Oshawa, Ontario – Book 2 – in Colour Photos – My Top 4 Picks

Oshawa, Ontario – Book 2

Oshawa is a city in Southern Ontario on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It is about sixty kilometers east of Downtown Toronto. The name Oshawa comes from the Ojibwa word meaning “the crossing place” or “where we must leave our canoes”. More than 5,000 people work and more than 2,400 university students study in the downtown core.

Oshawa’s roots are tied to the automobile industry with the Canadian division of General Motors located here. It was founded in 1876 as the McLaughlin Carriage Company. The lavish home of the carriage company’s founder, Parkwood Estate, is a National Historic Site of Canada.

Historians believe that Oshawa began as a transfer point for the fur trade. Beaver and other animals trapped for their pelts by local natives were traded with the Coureurs des bois (voyagers). Furs were loaded onto canoes by the Mississauga Indians at the Oshawa harbor and transported to the trading posts located to the west at the mouth of the Credit River. Around 1760, the French constructed a trading post near the harbor location; this was abandoned after a few years, but its ruins provided shelter for the first residents of what later became Oshawa.

In 1822, a “colonization road” (a north-south road to facilitate settlement) known as Simcoe Street was constructed. It ran from the harbor to the area of Lake Scugog. It intersected the “Kingston Road: at what became Oshawa’s “Four Corners.”

The newly established village became an industrial center, and implement works, tanneries, asheries and wagon factories opened. In 1876, Robert Samuel McLaughlin, Sr. moved his carriage works to Oshawa from Enniskillen to take advantage of its harbor and of the availability of a rail link not too far away. He constructed a two-story building, which was soon added to. This building was heavily remodeled in 1929, receiving a new facade and being extended to the north. Around 1890, the carriage works relocated from its Simcoe Street address to an unused furniture factory a couple of blocks to the northeast, and this remained its site until the building burnt in 1899. Offered assistance by the town, McLaughlin chose to stay in Oshawa, building a new factory across Mary Street from the old site. Rail service had been provided in 1890 by the Oshawa Railway; this was originally set up as a streetcar line, but by about 1910 a second freight line was built slightly to the east of Simcoe Street which provided streetcar and freight service, connected central Oshawa with the Grand Trunk (now Canadian National) Railway, and with the Canadian Northern (which ran through the very north of Oshawa) and the Canadian Pacific, built in 1912-13.

Architectural Photos, Oshawa, Ontario
270 Simcoe Street North – Parkwood, McLaughlin Estate – Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin and “Billy” Durant signed a 15-year contract in 1907, under which the McLaughlin Motor Company began to manufacture automobiles under the McLaughlin name, using Buick engines and other mechanical parts. Buick was merged into General Motors shortly after, and in 1915 the firm acquired the manufacturing rights to the Chevrolet brand. Within three years, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada merged, creating General Motors of Canada in 1918 with McLaughlin as President. With the wealth he gained in his business venture, in 1916 McLaughlin built one of the stateliest homes in Canada, “Parkwood”. The 55-room residence was designed by Toronto architect John M. Lyle. McLaughlin lived in the house for 55 years with his wife and they raised five daughters. The house replaced an older mansion, which was about 30 years old when it was demolished; the grounds of the earlier home had been operated as Prospect Park, and this land was acquired by the town and became its first municipal park, Alexandra Park. Parkwood today is open to the public as a National Historic Site.
Architectural Photos, Oshawa, Ontario
301 Simcoe Street North – O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute offers a wide range of academic and extracurricular activities. It is known as an art school, drawing many students from around the Greater Toronto Area into its arts programs. The science programs are well developed, with multiple fully functional science labs.
Architectural Photos, Oshawa, Ontario
377 Simcoe Street North – 1920 – Tudor style
Architectural Photos, Oshawa, Ontario
705 Simcoe Street North – McLaughlin estate Greenbriar – 1928 – Tudor style