Canada: 150 Years… or is it?

This blog series comes from our dedicated and awesome Visitor Host staff, and topics range from favourite artifacts, thoughts on our latest exhibits, and anything else in between!

By Sarah C., Visitor Host

This year is Canada’s 150th birthday!  It has been 150 years since Canada became a Dominion. But oddly enough, we have only been celebrating Canada Day for the last 35 years. It is interesting the changes Canada has gone through over the last 150 years.

The progression from British colony to independent nation of the Commonwealth was not as simple as turning on a light. In 1867 the British North America Act created Canada with its first four provinces and it allowed for some level of autonomy. Canada as we know it has been developing ever since then.

It was not until 1947 that people were ‘citizen of Canada’ previously they had been British citizens. Changes such as this, the introduction of our own flag and anthem were all steps in creating an independent Canadian identity.

Provinces and territories have been added to create the physical layout of Canada that we know today. The last change occurring in 1999 with the creation of Nunavut.  That is 132 years of changes to get to the country we recognize today!

This year is the 86th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster. Though 64 years after Dominion Day, it also had significant impact on the Canadian government’s ability to act independently from the British government. It provided clarification to the Dominion’s legislative independence, particularly in regard to foreign policy. More changes would follow to allow Canada to further act independently of Britain. I always think of it as a significant action in Canada’s independence, but really it was another action in a gradual progression to the country that we see today.

As I was writing this I was shown this CBC video which helps to ask the question of how old Canada really is. It is really cool and it highlights more notable changes that have occurred in Canada over the last 150 years.


References & Resources:

http://www.pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/canadian-citizenship-act-1947

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/constitution-act-1867/

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/statute-of-westminster/

Month That Was: June 1927

All news articles have come from The Oshawa Daily Reformer

Seven Nurses Awarded Diplomas
Edition 11 June, 1927
Colourful Scene as Seven Nurses Receive Diplomas and Award at Hospital Graduation Exercises
…Seven young ladies who during the past three years have labored faithfully and devotedly in the training school of the Oshawa General Hospital, receive last night their diplomas as graduate nurses. Held in the assembly hall of the Collegiate Institute, the graduation was marked by a profusion of floral beauty and delightful ceremony. Presentation of the scholarships and prizes won by the graduating and undergraduate members of the training school followed the awarding of the diplomas. The address to the graduating class was delivered by Dr. F. N. G. Starr, of Toronto and he charged them that they uphold the spirit of their profession and make their careers what the great Lister has called “glorious occupations.” Gordon Conant, chairman of the hospital Board of Directors presided and in the absence of J, D, Storie, president of the Board, presented the diplomas.

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Cars Wrecked in Highway Crash
Edition 11 June, 1927
Three Autos Figure in a Collision at Liverpool on Kingston Road
Three cars were smashed in a mix-up in front of the Liverpool Hotel at Liverpool this morning A Dodge car driven by W. R. L. Blackwell, of Toronto, struck a Whippet motor car owned by S. J. Jackson of Toronto, which suddenly pulled out on the highway in front of it.

The Whippet was thrown a considerable distance on to the front of the car of William Anderson, of Dunbarton, smashing the radiator of the Anderson car. The Dodge was badly damaged as well and the Whippet was a complete wreck. Jackson has been charged by the Provincial Highway officer with reckless driving. All of the drivers escaped without any serious injuries though Jackson was badly bruised.

 

Teeth a Menace, Experts Discover.
Edition 29 June, 1927
Carnegie Foundation Asserts Most Risk Comes Through Mouth
New York, June 29 – Teeth are more apt to become defective than any other part of the body, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching reported Tuesday after a six year study of dental education in Canada and the United States.

“Disease germs that enter the body through decayed teeth, or along the side of the disordered teeth are frequent causes of such serious and common maladies as rheumatism, kidney trouble and heart failure,” the report aid.

“In 1924, of the 135,640 officers and men in the United States army – who, as a group are presumable among the healthiest persons – 12,507 were treated for dental disability.”

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Well Known Stars Coming to New Martin Theatre Monday
Edition 11 June, 1927
John Gilbert and Renee Adoree Both in “The Show” Coming To Regent Monday
John Gilbert and Renee Adoree, the combination that scored one of the screen successes of history in “The Big Parade,” are together for the first time since that picture, in “The Show,” Metro-Goldyn-Mayer’s sensational romance of the Budapest underworld, coming Monday to the Regent theatre.

They play the central characters in a strange romance laid in a mysterious sideshow on the outskirts of the “invisible city” – a sideshow of illusions, magician’s tricks and strange grotesques, with a “decapitations” illusion in which Gilbert has his head cut off in a “Salome” travesty as the central feature. Tod Browning, director of “The Unholy Three” and “The Road to Mandalay,” directed the story, from Waldemar Young’s adaptation of the Charles Tenney Jackson novel.

The settings, including the grotesque sideshows, with their floating living heads, mermaids, “spider women” and other startling illusions are realistic to the extreme, whole blocks of reproductions of quaint Budapest streets and other incidentals being used in the gripping mystery story.

Gilbert plays a swashbuckling sideshow “barker” and Miss Adoree a Salome dancer in the production, with Lionel Barrymore as “The Greek,” a sinister gangster leading, and Edward Connelly as the old blind man who eventually brings about an astounding climax.

 

A Lasting Memorial
Edition 11 June, 1927
There is in Oshawa a general agreement with Mayor Preston’s suggestion that the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation should be marked in permanent fashion by the erection of a fountain in front of the way memorial. It is to be hoped that this idea can be carried to a successful conclusion.

Not only will the installation of a fountain do away with the frog pond in front of the memorial, but there is also a peculiar appropriateness in having a fountain beside that beautiful monument. Water running continuously from a fountain suggests that the recollection of those in whose honor the memorial was erected, never ceases, that they are never forgotten, that they are, indeed, in the “Garden of the Unforgotten.”

By all means, let us have the fountain. It is also suggested that benches be plentifully supplied in that park. This too, should be looked after. That beautiful spot should be made more beautiful still and every opportunity should be seized to make it in every respect as attractive as possible. “The Garden of the Unforgotten is a shrine. The whole place should be made as restful, as peaceful, and as appropriate as it can be made.

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Red Cross Cottage To Be Formally Opened Wednesday
Edition 11 June, 1927
Was Completed at a Cost of More Than $3,00 to Rotary Club While General Motors Donated Duco for Painting Cottage and Chas. Bowrs Donated Wiring – Cottage Will Be Available for Outing for Crippled and Under-Privileged Children
The Red Cross Cottage erected in Lakeview Park by the Rotary Club will be opened on Wednesday, June 15. On this occasion the Rotary officials will hand over to the Red Cross officials the documents establishing the right of the Red Cross Society to use the cottage absolutely free of cost so far as the Rotary Club is concerned. It is the intention that the Cottage will be available as an outing for crippled and under-privileged children. It will mean an enlargement of the work that has been carried on in the past by the Red Cross in smaller and less suitable quarters.

The Cottage is a creditable addition to Oshawa’s institutions. While it has been mainly financed by the Rotary Club, General Motors of Canada through Rotarian Gordon LeFebvre have been most generous in painting the whole of the exterior with Duco and Rotarian Charles Bowra, has provided the electric installation. The work was undertaken at an expense of over #,000 to the Rotary Club has been made possible by the street fair conducted by the Rotary Club last summer with such successful results. Some work yet remains to be done in the construction of a stairway to the water’s edge and other structures f a minor nature but after the opening on Wednesday it will be ready and available for the purposes of the Red Cross.

 

The Oshawa Daily Reformer
Roof Caught Fire
Edition 11 June, 1927
Fire started on the roof of the home of John Cameron. King and Charles streets at ll.10 this morning. Sparks from the chimney started the blaze which was quickly extinguished by the fire department without any serious damage being done.

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Student Museum Musings – Durham LIT Students

Their semester has wrapped up, but before they were finished, two students from the Durham College Library & Information Technician program shared their experiences as interns at the Oshawa Museum.  Here’s what they had to say.

Jenn

As part of the final year at Durham College’s Library and Information Technician program, I am at the Oshawa Museum completing field placement hours. I have had the opportunity to work on the museum’s newest publication – The Annotated Memoirs of Rev. Thomas Henry. I got thrown onto this project as a sort of “happy accident:”  I was originally slated to be working in the archive, but help was needed elsewhere.

The book is being annotated by Laura Suchan, Executive Director of the Oshawa Museum, and Stoney Kudel, president of the Oshawa Historical Society. I have been designing the overall layout of the book.

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A973.13.1 – Elder Thomas Henry

As an out-of-town student, working on this book has been my introduction to the history of Oshawa and the Henry family. I can’t begin to say how much research has gone into this publication. On my part, it was mostly because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the stories that I was reading about, and I wanted to relate what was happening in Oshawa (then East Whitby Township) to what I knew about the history of Ontario and Canada as a whole.

The museum is fortunate enough to have a lot of the Henry family’s history. I’ve had the opportunity to search through letters, early censuses and photographs, all in the sake of finding information for this book. I’ve enjoyed learning the different histories – being told to sit down and do research has been a dream these past few months.

Unfortunately, with the semester ending, I am finished my internship at the museum, and as of now, the book is not yet complete, though it should be soon. I look forward to seeing how all the work we’ve done comes together in print.


Amanda

I’m a firm believer in what we learn from our past will guide us in the future so history has always been a huge interest of mine. Learning about how an archive and museum are run in class was fun, but actually getting to come into the archives and be able to see and touch history with my own two hands was another experience all together. From my time at the archives I was able to see the real behind the scenes of how an archives is run and operated daily. Through the task I was assigned I got to see what it was like to actually go through a donation and learned the value of recording everything. I also got a chance to see just how much time one project can take. From going through the newspapers, clipping, photocopying, and encasing them it took around 19 hours. With how little staff and money is usually given to archives you can see how much one person needs to do.

I’m very grateful for the experience! and now when I go to museums/archives I will truly know the value of them, not just from a preserving history stance.


Thank you to Jenn and Amanda for sharing their stories!

Want to know more about our Winter Semester post-secondary students? Jenn, Peter, Sarah, and Elora introduced themselves in an earlier post!

Cabinets of Curiosity: Sixty Years of Collecting

By Melissa Cole, Curator

Since 1957 our collection has grown in ways that may surprise the average visitor.  With more than 50 000 objects and archival records, our collection is vast and unsurpassed in its diversity and size in the City.  Celebrating our first 60 years, the OM will feature objects with the richest stories to tell, from our 1837 Rebellion Box to our largest artefacts, the historic homes.

As a homage to our own history, we are presenting this exhibition as an interpretation of the cabinet of curiosity.  Given our curious natures and innate desire to collect, it is no wonder that the modern museum has its roots planted in the privately owned collections of extraordinary objects from the past.  These collections, called cabinets of curiosity, first became popular in the Renaissance and reached their peak of popularity in the Victorian Era.  Amateur and professional scientists kept their most prize specimens hidden away, until the elite members of society began to seek them out and placed in ornate display cases for all to see.  Some of these collections filled entire rooms.

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Inside Celebrating 60

Our exhibition, Celebrating 60: Sixty Years of Collecting features rarely seen, a few odd and curious objects drawn from the Oshawa Museum’s collection.  Deciding which artefacts to display was not an easy task, with assistance from museum staff members who shared their favourite artefacts and we asked Oshawa Historical Society members to assist us in choosing a quilt to display in the exhibition.  Visitors will have the unique opportunity to peruse various objects and documents of curiosity and wonder, up close and in a personal way.

This exhibition is dedicated to the OM’s past Curators, not only for the artefacts they helped to collect but for the stories and material culture they helped to preserve for future generations.

Join us at the Oshawa Museum in celebrating our first 60 years.

Logo for OMA copy

Where The Streets Get Their Name – Vimy Avenue

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

“The whole Empire will rejoice at the news of yesterday’s successful operations. Canada will be proud that the taking of the coveted Vimy Ridge has fallen to the lot of her troops. I heartily congratulate you and all who have taken part in this splendid achievement.”¹

There are many anniversaries being celebrated in 2017.  Canada marks 150 of confederation, which means the Province of Ontario is also 150 years old. Locally, the Oshawa Historical Society is celebrating 60, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery is celebrating 50, and Parkwood National Historic Site is 100, with construction of RS McLaughlin’s mansion completed in 1917.  Another 100 year milestone being commemorated is 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a landmark battle in the First World War. which took place from April 7 to 12, 1917.

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The Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial, located near Vimy, France; photographer: L. Terech, 2012

As our archivist Jennifer Weymark relayed in one of her podcasts about Vimy Ridge:

The battle at Vimy Ridge is considered by many historians to be a defining moment in Canadian history.  It was during this battle that Canadian troops were heralded for their bravery and their strength and for leading a stunning victory. This victory was not without great cost in terms of loss of life as over 10 000 Canadian were killed or wounded in this battle. Vimy Ridge was the first time all four Canadian divisions attached as together.  The battle was considered a turning point in the war and holding the ridge was important to the eventual allied victory.

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Phillip J. Phillips, from the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum

One Oshawa man, Phillip J. Phillips, was part of the 116th Battalion and fought with the 18th Canadian Infantry Battalion during the battle of Vimy Ridge. He survived the initial battle and was relived from the front line by the 24th Battalion.  At this time the 18th Battalion moved back to the divisional reserve on April 13th.  On May 6th, the battalion moved back to the front to relieve the 24th  Battalion.  The front line was under heavy shell fire.  On May 7th, 5 soldiers were killed, 13 wounded, under continuous bombardment of gas-shells by the Germans.  Phillips was one of the five that were killed that day.  He was buried at the Vimy Communal Cemetery, near Lens, France.

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Vimy Avenue was a street that was developed during the 1920s, a period of growth for the City of Oshawa.  It is found in the neighbourhood northeast of Olive and Ritson, and other streets in its vicinity include Verdun Road, Courcellette Avenue, St. Eloi Avenue, and Festhurbert Street, all named in honour of significant World War I battles.  These streets all feature a poppy on the sign.

Lest we forget.


¹ His Majesty the King to Field-Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, April 10, 1917. War Diary, 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. RG 9, series III, vol. 4881, folders 236-239.  Accessed from https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/firstworldwar/025005-1300-e.html 

 

For further reading about the Battle of Vimy Ridge, please visit the following sites:

Canadian War Museum, The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917

Canadian Encyclopedia, The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Veterans Affairs Canada, The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Historica Canada, The Battle of Vimy Ridge (Heritage Minute)