Student Museum Musings – Helaina

By Helaina, Social Media Assistant Co-op Student

Hey there! I’m Helaina, the afternoon co-operative student here at the Oshawa Museum until January 2015. I started not too long ago, but already I’ve been swept away with a whole bunch of information about Oshawa, and things that I never knew about. My first day I was taken on a full tour of the Museum and was able to see all the ins and outs. Exploring and investigating the houses was a really fun time because I saw a side of Oshawa that I’ve never seen before. I was really shocked when I learned that there were two archaeological digs here in Oshawa. I had no idea these happened, it was very cool to learn about what was here hundreds of years ago and how Oshawa has changed since then. So far my favourite thing that I’ve learned about is the Henry family. They have a story that I want to explore and tap into. The Robinson family however, also seems like a very interesting family because of certain people in their history. It’s quite fascinating to see how times have changed and remained the same. I hope to have an amazing time here and so far I have not been disappointed!

-Until Next Time, Helaina

 

The following are photos around the Museum, as taken by Helaina

Some items available at the general store in Robinson House
Some items available at the general store in Robinson House

The kitchen in Henry House.
The kitchen in Henry House.

The Piano from a low angle in the front room of Robinson House.
The Piano from a low angle in the front room of Robinson House.

The outdoor side porch of the Robinson House.
The outdoor side porch of the Robinson House.

Student Museum Musings – Everything is AWESOME!

By Caitlan Madden, Summer Student 

Few months ago, we came across this amazing Tumblr board called When You Work at a Museum. It’s perfect for anybody who has, you guessed it, worked in a museum.

In the middle of May this tumblr board started a museum dance off. They received a total of 22 submissions on 4 continents, the winner being the National Sculpture Museum (Museo Nacional de Escultura’s Mi Gran Noche) in Spain. But our lovely neighbours from the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology came in 3rd place! Although we are late to the game that doesn’t mean that we cannot get in on the fun and create a dance video of our own.

We may be small museum compared to others, but when it comes to dancing, well you could say we sure know how to have a good time!

Please go watch our dance video, and don’t forget to check out the Tumblr board http://whenyouworkatamuseum.com/

 

The Oshawa Museum is AWESOME (Click to follow link)

My Reflections of Oshawa

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Earlier this year, the Oshawa Community Museum began a project to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of Oshawa being a City.  We’ve called the project Reflections of Oshawa, and we are collecting memories from the community of what Oshawa means to them and their memories of the City.  Recently, a great deal of my time has been dedicated to this project, whether it’s co-ordinating the AMAZING youth volunteers we have, or scheduling interviews with community members.  With ‘Reflections’ being such a dominant theme right now, it has given me the opportunity to do my own reflecting on Oshawa.

Firstly when I think of Oshawa’s history, I can’t help but think of my beloved Grandpa.  He was born in one of the row townhouses on Olive Avenue, worked for Duplate, lived in Oshawa his entire life; to me, he represented all that is positive and good about Oshawa.  He would often share stories about his childhood growing up, and I think one of my favourites is how during the hot summer nights, he and his sisters would take blankets and sleep outside in Cowan Park rather than in the hot, un-air conditioned townhouse.  What a different world he lived in!

Me and my Grandpa at my university graduation
Me and my Grandpa at my university graduation

Another favourite Reflection for me involves the Museum!  I have fond memories of visiting the Oshawa Community Museum when it was the Oshawa Sydenham Museum on a school trip! I was in Grade 4, and we went to school in the schoolroom exhibit in Robinson House, and we churned butter in the Henry House Kitchen.  Today, when school tours come through, students get the chance to ‘go to school’ in the schoolroom exhibit, and many churn butter in the Henry House Kitchen! While somethings change, the good things stay the same.

The schoolroom exhibit in Robinson House and I'm playing the role of the teacher, a different role from when I visited in Grade 4.
The schoolroom exhibit in Robinson House and I’m playing the role of the teacher, a different role from when I visited in Grade 4.

What are your Reflections of Oshawa? What makes Oshawa the city you know and love?

Volunteer’s Views – The years bring change but history remains the same…

By Kathryn, Valued Volunteer!

Hard to believe that I have been volunteering for the Oshawa Community  Museum and Archives for nearly eleven years, it only seems like yesterday that I met everyone at the Jubilee Pavilion. The room they were in was large dark, damp and uninviting; a make shift office while the Guy house was under repairs from the disastrous fire. I recall my volunteer duties were working on a data entry program of current newspaper articles and later moving on in the summer to assisting with the weekly Victorian Tea and the children’s programs.

Kathryn helping with an Archaeology program
Kathryn helping with an Archaeology program

Back then I might reflect that Murray MacKay was a prominent fixture at the museum. He always was cheerfully attending to the museum’s maintenance needs; his pride in keeping the museum to its historical presence was surely apparent in his affection for the houses.

When I first started with the museum the drive shed was not there, just grass; I think there was a sleigh cutter sled covered by a tarp up in the garage? Monthly meeting where held at the Albert United Church and social media, gee what was that! The old boards that made up the deck in front of the garden by the Henry house were a thorn in Murray’s side as he was always worried someone’s foot would go through and twist their ankle!  The Victorian teas really are the same; however, we used real pretty delicate napkins.  Now, disposable… a sign of the times.

Robinson House
Robinson House

As for Robinson House, so many fantastic exhibits have come and gone. As well, who could deny that the upgraded walk way, front steps and little tweaks each year at the general store has certainly enhanced its historical beauty.

I have not even touched on the impressive restoration projects, the new friendship with Trent University and the behind working of the museum staff to preserve our local history that I have witnessed and been a part of as a volunteer.

Volunteering for the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives as always been a pleasure for me; the staff has continually extended their appreciation for my time and being a part of Oshawa’s history has been an honor for me.

Kathryn and Jennifer at the United Way Volunteer Fair, 2014
Kathryn and Jennifer at the United Way Volunteer Fair, 2014

 

Thank you Kathryn for your post and for all of your hard work over the years!

Memories of Mr. Joseph Wood

By Melissa Cole, Curator

Throughout the summer months the museum has been very busy with research and writing for our latest publication on Robinson House.  I was writing a small part about the collection and exhibits at Robinson House throughout the years and I wanted to highlight past exhibits that had been on display from 1970 to today.  Summer staff member Caitlin and myself were trying to determine what exhibitions were displayed at Robinson House so we decided to go through the old Oshawa Historical Society newsletters in the archives – we were not only successful at finding out about past exhibitions but we also found other interesting stories such as this one about the Oshawa Street Railway.   This little excerpt is from an interview with Mr. Joseph Wood that took place with Norah Herd the archivist at the Oshawa Community Archives in the 1960s.

Mr. Wood retired from the Board of Works in 1964 this interview took place after his retirement.

Before the turn of the century, Oshawa’s main streets were evil-smelling mud holes filled with water after every rain.  Simcoe and King Streets were unsafe to drive over because they were full of deep ruts.  Large stoned were used to fill them in but traffic would displace them.  Driving to the railway station from the centre of town without mishap was almost impossible.  A wagon taking a load of trunks to the station might lose one or two of them enroute. 

The Commercial Hotel, from the Oshawa Community Archives
The Commercial Hotel, from the Oshawa Community Archives

 

In 1920, the streetcars operated on Simcoe Street from Rossland Road to the Lake, and the fare was five cents.  At that time also, the Oshawa Railway tracks ran along King Street for a block each way from Simcoe Street.  The motorman would alight and switch the streetcar east on King Street and travel the one block to the Post Office where he would pick up the mail to be taken to the railway station.  This was the old Post Office at King and Wellington, which later became known as Ontario Street.  Then he would drive to the Commercial Hotel, one block west of Simcoe.  This hotel was the biggest and best one at the time.  Then the streetcar backed up to the Four Corners, switched again to Simcoe Street and then continued south the C.N.R. Station where passengers and mail were deposited, then south again to the Lake.  Quite a ride for a five cent fare.  

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