By Melissa Cole, Curator
One of the main projects I have been working on is the creation of a virtual exhibit for the Digital Museum of Canada, looking at the history of Oshawa’s waterfront with a focus on the harbour. This exhibit is a collaborative project with content sourced from various community archives and our local community. Here is a sneak peak at one of the stories that will be highlighted in this virtual exhibit.
Oshawa Sea Rangers
The Sea Rangers were a branch of Guiding for teens until 1964 that eventually became known simply as “Rangers.” The Sea Rangers merged with the Air Rangers and became “Rangers,” who would specialize in sea or air activities, where facilities are available.
The Sea Rangers gave their members a sense of pride working with others and created many long last friendships. Sea Rangers provided young women with the opportunity to develop their confidence and responsibility through the mentoring of other women.
The Oshawa Sea Rangers, known as the Crusaders, would meet at the Oshawa Navy League, Cadet Hall, to practice precision drills. The Cadet Hall, located at 44 Oshawa Boulevard North, is still in the same location today.
The Oshawa Harbour was the location where Oshawa’s Sea Rangers, practiced drills on the lake and their cutters were stored in the boat house that was located on the east side of the beach. The sea cadets and rangers both used the boathouse at the lake to store their cutters. The cutters were rowed by a team of ten with a coxswain who steered the cutter and set the pace. Practices took place once a week at the harbour, sometimes more as the regatta got closer, practices would increase to twice a week. When practicing, the cutter would be rowed out of the inner harbour, along the jetty and out into the open lake.Sandra Gaskell
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Sea Cadet (Navy Club) boat house was located at the lakefront, west of the Yacht Club. The Sea Cadets took the cutters out in the spring, where it would be tied up, usually on the west wall or the south wall. In the fall the cutter would be placed back in the boat house. During this time, it was possible to drive right over to the inner harbour near where the cutter would be tied up.
There is a group of friends who talk about our Sea Ranger days every time we get together. All these Sea Rangers married Sea cadets except for two of us. The boat house at the lake was where we kept the cutters that both the sea cadets and rangers used. Several boathouse paintings of the boathouse hang in at least 4 homes. My sisters, Marg & Pat won the cutter races in the ‘50s. Cathy and I crewed wins in the ‘60s. We have photos to prove it. Not to mention the blisters on our hands and backsides. All the sea rangers kept log books and photos. Mine are long gone but a few others have theirs.Mary Ellen Cole