OxHS Meeting Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Hello Everyone,

Please join us on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 6:30pm, for an exciting talk given by Kathie Richards. Kathie will discuss the book “Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them” written by Jennifer Wright. In her book, Jennifer Wright looks at some of the worst diseases and plagues throughout history and the selfless heroic individuals who fought them.

This meeting will be held via Zoom. The meeting ID is 819 0624 8857. No password is required.

Click this link, or copy it into your browser – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81906248857

We hope to see you there!

Oxford Historical Society 2021

Postcard from the Don Wilson Collection

Dear Members,

As President of the Oxford Historical Society, I would like to introduce the Executive Board for 2021:

  • President: Kathie Richards
  • Vice President: Vacant
  • Treasurer: Elaine Becker
  • Secretary: Laura Centore
  • Membership: Judy Klages
  • Archives: Eleanor Gardhouse
  • Communications: Laura Centore
  • Members at Large: Don Wilson & Jim Groulx
  • Museum Liaison: Karen Houston

These are the same people who served in 2020 with the same vacancy in the Vice President’s position. We do encourage members to nominate someone who would be willing to serve on the Board.

While 2020 was a difficult year due to Covid-19, we are hoping for a better 2021.

Since we are unable to hold in person meetings at this time, your board is working towards offering presenters via Zoom. We hope to have the first of many public meetings in March.

Even though the Society had to scale back operations, we were able to respond to numerous research questions, produce 4 Pattullo Press newsletters, and keep in touch with our members through our blog. We will continue to do so during 2021.

In 2021 we hope to publish a new book and possibly republish an old favourite!  In keeping with the modern times, we are looking at offering some of our publications as eBooks.

It was decided that over the next few years we will look at digitizing our collection and allocate the holdings to other appropriate organizations, with the goal of eliminating the Resource Centre. This decision was based on several factors – not enough volunteers to staff the centre, the expense of maintaining the centre (in excess of $6000.00 annually between rent and insurance), and there are now other organizations better suited to maintaining an archival collection like the Woodstock Museum, NHS and the Oxford County Archives.

Even without the Resource Centre the Society will still participate in events like the Spirit of Christmas Tour of Homes, publish member’s works, organize speaking events, publish the Pattullo Press, respond to inquiries and perform many other functions as we do now.

The Society is continuing to research grant and funding opportunities. In the past we have received grants from the City of Woodstock, the Federal government, and Oxford Community Foundation.

We will keep you informed.  Do keep in touch with us and other Historical Society members.

Kathie Richards

Historic Homes of Woodstock

99 Light St. Woodstock, ON

Woodstock is fortunate to have many impressive historic homes. These homes help to tell the history of Woodstock and of the various residents who contributed to the Woodstock that we know today. I have selected a sampling of a few of the homes for your reading pleasure.

The home shown above, 99 Light St., is located at the southwest corner of Buller and Light. It was built by William L. MacKay, the owner of several early clothing stores and a noted horticulturalist. His gardens, especially his peonies (Woodstock’s flower), were widely known. The home is in the Queen Anne style, it is a two storey wood-clad home with a hip roof with gables. There is a stained glass window in the stairwell and another stained glass window between the chimney flues decorated with pink flamingos. The open verandah is supported by Doric columns.

This home, 95 Vansittart Ave., is located on the southwest corner of Buller and Vansittart, and was once called Venlaw House. It has a steep-pitched truncated roof and a gable roofed 3-storey tower topped with a finial. The open brick porch protects the door, sidelights and transform. John Forbes, who owned the Commercial Hotel and a livery stable, built it in 1880. Upon his death in 1886, the family of John White lived here for 30 years. John White was twice Mayor of Woodstock and founded the John White Co, a dry goods store located at Dundas & Riddell, in 1860. In 1913, it was one of the first businesses to have electric lights and an electric elevator. John White was known as the “king of dry goods dealers’ in SW Ontario because of his progressive ordering-from-source and discounting policies.

In 1878, James Bell, built this home at 165 Light St., in the classic revival style. It is located on the west side of Light St. between Drew St. and Ingersoll Ave., For most of the 1900’s it was the home of the Poole family. Peter Poole established Poole & Co. in 1895, a local independent grocery store located at 417 Dundas St. When Peter Poole died in 1937, his son Jack took over the operations of the business. In 1953, Peter Poole’s grandson, John, moved the store to 190 Huron St. The store celebrated its centenary in 1995, having been operated by 4 generations of the Poole family. This grocery store outlived the Dominion and Loblaws stores in Woodstock due to their personal service.

Information for this article provided by Kathie Richards, President of the Oxford Historical Society, and the pictures were taken by Eleanor Gardhouse, Archivist of the Oxford Historical Society.

If you have pictures and articles concerning the history of Oxford County that you would like published on the Society’s blog please email us at info@oxhs.ca.

An Ornamental Christmas!

Hello Everyone,

This guest post is provided by Kathleen Watkins, the Culture & Heritage Program Coordinator for the Annandale National Historic Site in Tillsonburg, ON.

1950’s Etched Christmas Balls

This year, in celebration of Christmas, the Pratt Gallery created a virtual school program “An Ornamental Christmas” highlighting the history of Christmas ornaments.

Here is the link for their YouTube video: An Ornamental Christmas

Pictured on the left is a reproduction of a 1900 European Christmas ornament.

Burnside Lodge Sentinel Review Article

Stamp issued by Canada Post in October 2010

Hello Everyone,

The Woodstock Sentinel Review published an article on Thursday, December 3, 2020 about Dr. Elaine Becker’s upcoming book on Burnside Lodge and the Salvation Army’s program of bringing boys to Canada to work on area farms.

Here is the link to the Sentinel’s article: https://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/news/local-news/area-historian-looks-for-connections-with-burnside-lodge/

If you have any information or a connection to Burnside Lodge please contact Dr. Becker at ebecker2@sympatico.ca, thank you.

Woodstock Museum, NHS Survey Request

Woodstock Museum, NHS

Hello Everyone,

The Woodstock Museum, NHS is requesting assistance to determine what types of programs to offer next year. They would very much appreciate you taking the time to complete the short survey.

Here is the link for the survey: Woodstock Museum Survey

This survey is also being sent to Museum members, so some of you may receive it twice but you only need to complete it once.

If you have any questions about the survey please contact Kerrie Gill, Education Office, Woodstock Museum, NHS. She can be reached at 519-537-8411 ext. 2903.

The Woodstock Museum, NHS thanks you in advance for completing the survey.

Charles W. Hayball Photographic Collection

Hello Everyone,

Information for this post was provided by Chris Packman, OxHS member, from his background notes on C.W. Hayball. The Hayball Project Work Group included Eleanor Gardhouse, who indexed the negatives, arranged for digital processing and fund-raised; Chris Packman who curated the images into a viewable format; Helga Packman who designed the logo graphics. The original logo graphic for this project is featured at the top of the page. All photos are from the CW Hayball Collection.

Woodstock Reunion July 1, 1927

One of the photographic collections that the Oxford Historical Society has is that of Charles W. Hayball. Charles Hayball, whose studio was located at 461 Dundas St. from 1912-1918, offered services as a piano tuner, pattern maker, photographer and photo supplier. By 1920 he moved his business to 391 Dundas St. In 1922, he moved to 5 Graham St., where he continued to operate a photography studio under the name ‘C W Hayball’ until about 1950. From 1950, until his business closed in 1970, his studio operated under the name of Hayball Studio. He also served on the Woodstock Council between 1936-1946, and was Mayor in 1940 and 1941.

Tenth Annual Convention – The Canadian Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary, Woodstock ON, October 1936

In the 1990s, several hundred of Charles Hayball’s negatives were found in the attic of his former studio at 5 Graham St. and were donated to the Oxford Historical Society. All of the photos were taken with a panoramic camera, on black and white film stock. They were each about 6 inches wide an up to 48 inches long. The negatives were of schools, family, buildings, business groups, military companies and various groups of women and men, and were photographed outside between the 1930’s and 40’s, in or near the Woodstock and London areas. In 2006, with assistance from Heritage Woodstock, a 166 negatives were selected and scanned by a Toronto company.

Broadway School, Principal J. R. Ball, May 30th, 1934

The Charles W. Hayball collection is just one of the many resources provided by the Oxford Historical Society.

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?

Hello Everyone,

In our most recent newsletter, Pattullo Press Fall 2020, the Annual Joint Dinner article about Mary Pettit, was incorrectly reprinted from the October 2013 Oxford Historical Society Newsletter. My apologies for the misprint. Thanks to longtime member and former newsletter editor Chris Packman for bringing this to my attention.

The following is the corrected reprint of the original article. This article was originally published in the October 2013 Newsletter and was written by Chris Packman. Book cover photo from Dundurn’s Publishing website.

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?

It was Oxford Historical Society’s turn to host the 2013 annual dinner meeting with OGS Oxford County Branch, this time on Tuesday, September 17, at South Gate Centre. At 6:30 PM, our group of 42 members and guests began with a pleasant beef and ham supper in South Gate’s main Hall.

Afterwards, guest speaker, Mary Pettit, a Stony Creek author, spoke about her recently-published book, “Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?”. It was a long-awaited sequel to her first book about the childhood in Canada of her Godmother, “Mary Janeway, Legacy of a Home Child”.

In about 1892, Mary Janeway, then aged eight, was shipped to Canada from an orphanage in Liverpool, Eng- land, with an older brother William, 10, and placed with families in separate Ontario farms.

There were thousands of orphaned or destitute children at the time in Great Britain’s urban centres. Various philanthropic individuals and groups attempted to help the children’s situation by shipping some of them to Britain’s colonies where there was a labor shortage, “ … to a better life”, in return for the expectation of decent food, clothing, shelter, and some schooling. Canadian farm families welcomed the relatively free extra labor the children might provide. But, for several decades, no one from any of the philanthropic groups checked to see how the children were doing once they been assigned to a family. Life on a pioneer farm was tough for all, though in more than a few cases the Home Children were abused, and few were ever accepted as family.

Mary Pettit’s first book ended when the diffident Mary Janeway, a week short of her 16th birthday, gained enough courage to leave her life as an unpaid servant of an Innerkip farm family, and took a train journey. But the reader, having followed the ups and downs of the hard life of this pleasant child, was left to wonder what happened next.

In the sequel, published in 2012, “Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?”, Janeway’s train journey ended in London, Ontario. There, and later in Woodstock, she continued work as a domestic, though now paid.

Mary Pettit has done a great deal of research into not only Janeway’s known and probable life as an adult, but also into the changing ambience of the times in which Janeway lived. After a while in Woodstock, she married a handsome but restless self-employed painter, Jim Church, and the two moved to a series of rented homes in Hamilton.

Unlike the self-contained nature of her early rural life on a farm, she now found and enjoyed the many services for city folk: local delivery by the iceman, the coalman, the milkman; electric buses to take her downtown; movies to go to; and, in time, a telephone, radio and eventually, electric labour-savings devices: a vacuum cleaner, and a ‘fridge instead of an ice-box.

Mary (Janeway) Church had two children; lived through the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, that hit one in four Canadians, and suffered family tragedy. She had an added shock when her husband was arrested in 1925, found guilty of a serious crime and spent 5 years in “Kingston Pen”.

By 1948, Mary Church was living alone, and working as a visiting homemaker for the Red Feather Organization (it became the United Way). As a homemaker, Mary began to help the Hewsons, a family that had just had their second child, a girl. She helped with the new baby, did light housekeeping and prepared meals.

The Hewsons became very friendly with Mary Church, named their new baby, Mary, and asked Mary Church to become the child’s Godmother. Mary Church was delighted and, in time, became akin to a much-loved aunt as little Mary Hewson grew up.

Mary (Hewson) Pettit’s talk necessarily skimmed the highlights of her latest book. “Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway” is a fascinating and well-researched story. More than a moving biography of a former Home Child’s adult life, it provides a human viewpoint on lifestyle changes from 1900 to the 1960s in Hamilton, one of Canada’s more vibrant multi-ethnic cities, as Mary (Janeway) Church might have seen it.

Community Partners & Sponsors

The Oxford Historical Society would like to thank the Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Grant Program for the generous grant that we received. This grant will be used in maintaining our Resource Centre, which is home to a large number of documents and records relating to Oxford County.

Along with the Canadian Heritage Grant the Society also receives grants from other organizations like Oxford Community Foundation and the City of Woodstock. These grants enable us to publish books, bring in guest speakers, hold special events like the Christmas Tour of Homes, and take part in many activities throughout the year.

The Society throughout the year works with many different organizations to bring about various events and publications. The Pattullo Press newsletter is published with the Woodstock Museum, NHS, as were the books Quizzical History and Defined Under Pressure. Together with the WERC centre we offer a Person’s Day celebration, an event held in mid-October to honour women being recognized as Persons and therefore could sit in Canada’s Senate. Tours and teas with the Woodstock Public Library and Château la Motte.

There are many more examples of how the Society and other local organizations have worked together to bring events and share local history with the residents of Oxford County. In honour of these associations a new page was added to our website: Community Partners & Sponsors page!