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Historical Society’s five most wanted artifacts

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

A list of the top five most wanted artifacts has been released by the Oshawa Historical Society (OHS).

The list includes artifacts relating to the history of Oshawa, as well as the houses in which the Oshawa Museum can be found.

The very first item on the list are items that are related to the Henry, Guy and Robinson families, the original owners of the three houses in which the Oshawa Museum resides. They are looking to find anything from photographs, to land deeds, to letters.

Jennifer Weymark, the archivist at the Oshawa Museum, says that they are looking for these because they are “always looking for items related to the families that lived in the homes that help us interpret the homes.  We consider the three homes our largest, most important, artefacts and anything that aids in our understanding of them is very helpful.”

The second item on their list is examples of Smith Potteries, or items that are related to the business. The museum currently has 25 pieces of Smith Potteries, an Oshawa business that operated between 1925 and 1949.

Another item the OHS wants is Oshawa historic newspapers. Weymark says this is because Oshawa’s historic newspaper collection has large gaps in it. According to Weymark, this is due to fires.

She also notes that there are large gaps between 1873 and 1922, and very few from that era exist. She says that there are also large gaps in the 1930s and 1940s.

“We are looking to fill those gaps and make those newspapers available for researchers,” she says. “Newspapers are such important research sources and truly help to understand a community and the large gap in Oshawa newspapers is a roadblock when researching those time periods.”

The fourth item on the OHS list is anything that is related to industry and manufacturing, labour history and the 1937 strike, when 4000 General Motors workers walked out on the job. Weymark says the strike was a turning point in Canada’s labour history, and that it needs to be further examined.

“Oshawa was once known as the Manchester of Canada and with good reason. This was an industrial hub and that industry allowed this community to grow and prosper,” says Weymark.

Weymark also notes that when examining industrial history, it is typically from the point of view of the industrialist. “We are working to shift that focus and more closely examine the lives of those who worked in those industries.”

The final item on their list relates to Oshawa’s multicultural history. There are currently projects that are examining the history of black, Asian and displaced persons in Oshawa.

“Oshawa has always been more diverse than traditional histories will tell us,” says Weymark. “We are working to research and tell those stories so that we can tell a more accurate history of our community.”

She also says they are working to collect the “memories, experiences and stories of those who settled here as refugees post WWI, as their impact on our community continues to this day.”

She says the research they’ve done so far has helped to provide a more complete history of the Oshawa community.

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