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Retelling Oshawa’s role in the genesis of Canada

The Oshawa Museum will offer historic walking tours of Union Cemetery this weekend. Local actors portray local historical figures throughout the tours. Shown here is Oshawa city councillor Rick Kerr as Sam Pedlar, Oshawa’s earliest historian. (Photo courtesy of Denise Wilkins)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The ghosts of Oshawa’s history will be brought back to life this weekend.

Sept. 9 and 10, the Oshawa Museum will present Scenes From The Cemetery: Building A Nation, featuring walking tours through the city’s infamous Union Cemetery.

What is unique about these tours are the actors who bring the stories to life, taking patrons back in time.

“They are all local actors under Rick Kerr, our creative director,” says Lisa Terech, community engagement for the museum.

According to Terech, the character commitment runs deep within these volunteers.

“It almost creates a bit of a bond. They research [the historical figures they are portraying] and write their own scripts,” Terech explains. “They really do have control over their characters.”

Based on dress rehearsals, Terech says she is expecting another fantastic event this year.

“As always, I’m just blown away with how these individuals bring these historical figures to life.”

In recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday, Terech says this year’s tours will include significant people from Oshawa’s past and how their “actions led to Canada’s genesis and growth.”

“We look at various individuals who were responsible for helping to ‘build this nation’,” Terech states, listing Thomas Gibb, Oshawa’s first member of Parliament, and fighters in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, as just a few of the figures who will be portrayed.

For her, Union Cemetery is the perfect spot in Oshawa to share these stories.

Paraphrasing a quote from a local doctor, Terech says “a walk through the cemetery is really where Oshawa’s history can be found.”

“Henry, McLaughlin, Ritson…all the big names can be found there. It’s unique to use this space to pay respect to the people who helped to build Oshawa,”

Last year’s tours attracted approximately 100 people in one day, and Terech says 160 tickets will be available for this year’s two-day event.

However, she stresses the importance of getting tickets early.

“As the number of tour spots for each group time is limited, we urge you to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment,” Terech says.

Support for the event was provided through a grant from Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the federal government and the Durham Community Foundation.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Oshawa Museum (Guy House). Tours are scheduled for 2 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 2:40 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9 and Sunday, Sept. 10. Each tour lasts approximately one-and-a-half hours.

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