The Importance of Continued Research

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

For a number of years, I have been undertaking research into early Black history in the Oshawa area. This inquiry is part of a larger shift in our focus here at the Oshawa Museum.

Prior to 2011, there had been minimal research into the history of the Black population in Oshawa. Some initial work had been done examining census information but that was the extent. When we were approached to take part in Trent University’s inaugural Black History event, we realized how little time had been dedicated to this area of Oshawa’s history. The invitation to the event spurred a new project that helps to tell the history of a local family from the 1790s to today. It also helps to tell a more inclusive and, more importantly, a more accurate history of early Oshawa settlers.

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Portion of 1851 Census of Canada West; lines 40-43 are for Wealthy Andrews and her three children. The enumerator has marked the column for ‘Colored person – Negroes.’  Wealthy and her family were one of two Black families living in East Whitby Township in the 1850s.

This project signaled a shift in where we focus our research, to help fill the gap in our knowledge of our community. A great deal of research has been conducted on the many industries and industrialists who helped shape Oshawa; what was missing was looking into those who worked for the industrialists, those whose labour made the factories so successful, and telling their stories. It is the experiences of the “everyday person” who help to truly understand what the community looked like in the past and how it has evolved today. Currently, we are working to tell the history of women, those who arrived in Oshawa as Displaced Persons post WWII, the Indigenous population who called this area home long before European settlers arrived and those whose names may not be recognizable but who helped shape our community.

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l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983). They were the great-grandchildren of Wealthy Andrews

I presented a paper on the research into early Black history at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual conference at the end of May. The paper discussed how shifting our research focus not only helps to tell a more accurate history of the community but helps to make the past more relatable the current Oshawa residents, strengthening the sense of community and spurring interest in our past with those who may not have been interested previously.


For more information on the Andrews/Dunbar/Pankhurst family, please read our three part series from Black History Month 2014

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part 1

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part II

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part III

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Blog Rewind: Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!

This post was originally published on October 9, 2015.

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Since 1957, the second Monday in October has been observed in Canada as Thanksgiving.  The history and lore of American Thanksgiving is well known, that it is a celebration of when the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together in the 1600s and shared a meal.  The origins and basis for Canadian Thanksgiving, in turn, isn’t as well known.  It is frequently tied to the story of Martin Frobisher who was one of many to search for the Northwest Passage.  He made three attempts, and on his third in 1578, there was a celebration on what is now known as Frobisher Island.  Another possible origin could be the harvest celebrations that occurred in New France in the 1600s.  The popularity of Thanksgiving increased in the late 1700s/early 1800s upon the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.  While ‘Thanksgiving’ was being celebrated, it was informal, being recognised by those celebrating and not as a publicly recognised holiday.

The first time Thanksgiving was formally recognized as a civic holiday after Confederation was on  April 5, 1872.  Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, recovered from a serious illness, and Thanksgiving was marked to celebrate this.

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year since 1879.  Initially, Thanksgiving was held on a Thursday in November, but in 1957, it was officially declared to be the second Monday in October.

 

The following are a selection of postcards from the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection.  From the staff and volunteers at the Oshawa Museum, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Month That Was – October 1862

All stories were reported in the Oshawa Vindicator.

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October 1, 1862, Page 2

The War
Washington, Sept 26 – The governors of the following states arrived here this morning from Altoona, OA, viz: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Indiana.

The last named (Indiana) was represented by Col. Rose.

Between 12 and one o’clock the governors of the states above named had an interview of an official character with President Lincoln…

The governors were courteously and kindly received, and their suggestions listened to with close attention by the President.

It is ascertained from those who had the best opportunities for knowing that there was no proposition made at the recent conference at Altoona, nor even a suggestion ventured, touching the removal of General McClellan, or was any proposition of suggestion made as to the promotion of General Fremont to the head of the army, or as to the future disposal of that gentleman.

 

Cincinnati, Sept 29 – Gen. Jefferson C. Davis shot Gen. Nelson at the Galt House, Louisville, this morning, killing him almost instantly

All business was totally suspended in this city yesterday, from 2 till 5pm, all the citizens being under drill. The turn-out was large.

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Hall’s Factory Burned!
It becomes our painful duty to announce the total demolition of the well-known Woollen Factory owned by Mr. Samuel Hall, located just north of Oshawa, and occupied by Mr. Geo. Brook.  It took fire it is not known how, near midnight on Monday evening, and in short time the building, and all the valuable stock and machinery, were reduced to a heap of ashes and smoking ruins.  Two men or horse-back were sent to Oshawa to give the alarm, and the fire engine and a lot of the men went out and did good service in assisting to save the property in the neighbourhood of the factory from the devouring element.

We learn that Mr. Hall had an insurance for $7,000 on the building, and the stick and machinery was insured in about $4,000.

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October 15, 1862, Page 1

To Abolish Fruit Stealing
As we grow older (and more charitable?) we are the more included to imagine that the stealing of fruit springs from an ignorant, heedless sportiveness, rather than from deliberate wickedness.  They who steal have never learned how much time and labor it costs to raise fruit; and seeing it in tempting plentifulness around, they think it can harm nobody very much if they take a little.  We do not justify this, nor do we depreciate the use of legal suasion at times; but would not a little moral influence and tact also be well? –American Agriculturalist

 

October 15, 1862, Page 2

Reception of Lord Monck at Whitby
Whitby, Oct 6th, 1862
The passage of His Excellency the Governor General through Whitby was seized upon by the laymen of the town and county as a suitable opportunist for the display of their attachment to the Mother Country, and their gratification at the assumption of the government of the Province by the present popular representative of Royalty. It became known that Lord Monck should be at the Whitby Station about one o’clock pm, and for some time before that hour men, women, and children began to wend their way thither.  A platform had been erected for His Excellency’s reception, with a canopy which was decorated with evergreens; a large motto proclaimed “welcome” to His Excellency, and several flags added to the gaiety of the scene. The Stouffville Brass Band discoursed sweet music before and during His Excellency’s stay. About a thousand persons were present, many of htem leading men from different parts of the County.

 

October 22, 1862, Page 2

Sudden Death
On Wednesday last, Mr. Daniel Robinson, living on lot No. 2 in the 9th Concession of East Whitby, came to Oshawa with a load of wheat. When within 2 ½ miles of his home, in returning, he was taken with terrible pains in his breast and stomach, and turned into the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. John McCullough.  As his condition did not improve, his wife was sent for, and on the following evening, sad to relate, his sufferings were relieved by death. He was a steady and industrious man of about 40 years of age, and leaves a wife and family to mourn over their sudden bereavement of their chief dependence and mainstay in life.

Union Cemetery’s Mausoleum

This article originally appeared in The Oshawa Daily Times, August 11, 1928. It has been supplemented with contemporary images, taken by curator Melissa Cole in 2016 (unless otherwise noted).

Like a beautiful chapel dedicated to sainted memories and undying affection, the Oshawa Mausoleum in the Union Cemetery invites the reverent glance of all who pass into or out of Oshawa on the westward approach of the Kingston Highway.

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(l): 1928, Oshawa Daily Times; (r) 2013, Oshawa Museum Oshawa Museum photograph

That noble structure is an essay in stone upon the beauty rather than the grimness of death. Sheltering within its stately corridors the remains of Oshawa citizens whose lives helped to shape its destinies, it stands a firm defiance against the ravages of time and mortal mutability.

The building of stately mausoleums in Ontario has been one of the significant phases of life following the late great war.  Many hearts torn by the tragedies of battlefields, where, at the best, loved ones have been left to keep eternal vigil on the field of their last supreme sacrifice, and where, at worst, stones which carry the poignant reminder that underneath lies one “Known to God” tell of those who gave even their identity in the battle for freedom, thoughtful men and women have turned with a sense of relief to the steadfast security and permanence of mausoleum interment for their loved ones.

The Canada Mausoleums, Ltd., with head offices in the Metropolitan Building, Adelaide and Victoria Street, Toronto, has rendered a splendid service to Canadians by fostering the erection of such beautiful structures as that which adorns the Union Cemetery. …

Floor Plan Oshawa Mausoleum

Oshawa’s mausoleum is built in an adaption of Egypto-Roman architecture.  Its chief beauty is that of line and mass, enhanced by the facade’s central arch which is as impressive as it is beautiful, and typifies the Christian belief that death itself is but a gateway to immortal happiness. The exterior is of cut Indiana limestone. Massive bronze doors open on the vestibule and central chapel at one end of which a window of beautiful stained glass, carrying its pictured message of comfort and hope, throws a jewelled arabesque of light upon the Wallace sandstone, bordered by black and green Missisquoi marble, which forms the floor of chapel and crypt inside.

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Two aisles, north and south with the building’s greater dimension, lined with the 310 permanent crypts, all but a small percentage of which are owned by local and district families.

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Oshawa Museum photograph

 

At either end of the crypt corridors are private chapels, separated from the corridors by bronze gates, which are owned by prominent Oshawa families.

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An important feature of the Oshawa mausoleum is that the basement contains forty-two crypts forming the Union Cemetery’s receiving vault for winter use. …

Union Cemetery’s many solemn beauties are enhanced by the Mausoleum, near which is the group of graves which closely resemble the war cemeteries of Canadian heroes who died in France. These graves are all headed with the Imperial War Graves’ headstones, and a central monument commemorates the sacrifices of those who, though living to return home, yet succumbed to the actual wounds or disabilities incident to service overseas.

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Oshawa Museum photograph

 


Scenes FB

Discover the stories of Oshawa’s Union Cemetery like never before. Actors bring history to life in Scenes from the Cemetery, a dramatic tour through Oshawa’s history.

Last year’s popular event returns with a look at Canada’s 150th! On Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10, take a tour through Oshawa’s Union Cemetery with the dramatic tour Scenes from the Cemetery. On this walking tour, actors will bring stories to life, portraying people from Oshawa’s past, celebrating these exceptional individuals and how their actions led to Canada’s genesis and growth.

The event runs on Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10, 2017; Show start times: 2pm; 2:20pm; 2:40pm; 3pm

Tickets are $20 each; tickets can be purchased in person at Guy House or online https://scenesfromthecemetery.com/tickets/

The Month That Was – September 1929

The Month That Was – September 1929
The Oshawa Daily Times
Governor-General to Visit Oshawa on September 16
Edition 04 September 1929

Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General of Canada, will pay an official visit to Oshawa on Monday, September 16, the city council was informed at its meeting last night. A special committee has been named to make arrangement for the civic reception to the Governor-General.

On his official visit, Viscount Willingdon will be accompanied by Vis-countess Willingdon and by several members of his staff, the official communication received by the council stated. The party will arrive at the Canadian National depot by special train at 10 o’clock Daylight Saving time, Monday morning, and from 10 o’clock to noon will be entertained by the city. At noon Viscount Willingdon will be the guest of R. S. McLaughlin at luncheon at Parkwood, and in the afternoon will make a tour of the local plants of General Motors.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
Helped Him
Edition 04 September 1929

“You know, Dad, he always said he’d never marry until the right girl came along.”
“Well, how does he know you are the right one?”
“Oh, I told him I was.”

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The Oshawa Daily Times
GOODYEAR ‘BLIMP’ VISITED OSHAWA THIS AFTERNOON
Edition 04 September 1929

Took Series of Motion Pictures and Photos from the Air

Oshawa was visited this afternoon by the dirigible of the Goodyear Tire Company, the now well-known “blimp” coming on here from the Canadian National Exhibition, where it was taking part in today’s air circus. On board the dirigible was a party of photographers and camera men, who took a series of still and motion pictures of the General Motors plant as seen from the air. After circling over the city for a short time, the big airship turned round and returned to Toronto, where it is making its headquarters for the next few days. The pictures taken from the air today are to be used in Chevrolet sales promotion work throughout Canada in the near future.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
DRUG TRAFFICKERS HAVE MANY TRICKS
Edition 04 September 1929

CARRIER PIGEONS USED TO TRANSPORT SUPPLIES OF DOPE

New Methods- Many Private Houses Are in the Guise of Clubs

Montreal – Behind closed doors and heavily curtained windows bogus West End night clubs are again selling liquor after hours and catering for drug addicts.

Following certain rumors of their renewed activities, I determined to find what really was happening in the West End, which after midnight is supposed to be drinkless. But the new proprietors are cautious – newcomers are not welcomed as in the old days.

 

The Oshawa Daily Times
New G. M. C. Building for Oshawa
Edition 07 September 1929

ERECTION OF NEW PARTS AND SERVICE BUILDING TO START IN TWO WEEKS

Wrecking of Three Houses on Site of New Building, Bond and Mary Streets, Has Already Started – Tenders Close Next Friday on the Building

H. A. Brown, General Manager of G. M. C. of Canada, Announces That Unit Will Probably Be Completed About January 1

A new parts and service building will be erected immediately by General Motors of Canada, Limited, it was announced this morning by H. A. Brown, vice-president and general manager of the company. The building will be erected on the north-east corner of Bond and Mary streets, immediately west of the present parts and service building.

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Pictured from left to right: John H. Beaton, general sales manager of General Motors of Canada; Geo. E. Amsely, sales manager of McLaughlin-Buick Motor Car Co.; H. A. Brown, vice-president and general manager of General Motors of Canada; Charles H. Ricketta, manager of the McLaughlin-Buick factory branch in Toronto; and R. S. McLaughlin, president of General Motors of Canada.

The Oshawa Daily Times
Highest Award for Local Poultryman
Edition 07 September 1929

John Thomas Wins Grand Championship Prize at C. N. E.

Whitby, Sept. 7. – The grand championship for the finest bird on display at the poultry show of the Canadian National Exhibition has been awarded to a barred rock cockerel owned by Constable John Thomas of the Whitby police force. This year constable Thomas displayed ten chickens at the poultry show and besides the high honor mentioned above his chickens have been awarded three first and two second prizes and the challenge shield for the best display of barred rocks.

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The Oshawa Daily Times
FIREMEN ROUTE ANGRY HORNETS
Edition 07 September 1929

Insects Were Attacking Pedestrians on Centre Street

“How doth the bust bee improve each shining hour?” is a question asked in a familiar ditty which was answered yesterday for local people by a number of hornets, which if not bees, may be at least regarded as near relatives. These particular hornets had built a nest in a tree in fornt of the residence of Dr. C. E. Wilson, Centre street, and they knew how to improve each shinning hour. Individual members of the colony took great delight in bussing down from the nest and attacking pedestrians as they passed along the street. The infirm, the aged and the very young were not spared and it was remarkable the impetus which pedestrian traffic received through the application of a few hornet stings. They did not complain to the police but laid their troubles before the fire department.

The local brigade is called upon to do many unusual things even though there are no Doukabhors in Oshawa who may require a soaking with streams from a fire hose as in Nelson, B. C. But Chief Elliott’s department is equal to any emergency and the fireman immediately prepared to make war upon the hornets. Instead of rushing to the scene with bells ringing and sirens blowing they crept up quietly on the unsuspecting insects. The nest was located and promptly set on fire.