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McLaughlin Carriage Co. and Motorcar Co. employees at the Richmond and Mary Street plant, 1908

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Curator’s View: Oshawa Show and Shine

This post comes from Sonya Jones, Assistant Curator and Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Every Wednesday evening during the summer months in Oshawa, the downtown hosts Show and Shine, where local car enthusiasts display their vehicles and gather to interact. In the past, it has been located at the Queen’s Market but this year it is in the civic parking lot just north of the RMG. The RMG is excited to be right next door and have changed our extended hours to Wednesday nights, instead of Thursdays, to welcome Show and Shine visitors to the gallery. To compliment this summer event, a Thomas Bouckley Collection exhibition on the automotive history of Oshawa is being featured in the E.P. Taylor Gallery.

Composite photo of Robert McLaughlin and his two sons, Robert Samuel and George W, both of who played significant role in bringing the carriage business into the automotive business. 1898

Composite photo of Robert McLaughlin and his two sons, Robert Samuel and George W, both of who played significant role in bringing the carriage business into the automotive business. 1898

The Thomas Bouckley Collection contains a rich ensemble of photographs that tell the story of how the McLaughlin’s brought the auto industry to Oshawa. In 2008, my first year working at the gallery, the 100th anniversary of the McLaughlin Motorcar Company, and the release of the McLaughlin-Buick was celebrated. One of my first projects was a commemorative exhibition to coincide with the release of a Canada Post stamp highlighting Col. Sam McLaughlin’s contributions to the auto industry, for which the Thomas Bouckley Collection contributed images.

McLaughlin Carriage Co. and Motorcar Co. employees at the Richmond and Mary Street plant, 1908

McLaughlin Carriage Co. and Motorcar Co. employees at the Richmond and Mary Street plant, 1908

With the state of the auto industry today, it is important to once again look back on the history and relevance of the industry to this community. The struggles and uncertainty of Oshawa’s General Motors of Canada was outlined in a Globe and Mail article this weekend, GM Canada’s Foggy Road Ahead. As much as we are reminded about the importance of the industry to the community’s current economy, historically, the industry played a key role to the growth and success of Oshawa.  Like the commemorative stamp, the photographs in this summer’s exhibition, Oshawa’s Automotive History, remind us of Col. Sam McLaughlin’s contributions to the auto industry and his endless generosity to Oshawa.

McLaughlin-Buick down at the lake, c. 1915

McLaughlin-Buick down at the lake, c. 1915

On view until the end of August, this exhibition celebrates Oshawa’s long connection to the auto industry and the people who made it happen.