The Host Files: Why Carmela Likes Oshawa

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 Carmela D., Visitor Host

Being a new resident in Oshawa, Ontario, I am constantly learning about all the places there are to enjoy in this beautiful city.  The city is surrounded by farms and the lake, yet it has plenty of shopping, restaurants, and interesting places to see. Before I even arrived in the Fall of 2013, I was so excited to explore the city online, so that when I arrived I could start experiencing all that Oshawa offers.

Three places that excited me most were the waterfront and the museums, particularly  Lakeview Park and the Oshawa Museum, as well as Parkwood Estate.  Within about 5 days of arriving from our long distance move, I left rows of cardboard boxes lining the hallways of my home, picked my children up from their new school, and headed down to the lake, in the hope of having our first tour of the OM. It was so exciting to be there and Lisa did a fabulous job giving us our first tour! We learned all about the three 1800s homes and drive shed that are situated along the lakefront.  We got ice-cream at the Oshawa-famous Tommy’s across from the sandy beach area. We walked the pier, enjoying the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sunshine.  My children played on the different playgrounds, we walked the pathways, and enjoyed the peaceful scenery. We were in our happy place which was such a nice memory for our early days in Oshawa.

Winter came quickly so I couldn’t wait for Spring, when I envisioned myself at Parkwood Estate, strolling through the gardens that I had explored online.  It was so exciting to drive into the grounds, seeing the mansion on my left and then the former carriage house on my right.  My husband and I had pre-booked a lunch in the Tea House, at the back of the gorgeous fountains.  What a fantastic view and tasty meal! We had a tour of Samuel and Adelaide McLaughlin’s former home, where they raised their 5 daughters.  I can only imagine the splendor that those girls experienced. The home was full of the family’s belongings, the guide was very thorough, and it was interesting to see the indoor pool and bowling lane.

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Carmela at Parkwood in 2015, attending the Victory Garden Party outreach for the Oshawa Museum

It was now the second Fall here, after a year of settling in, when we came to the OM for another tour.  We thought we’d make it a tradition!  I have always taken my young ones to historic places where ever we have found ourselves.  I believe it’s important to understand the history of where we are in order to fully appreciate how the present has come to be. We were so excited to go back to the place that we remembered so fondly just one year prior.  We had another wonderful tour, this time with Jill.  I happened to ask if the OM hired at all, as I was working very part-time jobs around my children and had room in my schedule to work in a place I enjoyed so much.  I was in the right place at the right time and was hired not long afterward! I was so excited and now I enjoy the history of Oshawa on a regular basis and from a different viewpoint.  I feel privileged to work at the home of Oshawa’s history with such a lovely group of staff and volunteers.

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The OM Crew after Lamplight 2015! Carmela is second from right

How Oshawa Celebrates the Civic Holiday – McLaughlin Day

As the dog days of summer carry on, the long weekend in August comes as a nice break.  The Civic Holiday is known by several names across the country;  British Columbians enjoy British Columbia Day, Saskatchewaners take in Saskatchewan Day, and New Brunswickers celebrate, you guessed it, New Brunswick Day.

Generally, the holiday is known as the Civic Holiday in Ontario, although different regions have their own names for the day, many of them taking the day as an opportunity to recognize important citizens or founders.  Toronto recognizes the day as Simcoe Day, it is Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough, and John Galt Day in Guelph.  

RS McLaughlin
RS McLaughlin, from the Oshawa Community Archives

Oshawa is no exception.  We honour one of our favourite citizens every Civic Day, where we proclaim the first Monday of August to be McLaughlin Day after Col. RS McLaughlin.  Sam McLaughlin was an automotive pioneer and philanthropist, and he loved this City as much as the City loved him.

A983.39.1 - button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week
A983.39.1 – button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week

McLaughlin Day was first celebrated in 1983, and Oshawans were encouraged to visit the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Parkwood, and the Automotive Museum, and even though it rained, ‘spirits were high,’ and the day ended with fireworks in Lakeview Park!  McLaughlin Day was the beginning of a week long celebration known as McLaughlin Celebration Week.

Parkwood National Historic Site
Parkwood National Historic Site

This McLaughlin Day, visit RS McLaughlin’s former home, Parkwood National Historic Site for special basement tours, or come down to the Oshawa Community Museum and regale in the history of the City that Sam so loved.  We are offering tours from 12-4 on Monday, August 5.

“I love the old town and am always glad to do anything towards its improvement.” 
-Col. RS McLaughlin

 

Happy McLaughlin Day!

References:

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Civic Holiday”, from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/civic-holiday

Canada Info, “First Monday in August Holiday,” from http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/symbols_facts&lists/august_holiday.html

Oshawa This Week, ‘Hats off to McLaughlin Day,’ August 3, 1983