Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Curious Curator: Discovering Doris Slater

Several weeks ago Parkwood received an archival donation of a letter Adelaide wrote in response to a thank you she received from Doris Slater. Doris had been the recipient of a tuition scholarship from Mrs. McLaughlin to attend the Ontario College of Art, Toronto in 1936.
You will see the letter to the right on ALM's embossed stationary card.
"May your work increase in beauty of interpretation. To be lasting art must be beautiful, not only to its delineation, but to the seer" Adelaide remarks to Doris in her note, going on to say "One piece of advice may I give you? Don't let your work obsess you to the extent that no one can bring you other happiness."
Who was Doris Slater? Doris Slater was a young Canadian woman who attended the Ontario College of Art, Grange, to study, and thanks to McLaughlin generosity to grow her talents, becoming the recently recognised first Canadian female comic book illustrator and 2015 inductee into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame.
Born in Chatham in 1917, Doris attended the OCA in the mid 1930s. Best known for her work on Penny's Diary, a Canadian war time comic, Slater drew the scripts for Patricia Joudry's popular CBC radio show. Check out this blog about Penny's Diary: Comic Syrup write up on Penny's Diary
Comics produced in Canada during the war years are called Canadian Whites, and this era is referenced as the Golden Age of Comics.  Canadian Whites obtained their name from the fact that they were published in Canada, had a colourful cover, but black and white interior pages.
The "Whites" proliferated the Canadian market after the War Exchange Conservation Act restricted trade of what was considered non-essential goods from the United States into Canada, which included fiction periodicals.  Four companies took advantage of the situation by publishing comics in Canada, sometimes using imported scripts. Anglo-American Publishing of Toronto and Maple Leaf Publishing in Vancouver started publishing in March 1941. Later, two other Toronto-based publishers joined in: Hillborough Studios that August, and Bell Features (originally Commercial Signs of Canada) in September.
Once war time restrictions were lifted, American comics came back into the Canadian market and the heyday of the Canadian whites came to an end.

Doris Slater is also the Duff part of the pseudonym partnership MacDuff, teamed with Ted McCall, creators of Pat, The Air Cadet for Anglo-American publishing. 
When one reviews the 1936 Ontario College of Art Annals, held at OCAD University, and it is a fascinating read. During Slater's time at OCA, the principal was Frederick Haines, the muralist who painted the staircase mural at Parkwood. Her instructors, Yvonne McKague, a great friend of Isabel McLaughlin's; and Frederick Challener, painter and mural painter of the Parkwood Grand Hall and Billiard Room.

Finally, Slater's classmate, Donald Stuart, also a scholarship recipient, is the artist behind the bas-relief of the stags in RS McLaughlin's art deco suite. What a group to be associated with!!

Doris Slater was killed by a drunk driver in a head on collision in 1964 at the age of 47.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Parkwood Christmasses Remembered: Rations and Christmas


Parkwood’s Museum Morsels historic culinary club  recreated some typical Christmas dinners of the war years—informed by area historians and ration recipe books. 
Since the second world war had a huge impact, historically and culturally on food, Museum Morsels has its fingers on some facet of rationing at some point in the foods and recipes with examine as a group.

This culminated in two dinners: one that might have been served to officers stationed at Camp X – contrasted with one that might have been  served to Nazi officer POW’s at Bowmanville’s Camp 30.
Used with permission
Museum Morsels volunteers also prepared cakes, and cookies, as they might have been made for gift packages sent to love ones serving oversees.  There were a few moving moments as volunteers  imagined how it may have felt to receive receiving these simple tastes of home and the loving cards and letters that would accompany them.
The project helped volunteers experience era history in meaningful way, and resulted in some stunning photos that help bring these stories to life.  

Our mini album:
Officer Meal Camp X

POW Meal Camp 30
Project photos may also be spotted on CBC postings as part of the second season launch of X-Company in mid-January 2016. 




Monday, 14 December 2015

Parkwood Christmasses Remembered: Parkwood Christmas Cheer

Parkwood’s Museum Volunteers recreated one of the Christmas cheer traditions of  Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin.  Inspired by archival information and recollections of former McLaughlin household staff, volunteers assembled Parkwood Christmas Cheer gift bags, which will be distributed with the help of YWCA Durham.
Museum volunteers canvassed local businesses for donations of gift items, where they met with generous and enthusiastic response.

The McLaughlins helped establish the YWCA in Oshawa in 1945, with the gift of the large residence known as Adelaide House, now home to the YWCA Durham Second-Stage Housing.

McLaughlin gifts of cheer once included fine soaps, chocolate and a carton of cigarettes! Volunteers wisely updated the bundles by swapping cigarettes for more chocolate, and then added fine soaps and other beauty products.

They also tucked a small house plant into each gift bag, to recognise another McLaughlin gift tradition of plants from their greenhouses.

The parcels were carefully wrapped and made festive by the Parkwood Museum Volunteers. To the right, tubes of lipstick are being tied onto the shower gels for presentation.
The museum volunteers were pleased to assist with the project, referencing the merchants who willingly contributed to angels, and keen to learn of the project, but also the historic relationship between the YWCA Durham, Adelaide House and the McLaughlin Family.

The gift bags were delivered by our volunteer elves to the YWCA Durham on December 11.

Parkwood wishes the women of second stage housing a merrier and right Christmas.

Parkwood thanks Shoppers Drug Mart, Trade Secrets, Williams Chocolates, Avon, Freshco, Home Depot, Loblaws, Metro, for their generous support for Parkwood Christmas Cheer.