By Dave Flaherty / The Oshawa Express
A special occasion was celebrated last weekend when friends and family came together to recognize Cpt. John Richardson, who fought with the Ontario Regiment during World War II.
Richardson then officially celebrated his 100th birthday on Tuesday, May 28th.
In five years’ time, the city of Oshawa itself is celebrating an event that spans a century.
Although the community was first founded in 1850, it began to grow tremendously in the Roaring 20s, quadrupling its population from 4,000 to 16,000 in that decade alone.
Driven by the enormous success of General Motors of Canada and the increasing popularity of the automobile, the region had left its small beginnings behind.
On March 8, 1924, Oshawa dropped its 74-year designation as a village and was officially registered as a city.
Over the past 100 years, the city has continued to grow and, based on 2016 census data, is the 31st largest municipality in Canada (and the 15th largest in Ontario) by population with a population of 159,458.
Over the years the city has celebrated many anniversaries, including the half-century anniversary in 1974 and the 75th anniversary in 1999.
As part of the latter, a special mural by artist Tony Johnson was painted on the northeast corner of Simcoe and John Streets. The mural highlighted elements of the city’s past and present, including Memorial Park, the 43rd Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, award-winning skater Donald Jackson, Parkwood Estate, Col. RS McLaughlin, and the Canadian Automotive Museum.
And while 2024 is a full five years away, there is already movement in the city to prepare for the 100th anniversary.
At the latest meeting of the city’s Development Services Committee, officials at the Oshawa Museum spoke of a proposed $ 7.8 million, 12,300 square foot expansion.
The idea of expanding the museum itself is not new as a feasibility study of such a move was completed in 1996 and presented to the council in 1997.
“The existing structure supports the [Oshawa Museum’s] current curatorial, programmatic and administrative activities. The storage facilities for artifacts and archive collections (basement, attics, an unheated external storage cabinet, etc.) are completely inadequate in terms of space requirements, accessibility, safety and environmental conditions, ”says the study by Sears & Russell on page 45.
“Both permanent and temporary exhibitions are limited by space and environmental conditions. Education and other public programs are limited by the size and other requirements of the program space at Guy House. The administrative area, also in Guy House, is overcrowded. There are no curatorial work areas and the archive area is insufficient and inadequate, ”it continues.
Laura Suchan, executive director of the Oshawa Museum, made it clear that this pressure on the organization remains even more than two decades after the original feasibility study.
In 2016, the Canadian Conservation Institute conducted a facility assessment of the museum, and a number of its findings are consistent with those of the 1996 study.
On page 11 – “Space constraints are a major impediment to all Oshawa Museum activities, putting existing collections at risk of damage and limiting future collections of Oshawa’s heritage. The staff of the Oshawa Museum have exhausted the possibilities to use historical rooms efficiently; Therefore, new space is needed. “
The CCI report notes that “the main recommendation of the Sears & Russell Master Plan of 1996 is even more relevant today, twenty years later”.
In this sense, the museum means reaching out to the city with the idea of reviving the place where the history of Oshawa lives as part of what is possibly the greatest celebration in the city’s pantheon.
“We propose the museum complex as the cornerstone of the city’s centenary,” said Suchan during a delegation visit to the committee. “It would show Oshawa as a place of heritage and culture
are important. “
The project is still at the beginning of its development, but in order to fulfill their wish to make it for the 100th anniversary the wheels have to be rolling, according to Suchan.
“We need to do the technical due diligence this year and really get started,” she told city councils on May 27th.
The matter will be discussed further with city officials in the coming months.
A local resident was ahead of the city’s 100th anniversary.
For several years, Greg Milosh has pleaded with the council to begin planning for the occasion, although he was not always satisfied with the response he received.
In 2016, Milosh suggested developing some kind of landmark or structure for the centenary, similar to the Big Nickel in Sudbury or the giant Canada Goose in Wawa, Ontario.
At that time there was no feedback on his idea.
“Given the importance of my proposal, I expected my presentation to have generated comments and questions from committee members and the mayor. Unfortunately there weren’t any. Nobody said a word. In my opinion that’s unacceptable, ”Milosh told the Express at the time.
However, he was not deterred and pushed ahead with his idea of making March 8, 2024 the greatest event in the history of the city.
Milosh launched a website, www.oshawa100.ca, in hopes of soliciting ideas and suggestions from the community and searching for potential sponsors and volunteers.
So far, proposals have been made to hold a centennial gala or fancy dress ball, hold a 100-person torch relay, commission the Songwriters Association of Canada to compose a theme song for Oshawa, or hold an open competition, and the prime minister and prime minister invite you to the event.
The city has begun plans to set up a committee of staff and parishioners to plan for 2024.
The committee will set the schedule for the 100th anniversary celebrations.
In 2021, it is planned that the committee will meet regularly and develop a work plan and procedure for the celebration.
It is expected that during this time an initial brainstorming session with committee members on events, public art and other initiatives will begin.
Financially, too, they have already started to prepare for the big day.
As of 2015, the city began transferring $ 10,000 per year to a reserve account specially marked for the event.
As of December 31, 2018, the reserve balance was $ 40,000 with an estimated $ 100,000 by the end of 2023.
It really does look like the road to the Oshawa Centenary is at different bifurcations.
BEHIND THE WRITING
By Dave Flaherty / The Oshawa Express
Birthdays are the kind of events that most of us react differently to.
Some of us can’t wait to be the center of attention while others stress that we are a year older – I remember being depressed when I turned 30, I wasn’t in my 20s! – or some of us just prefer to see it as another day.
But March 8, 2024 marks an extraordinary anniversary for the city of Oshawa.
On this day, it will be 100 years since the city was officially founded.
While five years may seem like a lifetime at this point, there is a lot of work to be done before the big day.
The city has already formed a committee made up of staff and parishioners to think about events, activities, and ideas for the centenary.
Resident Greg Milosh has actively contributed ideas to council and town committees over the past few years.
While the councilors’ response was not always as enthusiastic as he might have liked, Milosh didn’t let that put him off and created a website, oshawa100.ca, which contains various suggestions for celebrating Oshawa’s 100th birthday.
The Oshawa Museum also approached the city with the idea of making its much-needed and long-awaited expansion as a cornerstone of the centenary.
I was quite surprised to hear how desperate the team downstairs at the museum is, and I appreciate their hard work even more.
Here, too, there is a long way to go in 2024, but I am very excited to see how the city of Oshawa celebrates its 100th anniversary.