Parkwood Estate is one of Oshawa’s most popular tourist attractions. But did you know that another home that’s also part of the McLaughlin legacy lies just a short walk away?
Today, the outside of the “other” McLaughlin house, located at 195 Simcoe Street North, at the corner of Simcoe and Elgin, looks weary. After decades as a family home, it followed the similar path of many of Oshawa’s heritage buildings, and was converted into office space.
The building stands empty but retains its sense of grandeur, despite standing next to a vacant, crumbling, one-time rooming house buffeted by a concrete parking lot filled with weeds. But look past the yellowing “For Sale” sign propped up in the front window, or the peeling wooden street sign on the front lawn, and there’s far more to the story of this 130-year-old-building than meets the eye.
Built in 1887, 195 Simcoe was the home of Robert McLaughlin, who had moved his flourishing carriage works business to Oshawa in 1877, establishing Oshawa Carriage Works, later known as McLaughlin Carriage, one of the largest carriage works in the British Empire. In 1907, Robert made a wise business decision, and incorporated the business as McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited to manufacture automobiles.
Robert left his sons Sam and George at the helm of the McLaughlin Motor Car Company, who, after a successful decade manufacturing automobiles, sold the family business to General Motors in 1918. Sam McLaughlin became President of the Canadian Division, then Chairman of the Board in 1945, the year of his retirement. His grand family home, Parkwood Estate, Oshawa’s popular designated National Historic Site, is a short walk north.
History has not treated Robert McLaughlin’s house as kindly, despite the great impact McLaughlin Carriage had on the economic development of Oshawa. But what does the future hold for this former McLaughlin home?
It’s uncertain. The current owner has applied for a demolition permit, and, according to the minutes of a recent Heritage Oshawa meeting, wishes to develop the lands because of the expense involved in improving the property to heritage standard. However, the property is listed as a Class A property on the Heritage Oshawa Inventory, with Class A being (in the opinion of Heritage Oshawa), of highest potential for designation. A research report on the property is pending, and, until the report is published and the demolition permit either approved or denied, 195 Simcoe will wait to learn its fate.