National Volunteer Week: The Roots of our Community

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement & Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

April 11-15 is National Volunteer Week, and during this week, the Oshawa Museum celebrates Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers!

Our volunteers, their thoughtfulness, generosity, kindness towards staff, visitors and respect for their volunteer positions knows no bounds. This year volunteers have tended to the gardens around Henry House and Guy House, helped with collections and archival management, delivered tours and assisted with programs and special events, and so much more.  In addition, we are thankful for the support from co-op students and interns who become a wonderful complement to the staff.

Our high school volunteers are part of a group known as OMY: The Oshawa Museum Youth.  In 2015, the OMY Volunteers helped with our special events and with our Four Corners: One Story project.  What is Four Corners: One Story? Oshawa’s downtown is full of history, and this project helped to raise awareness of it.  In early Spring, OMY volunteers toured through Oshawa’s Downtown, learning about the history with Oshawa Museum staff guiding them.  Volunteers went back to the Museum, found historic photos, and on a further tour, we tried to recreate those photos today.  Five buildings were chosen, a co-op student designed the template, and over the summer, five posters were created with historic information, photos, and current images.  These posters are not only on display at the Museum, but also at Oshawa City facilities, and around Downtown Oshawa.

Throughout 2015 staff at the Museum have worked with 45 youth and adult volunteers who volunteered 886 hours, and our 11 students contributed 743 hours!   We can’t do what we do without the support and enthusiasm from our volunteers. Thank you.

Vol for Insta

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Oshawa Museum, please visit our website, or call 905-436-7624 x 106.


Volunteer’s Views – The years bring change but history remains the same…

By Kathryn, Valued Volunteer!

Hard to believe that I have been volunteering for the Oshawa Community  Museum and Archives for nearly eleven years, it only seems like yesterday that I met everyone at the Jubilee Pavilion. The room they were in was large dark, damp and uninviting; a make shift office while the Guy house was under repairs from the disastrous fire. I recall my volunteer duties were working on a data entry program of current newspaper articles and later moving on in the summer to assisting with the weekly Victorian Tea and the children’s programs.

Kathryn helping with an Archaeology program
Kathryn helping with an Archaeology program

Back then I might reflect that Murray MacKay was a prominent fixture at the museum. He always was cheerfully attending to the museum’s maintenance needs; his pride in keeping the museum to its historical presence was surely apparent in his affection for the houses.

When I first started with the museum the drive shed was not there, just grass; I think there was a sleigh cutter sled covered by a tarp up in the garage? Monthly meeting where held at the Albert United Church and social media, gee what was that! The old boards that made up the deck in front of the garden by the Henry house were a thorn in Murray’s side as he was always worried someone’s foot would go through and twist their ankle!  The Victorian teas really are the same; however, we used real pretty delicate napkins.  Now, disposable… a sign of the times.

Robinson House
Robinson House

As for Robinson House, so many fantastic exhibits have come and gone. As well, who could deny that the upgraded walk way, front steps and little tweaks each year at the general store has certainly enhanced its historical beauty.

I have not even touched on the impressive restoration projects, the new friendship with Trent University and the behind working of the museum staff to preserve our local history that I have witnessed and been a part of as a volunteer.

Volunteering for the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives as always been a pleasure for me; the staff has continually extended their appreciation for my time and being a part of Oshawa’s history has been an honor for me.

Kathryn and Jennifer at the United Way Volunteer Fair, 2014
Kathryn and Jennifer at the United Way Volunteer Fair, 2014


Thank you Kathryn for your post and for all of your hard work over the years!

Volunteering at the Museum!

Hi there, my name is Emily and I have been a volunteer in the archives at The Oshawa Community Museum for about a year now. I first began volunteering here to gain experience in my field as I had hoped to apply to graduate studies in Library and Information Science, after completing my undergrad at Trent University Oshawa. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a bit about my experience here, and how volunteering has helped me plan for my future career!

Emily working in the Archives!
Emily working in the Archives!

The majority of my volunteering here has been in the archives. When I began volunteering in the archives I mainly worked with the photograph collection by entering numerous photographs into the digital database. These photographs all capture a moment of Oshawa’s past and this has been very interesting for me to look through because I have been able to learn so much about the history of Oshawa.

Between school and school work, I am able to come into volunteer about once a week and have tried to keep this schedule for most of time I have been here. During the summer however, I took a short break from volunteering and put on a Victorian Dress and took on the role of summer student. While still helping in the archives, I was also able to help with other Museum functions. When September rolled around, I once again began volunteering. When I started up again I moved away from the photographs collection that I had been working on and began entering some of the larger archival items into the database. This has allowed me to become more familiar with different aspects of the archival collection at The Oshawa Community Museum.

Jen, Emily and Caitlan, summer 2013
Jen, Emily and Caitlan, summer 2013

The experience I have gained here at The Oshawa Community Museum has been extremely valuable to me for two main reasons. First, having the opportunity to work hands on in the archives, I have gained a better understanding of my field and the career I am pursuing. This experience has allowed me to determine whether the field of Information is something I could see myself doing and I think it is safe to say now that this is career path I want to take. Secondly, the time I have spent volunteering at the Museum has helped me apply to graduate studies. From being able to say I have worked with an Archivist to being able to demonstrate my passion for this field it has been great to develop skills and show this to grad schools. I am also happy to say I have now (thankfully), finished my applications to grad school and am eagerly waiting to see where I will end up next year!

Overall, I believe I have had a unique and valuable experience volunteering here at the Oshawa Community Museum. It has been a positive stop on my career path and one I know has helped shape my future in Information. I am very happy I made the decision to volunteer early and encourage students thinking about archival research, library or information studies to consider a volunteer placement somewhere like the Oshawa Community Museum!

%d bloggers like this: