Archive for the ‘Around Oshawa’ Category

December 14, 2018

December 14, 2018

In 2014, we created an exhibit for the front hall case of the McLaughlin Branch, Oshawa Public Library.  Can you recognize any toys from yesterday?

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December 8, 2018

December 8, 2018

Looking for a few gift ideas. Perhaps this ad from the Ontario Reformer in 1915 could provide inspiration!

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December 4, 2018

December 4, 2018

A Victorian Christmas
By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

This article was originally published in the Oshawa Express, November 27, 2015

Christmas was a time of celebration for Victorian families. Many of the traditions that we follow today were also a part of a Victorian Christmas celebration.

For example, it was Queen Victoria who popularized the German tradition of a Christmas tree and made it a part of the celebrations. The Queen’s husband, Prince Albert, brought the tradition of displaying a tree during the holidays from his native Germany. A sketch of the Queen and her family posed around a Christmas tree brought this tradition to the British people and it became a part of their holiday traditions.

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Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their Christmas Tree, 1847

Victorians would place a small tree on top of a table in the parlour. It was often decorated with homemade paper ornaments, strings of popcorn, berries and nuts. Occasionally, the family would be able to afford a few ornaments bought from the store. Families also placed small presents on the tree in lieu of using wrapping paper, which was still expensive at that time. Christmas trees were lit with candles and families would places flags from their country of origin atop the tree instead of an angel or star.

Gifts of small toys or candy would be placed on the tree for the children to find Christmas morning. Perhaps, if the family was a little more affluent, slightly larger toys could be found under the tree. The children would be especially pleased to see a toy such as a Noah’s Ark under the tree. The reason for this was rather simple: a Noah’s Ark was a toy that could be played with on any day of the week.

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The tree in Henry House

The Victorians also enjoyed the tradition of wassailing during the holiday season. This would see them joyfully going door-to-door singing carols or offering drinks of spiced ale.

December 3, 2018

December 3, 2018

We have been interpreting the Victorian holidays for several years.  The following picture was taken 28 years ago, in 1990.

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The parlour of Henry House may have changed a bit, but the traditions from the 1800s remain the same!

December 30, 2017

December 30, 2017

John Henry is dressed and ready for a snowy day.  From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection (A983.41.3)

December 29, 2017

December 29, 2017

In 2013, the Oshawa Museum received a phenomenal collection of letters and papers from the Henry Family.  In February 1880, George Henry wrote to his mother Lurenda, the first letter may have sent since the passing of his father Thomas in September 1879.  Within this long letter, he tells his mother how he spent the new year, saying,

We went from there by invitation to John Edgars to take Newyears dinner and assisted in disposing of a fine turkey & goose. I have another invitation to meet with them on honour of the old gentlemans birth day on the 11th  inst when another turkey is to be slaughtered. (all spelling as originally written).

Not many letters touch on the holiday season, but this letter provides a small glimpse at how one Henry child marked the beginning of 1880.

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George and Polly Henry

December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

On December 22, 1868, Cassius Stone and Clarissa Henry were married.  Clarissa was the 14th child of Rev. Thomas Henry and his wife Lurenda, and Cassius and Clarissa were married in Henry House.

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The home of Clarissa and Cassius Stone in Woodville (west of Lindsay, ON)

It was Cassius and Clarissa’s wish to be married on Christmas Day, but because of Elder Tatton having to serve at the dedication service at the Ringwood Christian Church, they decided to have their ceremony performed on December 22 – in the many years that followed, they always celebrated their wedding day on Christmas.

December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul.  This happy soul was made popular by the song “Frosty the Snowman”.  This song was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and performed by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys.  It saw its first public release on December 14, 1950.  The song quickly grew in popularity, reaching a height of 7th place in the US Pop Singles chart of 1950.  The song has been adapted into several other media, including a popular 1969 television special created by Rankin/Bass Productions.

The song tells the story of a snowman who is brought to life by a magical silk hat.  He spends the day playing with the children who created him, until he has to leave, claiming that “I’ll be back again someday.”  Despite not making any mention of Christmas in the original lyrics, Frosty has become a well-known icon as a Christmas character.

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From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

December 15, 2017

December 15, 2017

Christmas portrait of unknown fire department associate with children and an unknown individual dressed as Santa.  From the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum (A012.5.38)

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December 12, 2017

December 12, 2017

Today at sunset, the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah begins.  Because the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar rather than the solar year, the date of Hanukkah moves about on the calendar and can land anywhere between November 25th and December 26th.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE.  After the victory, a ritual re-dedication was to take place in temple.  Oil that was only expected to last one night instead lasted eight nights.  This was seen as miraculous, and to celebrate this miracle, Hanukkah began and has been celebrated for over 1500 years.

Iconic of Hanukkah is the menorah, a nine branched candelabrum; on the first evening of Hanukkah one candle is lit and special prayers are said. On the second evening two candles are lit, and so on. The rest of the evening is spent singing songs, playing games, telling Hanukkah stories, and enjoying special holiday foods.

Children may also celebrate Hanukkah by spinning the dreidel, Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (He), ש (Shin), which together form the acronym for “נס גדול היה שם” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – “a great miracle happened there”).

Happy Hanukkah!