Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Caitlan

Since the last time, I told you that I was starting to work on the Robinson Book. So far, so good! The first rough draft has been printed and we have begun the first round of editing – So far everyone seems to enjoy it! Also I told you how I never did tours with my morning co-op and how I was afraid to mess up. I was quite surprised to find how much the information was in my head. Although my first tour was nerve racking, now when I go on a tour my mouth just seems to work on its own!

Robinson House on a lovely summer day
Robinson House on a lovely summer day

The book and tours were not only my first here at the museum; last Thursday was the museum’s first summer garden tea. It was also my first tea and it went perfectly. The sky was clear and blue, it was not too hot plus all the guests had really big smiles on their faces! Setting up and taking down all the tables was a bit hard, as I do not exactly have a whole lot of strength, but the food definitely made up for that! Towards the end of the tea when some of the guest left for the tour I was caught a couple times by Laura Suchan stuffing my mouth full of the leftover sandwiches. In all truthfulness, they were absolutely delicious and I just could not help myself (the cucumber and cream cheese is my favourite!)  Although I am not the type of girl that likes to wear dresses or skirts and having to wear the costumes is really awkward for me, the amount of fun I am having here is definitely worth it!

Lastly I have begun to transcribe letters we received that the Henry family wrote. One really stood out to me so far. It was written by George to his mother, Lurenda, shortly after Thomas’ death. George talks about how much it hurts to lose a father but it hurts even more to see his mother in pain. George continues on with this beautifully well-written metaphor on life. He says life is like a “great train” that we’re all “stepping off one by one”. That there is no return train and “all alone we walk through the dark vally and shadow of death with the blessed hope of the saviours strong arm to lean upon.”  At the end of the letter he writes “I remain as ever your son George”. While reading this letter you just become lost in his words and you could sense his pain he had after losing his father. The letter was absolutely heart breaking to read yet so incredibly beautiful. 

Letter from George Henry to his mother Lurenda, 1880.
Letter from George Henry to his mother Lurenda, 1880.

Oshawa Celebrates Canada Day

On July 1, 1867, The British North America Act came into effect on July 1, 1867, uniting the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as “One Dominion under the name of Canada. “

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In Oshawa, the passing of the BNA Act was a relatively quiet affair, even though it had been designated as a celebration of Confederation for the country.  The day started with the firing of guns and ringing of bells, and many houses flew flags.   There was a parade along King Street and speeches were given in front of Gibb’s Store and Fowke’s. A picnic was held later in the day at Cedar Dale for those people of the community who did not go elsewhere such as the town of Whitby to celebrate.  It is estimated that 7,000 were present for the events in Whitby.

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation of Governor General Lord Monck called upon all Canadians to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of Canada on July 1st.  The proclamation stated, “Now Know Ye, that I, Charles Stanley Viscount Monck, Governor General of Canada, do hereby proclaim and appoint WEDNESDAY, the FIRST day of JULY next, as the day on which the Anniversary of the formation of the Dominion a Canada be duly celebrated. And I do hereby enjoin and call upon all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the due and proper celebration of the said Anniversary on the said FIRST day of JULY next.”

Oshawa residents observed this proclamation and celebrated the one year anniversary of Confederation.  The Oshawa Vindicator reported on July 8, 1868 that the 34th Battalion (later renamed the Ontario Regiment) assembled at 3 o’clock on Dominion Day on the Agricultural grounds in Whitby to receive a flag in the colours of the Queen.  The paper reported that “the attendance of spectators was immense, rendering it almost impossible to preserve sufficient space for moving the force.”

There was also a picnic held by the employees of the factories at Morris’s Grove on Dominion Day, and the Vindicator stated it was a success.  The picnic itself was slightly overshadowed by the presentation of the Colors, but nonetheless, attendance was still large.  There were games and a “friendly rivalry” between Foundry and Factory, and the Freeman family band played music throughout the day.  In the evening, the events continued in the drill shed where prizes were distributed, addresses were delivered and cheers given to the Queen, Messrs Miall, Glen, Whiting and Cowan, and to members of the committee.  Picnic attendees danced to the “late hour” to the music of the Freeman band.

Although not officially recognized as a holiday (it would be recognized as such in 1879), Oshawa residents celebrated Dominion Day in the years following confederation in similar manners.  Picnics were held, games were played, fireworks lit up the sky, and dancing continued into the night.  The 34th Battalion typically played a role in Dominion Day celebrations.

Canada’s Diamond Jubilee year was 1927, and both Canada and Oshawa celebrated this landmark.  The Oshawa Daily Reformer issued a special edition of their paper for June 30, commemorating 60 years since Confederation, particularly highlighting Oshawa’s achievements through the years.  In Lakeview Park, the Jubilee Pavilion was open for business on June 30th, 1927, with the official opening on Dominion Day.  The pavilion was named in honour of this landmark year.   Jubilee celebrations lasted for two days in Oshawa and included parades, sporting events, picnics, the playing of a speech from King George V, dancing, and fireworks.  The Ontario Regiment Band played, along with the Salvation Army Band, the Oshawa Kilties Band and the General Motors 75 member choir.  Dominion Day also included a commemorative ceremony for those who died during the Great War.  Memorial Park and Alexandra Park served as appropriate locales for Jubilee celebrations on Friday July 1, and on July 2, the party continued at Lakeview Park.

From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927
From the Oshawa Daily Reformer, 1927

In 1967, the year of Canada’s Centennial, Oshawa appropriately celebrated this milestone.  The Oshawa Folk Festival had a Centennial Week celebration with events leading up to and including Dominion Day.  On July 1, there was a parade through to Alexandra Park and events through the afternoon, as well as events and fireworks at the Civic Auditorium.  Oshawa also took part in the “Wild Bells” program, with all church bells, factory whistles and sirens sounding when July 1 came in.  Hayward Murdoch, Oshawa’s Centennial Committee Chairman commented, “This seems like an excellent and appropriate way to usher in Canada’s 100th birthday.  We want to have as many bells, whistles and sirens sounding as possible.”

Celebrations for East Whitby Township took place in the Village of Columbus with the unveiling of a centennial plaque, a band concert, school choirs, barbeque and fireworks.

Oshawa also had a centennial house constructed at the corner of King Street and Melrose Street (just east of Harmony Road).  The project was coordinated by the Oshawa Builders Association, and profits of the sale of the home went to the Oshawa Retarded Children’s Association (now operating today as Oshawa/Clarington Association for Community Living).

In 1982, the name of the holiday was officially changed from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day.”  Since 1984, Oshawa’s largest Canada Day celebrations have taken place in Lakeview Park.  In 1985, the opening of Guy House coincided with Canada Day festivities, and the opening of the new pier also took place on July 1, 1987.  In 1988, an elephant from the Bowmanville Zoo was part of the festivities, participating in a tug of war with city aldermen.  Canada’s 125th anniversary was in 1992, and the City organized a big party down at lakefront.  Every year, fireworks mark the end of the celebrations.

Canada Day at Henry House
Canada Day at Henry House

The City run Canada Day celebrations have been very successful over the years, drawing tens of thousands to Oshawa’s lakeshore.  They have also attracted a certain level of prestige, making Festivals and Events Ontario’s list of top 50 (later top 100) celebrations in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

Located in Lakeview Park, the Oshawa Community Museum takes part every year in Canada Day celebrations.  Over the years, the museum has had historical re-enactors, special displays, woodworking and blacksmithing demonstrations, and a Strawberry Social in the Henry House Gardens.  Currently, the Museum offers costumed tours of Henry House on Canada Day, and our Verna Conant Gallery is open in Guy House.

 

We will be open from 2-5 on July 1, 2013! Please visit!

 

References:

The Oshawa Vindicator, 1868-1870, various editions
Oshawa Daily Reformer, June 30, 1927
Oshawa Daily Times, July 4, 1927
Oshawa Community Archives (Subject 0012, Box 0001, Files 0003-0006, 0011, 0015)

Student’s Museum ‘Musings’ – Caitlan

HI, it’s me again, Caitlan, you all know me as the co-op student here at the museum. I have had a blast here. I love my mornings here and I know I originally I said I would be here till mid June. But it seems the museum and I are not ready to part ways yet. I am very excited to say that I will be here till the end of August. I will be continuing my co-op until my ‘last day’, June 18, and then I become part of the staff.

Catilan working hard in the Programming Office
Catilan working hard in the Programming Office

Over the next 2 months I will be working on the Robinson book. It seems the museum has loved all my photo manipulations and poster designs that the museum, that they want me to design the book. I want to keep a similar layout as The Story of Henry House, as the book will be quite similar; the Robinson book will also have about the family, the house & lot and the house as a museum, so I want it to have the similar feel. Also one thing that I never got to do since I have morning co-op was the tours, but since I will be here for the summer I will start doing tours. Although I am a bit nervous for giving tours I know I will have all the information down pat in no time. I encourage anyone to come down have a tour, take a walk on the path by the lake, I can say you will have a great day!       

One of Caitlan's photo manipulations.  The Robinsons of yesterday come back to their house today...
One of Caitlan’s photo manipulations. The Robinsons of yesterday come back to their house today…

Quilt Stories, Part IV

I wish I could say I had more of a history of this particular quilt, but unfortunately, its provenance is unknown to us.  I can, however, share the story of Cornelius Robinson and his family.

Cornelius Robinson was the 9th child born to John and Ruth Robinson.  John and Ruth were from Staindrop, County Durham, England and came to Canada in 1833 with their 8 children.  Cornelius and his sister Eunice were born here in Upper Canada.  Sometime between 1854 and 1861, a three-storey brick house was built along Oshawa’s lakeshore for members of the Robinson Family.  This house still stands and is one of three historic buildings that comprise the Oshawa Community Museum.

Robinson House, c. 1856, standing in Oshawa's Lakeview Park
Robinson House, c. 1856, standing in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park

In 1857, Cornelius married a woman named Mary Jane Nelson, and together they had 12 children.  Only six survived past the age of 5; Ruth Lillian and Rachel Elizabeth died before they were 30, Oceanna and Phoebe died in their 50s, and Alfred and Eunice lived into their 80s.

X998.110.1 - Signature Quilt with Robinson Family Names
X998.110.1 – Signature Quilt with Robinson Family Names

It was quite the surprise to unravel this quilt and find the names of Cornelius and Mary’s family laid out on this quilt!  Look closely and you can read Mrs Capt. Coate (Oceanna) and her children Mildred, Herbert and Howard, Eunice A Robinson, Alfred Robinson, and Lillian Robinson!

Below are some family photographs of Cornelius and family.

Cornelius in his garden outside of Robinson House
Cornelius in his garden outside of Robinson House

Oceanna (right), husband Albert and daughter Mildred
Oceanna (right), husband Albert and daughter Mildred

The Robinson family and Maynard family at Eunice and William's wedding in 1907
The Robinson family and Maynard family at Eunice and William’s wedding in 1907

%d bloggers like this: