about newspapers. Here’s a little of what I learned while getting ready for the livestream.

According to amateur historian, Samuel Pedlar, there have been newspapers in our community since the 1840s. His unpublished manuscript claimed that the earliest paper in our community was The Luminary, a Christian paper which started around 1844. Following it was a paper called The Literary Newsletter which started around 1848 and published by Oliphant and White. A name change to The Oshawa Reformer took place in 1850. According to Pedlar, “Its motto ‘cheap Government and trustworthy officials’ would indicate its purpose.” It is unknown when both of these papers ceased publishing. The 1877 County of Ontario Atlas made note of The Tribune and The Friendly Moralist, two papers they claimed to have been printed in Oshawa.

Around 1851, a new paper came onto the scene with The Oshawa Freeman, and shareholders in this paper included well known names: Dr. William McGill, Abram Farewell, Thos. N. Gibbs, and G.H. Grierson.

It appears most of these papers were short lived, but the next paper to establish itself in our community was around for decades.

Due to a fire at the Oshawa Times in 1971, the earliest archives of The Oshawa Vindicator were lost. It is unknown exactly when it started, as many sources give a different year, but it is safe to say that in the mid-1850s, James E. McMillan and James Luke purchased interests in The Oshawa Freeman; McMillan’s interests were purchased by WH Orr, and a new enterprise called The Oshawa Vindicator began. All was not lost for the Vindicator, thankfully, as issues through the 1860s were preserved on microfilm. These issues can be read online from our partner, Canadian Community Digital Archives.

The Vindicator operated with a conservative slant and supported conservative candidates and politics. In 1866, Orr was bought out by John S. Larke, and the paper ended up having a number of different owners through the years until it ultimately ceased publishing in 1917.

Offering the opposing liberal viewpoint to Oshawa readers was the Ontario Reformer. Under the direction of Mr. Climie of Bowmanville, the first issue was published in 1871. For a short time, Luke and Larke operated both the Reformer and the Vindicator until Mr. Mundy purchased the Reformer in the late 1870s.

The Reformer went through a number of name changes through the years, most notably when they became the Oshawa Daily Times in 1927. An amalgamation with the Whitby Gazette and Chronicle in 1942 resulted in the name change to The Oshawa Time Gazette, and a number of years later, the name was shortened to simply The Oshawa Times. In 1994, a labour strike impacted the paper, and this, in conjunction with the paper operating at a deficit for a number of years, led to the closure in 1994.

The oldest paper still operating today is This Week. It started in 1970 by Peter Brouwer, and through different mergers and changes, it is published today on a weekly basis by Metroland Durham Region Media Group.

From 2005 to late 2021, there had also been The Oshawa Express, another weekly paper. In late 2020, they shifted from in-print/online to a solely online news source, but there does not appear to be any new updates on their website since Fall 2021.

If you wanted to read through the historic newspapers, our microfilm collection to the 1930s and physical newspapers have been digitized and are available to read online: http://communitydigitalarchives.com/

As well, one of my favourite columns to research is The Month That Was, where we look at what was making the newspapers for a given month and year, and we publish them on this blog – you can read through the past articles by exploring the Month That Was category.


Sources

Samuel Pedlar’s unpublished manuscript

Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City, M. McIntyre Hood, 1967

DurhamRegion.com and Northumberlandnews.com About Us https://www.durhamregion.com/community-static/3839840-durhamregion-com-about-us/

This Week, 16 June 1993 – Obituary Peter Brouwer: Founder of This Week

Oshawa Express website

The Month That Was – December 1866

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

December 05, 1866, Page 2

AN OUTRAGE
On Friday night last, some person or persons entered the office of the Cobourg Sentinel, and knocked into pi a large quantity of standing type, scattering the forms in all directions upon the floor, and thus causing very great trouble and loss. The matter disarranged was the first, third and fourth pages of the paper, two cases of small type, and a quantity of standing type, set up for last week’s Sentinel. The cause of the outrage was the appearance in a previous number, of a treasonable article. The editor, however, says it was written by a correspondent and set up without his first examining it.

LUCKY
The Port Perry Observer of last Thursday has the following: – Mr. Thos. Paxton of this place yesterday received a telegram from his agent in Petrolia, informing him that the oil well, in which he holds a large interest, commenced flowing at the rate of a thousand barrels a day.

We wish Mr. Paxton the best of luck, but we don’t believe the story. A Western paper reported an 800 barrel well but added that amount ought to be received with caution.

December 05, 1866 Page 03

YACHT RACE ACROSS THE OCEAN
A yacht race across the Atlantic has been arranged in New York and is now exciting a good deal of interest in that city. Three yachts – the Fleetwing, owned by Mr. Osgood; the Vests, by Mr. Lorillard; and the Henrietta, by J. G. Bennet, Jr., start from New York for Cowes on the 11th of December, the one arriving first to be entitled to the sum or $90,000, which has been staked on the result. The season selected for this race is the most inclement of the year, and the excursion under the circumstances is likely to be anything but a pleasant trip.

December 12, 1866, Page 2

OSHAWA SKATING RINK
We have been requested to state that the Rink is now open to the public. There is a capital sheet of ice on it. Tickets can be had at J. A. Gibson’s Book Store, or from any of the members of the committee.

POLICE COURT
On Monday David Webb and Wm. Tallamy were brought before S. B. Fairbanks, charged with being drunk and fighting on Saturday evening last. They were fined five dollars and costs each.

A NARROW ESCAPE
On Thursday last, Mr. J. O. Guy, Reeve of East Whitby, had narrow escaped with his life. He went over to the barn of Mr. Thomas Henry, who was there engaged in threshing. Whilst standing near the tumbling shaft talking to Mr. Henry a pin in the shaft caught his coat and winding it around and around and drawing him closer to the shaft. Mr. Henry seized Mr. Guy, and by their united exertions the coat was torn off. When the machine was stopped there was but a piece of one sleeve left.

December 19, 1866, Page 1

A LONG KICK
Two Irishmen engaged in peddling packages of linen, bought an old mule to aid in carrying the burdens. One would ride a while, then the other, carrying the burdens. – One day, the Irishmen who was on foot got close up to the heels of his mule-ship, when he received a kick on one of his shins. To be revenged, he picked up a stone, and hurled it at the mule but by accident, struck his companion on the back of the head. Seeing what he has done, he stopped, and begun to groan and rub his shin. The one on the mule turned and asked him what was the matter. ‘The crathur’s kicked me,’ was the reply, ‘Be japers,’ said the other, ‘he’s did the same thing to me on the back of the head.’

December 19, 1866 Page 03

Page 2

Married
In Toronto, on the 12th inst., by Rev. S. Rose, Mr. Thos. Conant and Miss Margaret Gifford, both of East Whitby.

December 26, 1866, Page 2

NOMINATION OF COUNCILORS
Pursuant to the provisions of the new Municipal Act, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall for the nomination of candidates for the offices of Reeve, Deputy Reeve, and Councilors, for 1867. The number of ratepayers present at the opening of proceedings with small, about 50; And did not increase to the end. The following is the list of nominations with their proposals an seconders for the several officers:-

At the conclusion of the nomination, the old council were called upon for a statement of the affairs of the village for the past year.

SB Fairbanks came forward and gave an abstract of the village accounts. Before doing so, however, he alluded to some changes which had been made in the assessment act, whereby all property would be henceforth assessed upon its real value, and thus renters would not be compelled to pay more taxes in proportion than freeholders.- From an abstract of receipts and expenditures which he read, the Reeve showed that the receipts for the year were $8365.87, and the expenditures $7963.38, leaving a cash balance in the hands of the treasure of $402.49. This added to notes due on the 1st of January, and certain ammunition on hand valued at $147.96, would leave on the 1st of January a balance, after deducting some liabilities which now cannot be exactly determined, of about $750. …

Proceedings were then adjourned until the first Monday in January, when the election will be held. Who will run, and who will not, is a question that it would be difficult to answer; Some caucusing and scheming will take place before the tickets are made out. It is to be hoped that matters may yet be arranged to avoid a contest. It is not likely that all will go to the poll.- Mr. Duliea has already requested that his name be taken off the list.

THE LATEST- We understand that Messrs. Fairbanks and Michaels are to be the candidates for Reeve, and Messrs. WH Gibbs and Fowke for Deputy. The tickets further than this are not fully determined upon.

Died
At Port Oshawa, on Friday morning, the 21st inst., Eliza Jane Henry, wife of Thomas Guy, aged 35 years.

In Oshawa, on Saturday evening, the 22nd inst., Julia Ann Bates, wife of Dr. William McGill, aged 48 years.

The Month That Was – November 1869

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

November 3, 1869, page 2

Heavy frost– the extraordinary weather of the season culminated on Tuesday night with one of the severest frosts known to have occurred in the month of October for years. The three days before, snow fell to a considerable depth north of the ridges, making good sleighing on Wednesday. Scugog Lake was frozen over the first time in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The whole apple crop remaining on the trees in this and neighboring townships is destroyed. The Tallmin Sweet is the only apple that at all withstood the frost, and these are injured. At least 2/3 of the apples were on the trees, and are now useless, unfit even for cider. Some are experimenting in the way of making vinegar, but without full success. The value of the crop destroyed cannot now be estimated. There are instances where the loss is as high as from 400 to 1000 bushels per orchard, and some farmers have not an apple left eat. In a few cases, the potatoes were also damaged, but only to a slight extent.

3 Nov. 1869, p1.

Sheep.- Mr. Joseph Gould has, during September and October, purchased 871 sheep and lambs. On the 5th of October, he shipped 371 blooded sheep. These were bought in East and West Whitby, at from 5 to $30 each. They were sold to an American, and by him resold in the state of Maine. Mr. Gould has now on hand 500, purchased in East Whitby, at from 3 1/2 to $5. They will be shipped in December for the Montreal markets.

False alarm– an alarm of fire was given on Monday evening, and the fire brigade was soon out searching for the conflagration. It did not succeed in finding it, and returned with the apparatus. It proved that some zealous person had seen the flames rising from the burning of some rubbish in the garden of Mr. WH Gibbs, and ran at once for the bell.

Fifth November– LOL 686 intends to celebrate the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot by a supper at Pringles’ Hotel on Friday evening. The supper will not begin until 9:00 o’clock, in order to give those who desire time to attend the Sons’ demonstration. The supper is not limited to the members of the order.

3 Nov. 1869, p3.

Halloween– the youngsters celebrated Halloween on Monday night with the usual fooleries. Some of them went farther than pounding doors with cabbage stumps, and in the back streets pulled up sidewalks and tore down weak fences. Such mischief ought to be stopped.

November 10, 1869, Page 2

Thanksgiving– Friday last was observed by the Canada Presbyterian and Wesleyan Methodist churches, by sermons in the former by the Rev. Dr. Thornton in the afternoon, and in the latter by Rev. Dr. Jeffers in the evening. The sermons were practical, appropriate and eloquent, but the congregations were not as large in either case as they should have been.

10 Nov. 1869, p1.

Early on Saturday morning someone started a big bonfire near the commercial hotel and then went and rang the fire bell. This has been charged upon those who were at the Orange supper, but we understand that not a single person had at that time left the room.

Died.
At his residence, on Church St, Oshawa, after an illness of eight days. November 3rd, 1868, James Barclay, aged 54 years and five days.

He was a native of Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland. He came to Canada with his parents in the year 1817 who were among the first settlers in the Township of Pickering. His remains were followed on Sunday last to the Union Burial Ground by a large number of his friends and acquaintances. He leaves a widow, six sons, and four daughters to mourn the loss of a husband and father.

10 Nov. 1869, p3.

November 17, 1869, page 2

The Chief Constable was terribly bothered the other day, because some extra windows in the old Town Hall had mysteriously disappeared. He at once conceived that some evil disposed persons had formed the design of making away with the building piece meal. – After some hours search for the miserable offenders, he discovered that the missing property had been loaned to some carpenter in town for a day or two. We are sorry there is no prospect of getting rid of the venerable ruin even by the process of stealing.

17 Nov. 1869, p3.

Accident- yesterday, Mr William H Thomas was about to drive a commercial traveller to Brooklin, but stopped outside of Craig’s blacksmith shop. As he was getting in the person who held the horses let them go before he had the lines. The horses backed up into the ditch. Seeing that the wagon must go over he and the traveller sprang out, the former falling on his face, getting it very badly cut. The wagon was ripped over and badly smashed.

A heavy snow is raging as we go to press (Tuesday evening)

Page 3

CA Mallory
Lives in Enniskillen still, and there is a little timber in the Pine Ridge is left. During the last three years I have worked up over $9000 worth, a good evidence of my success in my business I am now prepared to take contracts for the construction of all kinds of buildings, and furnish either at the stump or delivered, terms cash or credit to suit customers.

Buildings moved and raised to order. All the necessary tools for the purpose kept on hand. Remember the name in place.
CAMallory
Enniskillen, November 12, 1869.

November 24, 1869, Page 2

The storm.– the storm of Tuesday night and Wednesday of last week has been declared to be the worst remembered to have taken place in any November. Fortunately, the damage has not been a tithe of that anticipated. All of the vessels belonging to this port got into some harbor without suffering damage. The Wharf was somewhat shattered, but the cost of repairs will not be great. On Lake Ontario, a few vessels have been driven ashore, but no loss of life is yet certainly reported, although it is feared that the entire crew of a Kingston schooner, picked up abandoned, or last. The storm seems to have spread over the continent. At Colorado, it was pronounced the worst windstorm that ever passed over the country, and the Telegraph reports serious damage on Wednesday and Thursday all the way to the Atlantic.

First skating of the season, on Monday. First skating last year, on 2nd December. Snow fell heavily on Monday night, making good sleighing yesterday morning. Sleighs and cutters made their appearance in town from the north last week to find only mud in the streets. It is feared that the large quantity of turnips yet out of the fields are buried for the season.

Wanted, a stout boy as an apprentice at the office of this paper. Oshawa, November 16th, 1869.

24 Nov. 1869, p3.

The Science of Homemaking

By Grace A., Summer Student

In May of 1930, The Oshawa Daily Times cut the metaphorical ribbon on Oshawa Collegiate’s new technical wing with a thirty-page special edition paper. The headline read “What Technical Education Means to the Youth of Oshawa,” implying, of course, that the opening of a vocational school meant opportunity. Industry-based learning was intended to prepare students who wouldn’t be attending university for direct entry into the trades. For boys, this meant taking courses in Motor Mechanics, Drafting, Woodworking, Electricity and Blue Print Reading. The curriculum was designed by the city’s most prominent industry men. With their vast knowledge and resources, the program was state-of-the-art. Across the hall, the young girls of Oshawa were also thinking about their future. That is, as Miss V. I. Lidkea, Head of Household Science, put it – “their life work of matrimony.”

“Some of the Special Vocational Department Classrooms,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

Lidkea’s program was one of many educational opportunities which emerged in the early twentieth century that was specifically designed for girls. Home Economics was a response to the question of how women’s work might be able to adapt to industrial society. Through technical training, young girls would learn the science behind sewing, cooking, laundry, home nursing, and the management of household appliances- and it was a science. At Iowa State College, women could receive a degree in homemaking after completing rigorous courses in physics and math, as well as instructions on electric circuits and household equipment. The ideal 1930s housewife could not only use an oven, but she could take it apart and put it back together again too. Despite their proficiencies in a multitude of technical subjects, it was clear that female students would be directed towards homemaking. Perhaps the question that economists actually meant to ask was, “how can we industrialize women’s labour while maintaining the idea of separate spheres?”

In the one-page feature, “Oshawa Girls Will Take Courses in Home-Making Arts,” Lidkea specified what technical education meant for the girls of Oshawa. Like the boy’s program, Oshawa Collegiate’s Homemaking Arts courses were created for girls who would not be pursuing further education. In a rather progressive effort, Lidkea assured readers that the girls would also be given the skills to meet the needs of industry. If a student decided to contribute to the family income through waitressing or nursing, she would be considered a competitive candidate. She would be able to earn a wage, regardless of whether she was single or married. (Lidkea explained that statistics showed both single and married women were working those days.) Above all, girls could use their education to improve the standard of living in their household. She would be a more efficient cleaner, launderer, cook, and dressmaker. She would run her home like a factory. Thus, the opening of Oshawa Collegiate’s technical wing seemed to walk the line between women’s work and economic activity. Was she a wife or a worker- or both?


Sources

Bix, Amy Sue. “Equipped for Life: Gendered Technical Training and Consumerism in Home Economics, 1920-1980.” Technology and Culture 43, no. 4 (2002): 728-754.

Leonard Turner, Katherine. “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done: Cooking, Class and Women’s Work.” In How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working Class Meals at the Turn of the Century, 121-140. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014.

“Oshawa Girls Will Take Course in Home-Making Arts,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

“Some of the Special Vocational Department Classrooms,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

“What Technical Education Means to The Youth of Oshawa,” Oshawa Daily Times (Oshawa, ON), May 7, 1930.

The Month That Was – April 1862

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

April 2, 1862, page 2

County exhibition grounds.
At the last annual meeting of the South Ontario Agricultural Society, it will be recollected, a committee was appointed to make inquiry and report upon the subject of a permanent site for the holding of the County exhibitions. We observed that the council of the town of Whitby, agreeably to the resolution passed at a public meeting of the ratepayers is taking steps to supply the want. add a special meeting held on the 24th inst., by the council comma it was resolved that tenders for a plot of from 3 to 10 acres of ground be of advertised for, that the most suitable be purchased and fenced, and that it be leased for a term of years to the County Agricultural Society. By this step, the town will secure a good site for a part, as well as exhibition grounds, if a suitable piece of land is offered.

Phrenology – Rev. Mr. Smith’s third lecture in demolition of the science of Phrenology, is to be given in the Mechanic’s Institute, in Whitby, on Monday Evening, April 15th, commencing at 8 o’clock. Admission free.

April 9, 1862, page 2

The Nonquon Road purchase
The draft of a Bye-law (sic) for the purchase of the Nonquon Road, by the Township, in conjunction with the Village, has been rejected by the people of the Township. At the conclusion of the voting, at Columbus, on Saturday evening last, the result was

Against the Bye-law, 69
In favor of it, 55
Majority against the By-law 14

The storm of Saturday and the wretched conditions of the road, account for the lightness of the vote. As a consequence of the defeat of the proposed Bye-law for the Township, that the village will not be pressed to a vote.

We shall have something farther to say in reference to the whole subject next week.

Stoves, &c. – We need hardly call attention to Mr. H. Pedlar’s announcement in today’s issue. It speaks for itself. All persons in want of Stoves, Tinware, Lamps, Oil, &c., will do well to give the Nonquon Block a call.

April 16, 1862, page 2

Emancipation
Slavery in the United States is swiftly and surely drawing to a close. The people have got the monster by the throat, and despite the remonstrances of its interested defenders, now powerless, are determined not to release their hold until they have atoned for past reticence by doing all which they can constitutionally do to wipe out the odium which has always accompanied the mention of the name of America, on account of African Slavery.

On Friday last—we recorded with no ordinary degree of pleasure – the bill for the emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia, including, of course the city of Washington, passed the United States House of Representatives by the gratifying and decisive vote of 93 against 39. It passed precisely as it came from the Senate, and will immediately become law. The bill provides for the appointment of the commissioners to appraise the “property” held to service, and allows the payment of no more than an average of $300 to the owners of coloured property, for each chattel emancipated. It also permits coloured persons to be witnesses in the process, as well as white people.

Spring Goods
Our readers throughout the County will see from our advertising columns this week, that the merchants of Oshawa are prepared to submit to their inspection an unusually choice, abundant and attractive assortment of new spring goods, this season, and at prices which, we venture to say, cannot be approached for cheapness, in many cases, in any other town or village between Toronto and Port Hope. We possess very good facilities for knowing how goods sell in other places, east, west and north, as well as in our own village, and we are confident that parties living in the back country will find it pay them well to come to Oshawa to make their purchases of Spring and Summer Goods, Hardware, Crockery and Groceries, to say nothing of Ready-made Clothing, Boots and Shoes, and Threshing Machines, Plows, Scythes, Hoes, Forks, Wagons, Harrows, Brushes, Furniture, Saddlery, &c., &c., all of which are manufactured here, and if brought elsewhere are very often procured at second or third hand, instead of from the manufacturer himself. Oshawa is the best place within thirty miles at least, at which to trade; because, saying nothing of the price of goods even, the greater portion of the articles to be procured here are manufactured on the spot by first class working men, from the best material of native or foreign produce, or else are imported direct from the manufacturers abroad, in Europe and the United States.

April 23, 1862, p2

At Bath, last week, a pedestrian ran six miles in 43 minutes

New Store Opened – Mr JW Fowke has removed his store from Harmony to his new building at the west end of Gibbs Block, King street, Oshawa, where his customers will hereafter find him, better prepared than ever to attend to their wants.

Petitions for Prohibition
The friends of Temperance in Oshawa in East Whitby have [       ] themselves in a praiseworthy manner in the circulation of petitions for  a prohibitory liquor law, which were prepared at the last session of the Grand Division of Sons of Temperance. Two of the rolls from the Township have been sent in bearing 1070 names, and the one sent from Oshawa is signed by 650 persons. When the other list is completed, the number of petitioners from East Whitby and Oshawa will be over two thousand. Each name is signed three times – one petition being for presentation to the Assembly, another to the Legislative Council, and the third to the Governor General. We have not yet learned what steps have been taken in other parts of the County in the matter of petitioning. A large number of petitions for prohibition, from various parts of Canada, have already been presented to the legislature.

Petty Larceny – Quite a daring theft was committed in Oshawa on Wednesday last. Mr. George Gurley, Merchant Tailor, having received some splendid vest patterns, &c., for the ensuing season, had a number of rolls or bolts of the same displayed in his shop window for the inspection of passersby. While at dinner in a room to the rear of the shop, some person or persons would seem to have fallen in love with a bolt of beautiful silk velvet, and entered at the front door and abstracted from the shop window the whole bolt, valued at $20. Immediately on his return to the shop, Mr. Gurley missed the velvet, and forthwith instituted a constabulary search of the same, but thus without avail. The audacious thief eluded their detection, and is probably ere this far from the scene of his evil deed and the enjoyment of his illgotten (sic) velvet, or the money he may have realized therefor. This instance will serve as a warning to all shopkeepers and others to lock their doors while at dinner, even though, as in this instance, the dining room may be but a few feet from the shop and its contents with only a glass door between them.

The Grammar School – The Oshawa Grammar School has been reopened, and will be held for the present, in the Town Hall.  The scales of fees will be very moderate.

April 30, 1862, page 2

Almost a Fatal Accident
Yesterday forenoon, as Mr. James Connolly, of Oshawa, was driving a load of hay up to the window of a barn at Mrs. Woon’s, the horses’ heads into the doorway, the team refused to stop at the proper place, the result of which was that Mr. Connolly was most severely crushed against the top of the doorway – his breast and spine receiving the greatest injury. He lies in critical condition, though it is thought that he will recover.

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