A Blast From The Past Through the Eyes of an Intern

Alex Ross is a second year Journalism student at Durham College. He is completing his placement at the RMG as a communications intern.

Over the past two years in my program I have started to narrow down my niche as a reporter for the school newspaper, the Chronicle. I have taken the spot as an arts reporter in the class and even my teachers have gotten in contact with me about artistic events happening around town.

I had never been to the RMG before I started at Durham College because I only moved to Oshawa three years ago. Living in a new city can be difficult because I didn’t know anybody from Oshawa and all of my friends from my old town were away at university in places like Waterloo, Windsor and Kingston. Being a part of the arts scene in Oshawa, and the RMG, helped me make contacts I never had the chance to before.

The RMG is a local treasure that some people don’t even know about. There are so many important connections the Gallery has that help bring people from the community together.

Part of my job here was to schedule some special day posts for May. These special days included a Throwback Thursday for each week of May, as well as a Window Wednesday for each week. For the Throwback Thursday, the gallery has chosen to dig into its extensive collection of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. There is no theme to the Throwback Thursday so all I had to do was go through the collection and pick some of my favourite photos.

After scrolling through the thousands of photos in the Thomas Bouckley Collection, it soon became one of my favourite collections in the gallery. A couple images stood out to me in particular, one of an ‚Äúamusement device‚ÄĚ sitting on the lakefront in Oshawa and another of a plane crash right downtown at King and Simcoe.

Ocean Wave

“Ocean Wave” At The Lake
Thomas Bouckley, 1912.

These images caught my attention because of their oddness. Ocean Wave is odd because the men on the ride are all wearing suits, despite the leisurely activity. The plane crash is astonishing because of the proximity to the community. If a plane crashed today there is no way it would simply be suspended in the electrical wires running along the street and only knock a few bricks off a building.

Plane Crash

Plane Crash on King Street West
Thomas Bouckley, 1918.

The Thomas Bouckley Collection is one of my favourite collections because it gives young people like me a look into the past. Being young makes me feel like I don’t have a connection to the history of the town because as far back as I can remember is the old Famous Players and Zellers that used to be in the Oshawa Centre. Being able to look back at specific events through the Thomas Bouckley Collection gives me a sense of community and connection to the history of my town.

The late Thomas Bouckley donated the Thomas Bouckley Collection to the RMG. He was a collector and history enthusiast of Oshawa and Durham Region. The collection contains more than 3,000 photographs of Oshawa and surrounding communities. The collection is a good source for understanding Oshawa’s past and helping people engage with the history of Durham Region.

The RMG is an integral part of the Oshawa community and it is certainly a great place full of great people, not only staff, but the visitors as well. Being an intern at the RMG is a great experience for anybody that has an interest in arts, in any department of the Gallery.

The RMG Remembers

Today the RMG remembers Canada’s fallen. With 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of World War One, we have the following special programming at the gallery:

Oshawa and the First World War: Selections from the Thomas Bouckley Collection
Until 18 January 2015

When Canada entered the Great War on August 4, 1914, the lives of Canadians across the country were changed forever. For the men who fought on the frontlines and the families that supported them from the home front, WWI was unlike anything Canadians had experienced. Canada’s contribution to the war led to growing autonomy and independence for the nation, but it came at a great price and many Oshawa men lost their lives.

The building of the new Oshawa Armouries was completed in 1914, and by September 1916, men from across Durham Region joined Ontario County’s 116th Battalion. They went on to fight in some of the great battles of the war including Vimy Ridge, Valenciennes and Passchendaele. On the homefront, local businesses worked hard to contribute to the war effort by manufacturing goods to support their family members, friends and neighbours fighting overseas. The Thomas Bouckley Collection’s large number of photographs taken in Oshawa during World War One act as a reminder of the great sacrifice that was made by the Oshawa community.

This exhibition is a part of the WWI Commemorative Project: Oshawa Faithful and Ready. The RMG, the Oshawa Community Museum & Archives, Trent University (Oshawa), Oshawa Public Libraries, Ontario Regiment Museum, Heritage Oshawa, City of Oshawa and Rogers TV have partnered to deliver an ambitious program throughout the year that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. Curated by Megan White.

Exhibition: The Wildman Collection: Posters from the Great War
Until 1 February, 2015

With a population of approximately eight million people, Canada, during World War I, managed to raise an army of 600,000, a navy of 9,600, send over 20,000 men to serve in the British Royal Flying Corps and over 3,000 nurses with the medical corps. There were approximately 60,000 Canadian military casualties and close to 150,000 wounded from 1914-1918.

Propaganda posters played their own role during the Great War. A relatively inexpensive means of mass communication, posters were primarily used to promote enlistment in the forces, raise funds through Victory Bonds, encourage the population against waste, and increase industrial and agricultural production. The tone of early posters was almost festive, as the Allies assumed the war would be over quickly. The images were often na√Įve and word heavy, appealing to the pride of the young men they were targeting. However, as the war continued and the list of casualties grew, the tone of the posters began to change‚ÄĒthe need for new recruits was urgent.

The Wildman collection of war posters was initially a secondary collection: around 1998 Christine and Craig Wildman, both history enthusiasts, decided to augment a collection of rare ephemera with related war posters. The poster collection now numbers over 100, and encompasses posters from both Allied and Central Power countries. We are grateful to the Wildmans for sharing their passion as part of RMG’s commemoration of the beginning of the Great War. Curated by Linda Jansma.

Collectors Talk: Craig Wildman
Thursday, 13 November at 7pm
Join to learn about the history of WWI posters and their use as a form of mass communication. Local collector Craig Wildman takes us through his and his wife Christine’s collection of posters featured in the exhibition The Wildman Collection: Posters from the Great War. This lecture is part of the 100th Commemoration of WWI: Oshawa Faithful and Ready programing happening throughout the year. Free admission, no registration required.

Lecture: Nursing Sisters of WW1 
Sunday, 30 November from 1-2pm
Nursing Sisters of WW1: a presentation by Sher Leetooze. This talk is being held in conjunction to The Wildman Collection: Posters from the Great War.


Image: Anonymous Bring him Home with the Victory Loan, 1918

The Curator’s View: Thomas Bouckley Collection, World War One

This post comes from the desk of Megan White, Assistant Curator. 

New to the RMG and to Oshawa, for the past couple of months I have been learning¬†more and more about the history of the city as Curator of the Thomas Bouckley¬†Collection. With more than 4000 photographs in the collection, the saying ‚ÄúA picture is¬†worth a thousand words‚ÄĚ certainly rings true, with each image acting as a storyteller of¬†Oshawa‚Äôs past.

Doing research for upcoming exhibitions can, at times, take me to some pretty unusual¬†places. One lesson that I‚Äôve learned from my most recent research project is that when¬†someone asks you ‚ÄúWould you like to go for a ride in this tank?‚ÄĚ the answer should¬†always be yes. Working at an art gallery, it‚Äôs not every day that I get to climb inside a¬†large Sherman tank from WW2 or go for a ride in an M113 A1 APC tank, but when the¬†opportunity presented itself on a recent trip to the Ontario Regiment Museum, I couldn‚Äôt¬†say no.

This spring, I have been delving into the history of Oshawa during World War One–the topic of the upcoming Thomas Bouckley exhibition, opening in early September.¬†We have a large collection of photographs taken between 1914-1919, demonstrating¬†what Oshawa was like during the War. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the¬†beginning of the First World War, this exhibition is part of a partnership between the¬†RMG, the Oshawa Community Museum, the City of Oshawa, the Ontario Regiment¬†Museum, the Oshawa Public Libraries, Trent University, Heritage Oshawa and Rogers¬†TV. This partnership provides educational programming throughout the year, to build¬†awareness of the significance of the First World War in Oshawa.

Soldiers at Grand Trunk Railway Station, 1915  The Thomas Bouckley Collection, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa

Soldiers at Grand Trunk Railway Station, 1915
The Thomas Bouckley Collection, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa


Commanding Officer Addressing Battalion, 1916  The Thomas Bouckley Collection, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa

Commanding Officer Addressing Battalion, 1916
The Thomas Bouckley Collection, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa

The best way to gather as much information about this piece of Oshawa’s history was to utilize resources outside of the Bouckley Collection and turn to other institutions in Oshawa as a way of enhancing my research. That took me to the Oshawa Community Museum where I sifted through archival documents about Oshawa’s 116th Battalion, read newspapers from 1916, as well as to the Ontario Regiment Museum for a tour of their newly renovated building filled with interesting artifacts and photographs.

This is perhaps one of the best perks of working in the arts/culture/heritage sector–having access to such fascinating pieces of history and learning from other museums¬†(not to mention always getting the best behind-the-scenes tours). It just doesn‚Äôt get¬†much better than the wind whipping through your hair as you roll over a muddy field in a¬†tank.

If you would like to see a tank in action, the Ontario Regiment Museum holds demonstrations once a month at their location at 1000 Stevenson Road North, Oshawa. Click here to read more.

For more information about upcoming WWI events and lectures through 2014, visit http://oshawarememberswwi.com/.

McLaughlin Day in Oshawa

This blog post is from Joan Murray, Director Emeritus.

Billiard Room. Image courtesy Parkwood Estate, copyright the Challener estate.

Billiard Room. Image courtesy Parkwood Estate, copyright the Challener estate.

Frederick Sproston Challener’s inspired mural paintings in Parkwood Estate, commissioned in 1924, are particularly well done. Located in the billiards room and hallway, the murals have a strangely perfect, yet ineffably wry quality which combines romanticism and history. His narrative includes the five daughters of Colonel Sam McLaughlin, including the patron of the Gallery, Miss Isabel McLaughlin, outdoor sports events engaged in by Mr. McLaughlin and his family, and a vision of arcadia with wholesome-looking young children, McLaughlin’s grandchildren. The entire effect is joyous, with just the right mixture of Twentieth-century details to balance the artifice before us with its woodland setting of birch trees and panel of Pan playing his pipe.

Enchanted Wood. Image courtesy Parkwood Estate, copyright the Challener estate.

Enchanted Wood. Image courtesy Parkwood Estate, copyright the Challener estate.

Challener was an artist who returned from a trip to Europe in 1898-99 with a passionate desire‚ÄĒto make murals. Fortunately for him, his wish fell in with a period of expansion in the theatre and architectural scene in Canada and he soon found himself hard at work executing murals in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London, and Winnipeg. At the same time as his architectural commissions, he painted many easel paintings.

In celebration of McLaughlin Day, we honour here not only Colonel Sam McLaughlin and his wife Adelaide, but Miss Isabel McLaughlin, who was always deeply interested in mural painting, as well as the McLaughlin family, our friends.

Visit Parkwood Estate on McLaughlin Day on the August long weekend, for their wonderful Basement Tours. The tours are held August 3, 4, & 5, do not require pre-booking and will be available from 10:30 to 5:00pm. Admission is $10.00 per person, regardless of age. ($11.30 with the HST)

Click to read more about the basement tours.

Visit Parkwood Estate online.

Oshawa embarks on its first Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan

Today we received a Media Release from the City of Oshawa. It’s a project that we are proud to be part of. The release mentions opportunities to participate, and if you continue to visit this blog you’ll learn more about your opportunities here at the RMG in the coming months. Read the full details below.

Media Release
The Corporation of the City of Oshawa
For Immediate Release, July 26, 2013
Oshawa embarks on its first Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan
Community forums and surveys to begin this fall

OSHAWA ‚Äď The City of Oshawa is embarking on the development of its first Arts,Culture and Heritage Plan aimed at guiding cultural development in the community over¬†the next five to ten years.
A project team of City staff along with a steering committee comprised of members of the cultural community, City staff and a representative from City Council will collectively oversee the development of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan.

‚ÄúTo continue to encourage a thriving Oshawa economy, we need put a spotlight on our¬†strong arts, culture and heritage communities. These people represent the rich cultural¬†life which is essential to attracting high-paying jobs and investment in the new creative¬†economy,‚ÄĚ said Councillor Amy England, Council representative on the Arts, Culture¬†and Heritage Plan Steering Committee.

The purpose of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan is to establish a longer-term vision and set of strategies and actions to guide cultural development in the Oshawa community. The Plan will support the City of Oshawa’s strategic plan, Creating our Sustainable Tomorrow, with a focus on economic prosperity, social equity, cultural vitality, environmental responsibility and accountable leadership.

A series of community engagement activities will gather community and stakeholder input into the development of the vision and the direction of the Plan. Community forums and surveys will begin in fall 2013.
‚ÄúWhile the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan Steering Committee has been working on the¬†development of a vision and appropriate strategies, community and stakeholder input is¬†critical to ensure the Plan will meet Oshawa‚Äôs needs,‚ÄĚ said Councillor Bob Chapman,¬†Chair of Community Services Committee. ‚ÄúI encourage maximum participation in our¬†forums and surveys.‚ÄĚ

The City has engaged the consulting firm AuthentiCity (a division of Millier Dickinson Blais) to support the City in developing the plan and to work collaboratively with Public Interest on upcoming community engagement activities. The City of Oshawa has received financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Creative Communities Prosperity Fund toward the development of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan. The project will conclude by March 2014.

For more information and updates, visit www.oshawaculturalplan.ca.
– 30 –
Media Contacts:
Councillor Amy England
Council representative, Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan Steering Committee
905-436-5614; aengland@oshawa.ca
Councillor Bob Chapman
Chair, Community Services Committee
905-436-5619; bchapman@oshawa.ca
Jag Sharma
Commissioner, Community Services
905-436-3311 ext. 2259; jsharma@oshawa.ca
Ron Diskey
Director, Recreation and Culture Services
905-436-3311 ext. 3880; rdiskey@oshawa.ca
Julie MacIsaac
Manager, Centralized Recreation Services, Recreation & Culture Services
905-436-5633; JMacIsaac@oshawa.ca

Oshawa Website

Oshawa on Facebook

Oshawa on Twitter

Oshawa on Youtube

The Intern Files: Celebrating Canadian Artists through Wikipedia

This post for the Intern Files is written by Madison Cawker. Madison is an intern this summer with our communications team and is a Candidate for Diploma in Arts Management at the University of Western Ontario.

Painters Eleven are a powerful force in Canadian art history on both a local and national scale. In an era of predominantly landscape art, they helped raise the profile of abstraction and inspire the next generation of modernist artists.

Their influence has directly touched the RMG through our connection with Painters Eleven (P11) member Alexandra Luke. Her significant donations have, in part, given the gallery the largest Painters Eleven collection in Canada and the ability to continue inspiring our community through art.

Alexandra Luke (Canadian, 1901 - 1967) Symphony 1957 oil on canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. S. McLaughlin, 1972  This painting is very large ‚Äď 246.7 x 208.3 cm or 97.126" x 82.007874"

Alexandra Luke (Canadian, 1901 – 1967)
Symphony 1957
oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. S. McLaughlin, 1972
This painting is very large ‚Äď 246.7 x 208.3 cm or 97.126″ x 82.007874″


Painters Eleven are celebrated online through biographical websites, online collections and web encyclopedia entries. Upon examining popular resource Wikipedia, however, we noticed a gap in information. While P11 members such as Jack Bush, Jock McDonald and Kazuo Nakamura had in-depth articles written about them, the women of the group, Alexandra Luke and Hortense Gordon, did not have any published information available.

Inspired by the work of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative and the Global Women Wikipedia Write-in (#GWWI), I sought to fix this information gap. I wanted to share the lives and works of these important Canadian women artists not only because of their impact on the RMG but also because of their important contributions to the development and reception of abstract art in Canada.

Using a variety of references from our Joan Murray Artists’ Files and the RMG research library, I researched Alexandra and Hortense then put together two Wikipedia articles that reflect the vitality and impact of their arts careers. It was a time consuming process but it was ultimately very interesting work. I also got to learn some fun facts about the women. For example, did you know Hortense Gordon had an intense sibling rivalry with her artist sister Marion?

As of early July, both articles have been published and are available to read on Wikipedia.  

Read about Alexandra Luke on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_Luke

Read about Hortense Gordon on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hortense_Gordon

Window Wednesday March 30, 2011   Isabel McLaughlin (Canadian, 1903-2002)  Above the Rooftops n.d.  oil on canvas  Gift of the estate of Isabel McLaughlin, 2003

Isabel McLaughlin (Canadian, 1903-2002)
Above the Rooftops n.d.
oil on canvas
Gift of the estate of Isabel McLaughlin, 2003


I believe that it is important for women to be included in the narrative of Canadian art history. I have now gone on to create and edit several more articles on Wikipedia including entries for Joan Murray (art historian and former director of the RMG), Isabel McLaughlin, and the Canadian Group of Painters.  I feel proud to have helped support Canadian art history in a small way.

The Curator’s View: Oshawa Then and Now

This post comes from Sonya Jones, Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Recently the Toronto Star published an article called¬†‚ÄúOshawa: the GTA‚Äôs final frontier for development‚ÄĚ, which details how and why Oshawa has grown and changed so much in the last ten years. The change in economy from reliance on the auto industry to becoming a knowledge economy, through four universities, as well as Durham College, is credited as being the reason why more and more developers are seeing Oshawa‚Äôs potential. Exploring how much Oshawa has changed since it was first founded has always been a priority of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Starting with Bouckley‚Äôs vision for documenting his changing city, to continuing that tradition through¬†Then and Now¬†projects, the collection visually tells Oshawa‚Äôs story. In continuation of the¬†Then and Now¬†series, the RMG has once again partnered with the Oshawa Senior Citizens‚Äô Camera Club to show the area of Oshawa that perhaps has seen the most changes: the downtown.

From its humble beginnings as a small settlement community to that of a large metropolitan city, Oshawa grew out of the intersection of King and Simcoe Streets known as the ‚ÄúFour Corners,‚ÄĚ expanding and growing on all sides.

Similar to the Then and Now: Oshawa Creek project, members of the Oshawa Senior Citizens’ Camera Club used historical images from the Thomas Bouckley Collection as a starting point, and photographed the Four Corners as it appears today. This exhibition of side-by-side historical and contemporary photographs is also accompanied by a short video created by the club on the subject. On view until August 29, this exhibition celebrates our changing city!

Details about this exhibition on our website: click here.

Vintage Oshawa: Summer in the City

This blog post comes from the desk of Sonya Jones, our Assistant Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Spring has sprung and summer is almost here! In the winter, it can be easy to go into hibernation, whereas the summer is a time to get outside for adventures and build memories. The days are longer and the weather warmer, allowing you to spend as much time as possible outside. For me it represents gardening, patios, hiking, and most importantly, vacation. Some of the best summer vacations can be ‚Äústay-cations,‚ÄĚ where you spend your holiday at home taking full advantage of your backyard and seeing what your city/town has to offer. The Thomas Bouckley Collection contains many images showing summer‚Äôs past in Oshawa, including historical residents cooling off in the lake, relaxing, playing outdoor games, and generally basking in the sun. The images celebrate summers experienced in Oshawa and capture the spirit of the season.

Oshawa-on-the-Lake, 1915

Oshawa-on-the-Lake, 1915

With this in mind, we have launched our Vintage Oshawa: Summer in the City project. Each week summer images from the Thomas Bouckley Collection will be posted to our tumblr page (click here) so be sure to bookmark it!

Not only do we want to feature images from the collection in this online exhibition, but we also want to represent the city, past and present, by having the community post their own images of Oshawa in the summer. This could be anything from recent family barbecues in the backyard to swimming lessons at Rotary Park. How do you like to spend the summer in Oshawa? What are some of your favourite hot spots?

Sonya in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Sonya in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

One place I visit on my lunch breaks in the summer is the beautiful Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

It’s easy to submit your photos or videos to this online exhibition. Be sure to include information about the images, such as a story, where it was taken, and the approximate date. Let’s celebrate summer and revel in memories built in Oshawa.

Help us create a visual history of summers in the city!

Click to visit www.vintageoshawa.tumblr.com

Archives Awareness Week 2013

The Durham Region Area Archives Group is hosting a show and tell night on Wednesday, 3 April from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Pickering Public Library. Libraries and archives from Durham Region will display and discuss strange and interesting items from their collections to celebrate Archives Awareness Week 2013. The objects on display will include a note signed by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, magic lantern slides, Victorian era postmortem photography, a circus flea, Second World War shells from the DIL plant in Ajax, and a stunt book from a student at Ontario Ladies’ College.

Plane Crash at the Four Corners of Oshawa

Plane Crash at the Four Corners of Oshawa, 1918

The RMG’s Sonya Jones, Assistant Curator and Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection, and Barb Duff, Library Services Coordinator are preparing our contribution to the display. The RMG’s contribution will include various historical images of a famous plane crash at the Four Corners of Oshawa,¬†Alexandra Luke‚Äôs and Aleen Aked‚Äôs painters boxes,¬†Isabel McLaughlin‚Äôs Order of Canada and Order of Ontario and¬†various other oddities from our archives!

Residents from Durham are invited to attend and bring with them interesting historical items from their personal collections. There will be a meet and greet following the presentations and refreshments will be provided.

The Durham Region Area Archives Group was formed in 2011 and is the newest chapter of the Archives Association of Ontario. Its members represent libraries, archives, and historical societies in Durham Region and surrounding areas.

Sharing Our History: Augmenting the Thomas Bouckley Collection

The Curator’s View this week comes from the desk of Sonya Jones, Assistant Curator, and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Thomas Bouckley‚Äôs fascination with his father‚Äôs collection of historical photographs of Oshawainspired his passion for documenting Oshawa‚Äôs past. He was concerned with the condition of the historical photographs, and took it upon himself to learn how best to preserve and reproduce them for future generations. Thus began his collection, which continued to grow in various ways, one of the more unique being from local garbage men who found photographs and albums in the trash. Oshawa families would also provide him with copies of their historical photos. Additionally, Bouckley took up photography himself capturing images of Oshawa as it existed in his lifetime‚ÄĒfor example these photographs documenting the demolition of Centre Street United in 1967 (located where Rundle Tower is today).


His vision for the Thomas Bouckley Collection when it was gifted to the RMG in 1985‚ÄĒin addition to it being preserved, a community resource, and used in public programming‚ÄĒwas for the collection to continue to grow and also to carry on his practice of documenting Oshawa. Throughout the years Then and Now projects have been done to show the transformation of the city, and donations have added to the collection. There are, however, still areas and time periods that are not well represented in the collection. In the spirit of Thomas Bouckley‚Äôs desire to visually document Oshawa‚Äôs history, I‚Äôm always interested in augmenting the collection and encourage anyone who would like to share their historical photographs to contact me. Seeing as Bouckley himself received copies of family photograph collections, I would continue this tradition by scanning photographs in order to enhance the collection. Everyone will benefit as the collection is a community resource that is available to search online, and in person.

Some time periods that are not well represented in the collection are:

1940s- WWII years
Oshawa Generals 
Oshawa Airport
Early photos of North Oshawa
Smith Potteries (located on King Street West near the Hollows)
Parkwood Estate
Lakeview Park 1940s onwards

With questions or to share photographs, please contact Sonya Jones
sjones@rmg.on.ca or 905 576 3000 x110