Welcome to the Oshawa Historical Society
The Oshawa Historical Society was established to maintain and preserve the history of Oshawa. Oshawa, Ontario is a city of 149,000 residents, located approximately 60 kilometres east of Toronto. In accordance with this objective, the Society encourages the study and research of the history of Oshawa by: keeping an accurate account of the historical, architectural and archaeological heritage, promoting public interest in Oshawa’s history, and supporting the Museum and Archives in housing artifacts and written records of historical importance.
Members of the Oshawa Historical Society can assist in the preservation of Oshawa’s History by becoming involved in the Society’s activities and events. Members of the Society are provided with early notice of historical tours and other community events; are given free admission to the Oshawa Museum and a 15% discount at the Oshawa Museum Shop. From September until May, members of the Society are invited to attend monthly meetings addressing a variety of heritage topics and other historical presentations. In addition to meeting other people with the same interests, members have first access to original research and articles on Oshawa’s history in the quarterly newsletter, Historical Happenings.
A History of the Oshawa Historical Society
The Oshawa Historical Society began when citizens of Oshawa became concerned about the condition of three historic homes in Lakeview Park. They realized that to preserve Oshawa’s history, a museum was needed and a historical society should be organized.
On May 6, 1957, Alderman Walter Lane placed a motion before City Council. The motion was “that a Special Committee be appointed by the Mayor to investigate the feasibility of the establishment of a Museum for the City of Oshawa and to recommend a course of action.” Mayor Naylor appointed a Special Committee consisting of Aldermen Bint, Lane, Harman and Thomas. On May 27, 1957, this Committee agreed that the instituting and administering of a museum is generally done by a Historical Society, and that the formation of a society should be established. It was decided that the name would be “The Oshawa and District Historical Society” because the Townships of Darlington,Whitby and East Whitby figured prominently in the history of the area.
The first Society meeting was on Thursday November 7, 1957, and was held in the auditorium of the McLaughlin Public Library — approximately 50 people attended this meeting. The first president chosen for the Society was Mrs. Verna Conant who held this position until 1962. The first vice-president was M. McIntyre Hood. Membership fees at this time were $25.00 for life membership; $5.00 for sustaining membership; and $1.00 for an annual membership. At this first meeting, 36 people joined as members of the Historical Society. It was also decided at this meeting that the Oshawa and District Historical Society would become affiliated with the Ontario Historical Society to qualify for Provincial grants — the fee to join and become incorporated was $3.00 per year.
The first project for the Society was to convert Henry House located in Lakeview Park into a museum, which was accomplished in 1960. Four year later, Robinson House was slated for destruction. The Historical Society managed to save the house, but unfortunately the money and time involved was much more than the Society had anticipated. It took another five years before Robinson House was ready for tours. During the renovation of Robinson House, the Historical Society became involved in an archaeological excavation at Rossland and Thornton Roads. This special project at the MacLeod Site took place from 1967 until 1973. Guy House was the last of the homes in Lakeview Park to be saved from the wrecking ball. Once again the Historical Society rallied and raised money to renovate the building, and in 1985 Guy House opened as the last home which comprises the Oshawa Museum.
In 1988, a couple of changes occurred within the Society. The first was the creation of an updated constitution and by-laws more suited to the Society which at this time had been in existence for 31 years. Secondly was the change in name — The Oshawa and District Historical Society was renamed “The Oshawa Historical Society.”
In 1996, the Oshawa Historical Society consisted of approximately 150 members. It also employed 3 full-time and 4 part-time employees who were responsible for the upkeep of the buildings, conducting tours and managing what was then known as the Oshawa Sydenham Museum and Community Archives. In 1998 the name of the museum was changed to the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives, and the museum underwent a final name change in 2016, known simply as the Oshawa Museum. As of 2016, the Oshawa Historical Society consisted of 170 members, with five full-time staff members, one part-time staff member and a number of occasional staff, our Visitor Hosts; OM Staff are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings, conducting tours and managing the Oshawa Museum.
OSHAWA HISTORICAL SOCIETY PRESIDENTS
1st President Verna Conant 1957 – 1962
2nd President S.V. Barlow 1962 – 1964
3rd President M. McIntyre Hood 1965 (Jan. to June)
4th President John Halliday 1965 – 1967
5th President Earl Hann 1968 – 1973
6th President Philip Lakas 1974 – 1975
7th President Don Fox 1976 – 1983
8th President Eric Glenholmes 1984 – 1985
9th President Doris Kennedy 1986 – 1987
10th President Isabelle Hume 1988 – 1990
11th President Regan Hutcheson 1991 – 1993
12th President Isabelle Hume 1993 – 1994
13th President Lorne Marshall 1994 – 1999
14th President Val Foster 1999 – 2002
15th President Lorne Marshall 2002 – 2003
16th President Isabelle Hume 2003 – 2005
17th President Stoney Kudel 2005 – 2010
18th President Merle Cole 2010 – 2016
19th President Stoney Kudel 2016 – 2019
20th President Keri Semenko 2019-present