The North Oshawa Skatepark Isn’t Just About Skateboarding

Feature and Images by Shana Fillatrau, Durham College Journalism Student

To some, a skatepark just seems like a slab of concrete, but to others, it’s a place to exercise, make new friends and express their passion.

​David Galloway, a long-time volunteer at Skatelife, a faith-based organization that works with local skateboarders in different communities across Canada, is at the North Oshawa skatepark at least once a week.

Galloway’s favourite moments from the park are conversations. “Sometimes I show up, especially when there are a lot of guys here, and guys I know, I don’t even necessarily get on my skateboard right away. I’m just making rounds talking to people,” says Galloway.

It’s not always about the skateboarding, says Galloway, but it’s about connecting with people and building a community. Treflips, nose grinds and varial heels are all terms you would hear and tricks you would see at the North Oshawa skatepark.

It’s a place for the young, the old – the beginners and also, the professionals.

The 10,000 square foot skatepark opened in 2010. The park was built by New Line Skateparks, a municipal skatepark design and construction company who have finished over 200 projects

The park includes, rails, manual pads, hubbas and quarter pipes, as well as space to pump in order for the skaters to keep their momentum.

Skatepark construction 101:

Mitchell Wiskel, an Oshawa parks development supervisor, says planning to build a skatepark is similar to any other parks’ development project.

“In the case of a skatepark,” he said, ”we would typically start off by determining if there’s a need for the city through surveys or outside studies.”

While being relatively inexpensive, the parks give youth a place to spend their time and it promotes physical activity. Wiskel didn’t work on the park, but is knowledgeable about the process and says skateparks are beneficial to city’s urban development.

Once it’s determined there is a need for the skatepark, parks development would then decide what the best location is. After that, Wiskell said, they would then focus on the design of the park

Next, an expert skatepark designer has to be brought in. To accomplish this, Wiskel said a request for proposal (RFP) is sent out. Designers pitch their ideas and skills to parks development. This would be contracted out and parks development would oversee this process

Another RFP is sent out to contractors but their pitch is based on price. Parks development hires the least expensive, qualified contractor.

After the design is finished, parks development hires general contractors to build the park. Parks and development decides what company would be hired, as well as the construction process itself.

Once the skatepark is finished, parks development ends their involvement and the city’s parks operation staff looks after the facility.

Wiskel said parks and development is only brought back onto the project if something broke or the park was to be renovated.

Other duties of parks development include organizing public consultations (whether that be through city hall meetings, local surveys or speaking to interest groups – skateboarders), speaking to other city departments that may have a stake in the process and fiscal responsibilities.

“It’s so important to stay involved and to stay involved with the development side of things for Oshawa,” says Wiskel, “because if we didn’t have that involvement, from a public standpoint, there wouldn’t be that buy-in, through the process.”

Wiskel says with strong community feedback we can build much better facilities. “Because we’re building for exactly what those users want.”

A skater’s experience:


Kyelle Hatherly started skating in 1986. He stopped when he started high school. Back in the eighties, Hatherly said skateboarding was a fad, and he wanted to try it.

Three years ago, Hatherly picked up the board again, since he didn’t have a license and needed a way to get around.

Hatherly says he didn’t have many skateparks around when he was younger, so when he saw the North Oshawa skatepark, he wanted to try it out. He started coming to the park three years ago when he started skating again.

His favourite part of the park is the funbox (a manual pad), but he says, “Yeah, I think it should be bigger, but there’s not really space to add it unless they took out some of the parking lot or something, but yeah, it’s a little small.”

Hatherly tries to make it to the park every day he has off from work.

Who is David Galloway and what is Skatelife?:

David Galloway started skating in 1988. He went to O’Neill. This is where he found his passion. One day he saw students doing a trick called a boneless down a set of stairs.

Even though he said it was a small set of stairs. “They were flying through the air and I’m like, ‘man, I want to be a part of that,’” recalls Galloway who says the North Oshawa skatepark is an integral part of his skating experience now.

He was there skating at the park before it officially opened in 2010.

He tries to be at the park at least once a week, but tries for several times a week.

Galloway says he wants a flatbar added to the park and has heard other people feel the same.

He started volunteering at Skatelife in 1997 in British Columbia, while attending school in Abbortsford. His school gave credits for volunteer hours, so he joined when he saw Skatelife being advertised in a local skateshop.

Skatelife is a non-profit, faith-based organization that works with local skateboarders in different communities across Canada. SkateLife promotes community and friendships. They hold weekly skate clubs where local skaters can meet up, spend time together, learn new tricks, film, etc.

​Galloway says Skatelife focuses heavily on the 13 to 18-year-old age range, but the organization also caters to younger children, as well as adults.

His favourite part is connecting with the skaters. Being a mentor to them and helping them make positive life choices, career paths is important to him.

“Some of these guys don’t have a positive male figure in their life, says Galloway, “and I feel that’s really important, just to be that to those guys.”

Looking at the park, you wouldn’t know the stories of the people who skate there, but taking the time to learn more reveals the Oshawa skatepark has an impact on people in the community.

The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Durham College‘s newspaper, The Chronicle, launches a new feature series called The Land Where We Stand, about the hidden stories that shape our region.

This article originally appeared in The Chronicle, February 28, 2018.

Some of the articles found on this blog have been provided through partnerships with external sources, and we welcome reader engagement through comments.  The views expressed in such articles/comments may not necessarily reflect those of the OHS/OM.


Student Museum Musings – Ria

By Ria K., Co-op Student

Hello, my name is Ria, and I am this semester’s co-op student at the Oshawa Museum. I am currently in Grade 11, and attend O’Neill C.V.I. I chose to do my placement at the Oshawa Museum since it is an extremely different learning environment from what I am used to. History class is something I enjoy, as I am constantly learning, however history is much more exciting and engaging when I am experiencing a hands on learning experience, and not just listening to a lecture. Throughout my time as a co-op student, I will have many ongoing projects. One responsibility I find extremely interesting is researching and creating the monthly Month That Was blog posts.  Also, I have been passing a lot of time creating write ups on artefacts and posting them to the Oshawa Museum Tumblr. I hope to gain a lot of knowledge about how museums run, as well as gain new skills in researching, writing, and creating aesthetically pleasing displays. I am looking forward to spending the next four months at the Oshawa Museum!

Here is a selection of photos Ria has taken around the Museum!

Student Museum Musings – Nicole and Mary

This semester, we are happy to host two students from Durham College’s Library and Information Technician program who are able to get hands-on experience in the workplace while offering valuable assistance where we need the help.  Read on to meet Nicole and Mary!


Hello, my name is Nicole Bray and I am a second year student in the Library and Information Program at Durham College.  I chose to have a field placement at the Oshawa Museum & Archives after I saw Jennifer’s presentation for one of my classes.  She made working at the archives sound fun and interesting.  And everyone has certainly lived up to my first impression.  At the moment I am working on the Education in Oshawa e-publication.  It’s really interesting to read up about all the different schools that were once in Oshawa.  I look forward to the rest of the time I’ll spend here at the Archives.


Hello all! My name is Mary Sherlock and I am a 2nd year Durham College student in the Library and Information Technician program. This is my last year in the program and I am excited for what the future may bring! I am here as a placement student in the archive and am loving every second of it so far! I have a great love for history, especially Canada’s history, which makes me all the more excited for my time here. This placement will  give me a great opportunity to see if working in an archive or museum setting is something I wish to do after I graduate, also to gather as much educational experience as possible to apply towards school, work, and life.

New Picture

Durham LIT Students on a Fall visit to the Oshawa Museum

Student Museum Musings – Peter

By Peter M., Archives Assistant Student

A train halted a moment at the station and the traveler reached out, called a small boy, and said, “Son, here’s fifty cents.  Get me a twenty-five cent sandwich and get one for yourself.  Hurry up!”
Just as the train pulled out, the boy ran up to the window.  “Here’s your quarter, mister,” he shouted.  “They only had one sandwich.”
(GM War-Craftsman, June 1943)

This is one example of a joke I came across during my cataloguing of various documents here in the archives of the Oshawa Museum.  I am a student that has been working here over the summer for just over a month now.  I have always been fascinated by the stories that new artefacts or documents coming to us can tell, but one theme that has really caught my eye recently is jokes.  Most of the documents I found containing jokes range throughout the 1940s.  Some appeared in sections of official newsletters, while others were scribbled into the pages of students’ workbooks, as they were each encouraged to write a page full of all the jokes they could think of as a class exercise.

Johnny: (buying a ticket for New York).
Clerk: “Would you care to go by Buffalo?”
Johnny: “I don’t know.  I’ve never ridden one.”
(GM War-Craftsman, October 1943)

The majority of the jokes I came across were gathered from a collection of General Motors newsletters called the War-Craftsman.  The newsletters in the museum’s collection range from 1942-1946.  These newsletters were a way of keeping the public informed of the events and contributions conducted by GM and its employees during World War II.  There was a column present in nearly all of these newsletters titled “Gems of Comedy,” where numerous jokes were printed each month.  Much like the rest of the War-Craftsman, these jokes served to keep spirits up, and inspire the public to keep moving forward during such trying times in our history.

At a recent shipyard launching, the woman who was to christen the boat was quite nervous.
“Do you have any questions, lady?” asked the shipyard manager, just before the ceremony.
“Yes,” she replied meekly.  “How hard do I have to hit it to knock it into the water?”
(GM War-Craftsman, October 1943)

It is interesting to see how comedy has evolved through the ages.  The jokes that I present you with are but a small few of the many that I found.  Most of the jokes I did not understand, showing how some comedy doesn’t quite translate through the ages.  Several others admittedly had themes that would be considered highly inappropriate by today’s standards, but they do serve show how society has changed, now having any jokes in publications today strive to be politically correct, while also maintaining the lightheartedness that was enjoyed by Oshawa citizens over sixty years ago.

Reporter:  To what do you to attribute your great age?
Grandpa:  The fact that I was born so long ago.
(GM War-Craftsman, December 1945)


Student Museum Musings – Lauren

By Lauren R., Summer Student

In my time as a co-op student, a volunteer, and now as a working summer student I have learned that at the museum you never know what to expect when you show up for work. When I started my summer position this year I honestly had no clue what I was in for; I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing and I had no clue what kind of projects I would be working on.

Despite this uncertainty, I was incredibly excited to start in my new position and I knew that no matter what I did I would love it (every project is exciting in its own way). This summer I got assigned a project that was even more exciting than I ever could have imagined! My summer project is to create a new audio tour for the houses! For this I will be looking at talking more about the families in the houses instead of just the houses  themselves. Also, I will be looking quite a bit at the heritage gardens of Henry House and adding this new information to the tour as it was not part of the original tour.


Woolly Lamb’s Ear

The Henry House heritage gardens is home to an assortment of interesting (and strange) plants. The Henry House garden is designed to display what an everyday garden would have looked like, similar to what the Henry’s themselves would have had. It is split into different sections depending on what the use of the plant is. There is one garden dedicated to tea, another to dyes and the last to herbs and plants that can be used for medical and other practical purposes. In the practical garden there are eight sections: practical, protection, serious conditions, culinary, insect control, healing, cough control, and calming.

So far, out of the many plants that I have researched and looked at in the garden, I have found four that continue to catch my interest. The first two belong in the healing section of the garden. The first plant is Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium). This plant is used to reduce blood pressure and, if the fresh leaves are put into a poultice, it can stop bleeding from cuts and scrapes and things of that kind. Another plant that is found in this portion of the garden is Woolly Lamb’s Ear. This plant is really cool as it feels fuzzy and is soft to the touch. The way that the Henrys may have put this plant to use would have been as bandages to keep cuts clean and covered, the soft texture of these leaves being non-aggravating to injured skin.



Another plant, in the calming section, that I find interesting is Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis). This plant would have been used to help prevent nightmares and to reduce anxiety. However, if too much is taken (or if it is taken for too long) it can cause some adverse side effects such as hallucinations, abdominal pain and headaches.  The final plant that catches my eye, or rather my nose, in our garden is Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis).  This plant is part of the tea garden. Lemon Balm is an incredibly versatile plant. It can be used as an extract to add flavour to dishes, added to a relaxing bath, applied to help soothe insect bites, used to make soothing teas (for headaches and nausea), lessen depression, eczema and it can even help allergy sufferers. In addition to all of this, Lemon Balm can help clean and heal wounds as it acts as an antiviral substance and will starve the bacteria in the wound of oxygen thereby killing it.



Lady Bug on Tea Plant

There are really some incredible plants in the Henry House garden. What is even more incredible is to think that all of these plants would have been used in some way by the Henry family in their everyday lives.