The Month That Was – November 1872

All articles originally appeared in the Ontario Reformer

November 1, 1872
The Ontario Government

The acceptance of the position of Premier of Ontario by the Hon. Oliver Mowat – which we had barely room to announce in our last issue – is a circumstance which has given the greatest satisfaction to the great majority of the people of this Province. As an upright, honest, and talented gentleman, Mr. Mowat enjoyed the confidence of the entire community and it is therefore a matter for congratulation that upon the retirement of the Hon. Mr. Blake from the position of Premier of Ontario, his successor is one so eminently fitted for the position.  When in public life as a member of the Canadian parliament, previous to Confederation, Mr. Mowat evinced marked ability in the discussion of public affairs and transaction of public business; as Vice Chancellor, he commanded the respect and esteem of all who were brought into contact with him in his official capacity.  Of course it is not to be expected that the selection of Mr. Mowat as Premier is looked upon with favor by the Conservative party as a whole. …There are some… who are forced to accept the situation with very wry faces.  Sir John’s organists especially feel particularly flattened out by the recent change….

Hon. Mr. Mowat has personally sacrificed a great deal by the step which he has taken in the interest of the public; and it is gratifying to know that in his new position he will have abundant support while working for the well-being of his fellow citizens and country.

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November 1, 1872, page 1

November 1, 1872
Whitby expects her steam fire engine to arrive to-day. It is to be tested to-morrow.  If the little town of Whitby is to have a steam fire engine, why can’t Oshawa have one.


November 1, 1872
Lost! – A young man in this place went to a surprise part a few evenings ago, and after escorting his “fair gazelle” to her home in the north-east part of the town, he started for his own dwelling. After wandering around for a considerable time he found himself at the GT Station, when he should have been up near the foundry.

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November 1, 1872, page 3

November 8, 1872
Mr. Gibbs Whines

Mr. Gibbs furnishes the last number of his penny whistle with an article headed, “Mr. Mowat’s Resignation,” in which he expresses his feats that the “amiable mould” in which Mr. Mowat’s character is cast will result in disaster; and that Brown rule will become absolute in the Ontario Legislation.  He bewails the injury likely to result to the jndiciary (sic) on the account of the precedent of Mr. Mowat, hinting that although the judicial career of the new Premier is without spot, that his resignation and elevation to the Premiership must necessarily open the way to those still on the Bench for dishonest and partial decisions.  His ideals concerning the precedent, &c., are only second hand; we have had them served up a dozen times already in that Government subsidized slandering machine, the Mail.

The chief inventive to Mr. Gibbs’ whining about precedent and Mr. Mowat’s leaving the Bench is based upon the fear that, now Mr. Mowat has returned to public life, South Ontario may, through the ex-judge’s consent, have an opportunity at no distant day of sending their present expediency tool to the wall.


November 8, 1872
Ulyses (sic) S. Grant has been re-elected President of the United States, beating Horace Greeley by a large majority of votes.  This result was pretty generally expected by outsiders who observed the progress of the campaign, and we deem the election satisfactory.  While formerly entertaining high respect for the “white coated philosopher,” we have no sympathy with his recent contradictory moments, and deem that his defeat is precisely what he deserves for recreancy to principle.  His elevation to the position of President would not likely prove beneficial either to his own country or the interest of Britain.  Grant has plundered, but he is not so dangerous as a chief magistrate as we believe Greeley would be if elevated to the position.


November 8, 1872
The dinner given to Father Shea on Thursday evening of last week, at Hobbs’ Hotel, was one of the best ever got up in Oshawa; so we have been informed. The Oshawa House is getting a big reputation for providing good dinners and suppers.

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November 15, 1872, page 2

November 15, 1872
The two burglars, Pearson and Green alias Clifton, who were “sent up” for breaking into Larard’s Jewellery store, have both been sent to Penitentiary for two years.


November 15, 1872

At Port Oshawa, on the 11th inst. Joseph H. Henry, (sic) second son of TS Henry, aged 19 years [     ].  The funeral sermon will be preached in the Christian Church, Oshawa, on Sabbath next, at Eleven o’clocl, by Elder Tatton.
*This is referring to Joseph Phineas Henry – his middle initial was reported incorrectly.

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November 15, 1872, page 4

November 22, 1872
A meeting of the No. 1 Fire Brigade will be held this (Friday) evening, at half-past seven o’clock. A full attendance is requested


November 22, 1872
The Newmarket Brewery was consumed by fire on the night of Wednesday last. There was also, on Wednesday, a large and destructive fire at Brantford.


November 22, 1872
Stanley, the discoverer of Livingstone arrived at New York, on Wednesday last, by the Cula, and was escorted up the Bay by delegates from the Geographical Society and Herald Club.  Doubtless he will have grand times for a season.


November 22, 1872
The weather has been very cold the last few days.  Reports come from every quarter of plenty of snow, but in our streets the dust is flying most disagreeably as in the middle of summer. If it keeps so cold we would like to hear the merry “tingle, tingle” of the sleigh bells.

The Month That Was – July 1872

All articles originally appeared in the Ontario Reformer

July 5

What has Mr. Gibbs done to Entitle Him to Re-election

Last week we left Mr. Gibbs voting steadily with the Government in favor of the long and expensive [date] for the Intercolonial Railway, but which Mr. Macdougall, one of the Ministers who ought to know all about it, says $8,000,000 were thrown into the sea –but which later dates to show to be $12,000,000 loss to the country instead of $8,000,000.

But we proceed. On 21st May Sir J. J. A. Macdonald (sic) moved, seconded by Sir. Geo. E. Cartier, – that the salary of the Governor General be fixed at £10,000 sterling (in round numbers, $50,000), per year. Mr. Oliver moved in amendment to make the sum £7,500 sterling, in round numbers, $37,250. Mr. Jones moved to make the salary $32,000. Vote on Mr. Jones’ amendment 59 to 90; on Oliver’s amendment, 59-90; on Sir John’s original motion, 89-60, – on every occasion Mr. Gibbs voting with Sir John and Sir George in favor of the largest sum, while Mackenzie, Thompson (of North Ontario) and the Reformers, voted steadily for the smallest amount.  Thus, through the united influence of the two Sirs in the Commons, an obsequious majority, aided by Mr. Gibbs, was induced to hand over $250,000 of the hard earnings of the working men of the country to each successive Governor-General sent from across the sea to remain here five years…

Sir John and Mr. Gibbs having just shown their disregard for the people’s purse, now proceed outraging the promptings of our better nature by seeking to re-establish the long since abolished barbarous custom of flogging prisoners with the lash. Sir John, seconded by George – humane brace of knights – moved that the flogging bull be read the third time…

Amendment lost: 40-76. Mackenzie and Thomson… vote against the flogging, while the brace of Knights, the Conservatives, and TN Gibbs join together in putting on the lash! Shame on you gentlemen!…


July 5

Mowing Machines Below Cost of Production

The Joseph Hall Manufacturing Company, of Oshawa, are offering some Ohio Junior Mowers, Ohio Mowers, large size; Cayuga Chief Junior Mower and Wood’s Self Rakers, at a price far below cost of production at the present cost of Iron. Machinery cannot be made at anything like present process, and farmers will do well to purchase this year, as the saving will be more than the interest of the money for many years. Labor must be very scares and dear. All wanting Machines will do well to come to Oshawa before purchases. Iron has risen one hundred per cent, and is still advancing.

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July 5, 1872, page 3

July 12

Seventy Thousand Dollars!

This is the amount generally stated to be at the disposal of TN Gibbs, for the purpose of attempting to secure his re-election as representative of South Ontario in the House of Commons. But even this large sum will, we believe, prove themselves [mea], by spurring his bribes, and voting against Sir John’s most obedient automaton. Electors of South Ontario, redeem this riding from the disgrace under which it has lain for the past five years. Prove yourselves free men, and true men, by voting for Truman P. [White].


July 19

12th of July Celebration

On Friday morning last we were awakened at an early hour by the booming of cannon. It surprised us. We rubbed our eyes and began to think, when we remembered that it was the 12th of July, and that the Orangemen and Young Britons were welcoming the anniversary day of the Battle of the Boyne.

At half-past six am, the OYB’s assembled at their lodge room to make arrangements for the procession; and the Orangemen at half-past seven… The OYB’s lead (sic) the procession, headed by their fine fife and drum band, and presented the finest appearance we have ever seen in any procession of the kind here or elsewhere.  The Orangemen followed, beaded by the Whitby Brass Band, they also presented a very neat appearance… Everything passed off in a most harmonious manner, and with credit to the society.  The most pleasing feature of the demonstration was the sobriety with which it was conducted

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July 19, 1872, page 2.

July 26

South Ontario Election

The writ, authorizing the election of a representative of this riding for the House of Commons, has been received by Mr. JH Perry, Returning Officer; and he has issued a proclamation appointing Thursday next, 1st August, as the day of nomination – to take place at Whitby, on the grounds adjoining the Town Hall.  Should Mr. Gibbs not take warning from the signs of defeat now plainly visible, and withdraw from the contest, voting will take place throughout the riding on Thursday, August 8th, at the following polling places:

East Whitby
No 1 – Cedar Dale Warehouse, opposite GTR station, Cedar Dale
No 2 – Town Hall, Columbus
No 3 – School house, Raglan

Whitby Township
No 1 – Toll gate house, gravel road lot 26th, 4th concession
No 2 – Town hall, Brooklin
No 3 – School house, Ashburn

No 1 – Union school house, lot 1, 2nd concession
No 2 – Orange hall, 8th con.
No 3 – Temperance hall, Duffins Creek
No 4 – Town Hall, Brougham
No 5 – School house, Claremont
No 6 – McCreight’s school house, lot 30 3rd concession
No 7 – Bentley’s school house, lot 32, 8th concession

No 1 – Mr Carswell’s office
No 2 – Town hall
No 3 – Pedlar’s Warehouse
No 4 – Smith & McGaw’s livery office

Town of Whitby
No 1 – Mechanic’s hall
No 2 – Skating rink, Dundas street
No 3 – Town hall


July 26


In Harmony on the 25th inst. Mr. Richard Whit, aged 57 years
The funeral will take place this afternoon, at 3 o’clock.

In Oshawa, on the 24th inst., Mrs. Robt. Fursdon, aged 49 years.
The funeral will take place this afternoon at half-past one.

Note: This year, 1872, was an election year, held from July 20 to October 12, 1872, the second federal election held in Canada.  It was commonplace for elections to last longer than one day; according to Elections Canada: “elections were held on different dates in different ridings. The system allowed the party in power to hold elections in a safe riding first, hoping in this way to influence the vote in constituencies less favourable to them. The system even enabled a candidate who lost in one riding to run again in another.”

The result of the election saw Sir John A. Macdonald and his Conservatives returning to form a minority government, and TN Gibbs was re-elected to represent Ontario South.  The Ontario Reformer newspaper leaned left, strongly supporting the Liberal candidate Truman P. White; unfortunately, there are no known existing copies of the conservative paper, the Oshawa Vindicator, from this time.  It would have been an interesting exercise to compare how the two newspapers were reporting this election.

Archives Awareness Week: 1867/1967

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

This article originally appeared on the Durham Region Area Archives Group website to celebrate Archives Awareness Week. This annual event, held across Ontario from April 3-9, 2017, is designed to raise awareness of the many resources that can be found in archival collections around the province.

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. The year will be filled with celebrations, retrospection and imagining where this country will be in another 150 years. To begin the celebration, member institutions of DRAAG have looked through their holdings to find the most interesting item from 1867 and 1967 in their collections!

On August 26, 1867 an Oshawa resident by the name of T.N. Gibbs received a telegram from John A. Macdonald.  The telegram is rather significant, not only because it was sent by Canada’s first Prime Minister, but it talks about the first election after Confederation.

Gibbs was not new to politics but this election would be his most notable. He ran against Reformer backed George Brown and Liberal John Sandfield Macdonald.  While Gibbs won, it was widely accepted that he do so by corrupt practices.

Gibbs was the only successful Conservative candidate in this area.  This meant that he acted as the local confidante for Sir John A. Macdonald. So much so, that we have another little note sent to Gibbs by Macdonald in our collection.

A960.19.5 (60-D-19); from the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum

Canada celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Confederation on a large scale. Locally, Oshawa joined in on the celebrations as well. Between beard growing contests, NHL exhibition games and special performances, the City marked the anniversary in a prominent way. Students in Oshawa schools spent a good part of the school year preparing for a Centennial Celebration held at the Civic Auditorium. The program included songs and dances, art work and projects that highlighted the differences between life in Oshawa in 1867 and 1967. The grade 7 and 8 students from E.A. Lovell School actually put on a performance showing the differences in physical training in 1867 and 1967. In the archives, we have the binder that was developed to outline all of the activities Oshawa schools engaged in related to the Centennial.


Be sure to visit the Durham Region Area Archives Group website to see what gems are in archives from around our Region and to learn more about local archives!

Where The Streets Get Their Names – Gibb Street

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

When I’m giving a tour through Henry House and we get to the bedroom, I typically find myself asking if my guests have heard of Oshawa’s Gibbs brothers?  The answer I usually receive is “No,” however, if I ask them if they’ve heard of the McLaughlins, “yes”es and head nods are the response.  The story of Oshawa’s own BeeGees (Brothers Gibbs – see what I did there?) has seemingly been forgotten over the years. Who were they, why are they important, and why was Gibb Street named for them?

The brothers were born in Terrebonne, Quebec where they lived until 1832 when they moved to Oshawa.  Their father, Thomas Gibbs, helped run the South Oshawa Milling Company owned by their uncle, John Gibbs.  When they were older, both boys were sent to England to be properly educated.  They returned to Oshawa where they helped their father and uncle with the milling business.

As time passed, the brothers became known among the leading millers of Ontario and within three years they had acquired most of the cultivated land from Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario.

Thomas Nicholson Gibbs; photograph from Library and Archives Canada
Thomas Nicholson Gibbs; photograph from Library and Archives Canada

When the first village council was elected in 1850, Thomas Gibbs was named Oshawa’s first Reeve.  He tried moving into Canadian politics in 1855 when he ran for the North Ontario riding but was easily defeated.  However, Thomas ran for the South Ontario riding in 1867 and won by a surprisingly large majority.  There were strong suspicions that the vote had been fixed or that the voters had been bribed but it could not be proven, and Thomas sat as a Member of Parliament until 1874, even serving in Sir John A. Macdonald’s cabinet.

William’s political career was much like that of his older brother.  In 1855 he was elected Reeve of Oshawa and, Deputy Reeve of Whitby.  In the same year he held the position of Warden for North Ontario County until 1879 when he was elected as Oshawa first Mayor.

William Henry Gibbs; photograph from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
William Henry Gibbs; photograph from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

In 1865 when the Warren family when bankrupt, the Gibbs brothers acquired all of the Warren assets. Now the brothers owned the Warren Mill, two distilleries, an estate called Prospect Park, the Western Bank, and other Warren property and workshops along King Street West.

Under their management, the Western Bank quickly became a strong financial institution, and together they established the Ontario Loan and Savings Company which helped get many Oshawa industries off the ground.

Thomas played a major role in opening the Simcoe Street United Church in 1867.

After this long period of prosperity and happiness, the Gibbs milling business suffered a fatal blow.  The price of the Gibbs main crop, barley, was falling and they had at least two thousand bushels on their hands.  It was decided to send the barley to New York where the demand was still good but, the winter came early and froze their ships in the Erie Canal.  The barley was ruined so it was shipped to England as cattle feed and the Gibbs did not receive a cent in return.

Thomas and William were forced to sell most of their property and only the Western Bank and the Ontario Loan and Savings Company were able to survive under the management of new owners.  Thomas died quietly in his home on April 7, 1883 at the age of sixty two.  William Gibbs moved away from Oshawa, taking the entire Gibbs family with him.  Both brothers are interred at Union Cemetery.¹

Today, Gibb Street is an east-west Regional Road, maintained by the Region of Durham. It is not clear why the ‘s’ was dropped, but Gibb Street has been named for these brothers.

I frequently refer to the County of Ontario Atlas when writing these posts, as it provides a glimpse of our city from almost 150 years ago.  Below is a snapshot from this 1877 map, with Gibbs Street circled.

From the 1877 County of Ontario Atlas
From the 1877 County of Ontario Atlas

You will see many streets that are still around today, and note Gibbs Street appears twice: the northern Gibbs Street is close to its current alignment.  The southern Gibbs Street today is St. Lawrence Street (which appears in the map where Fairbanks Street is today). The southern Gibbs Street is also surrounded by land owned by TN Gibbs.

It is unknown exactly when the street names changed, or when the ‘s’ was dropped from Gibbs Street.  A Fire Insurance Map from 1911 shows St. Lawrence and Gibbs (with the ‘s’) at its currently alignment, but by 1921, the City Directory shows Gibb without the ‘s’.  Much like how Phillip Murray Avenue adopted a second ‘l’ in its name, the reasons why Gibbs dropped the ‘s’ is unknown.  Perhaps it was a clerical error which has persisted.

011.6.1a-d; The Gibbs Brothers bed in the Henry House Bedroom
011.6.1a-d; The Gibbs Brothers bed in the Henry House Bedroom

Now, why do I talk about the Gibbs when I’m in the Henry House Bedroom?  The bed in the room was made by a furniture company owned by the Gibbs, and when talking about this artifact, a conversation about the brothers comes about.  I have also discussed Thomas Gibbs previously on this blog; a treasured artifact in our archival holdings is a letter that was sent to Gibbs by Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald.  For a history junkie, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.


¹Information about the Gibbs Brothers adapted from a Historical Oshawa Information Sheet, ©Oshawa Historical Society.

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