Sons of Temperance Insignia

By Melissa Cole, Curator

The Temperance movement heavily criticized excessive alcohol use, promoted abstinence, and pressured the government to completely prohibit the use of alcohol. The trend of temperance caught on in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its effects were felt in many countries around the world.  Reverend Robert Dick of Toronto arranged to form an organized Temperance movement in Oshawa. After little debate, The Sons of Temperance attained their 35th Chapter with the addition of the Oshawa Division on November 6, 1849.

Oshawa’s Sons of Temperance Hall

The Oshawa Division held their meeting at the Commercial Hotel at the corner of Centre and King Streets and later moved their meetings to the Simcoe St. Methodist (United) Church.  The group discussed many issues on the topic of temperance.  The issue of most importance was that of creating sweeping reforms that would eliminate “local groggeries” and bar rooms.  The group had a very talented orator named Edward Carswell who would travel through the United States and Canada speaking on the topic of abstinence and the evils of drink. The Oshawa Division gave the movement a strong and passionate speaker as well as a gathering place for Ontario’s annual Sons of Temperance meeting.  Any decisions that were reached and toasts that were made were all celebrated with a glass of cold water in this alcohol free environment.

The Sons of Temperance created a constitution, the primary article of which was Article 2 which stated that “No brother shall make, sell or use as a beverage, any Spirituous or Malt Liquors, Wine or Cider.”  Should a brother violate Article 2 of the constitution that brother will be investigated and a “trial” will occur and presiding over this “trial” will be a panel of 5 brothers.  Should the charge be sustained, the brother may be expelled from the organization. 

The organization had a strict set of rules and expectations for anyone who wanted to become a member. Their constitution stated that the candidate must be at least 18 years of age, be nominated by someone within the brotherhood, and have good moral character.  He must also have a proper way of earning a living and therefore have visible means of support.  Although the constitution stated that the age of maturity into this fellowship was 18, a number of their members were younger than that.  The youngest member of No. 35, the Oshawa Division, was 14 years of age.

The brotherhood provided support for each other in their constitution in case of any misfortune.  The constitution provided benefits to the family in the amount of no less than 15 dollars if a brother should die; should the wife pass away then the benefit is no less than 10 dollars towards their funeral costs.  Should a brother become ill with a sickness or disability he was entitled to no less than one dollar a week, however, if it can be proven that the sickness/disability was due to improper conduct then the brother forfeits his benefit.

In our collection, we have a wooden object that can be described as Triangular in shape, open in the middle and in the centre of that is a wooden star. There are words written on the three sides of the triangle: in white on side one is ‘PURITY;’ on another side in blue is written ‘FIDELITY;’ and, the third side features the word ‘LOVE’ written in red. 

What do these three words represent?  The Sons of Temperance held passionate moral views about the evils of excessive drinking.  Their slogan was “Love, Purity, Fidelity.”  The group had a strong international voice on the issues of temperance and survived into the new century with a large following and legislation that aided them in their quest for purity.  This particular artefact is an example of moral views that were held by the Sons of Temperance in Oshawa. 


Watch Melissa’s video podcast about the Sons of Temperance Insignia

The Month That Was – June 1862

All articles originally appeared in the Oshawa Vindicator

June 4, 1862
The Municipal Election
The Election held in Oshawa on Friday and Saturday last, for the purpose of filling the vacancy in the Village Council, resulted in the return of Mr. JW Fowke by a majority of 10 over Mr John Hyland.  The votes, at the close of the poll, stood: for Fowke 99; for Hyland 89.  Most of the voting was done in the afternoon of the second day.  About 2 o’clock, Mr. Hyland was upwards of 20 votes ahead, and his friends were beginning to feel confident of success, which led Mr. Fowke’s friends to stir about, and for two hours the voting went off quite brisk, resulting as already stated.

June 4, 1862, page 1

Bill to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law
A bill was introduced in the Senate, to-day, by Mr. Sumner, repealing the fugitive slave law and prohibiting slavery in the territories existing or to be acquired, and abolishing it in all the dock-yards, forts, arsenals, etc., located in the slave states, thus relieving the national government from any connection with slavery.

June 4, 1862, page 3

June 11, 1862
Eclipse of the Moon
A total eclipse of the Moon takes place to-night, (Wednesday) or rather to-morrow morning. It will commence a few minutes before twelve o’clock, p.m.*, and end at fifteen minutes past three to-morrow morning – its duration being three hours and seventeen minutes.  The moon will be wholly immersed in the shadow of the earth – totally eclipsed – for the space of sixty-two minutes
*midnight

June 11, 1862, page 3

A Heavy Lamb – Mr. Alex Knox, of Clyde Bank, East Whitby, brought to Oshawa on Tuesday of last week,  a lamb weighing 67 lbs, live weight, at the age of fourteen weeks.  A pretty good specimen for the age, and hard to beat.

Married
At the residence of the bride’s father by Rev. T. Henry, on Saturday evening, the 7th inst, Mr. Albert N. Henry and Miss Harriett T. Guy, both of Port Oshawa.

June 18, 1862
C. Warren & Co.’s Tannery
A few days since we took a walk thro’ the above-mentioned establishment, picking up by the way, a few items of information which may possibly be interesting to some of our readers.

This tannery is not what might be termed a one-horse concern, in which no other power than that of one or two workmen, and one horse is needed to carry on its operations, but gives active employment to about a dozen workmen, whose labors are lighted by a six-horse power engine and a powerful water wheel, which do all the pumping, bark grinding, etc.  At present, from fifty to seventy hides per week are “taken in and done for,” but a large addition upon the west and north sides of the old building, is in course of erection, which, when completed, will give a capacity for working up one hundred hides per week.  Such a number of hides, as a matter of course, could not be purchased in this neighborhood, and therefore Messrs. Warren & Co. Have to draw upon distant points for stock.  Most of their hides are purchased in Chicago, and the leather, into which they are manufactured, is chiefly sold in Kingston and Montreal.  The new building, now enclosed, will contain nearly as many vats as the main one, and will be ready for operation in about a week.

June 18, 1862, page 4

Early closing.
We are much pleased to observe that the Merchants of Oshawa have signed and published an agreement to close their shops precisely at half past seven o’clock every evening, from now to The first of October. This is a very proper move, and we hope it will be rigidly adhered to by all, whatever may be the temptation to violate it. The farmers come in and transact their business in the daytime, as do also, many who live in the village, and those of the latter class who cannot make it convenient to visit the stores in the daytime, can surely get there, and find parties to wait upon them, before half past seven. In some of our stores, for some time past, there has been no regular time for closing, nor for clerks to get an hour to themselves.

We have expressed a hope that the agreement to close at half past seven would be rigidly observed by those who are parties to it. We say this because it is well known that, when a similar agreement was made on a former occasion, some parties lived up to the letter, but grossly violated the spirit of it by keeping their doors unbarred, if not unlocked, and their stores were well lit up, for hours after other merchants had really and truly closed up. Such a practice is in the highest degree unjust to those who close punctually and completely, because it robs them of many casual quarters or dollars which they might get by pursuing a similar course.

June 25, 1862
Temperance Soiree
The members of the Raglan Division announce their intention to hold a Soiree in Mr. Smith’s grove, a mile and a half east of Raglan, on Wednesday next, the 2nd of July. Several able and interesting speakers are engaged for the occasion, as also vocal and instrumental musicians, and everything promises a pleasant and profitable season.

East Whitby Division is also to have a Soiree in the grove a little north of Harmony, on the following day – Thursday the 3rd of July. A number of good speakers are also engaged for this occasion, and the music is to be supplied by the Oshawa Brass Band. The committee intend to use their best exertions to render the affair in every respect worth of large attendance.  Tea to be served at Harmony at half-past two o’clock and at Raglan at one o’clock.

June 25, 1862, page 3