2017 marks the 50th anniversary of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. It all began in 1967 when local artist William Caldwell attended an art exhibition in the basement auditorium of the McLaughlin Public Library Branch. Caldwell was faced with space limitations and obstructions that made it difficult to fully view the artworks. In response, he assembled a group of like-minded individuals to come together and create the Art Gallery of Oshawa, first opening its doors in July 1967 over a shop at 7 ½ Simcoe Street South. The gallery’s opening created a place in the Oshawa community that allowed art to be accessible to all.
In 1969, the Art Gallery of Oshawa moved into a new building situated between the McLaughlin Library and Oshawa City Hall, officially opening as The Robert McLaughlin Gallery after a generous donation by the McLaughlin family. In its early years the RMG began fostering relationships with local, regional, and Canadian artists. These relationships not only provided foundations for prosperous art careers, but also as inspiration for young minds, aspiring artists and community members. In addition to artists, the RMG began developing relationships with community members such as local historian Thomas Bouckley.
In 1987 the gallery was expanded to become the building you are standing in today. During the “reopening week” the RMG formally accepted the Thomas Bouckley photographic collection and committed to be a safe repository for the collection.
Since then, the RMG has produced more than 100 Bouckley exhibitions and has continued to preserve and exhibit Oshawa’s History through photographs. The gallery continues to share, explore and engage with our communities through the continuing story of modern and contemporary Canadian art. Images from the RMG archives along with images from the Thomas Bouckley Collection allow us to look back on the earliest recorded memories of the gallery and celebrate 50 years in the Oshawa community.