Posts Tagged ‘history’

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.

Image177 - Polly Ann & George Henry

George and Polly Henry


December 27, 2017

December 27, 2017

On this day:

1814 – War of 1812: The American schooner USS Carolina is destroyed. It was the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson’s makeshift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

1831 – Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.

1836 – The worst ever avalanche in England occurs at Lewes, Sussex, killing eight people.

1845 – Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Georgia.

1911 – “Jana Gana Mana”, the national anthem of India, is first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress.

1922 – Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō becomes the first purpose built aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the world.

1927 – Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opens at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway.

1935 – Regina Jonas is ordained as the first female rabbi in the history of Judaism.

1945 – The International Monetary Fund is created with the signing of an agreement by 29 nations.

1966 – The Cave of Swallows, the largest known cave shaft in the world, is discovered in Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon.

1978 – Spain becomes a democracy after 40 years of fascist dictatorship.

2004 – Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reaches Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.


December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017

Legend tells us that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by a team of eight (or nine) reindeer. Reindeer, or Caribou, are native to most northern climates in North America, parts of Greenland, and Europe.  The caribou adorns the reverse side of the Canadian 25 cent piece, or quarter.

Did you know that both male and female caribou can grow antlers, the only member of the deer family where the females grow antlers.  As well, females typically keep their antlers year round, while male caribou shed their antlers in the fall and grow a larger set the following spring.

That’s right – scientifically speaking, if Santa’s sleigh is depicted with antlered reindeer, then Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen must be female!


From the Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

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.


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 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

October 21, 1879 saw the invention of the first light bulb by Thomas Edison.  A mere three years later, the world’s first electrically illuminated Christmas tree appeared.  Prior to this invention, Christmas trees were illuminated using candles.  A rather dangerous practice that meant a bucket of water was always kept nearby to put out any fires that could start.


A colleague of Edison’s, Edward Johnson, decorated his tree with eighty coloured light bulbs.  The bulbs had been hand blown and the tree rotated slowly on a tiny pine box.  The effect must have been breathtaking.  Electricity in the late 1800s was very expensive and was limited to the very wealthy.  Few were able to afford the electricity needed to light a Christmas tree.

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.


From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017

Did you know that in the 1950s, Boston tried to ban the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?  According to Time Magazine:

Boston church leaders tried to have the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” banned in the 1950s because they thought it “promoted physical intimacy.” Singer Jimmy Boyd had to fly to Boston and explain to them why it wasn’t obscene.

Fun fact: Jimmy Boyd recorded the song on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old.

December 16, 2017

December 16, 2017

According to Time Magazine, the record for the most recorded Christmas song goes to Silent Night, which has 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978.  It was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.


Carollers in Guy House

December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017

December 8 is commemorated by Buddhists as Bodhi Day, marking the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) experienced enlightenment.  According to the Huffington Post, “Bodhi Day is an opportunity to acknowledge our dedication to the principles of wisdom, compassion and kindness — the distinguishing features of the Buddhist worldview.”

December 7, 2017

December 7, 2017

From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with her brother’s particular friend, the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, one after another; some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them! When this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, “Well done!” and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially provided for that purpose. But scorning rest, upon his reappearance, he instantly began again, though there were no dancers yet, as if the other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight, or perish.

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.