Student Museum Musings: Wrapping Up Summer 2016

Another wonderful summer has passed for the Oshawa Museum, and what a summer it was! Canada Day, the Pokemon phenomenon, tours, oh, and ice cream making! Oshawa Museum staff can’t thank our summer students enough for the hard work and enthusiasm that they bring to our site through the summer months.

To wrap up the summer, we asked our four students to answer five questions about the past months.  Here’s what they had to say:


1. 017Why did you choose to spend your summer at the Oshawa Museum?

This summer was actually my fourth summer here. I have really enjoyed my previous summers working here and wanted to continue not only the learning but growing as well.

2. What surprised you the most this summer?

I found two things surprising this summer; One – How big Pokemon Go became and how a portable game can and did affect our numbers. We did get creative to draw people in and it really worked. And two, having Freemasons take us on tour. We are always the ones giving the tours but it was nice to learn about masons and the work they do from masons. They also were able to provide some more information that we could tell visitors on tour.

3. What part of your summer did you find the most challenging?

The most challenging part would also have to be the Freemasonry exhibit. I had a few people go through who already had their set views on masons and wouldn’t accept anything I was saying. We ended going through the rest of that exhibit rather quickly.


4. What will you miss about the Oshawa Museum?

At the end of each summer I have worked here the one thing I miss is the people and the environment. It really is just a great place to work and I always found myself excited to come in to work every day.

5. What are your plans for September?

My plan for this September is finishing my last year of university. I go to Guelph-Humber for Media Studies and specializing in journalism. It’s strange to think when I first came here I was finishing up high school and now they have seen me grow into a full adult.


13724937_10157109032130335_5114078161389576173_o1. Why did you choose to spend your summer at the Oshawa Museum?

I chose to spend my summer at the Oshawa Museum because it is an all-around great place to be! There are wonderful people I have the opportunity to work with and I get to meet new people every day. The location is picturesque; the calming lake surrounded by flowers and the occasional little critter, I get to wake up to them every morning.

2. What surprised you the most this summer?

The most surprising thing this summer was all of the Pokémon Go hunters who came to the Museum! We were flooded by people catching Pokémon in our buildings; it was a lot of fun for me to learn more about Pokémon through our guests.

3. What part of your summer did you find the most challenging?

There were a couple of challenges this summer, but the most challenging was keeping up with our Victorian Teas while wearing a full Victorian costume, in this summer’s heat. Many days were hot and humid but us summer students prevailed and served tea to all who came! Needless to say, I drank tons of water this summer to keep up with the weather. And the air conditioning helped cool us down too.

4. What will you miss about the Oshawa Museum?

I’m going to miss all of the excitement and adventure that comes with working with the staff and other summer students once  the summer is over. Every day is unexpected at the Lake with all of our ongoing programs and projects. Some days we are busy little beavers in the pond, while other days it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Plus, you never know who will be walking through those Museum doors and what their request might be!

5. What are your plans for September?

The summer is ending and as summer comes to a close, I’m excited for September to get back to school for my 3rd year at Trent University. I have a lot of fun and new courses I can’t wait to start in the fall! I’m also really excited to spend some time with my sister helping her plan for her upcoming wedding in November; this fall is going to be full for my family.


0101. Why did you choose to spend your summer at the Oshawa Museum?

About two years ago now I had completed my Co-op placement at the Museum, mostly working with Melissa. I continued to volunteer when I was able to and so when I was offered the chance to work here this summer I jumped at it. To have the opportunity to work at the Oshawa Museum was amazing opportunity. I had wanted to spend my summer doing something that I wold enjoy doing and so this was the perfect fit to do so, and it has been a completely wonderful summer working here and I’ll miss not having to come in to work here in the fall.

2. What surprised you the most this summer?

The thing that surprised me the most during my time here this summer would have to be the sheer amount of people that came into Guy House and would claim to have lived in Oshawa all their life and had either never come down for a tour, or didn’t even know that the Museum existed. Had I of known it would be such a common occurrence I would have suggested a tally chart just to see how many people actually don’t know that we’re down here. I honestly can’t get over it though, because one would think that with all the advertising and events that are put on and that the museum attends that it would be commonly known to the Oshawa residents.

3. What part of your summer did you find the most challenging?

The one aspect of this job that I found to be the most challenging would have to be when I first started to lead tours on my own. I have always hated public speaking, it’s never been my strong point and if I was able to avoid it in school, you can be sure that I did exactly that. But once I started to tag along on tours and slowly started to get more familiar with the script and began leading tours on my own I started to feel more comfortable speaking and leading the tours than I had initially. And so after a full summer of leading tours in front of so many different groups of people I feel that now I will probably feel more comfortable at speaking publicly when it comes to my academic life as well.

4. What will you miss about the Oshawa Museum?

I will miss absolutely everything about working at the museum. The ladies (and gent) who work at the museum are some of the most amazing people that I have had the pleasure to work with. They love what they’re doing and that makes the environment of the museum all the more lively. And I’ll miss working on cataloguing the Henry House collection. It was absolutely fascinating being able to take a look at all of the artifacts that are not currently on display, being able to see what some of the more unusual artifacts actually are and what some things were used for, or the Oshawa souvenir collection, which had some odd knickknacks.

5. What are your plans for September?

This September I will be going back to Peterborough to attend my second year at Trent University for my four year archaeology programme. I will also be moving into my house that I am renting with five other friends from Trent.


1761 Why did you choose to spend your summer at the Oshawa Museum?

When I was looking for places to do my internship, I knew I wanted to be at a smaller site with a historic house. Oshawa Museum has 3 historic houses, so it was a no-brainer. It’s also in a beautiful location in the park!

2. What surprised you the most this summer?

That there were archaeological digs in Oshawa! I’ve lived in Whitby my whole life and never considered the area to be considered “worthy” of an archaeological dig. The result has allowed people to learn more about Oshawa’s early history.

3. What part of your summer did you find the most challenging?

Learning how to navigate the archives. I have taken some intro courses to archival work, but coming to the museum I was able to learn so much more.

4. What will you miss about the Oshawa Museum?

The people, first and foremost. All the staff are so nice and welcoming it will be difficult not coming in every day. I’ll also miss being in Lakeview Park and seeing the ships come in.

5. What are your plans for September?

I’m moving out to Halifax, Nova Scotia to begin a new adventure! I’ll be looking for jobs in the museum field while enjoying a change of scenery.

Student Museum Musings – Digitization Surprises

By Jodie L., Summer Student

As I was working on the Henry House Digitization I came across a decorative bowl that I hadn’t given much thought to other than how heavy the thing actually was. But as I was cropping the photo, I had zoomed in on the picture because something looked slightly off. What I had thought were only rose designs were actually Dragons and roses. I was surprised that this old looking antique decorative bowl that had probably belonged a nice old lady, had these super cool looking dragons on it. This isn’t something that I had expected when I started working on the artifacts in Henry House but it did make it way more interesting as well as really wanting to know the story behind this dragon bowl.


Student Museum Musings: Hair Wreaths

By Caitlan M., Summer Student

Since starting here as a co-op student in 2013 I always found the hair wreath in the parlour intriguing. To me, hair wreaths and jewelry are just some of the coolest things, slightly creepy since its human hair but cool. The one thing that I find most intriguing about these is the process involved. Just from looking at one you can kind of get an idea that there is a way of braiding the hair but I was never 100% sure.

970.49.5 – Hair Wreath on display in the Henry House Parlour

Back in June I found out about the Self Instructor in the Art of Hair Work: Dressing Hair, Making Curls, Switches, Braids and Hair Jewelry of Every Description by Mark Campbell which can be found online to read (I highly recommend giving this book a read if you would like to know more about the braids). Campbell’s book goes into detail on pretty much every braid possible for hair jewelry or wreaths, even down to how many strands of hair is needed for each braid. I spent a good couple days reading this book; I even gave the very first braid, Square Chain Braid, a try using yarn and cardboard since I figured yarn would be a better start of figuring the braid out rather than with hair (plus I had no volunteers who had long enough hair). It was a bit difficult but I think I have the idea of how it would be done with hair.

Lastly I found out that there are four different techniques used: table work, palette work, sepia painting and hair flowers. I will be going into more detail about these different ways in our July edition of our monthly podcast coming out Wednesday July 13.

Student Museum Musings – Blissful Broadcasts: From 1946

By Karen A., Summer Student

Hi my name is Karen and as a summer student at the Oshawa Museum I’ve been tasked with a new research project which involves me going through microfilms dating back to the late 1940s. As fascinating as the post-World War II newspapers are, it started to drain on me, all of the news being reported is terribly sad: car accidents, murderers, robberies, news about the War and the Nazi Nuremberg trials… So today this blog post will hopefully cheer you up with blissful, yet unusual, reports I stumbled upon from 1946.


This article, which is more of an advertisement, I just had to put in here. It caught my eye and cheered me right up! Who knew Chinchilla, more specifically Royal Chinchilla, breeders was a viable career option? I was also surprised to discover there was a market to buy and sell Chinchillas, especially ones with royal blood.


This article is the sweetest thing I have ever seen in a newspaper. It describes the wonderful life of Chips and his young owner Diana. The two can be seen in the picture playing with a bone, both puppy and toddler are trying to eat it. And although it is not an Oshawa or Canadian story, the Times-Gazette here in Oshawa and Whitby felt it was important enough to report it!


This next article, discusses everyone’s favourite topic ice cream! It caught my eye, as ice cream normally does, because of the headline: Poor Ice Cream Bring $40 Fine. I was lead to believe the ice cream was fined $40! But really it was the ice cream man who was fined for serving ice cream of a low standard. I guess he had it coming… You should never serve under-standard ice cream.


“Community Chest $13,643 Over Objective” is the headline of the next gleeful story I wanted to share. I have been following this story in the microfilms for a while now, and I was amazed at how fast the community of Oshawa was able to raise $55,000 for the community and its well-being. But not only did they raise their minimum goal of $55,000, they surpassed it by $13,643! And in only three months through community events and fundraisers and private donations the total raised was $68,643. I can see from this article the Oshawa community has always been as captivated to help one another as they are now.

I hope these articles have brought some joy into your day, as it has done for me.

Student Museum Musings – Karen’s Favourite Room

By Karen A, Summer Student

The Oshawa Community Museum, although small, has three buildings and numerous rooms to display their collections. Out of all of the rooms my favourite room is the Henry House Kitchen. Why you might ask is the kitchen my favourite room? Well, let me explain.

The Henry House Kitchen
The Henry House Kitchen

The kitchen is a place where everyone can go and feel at home. The kitchen has always been a place where messes are made and not worried about.  Produced in the kitchen is breakfast, lunch and dinner, which makes the kitchen the best smelling room in the house. Unlike the parlor, study or dining room, the kitchen is a relaxed space where you can go to get daily chores completed.

The Henry House Kitchen has an abundant amount of artifacts in it, all of them used in different and interesting ways. From the nanny bench, to the loom, from the rocker churn to the mustache mug; everything in the kitchen is one of a kind. The kitchen is one of the largest rooms in the house which allows more artifacts to be put on display in the room, and allows more artifacts to be in storage in the room. Most people wouldn’t notice it but all of the shelving and drawers in the kitchen occupy artifacts in the museum’s collection.  With so many artifacts in one room you are always learning about something new!

Our nanny bench, a unique artifact found in the kitchen
Our nanny bench, a unique artifact found in the kitchen

Everyone cooks! The Victorians needed to eat just as much as we do. With that being said, the Victorians prepared food differently than we do today however from this difference we can learn how they did prepare food in the kitchen. In the Henry House Kitchen there are all different artifacts showing how food was prepared in the Victorian era. We have an apple peeler, a coffee grinder and numerous butter-making artifacts. The history of food is a tasty and interesting subject.

Victorians did not just use the kitchen for cooking and eating food, they also made candles, butter and clothes in their kitchens. The kitchen was a multi-purpose room! In the Henry House Kitchen we don’t just have cooking and baking artifacts but we also have artifacts that tell us how clothes were made. One of the biggest artifacts in the kitchen, the loom, was used for making rugs, blankets and clothes. Although the loom in the Henry House Kitchen is a re-production it is still an interesting artifact. In the kitchen we also have threads that are dyed from various plants and herbs. The dyed threads allow us to see how different clothes got their colours.

Yarn died with herbs hanging in the Henry House Kitchen
Yarn died with herbs hanging in the Henry House Kitchen

For me, the kitchen is the room where everything takes place. When kids programs and birthday parties come to the museum we spend most our time in the kitchen explaining children’s roles and doing activities with the kids. The kitchen is a great place to do activities and crafts in because of the size and the openness of the room. We might have to move some of the artifacts on the center table for crafts but it’s worth it to teach the children about Victorian life.

The kitchen is unlike any other room in Henry House because visitors can walk around the whole room and see up close all of the artifacts. All of the other rooms in the house are blocked by a rope for the artifacts’ security, but this limits what visitors can see.

I love the kitchen because there is so much history in one room and with numerous artifacts I’m learning something new each day! Even I, a Visitor Host who has been with the museum for a year, am still learning about the museum’s collection and one room that has so much to learn about is the kitchen. Every time I step into the kitchen I find an artifact I didn’t know was there!

Simply said, the kitchen is the heart of the house, that’s why it’s my favourite room.

Karen Kitchen (2)

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