Archive for the ‘Robinson House’ Category

December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

A treasured holiday event, Oshawa Museum staff always look forward to our Annual Lamplight Tour.  Held on the first Saturday of December, our historic houses are decorated for the season, and there are activities for all ages.

Here is a sampling of photographs from last year’s Lamplight. We hope you can join us on Saturday, December 3, 6-8pm, for Lamplight 2016.


December 18, 2015

December 18, 2015

The Gift of Play: Toys of Yesterday

Toys are very appealing—they can be colourful, whimsical, and intriguing. They are fun to play with as kids, and enjoyable to remember as adults. But toys also tell us stories about how childhood and play have changed over the years. Homemade or store bought, educational or purely for fun, toys and other recreational pastimes tell the stories of children growing up in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Our latest feature exhibition is perfectly timed for the holiday season.  Visit the Oshawa Museum and check out The Gift of Play: Toys of Yesterday.

Here is a sneak peak at the exhibit.








December 8, 2013

December 8, 2013

  The Christmas season at The Oshawa Community Museum 

During the Christmas season Henry House looks as it would when the Henry family celebrated Christmas. Robinson House on the other hand, features a series of Christmas galleries such as a decorated general store.

Laura Suchan, director of Oshawa Sydenham Museum (now the Oshawa Community Museum) said, “for many people, Christmas is not the same without a tour of the old homes”.

(Oshawa Times 1994)


Lamplight 015


December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

From Olive French (for more info on Olive French and her research into education in Oshawa, please visit:

The School Christmas Concert – 1867

One of the big events during the school year was the annual Christmas concert. A person would be safe in saying that it was one of the first customs, established in the schools of the past. In the rural schools especially, it was truly a happy time for the children and was enhanced by the fact that the holidays were close at hand.

As much time as could be spared from lessons beforehand, was spent in carefully choosing and practicing the numbers for the entertainment. The children were delighted with the idea of having their parents and neighbours come to hear and see them perform. Their one idea seemed to have been to please the visitors.

A holiday band ready to play music in the Robinson House General Store exhibit

The teacher entered into it all whole-heartedly. If he or she were musical, the children were taught choruses and cute motion songs as well as the time-honoured carols. There was little part singing in public schools in those days and very few had a piano or organ, neither were there any musical supervisors.

To prepare a song the teacher first wrote the words on the blackboard, and then she sang a verse to the children. Very soon the more musical ones caught the tune and gradually all joined in. I wouldn’t say that they all sang in the same key. If the teacher had no musical ability, the children had to do the best they could with that part of the programme. Declamations (recitations) dialogues and drills were also prepared with much care. Very often a child sang or recited a piece, taught to him by the parents. Perhaps one of the pupils, “Johnny” could be persuaded to give a mouth organ[1] solo or two.

A day or so before the concert, the schoolroom was made clean and tidy. A good sized evergreen tree was brought in and set up by some of the parents. The spicy scent of the tree added to the holiday spirit. The tree was decorated with gaily coloured paper chains, popcorn strings and balls, bits of brightly coloured yarn and red apples. There were none of our electric lights for trees or gay ornaments in those days. Candles were used in private homes, but were considered too dangerous for use in schools. Evergreen boughs were fastened up over the doors and windows, and suitable drawings were put on the blackboards by the budding artists.

Robinson decorated for Christmas

The last day of school before the holidays was chosen for the big event. The children all arrived scrubbed up and dressed in their Sunday best. They were very conscious of it too, especially the girls. Little girls with naturally curly hair were the envy of the others at those times. Small brothers and sisters, not school age, were allowed to come as well, and they took part on the programme if they were willing. The concerts were all held in the afternoon, there was no other way of lighting the buildings at night.

The trustees of the school were all invited and came if they could possibly spare the time. Benches were placed around the room for extra seating, but very often some of the visitors had to squeeze themselves into seats, two or three sizes too small, after all a person could tolerate that for an hour or two. At least one howling baby was among the visitors.

As a rule, the programme started with a carol sung by all, visitors included. One of the boys appointed beforehand was the chairman and after a short address of welcome, he then proceeded with the numbers on the programme.

A recitation or two by tiny tots followed, and then each one of a row of small children carrying a letter spelling the word “Christmas” recited a verse suited to the season.

Thus the programme continued from the smallest ones to the senior fourth (Grade VIII). There was a judicious mixture of songs (sacred and secular) recitations about Santa, little girls with their dolls sang or recited. There were skits and comic recitations, some drills were attempted, for boys and dialogues for both girls and boys. A class of girls with hoops wound with coloured paper or cloth performed a hoop drill. Drills were also performed by a class of children carrying small flags. Lack of platform space was a handicap for these last two mentioned numbers. When music was needed the children hummed a tune or “Johnny” played his mouth organ. Some of the recitations were sad, some gay. A few of the children showed real ability in acting the parts they took in the dialogues.

Loud applause was heard after each number as well as roars of laughter after the comic ones especially if they had not been heard during the practice beforehand. The children all did their very best including “Johnny” with his mouth organ. When he played “Turkey in the Straw,” the listener could scarcely keep his own “Methodist foot” still.

At the close of the programme the prizes for the year were distributed by the teacher. These were always books. Parents were requested not to put presents on the tree for their children in case there were some who couldn’t afford it. The school trustees usually cooperated by giving each child a bag of candy and nuts and perhaps an orange. The children really appreciated the treat.

Christmas greetings were extended to all by the teacher and chairman of the trustee board if he were present and thanks to the parents for the interest they had shown. A carol was then sung and God Save the Queen. Victoria was monarch then.

The children left the school in high glee at the thought of the days ahead that could be spent coasting down the hills or skating on the pond behind the barn. The farm collie dog was always on hand “raring” to go with those young folks and join in the fun.

Following this, I will write some of the old time recitation and song in case they might at some time be useful. Tunes to the songs will be found in the picture album that goes… [                      ]

[1] Harmonica

December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

The Oshawa Community Museum, for several years, has held an annual Lamplight Tour of the Museum for the holiday season.  It is a cherished community event, being held on December 8, 2012 from 6-8PM.  The address for the museum is 1450 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa Ontario.


Below are some pictures from last year’s event:


Carollers in Guy House


Staff Lisa, Madison, and volunteer Lisa in Henry House, dressing in traditional Victorian clothing


Lamplight in Henry House


Busy gift shop in Guy House


OHS members with Archivist Jennifer


Staff Victoria with Queen Victoria




December 4, 2012

December 4, 2012

Wassailing took place during the Christmas season and involved going from door to door singing carols or offering drinks of spiced ale.  This was a popular tradition in England.


Visitors to the Oshawa Community Museum’s Annual Lamplight tour will be treated to an evening of wassailing carols, provided by Ken Ramsden of Freshwater Trade!  Lamplight is taking place on December 8, 2012 from 6-8PM.

December 14

December 14, 2011

The first Christmas trees in Ontario were decorated with edible products, such as strings of popcorn, nuts and cookies.  During the 1870s the first store-bought ornaments were introduced.  They were made of tin, wax, tinsel, cardboard and glass.  The oldest manufactured ornaments, made of tin, came in various shapes such as stars, crosses and flowers.  Wax ornaments soon followed, the most popular design being an angel floating in the air.  Icicles were introduced in 1878 and still remain a popular decoration.

What ornaments adorn your Christmas tree?

This year's tree in Robinson House

December 9

December 9, 2011

On December 10, from 6-8pm, the Oshawa Museum is hosting its Annual Lamplight Tour.  Below are some images from last year’s popular event.

General Store exhibit in Robinson House
Henry House Dining Room table
Henry House Parlour
Henry House Parlour and the Henry’s Christmas Tree
Decorating the tree in the Robinson House school room exhibit
Making the Christmas pudding in Henry House