Memories of the Civic

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

My family moved to Oshawa in 1986, not long after I turned seven years old. We lived in a nice area within walking distance to schools, shops, and the Oshawa Centre, but best of all the Civic Auditorium. I have so many great memories of the Civic that were brought back after commenting on a photo in the Facebook group Vintage Oshawa; it was posted a few weeks ago and I decided to write about those memories.

Civic Auditorium

My brother, sister and I all took swimming lessons at the Civic. This was brought on after my brother fell into the creek at Camp Samac and could not swim. Back then, the levels were divided up by colour and you received a badge if you passed the level. Currently all of mine are sewn onto my campfire blanket that we used for Cub and Scout campfires at Samac. At the time, the Civic also had two diving boards, the ‘high diving board’ and ‘the low one.’ I can clearly remember my sister belly flopping off the high one. I only jumped off once and that was enough for me.

We took swimming lessons because that is what my parents said we had to do. It was ok, but I have awful memories of being made to go grocery shopping (Miracle Mart in the Whitby Mall) afterward with dry skin from the pool and static-y hair from the dryers.

My best friend in elementary school was a synchronized swimmer and their club trained at the Civic. I spend many evenings there watching her train and watching competitions. Until 2005, the only viewing gallery was upstairs. For swimming lessons, parents would get their kids changed in the lower floor change rooms then go up to watch their kids in the upper gallery. Within the gallery there was also tiered seating. The higher up you sat, the hotter it got – but that’s where the cool kids sat to watch the synchro competitions.

Me and another girl helped our synchro friend ‘train’ by running the track in the Dome with her. Mostly we would just mess around, but that changed when the Dome was removed to be replaced in 1990. It seemed like it was down forever! In 1999, the Dome actually did collapse under high winter winds in March. It meant months of seeing a weird gap where it had once stood until it was reopened on November 1, 1999.

We spent an enormous amount of time in the arena as a family too. Almost weekly, we would walk over on Sunday’s for public skating. Low wooden boards, only comfortable enough to sit of a minute or two, partitioned ‘the baby section.’  The grown ups and big kids skated counter clockwise around the rest of the rink. I don’t remember the direction alternating. There were tons of great songs to skate to, but the one that sticks out the most was the instrumental Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire by David Foster and the version with lyrics St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr. Any time I hear the first few bars of that song it instantly takes me back to that time.

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At a Gens game, December 1990. From the Oshawa Times Collection, Oshawa Museum archival collection

In addition to public skating, there were also a number of ‘Skate with the Generals” days. Getting to skate with the ’89 and ‘90s teams was so much fun! The Generals (and all of the OHL players for that matter) always seemed so grown up, but it was not until I grew up that I realized what babies they were – most of them still in high school! I wish I still had all of my OHL hockey cards! We knew the schedule of the games, we knew when practices were and watched them often. My friends and I had a regular section we sat in; one of their cousins played for the Pete’s, so those games were always interesting. Games against the Kitchener Rangers or Sudbury Wolves were always good too. I saw a few bench clearing brawls back in the day. There was always the 50/50 draw at the games. One time my Dad won. I remember him taking home a brown lunch bag of change! At each game, a giant six-foot sub was given away too!

I’ve taken my kids swimming there a few times in the last few years. Some of the ambiance is the same, the blue walls and railing as you walk down to the stairs to the pool area (even though the Sports Hall of Fame photos are no longer on the wall,) but mostly it seems big and impersonal. Sometimes I completely forget that the arena is no longer there. You could always open the doors and see who was in there practicing or what event they were getting ready for. As I’m trying to finish writing this more and more memories keep flooding back – seeing the Barenaked Ladies there on their first ever tour, countless trips to the Circus and even sledding down the giant steps that faced Thornton Road during huge snowstorms. I could go on forever, but I’ll finish by wishing that my kids end up having memories of a place like this to look back on as I do when I think about the Civic.


Sources:
Oshawa Museum archival collection: Civic Auditorium Box 0002, File 0047

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/

Street Name Stories: Building a Nation Pt. II, The Explorers

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

With the plethora of 150 commemorations taking place this year, I thought I could use my usual Street Name Stories blog series to throw another hat in the ring.  Looking at a map of Oshawa, there are a number of streets whose names are commonplace in the history of Canada.  Over the next five Street Name Stories Post, I will look at street(s) whose namesakes helped contribute to the growth of Canada.  In Part I, we looked at Oshawa’s Indigenous People who have called the our country home for thousands of years.

The earliest Europeans to arrive at North America were the Norse who settled for a time at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland; their stay was brief and did not make an overall impact in the settling of Canada.  Their story is an interesting footnote, but it is generally regarded as just that rather than the next chapter of our story. That chapter begins in the late 1400s.  At the turn of the 16th Century, a slew of European explorers began to take to the high seas and ‘discover the new world.’  In 1497, John Cabot arrived at Canada’s Atlantic coast and claimed it for England, and less than 40 years later, the French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed the St. Lawrence and in turn claimed it for France. Several attempts to colonize and settle in this ‘newly discovered country’ were made and generally unsuccessful; the climates were harsh and disease was prevalent. Nevertheless, trading posts and companies were also established, and in 1608, Quebec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

Champlain is an interesting figure in our history.  He was an explorer and cartographer who created many early maps of what is today Quebec and Ontario.  He established good relationships with the Huron (Wendat) peoples, relationships that helped the French settlers survive the Canadian winters.  In turn, hostile relationships with the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) were forged as the Wendat and Haudenosaunee were already opponents.  Champlain would travel back and forth across the Atlantic a number of times in his life, and he died in Quebec City in 1635.  New France would grow and thrive over the next century until the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.  More on that next month.

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Statue of Samuel de Champlain located on Dufferin Terrace, Quebec City

Cabot Street and Cartier Avenue are found southeast of King and Stevenson; other explorers in that neighbourhood include Frobisher Court (English explorer who sought the northwest passage), Valdez Court (Spanish naval man who first circumnavigated Vancouver Island),  and Vancouver Court and Street (another British explorer who navigated around Canada’s Pacific Coast and namesake for Vancouver Island and the City of Vancouver).  Champlain Avenue is found directly north of Highway 401 between Thickson Road in Whitby and Stevenson Road in Oshawa.


Want to know more about these early explorers? 

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has in-depth looks at Cabot, Cartier, and Champlain.

For a more ‘readers digest’ version, the Canadian Encyclopedia gives an excellent overview of their lives and expeditions (Cabot, Cartier, and Champlain).

Student Museum Musings – Gabby

When I first started my co-op, I knew I would be here during the change of exhibits within Robinson House. What I did not know is how active I would be in the instillation. I expected to take predetermined artefacts and put them in predetermined places. However, what I got was almost the exact opposite.

Melissa Cole has been super amazing and allowed me to pick multiple of the artefacts that are going into the exhibit. I have chosen cameras, pottery pieces, medical instruments, photos and even quotations.

Student Museum Musings 1

The entire process is much harder then it seems. You would think that it is as simple as picking some artefacts and laying them out nice and pretty; while that is actually what happens, it is hard. “The bigger artefacts go in the back and the smaller in the front, right?” Wrong. “These two are similar colours so they go on the same side.” Nope. “I can do this in half an hour and then get to the other project I am working on.” You wish.

Student Museum Musings 2

While figuring out how to best display artefacts is difficult, so is choosing them. While some artefacts have dear little places in our own hearts, we also have to consider which artefacts the community wants to see. I may love one for one reason where someone else dislikes it for the same reason.

Student Museum Musings 3

The other aspect of picking artefacts that makes doing so difficult is that there are so many. I want to pick them all. If I could, I would put all 300+ cameras on display. However, that is an insane number of cameras and so only nine or ten can actually go out! That is only 3% of that entire collection. See where the difficulty lies?

Another cool thing about the new exhibit is how the two halves of my co-op are coming together. I get to promote it on social media, and even design activities for visitors to do while taking tours!

Student Museum Musings 4

I hope that all of you who come to see the new exhibit Celebrating 60 Years enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed helping with its creation. This amazing exhibit runs from April to November 2017.

Logo for OMA copy

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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