The earliest known settlement in Oshawa started in the 1400s when the Lake Ontario Iroquois settled near the Harmony Creek. Today, with a population of over 166,000, Oshawa is the largest municipality in Durham Region. It is home to three post-secondary institutions and is rich in arts and cultural assets, with over 500 cultural businesses, events and festivals.
By Elke Rosenau
There were five of us - two older sisters, a younger sister and a baby brother. My father was a union carpenter. That means when there was work, he had a job. When the job was done, the next man on the list got to work and my dad was on unemployment until his name got back to the top of the list. Sometimes there was lots of work. Sometimes there wasn’t. My mother was mostly a stay at home mom, but on Thursdays she cleaned a doctor’s house and on Friday night she cleaned a lawyer’s office. We had a large garden of tomatoes and beans, potatoes and beets, cucumbers and herbs, raspberry and blackberry bushes. My mother canned or pickled anything that didn’t get eaten fresh, so we always had enough to eat. We had clothes to wear, a new pair of school shoes every September and a new pair of sandals every summer. We weren’t rich, but if we were poor, we didn’t know it.
My mother had an aunt and uncle who lived on a farm in Georgetown. Every fall we drove up to visit. Several large dogs announced our arrival loudly, as we came up the drive. After greeting everyone, my great uncle led the way to the apple orchard and we all started picking. The adults picked from ladders while we kids got what we could reach on the lower branches and off the ground. We loaded the full baskets onto his truck bed until noon. Then we headed up to the house, where my aunt had been busy cooking all morning. It was an old house and although the bathroom was attached, it was pretty much an outhouse. We washed up and went in for lunch. The house was small, but the kitchen table fit us all. While we ate, my great uncle told us all about the markets where he sold the apples and other produce from the farm. His hands were big and the skin was red and rough. It didn’t look like they ever really came clean. The dogs sat next to his chair and when we had finished our fried chicken, he held out the drumstick bones, so they could bite off the ends. Then the adults visited over coffee and we children were free to explore. There was an old pump organ in the living room that fascinated me. I tried to play it, but the only sounds I could produce were low and moaning and it was never long before someone told me to stop. In the afternoon, we went back out to the orchard. This time we could pick apples for ourselves, so we picked until the trunk of our car was full and then it was time to go home.
The next morning, my mother took a soft cloth and gently shined some of the apples. She put them into baskets that had a handle across the top. My siblings and I carried them door to door and sold them to our neighbours. I was pretty good at sales and we got to keep any money we made, so I was very motivated. The rest of the apples went into our basement. Over time they were turned into apple sauce and apple dumplings and apple cake and every day for most of the fall and winter there was an apple in my lunch every day. I don’t remember when our trips to the farm stopped, but I still think of those days whenever I bite into a crisp autumn apple.