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Toronto Star: Oshawa's Parkwood Estate
Valerie Hauch | November 27, 2017

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King Edward of England ordered a McLaughlin-Buick after a visit to Oshawa

https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/once-upon-a-city-archives/2017/11/23/parkwood-estate-was-the-home-of-canadas-first-auto-baron-samuel-mclaughlin.html

The home of Canada’s first auto baron was Samuel McLaughlin has been visited by royals and movie stars.

 
Robert Samuel McLaughlin employed 24 gardeners at one time to maintain the Parkwood Estate's gardens.
Robert Samuel McLaughlin employed 24 gardeners at one time to maintain the Parkwood Estate's gardens. 

For 55 years, the Parkwood Estate — which takes up an entire city block in central Oshawa — was home to Canada’s only auto baron, Robert Samuel McLaughlin. 

Until he died at age 100 in 1972, the man known affectionately as Col. Sam (he was honorary colonel of the Ontario Regiment in Oshawa) lived in the 55-room mansion at 270 Simcoe St. N. He and his wife, Adelaide, and their five daughters moved when construction was completed in 1917.  

Now a National Historic site open year-round, Parkwood is also a favourite backdrop for films and TV shows including X-MenBomb GirlsMurdoch’s MysteriesCondorShadowhunters and American Gothic.

This is the centenary year for the estate and the mansion looks very much as it did when McLaughlin and his family lived there. Every stick of furniture, all the china, crystal, silver, monogrammed linens, photos and family memorabilia including trophies and needlework, displayed in the house were owned by the McLaughlins.

Sam McLaughlin's daughter, Hilda McLaughlin, and her groom, John Pangman, at their 1926 wedding.
Sam McLaughlin's daughter, Hilda McLaughlin, and her groom, John Pangman, at their 1926 wedding.  (PARKWOOD ESTATE)  

“That’s what makes us very unique,” Parkwood curator Samantha George says. “The mansion is intact. Everything was left in situ. I have approximately 8,000 artifacts and 15,000 archives in the collection, from family home movies to letters to invoices.” 

McLaughlin was one of the first manufacturers of automobiles in Canada. He started the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907 — with his brother, George, and father, Robert Senior. The first year of production — 1908 — saw more than 150 McLaughlin-Buick Model F cars built. The company had continued success but by 1918 McLaughlin decided it made good business sense to accept a deal from the much bigger General Motors Corporation. McLaughlin Motor Car Co. merged with Chevrolet Motor Car Co. of Canada to form General Motors of Canada Ltd., a wholly owned division of GM. Sam McLaughlin was named president and his brother George, vice-president of GM of Canada.

As one of the big movers and shakers of his day, McLaughlin and Adelaide, were expected to entertain leading dignitaries and officials who came to town. The site of the former Prospect Park recreational park was up for sale and they purchased it in 1914 and knock down the old mansion that was on part of the site. 

The Parkwood Estate gives a glimpse into the privileged lives of Canada's auto baron family.
The Parkwood Estate gives a glimpse into the privileged lives of Canada's auto baron family.  (EI SCAN)  

Curator George says the couple was drawn to the many old trees on the site, which was still within the Oshawa city boundaries. They persuaded the premier Canadian architects of the day, Frank Darling and John Pearson to design a home fit for entertaining leading dignitaries and officials. It was one of the architects’ few residential jobs. Inspired by early 20th century Beaux-Arts design, it was surrounded by 4.8 hectares of grounds, gardens and beautiful ancillary buildings, such as an art deco limestone tea house constructed in the late ’30s, and now a restaurant. 

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