Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016

Valleyview Park, Oshawa, c. 1950



December 20, 2016

December 20, 2016

Christmas Wishes From Overseas

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist
This article originally appeared in the Oshawa Express, Dec 21, 2011

In 2011, the archives acquired four Christmas cards sent from an Oshawa boy serving overseas during WWII.

Pte. Earl Hann was overseas serving as a member of the Canadian Corps, under the 8th Army, as World War II battled throughout Northern Africa and Italy.  This meant that he was away from his young family during the holiday season in 1944.


A011.10.1, Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

Standardized Christmas cards were made available to the soldiers so that they could let their family back home know that they were thinking of them.  The cards were really a single sheet of paper with a drawing on it meant to represent the area where the soldier was stationed.  Once the soldier had completed personalizing their card in the little space made available to them,  and the card was passed by the censors, the army would  copy the card and reduce the size so that it would be less expensive to send back home.


A011.10.2 – Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

Pte. Hann made the best of the limited space available to let him family know just how much he was missing them.  Three of the cards are addressed to his wife Irene with the fourth being addressed to his young daughter Joyce.


A011.10.3, Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

The lengthiest of the notes written by Pte. Hann also lets us know that the holiday season was extra special as his wedding anniversary also fell during that time.  He writes:

“Happy Anniversary My love.  With Best Wishes that this is our last spent apart.
All my love and Millions of Kisses
Forever yours

He chose to send his daughter a card showing where her day was when he wasn’t with her.  The card has a map of the Mediterranean Sea, showing both Italy and North Africa.  This time the card is simply signed from “Daddy with all his love and best wishes for 1945”.

Pte. Hann was happily reunited with his family once the war was over and he went on to become a 50 year member of the Oshawa Historical Society.  It is fitting that these letters have found a home with a museum he loved so much.

December 18, 2016

December 18, 2016

Christmas is one week away? Have you decorated your tree yet?


From the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum, December 1956

December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016

With nine days until Christmas, days are often filled with songs about Santa, reindeer, Jesus’s birth, and winter wonderlands.  There are a number of carols with religious themes, like Angels We Have Heard On High, Away In A Manger, and O Holy Night, but then there are songs that are slightly more irreverent.

One such novelty song is All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.  In 1944, a man named Donald Yetter Gardner was teaching music at public schools in Smithtown, New York. He asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed that almost all of the students had at least one front tooth missing as they answered in a lisp. He wrote the song in 30 minutes.

Let’s hope Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer has a less anecdotal origin!

From Wikipedia.

December 15, 2016

December 15, 2016

We’re halfway through the month of December and 10 days until Christmas. This has always been a season of giving, and it is especially important to remember to give to those who need it the most.

In 1922, the local newspaper, the Ontario Reformer, included a plea to ‘Give the Kiddies A Happy Xmas,’ and this message is just as relevant today in 2016 as it was in 1922.  There are many wonderful charities in Durham Region, and if you’re able to give at this time of year, here are just some of the many organizations looking for your support:

Feed the Need Durham

Simcoe Hall Settlement House

Salvation Army Oshawa


Ontario Reformer, December 23, 1922

December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

If you visit the National Capital Region in Ottawa/Gatineau during the holiday season, you will be able to enjoy Christmas Lights Across Canada.  First launched in 1985, this program was created to highlight landmarks and sites along Confederation Boulevard, including Parliament Hill, national museums, monuments, embassies and other prominent institutions.  Christmas Lights Across Canada also helps to add vibrancy to the Capital during the winter months and it kicks off the holiday season in Canada’s Capital Region. This year, the program started on December 7 and will continue through the month of December.

Information from 

December 9, 2016

December 9, 2016

Christmas in the Victorian times was often a time when friends and family would gather together, enjoy a feast, and perhaps play games. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, describes such a game when the readers, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present visit the home of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.

It was a Game called Yes and No, where Scrooge’s nephew had to think of something, and the rest must find out what; he only answering to their questions yes or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and lived in London, and walked about the streets, and wasn’t made a show of, and wasn’t led by anybody, and didn’t live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh question that was put to him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. At last the plump sister, falling into a similar state, cried out:

“I have found it out! I know what it is, Fred! I know what it is!”

“What is it?” cried Fred.

“It’s your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!”

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal sentiment, though some objected that the reply to “Is it a bear?” ought to have been “Yes;” inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency that way.

“He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,” said Fred, “and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment; and I say, “Uncle Scrooge!””

“Well! Uncle Scrooge.” they cried.

“A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “He wouldn’t take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge!”

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels.


Illustration by John Leech, from Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol

November 1, 2016

November 1, 2016

Welcome to the Oshawa Museum’s Victorian Advent Calendar! Every day through the month of December, we share photographs, postcards, trivia, and stories of holiday traditions!

We’re one month away from the start of December. Before we share new posts for the 2016 holiday season, check out our archives and view posts from the past five years!

See you in December!

December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015


With a nation as large and diverse as Canada, it makes sense that different regions would have different traditions for celebrating this holiday season.  One such example is in Newfoundland and Labrador who take part in mummering.

What is mummering? It involves groups dressing up in costumes and often masks and travelling door to door spreading cheer.  If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they might partake in informal performances, including dance, music, jokes, or recitations.  Because the mummers are disguised, the hosts will have to guess their identity before offering them food or drink; the hosts will try many ways to get the mummers to reveal who they are, and in turn, the mummers go to great lengths to disguise their true identities.  Once guessed, the mummers will stay and visit with the hosts, before moving onto another home.

The earliest recording of mummering in Newfoundland dates to 1819, however it is likely to have taken place earlier.

December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015

Hanging Your Stocking By The Chimney With Care

The early nineteenth century poem by Clement C. Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” describes an old Christmas custom concerning stockings. The poem’s narrator notes that his children’s stockings “were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” Many American homes today present a similar scene on Christmas Eve. Children leave stockings near the fire place expecting that Santa Claus will come and fill them with candy and toys during the night.

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

Some historians trace the roots of the stocking custom back to an ancient legend involving St. Nicholas. The legend tells of an anonymous act of kindness performed by the saint. Nicholas knew of a man who had three daughters of marriageable age for whom he could not afford dowries.  One evening Nicholas came by their house and threw a small sack of gold through the window, thereby providing a dowry for the oldest girl. He donated dowries for the other two girls in the same manner. On the evening of his last gift, the man raced outside, caught Nicholas in the act, and thanked him for his generosity. In some version of this story, Nicholas throws the sack of gold down the chimney and it lands in one of the daughter’s stockings, which had been hung there to dry.

In medieval times people across Europe celebrated St. Nicholas’s Day on December 6th. In a number of northern European countries folk traditions developed around the idea of St. Nicholas bringing treats for children on St. Nicholas’s Eve. Adults instructed children to leave their shoes by the fire that evening so that the saint could pop down the chimney and fill them up with fruit, nuts, and cookies. In some parts of Europe families substituted stockings for shoes.

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

Eventually, the tradition of giving gifts to children to gravitate toward Christmas. In Germany children began to hang stockings by the end of their beds on Christmas Eve so that the Christ Child could fill them with treats as he voyaged from house to house. This stocking custom migrated to the United States, England, France, Italy during the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century Santa Claus overpowered both the Christ Child and the saint, emerging as the dominant winter holiday gift giver. Some believed that the stockings children hang up today ultimately hark back to St. Nicholas’s good deed. These days, however, Santa, not the saint, is expected to perform the Christmas miracle.