Llewellyn Hall

By Melissa Cole, Curator

“Formerly the residence of Mr. R.S. McLaughlin and became the possession of the Foreign Mission Board in the year 1919.  It was known as Llewellyn Hall and the name continued.  It is a two and a half storey brick building, on one of the best residential streets in the Town.  It has beautiful grounds, magnificent trees and tennis court, and is artistically finished within as well as attractive without.”

~The Second Prospectus, 1924 Llewellyn Hall

Opening in the fall of 2018 at the Oshawa Museum will be an exhibition that looks at Community Health in the 20th Century: An Oshawa Perspective.   What does Llewellyn Hall have to do with community health?  It was utilized for a brief time as Oshawa’s Maternity Ward.

The home was ordered to be built by James Odgers Guy who was a coal dealer in Oshawa.  He resided in this home with his wife Rachel and their children.  The name of the home was Llewellyn Hall, in memory of a son named Llewellyn Harold who had passed away.  They lived in the home until 1897.

James Odgers Guy
James O. Guy

Robert Samuel McLaughlin of Tyrone purchased the home from the Guys.  Robert lived in the home with his wife Adelaide and all five daughters, Eileen, Mildred, Isobel, Hilda and Eleanor were born there.  This was the McLaughlin Family home until 1917, when they moved into Parkwood Estate.

Robert and Adelaide McLaughlin, under the names of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada, gifted their home to the Oshawa General Hospital, for $1, to be used as a maternity hospital.

Adelaide McLaughlin, who was president of the Hospital Auxiliary, stated at the formal opening of the maternity hospital that she hoped “all future mothers in this house may be as happy as I was when here”.  Inspector of Hospitals, Dr. Helen McMurchie of the Ministry of Health for the Province of Ontario stated that “every hospital must have a satisfactory maternity wing and Oshawa has successfully followed this direction”.

Maternity Home

The first baby girl was born the day it formally opened on Wednesday July 12 at 1917, delivered to a Mrs. F. Patfield by Dr. F.J Rundle.  In 1918, the Spanish Flu swept through the Maternity Ward.  It was reported that ninety-five percent of the babies in the Ward passed away.

One of the last babies to be born at the Maternity Ward was in 1919 before it was sold to the Presbyterian Church in Canada to be a home for children in missionary families of the United Church of Canada.  For the next twenty-nine years, Adelaide McLaughlin offered her support through various means, financially, socially and advisory to the residents, Matrons and staff.

The final years of Lewellyn Hall were spent as the location of education and worship, after being purchased in 1948, by the Oshawa Hebrew Congregation, known as the Beth Zion Synagogue.  By 1952 the number Jewish families in Oshawa outgrew the space and the building was torn down to build a new synagogue, which still stands today.

This house nurtured many lives that crossed it’s threshold.  Built for the Guy Family and for fifteen years it was home to Colonel Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin and their five daughters and it was a home for Protestant missionary children and before its end was the core for education and worship.

Blog Rewind: Automotive Industry: In the Words of Col. R.S. McLaughlin

This post was originally published on March 1, 2013.

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

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I recently came across a fascinating magazine in our archival collection.  The magazine, entitled The Canadian Military Journal featured a lengthy article on Col. Sam to celebrate his 100th birthday.

What stood out in the article were quotes from Col. Sam regarding the birth of the auto industry here in Oshawa.  The development of the auto industry in Oshawa has been well documented but this is a truly unique view from the man who played such a pivotal role.

The day before I had wired William C. Durant, head of the young Buick company in Flint, Mich., to ask for help. The McLaughlin automobile, which we had started to make ourselves after I had failed to arrive at a co-operative manufacturing arrangement with Durant and other U.S. car makers, had run into trouble. Two days before, with the parts of our first car laid out ready for assembly – and the components of one hundred more in various stages of completion – our engineer had suffered a severe attack of pleurisy. In my wire I asked Durant to lend us an engineer until our own man recovered.

Durant arrived in Oshawa not with an engineer but with two of his top executives. He took up the discussion of our last meeting – when we had failed to get together on a manufacturing arrangement – Justas if we had merely paused for breath. “I’ve been thinking it over,” he said, “and I have the solution to the problem we couldn’t overcome in our figuring.” The deal he suggested was pretty close to what I had in mind in the first place, and I said : “ That will work.”  Durant nodded. “I thought it would,” he said, in that voice of his that was always so gentle – and always so much to the point.

We went into my father’s office with my brother George and Oliver Hezzelwood, who looked after our books, and in five minutes we had the contract settled. It ran just a page and a half and was a model agreement for lawyers to study. Chiefly it covered the terms under which we had 15-year rights to buy the Buick engine and some other parts. We could build and design out own bodies.

What a defining moment in Oshawa’s history.  I was left wondering what could have been if the engineer hadn’t gotten sick or if Durant had sent only an engineer.  Would the McLaughlin automobile have succeeded without the Buick engine or would it have been amongst the many car companies that came and went?

Moments such as this, from those who lived it, are what make the study of history so fascinating.

Where the Streets Get Their Names – Col. Sam Drive

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Two years ago, at this time, I wrote a post about how Oshawa celebrates the Civic Holiday –  we have done so by naming the day after the prolific citizen, Col. RS McLaughlin.  Knowing that this weekend is McLaughlin Day, I thought I would keep this month’s Street Name Story simple, and share the story behind Colonel Sam Drive.

Farewell Street is the western beginning to this street which leads to the headquarters of General Motors of Canada.  East of Farewell, one can travel along Wentworth Street and eventually arrive at the productions facilities for GM.  Colonel Sam Drive was named in 1989.

 

The Honourable Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin was born on September 8, 1871 in Enniskillen Ontario. He was born to Robert McLaughlin and his wife Mary (nee Smith).  Along with Sam, as he was affectionately known, Robert and Mary were blessed with two other sons, George and John and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.

In 1887 Sam became an apprentice in the upholstery shop of his father’s business.  It was during this time that Sam learned all that a journeyman upholsterer needed to know to be successful such as stitching and fitting the cloth.  And so, in 1890 Sam decided to move to Watertown, New York to test his workmanship.  Sam wanted an unbiased opinion of his work and so he tried to keep the identity of his father a secret.  Sam was hired as an upholsterer with H.H. Babcock Co. but his plan to keep his father’s identity a secret did not work and within a couple of days the other employees were aware of who he was.  Sam stayed on at H.H. Babcock Co. for another two months, during which time he learned a great deal about plant management.  After leaving H.H. Babcock Co., Sam stayed in New York to work with two other companies before deciding to come back to Canada to work with his father.  In 1892 Robert formed a business partnership with two of his sons, Sam and George.

In 1897 Sam decided to break away from the carriage company to try his hand at being a politician.  He was successful at this endeavor as he became the head of Oshawa Town Council.  However, this experience allowed him to realize that he did not have the same love for politics as he did for carriages and he returned to building carriages.

In 1898, at the age of 26, Sam met his future wife Adelaide Louise Mowbray.  Within two weeks of meeting Adelaide, Sam proposed.  On February 2, 1898 they were married.  They were married for 59 years and had five daughters: Eileen, Mildred, Isabel, Hilda and Eleanor (Billie).

McLaughlin Carriage Fire, 1899; from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
McLaughlin Carriage Fire, 1899; from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

On December 7, 1899 the McLaughlin Carriage Company burned to the ground.  The Town of Belleville was the first of 15 cities to offer the McLaughlin’s cash and bonds to rebuild their factory in their town.  The McLaughlin’s chose to accept Oshawa’s deal to loan them $50 000 until they were able to pay the Town back.  While they were rebuilding the factory, production was moved temporarily to Gananoque. The McLaughlin Carriage Company returned to Oshawa in the summer of 1900. In 1907 the McLaughlin Carriage Company began to build automobiles; in that first year they produced 193 cars.

Postcard of Prospect Park, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Postcard of Prospect Park, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

In 1915 Sam and Adelaide bought Prospect Park to become their family home. Sam tore down the original home and in 1917 built Parkwood, a state-of-the-art home for his family.

George and Sam McLaughlin sold the family business to General Motors in 1918.  Many factors weighed in this decision.   A personal factor that led to this decision was that Sam had five daughters and no sons to carry on the family business.  George was preparing to retire and Sam did not want to run the business without him because he considered it a partnership.  George’s two sons were not interested in the business either and therefore there was no one to pass the business on to.  After selling the Carriage Company to General Motors, Sam, at the age of 47, became President of the Canadian Division.

Sam also focused on contributing back to the City that he had called home for so many years, Oshawa.  He was always considered a philanthropist and the donations of his time and money to the City of Oshawa were considerable.  Sam donated money to aid in the creation of many things including Camp Samac, the maternity wing at the Oshawa General Hospital, the McLaughlin Band Shell in Memorial Park, the Union Cemetery War Veterans Plot and the McLaughlin Library.

In 1920, Sam and George bought the land for Lakeview Park in the name of General Motors of Canada Limited.  The land was then deeded to the Town of Oshawa for one dollar with only one restriction: that the land was to be used as a public park for the citizens of Oshawa under the control of the council and parks commission.  The firm also forwarded a cheque for $3,000 to cover initial improvements and another $6,000 for a suitable park playground.

Col Sam at home at Parkwood, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Col Sam at home at Parkwood, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

In 1936, Sam was named Honorary Colonel due to his involvement with the Ontario Regiment.  It is from this honour that Sam earned his nickname of “Colonel Sam”.  Sam retired as President of GM in 1945 and took on the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Sam’s wife of 59 years, Adelaide, died January 10, 1958 at the age of 82.  On January 6, 1972 in his 101st year, Sam passed away.¹

 

As previously shared, Adelaide Avenue has been named for Col Sam’s wife, and there is another street in Oshawa, McLaughlin Boulevard, which has also been named for this noteworthy citizen.

 

¹The preceeding was adapted from the Historical Information Sheet: Col. R.S. McLaughlin, ©Oshawa Historical Society.

The Month That Was – June 1926

Board of Health Again Complains about City Dump
June 1st, 1926

The Board of Health will again protest to the City Council the existence of the city dumping ground on Gibb Street. Each year this has been done, but after some discussion the matter has been more or less shelved, largely through no other location being available. At last night’s meeting of the Board of Health, Mayor Preston suggested that the city property on Ritson road south be utilized for a dumping ground. He expressed the opinion that the residents in the vicinity of Gibbs Street had suffered long enough from the nuisance and it was time that it was abated.

 

More Nova Scotia Landmarks Pass
June 2nd, 1926

(By Canadian Press)
Halifax, N.S. – One by one the old landmarks that link Nova Scotia with her glorious past are disappearing, some by act of Providence and others through the indifference of the present generation. The latest to go was the 129 year old “Lynk House” in Sydney, a staunch old structure built by a Haliburton in 1797, when Cape Breton was a separate province.

 

Parking Limit Signs are here
June 4th, 1926

The parking limit signs have arrived and are being placed in position on telegraph poles in the business section of the city by the police department. The signs limit parking to 30 minutes and Chief of Police Owen D. Friend says that the law will be enforced in this connection. There were 32 signs purchased by the Police Commission. Additional signs are being purchased to place near the public schools to warn drivers of motor cars to travel slowly.

 

Henry Ford buys Famous Landmark
June 4th, 1926

(By Canadian Press)
Henry Ford has come into possession of the Little School House that Mary Sawyer of “Marry and the little lamb” fame attended when the poem, which has since become immortal, was written. According to the terms of the transaction, Mr. Ford will build a garage to replace the school house which since 1855 has been used as a barn at the parsonage of the First Baptist Church.

 

A Happy Day for Oshawa
June 12th, 1926

The announcement which was mad yesterday by Mr. R.S. McLaughlin, President of General Motors of Canada Limited, that the company would not only continue its operations in Canada but would extend the plant and increase the efficiency of same is the most welcome news ever received here or perhaps by any community anywhere.

 

Picnic Season Under way today
June 16th, 1926

Oshawa-on-the-lake is opening the picnic season this afternoon with a bang. Two picnics are taking place during the afternoon and evening, when several hundred visitors from out of town points will be at the lake shore. The big event of the day is the visit of the Danforth West Business Men’s Association for their annual picnic. They are here several hundred strong, and in addition to their programme of sports this afternoon have the dance pavilion leased for this evening.

How Oshawa Celebrates the Civic Holiday – McLaughlin Day

As the dog days of summer carry on, the long weekend in August comes as a nice break.  The Civic Holiday is known by several names across the country;  British Columbians enjoy British Columbia Day, Saskatchewaners take in Saskatchewan Day, and New Brunswickers celebrate, you guessed it, New Brunswick Day.

Generally, the holiday is known as the Civic Holiday in Ontario, although different regions have their own names for the day, many of them taking the day as an opportunity to recognize important citizens or founders.  Toronto recognizes the day as Simcoe Day, it is Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough, and John Galt Day in Guelph.  

RS McLaughlin
RS McLaughlin, from the Oshawa Community Archives

Oshawa is no exception.  We honour one of our favourite citizens every Civic Day, where we proclaim the first Monday of August to be McLaughlin Day after Col. RS McLaughlin.  Sam McLaughlin was an automotive pioneer and philanthropist, and he loved this City as much as the City loved him.

A983.39.1 - button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week
A983.39.1 – button created to celebrate McLaughlin Week

McLaughlin Day was first celebrated in 1983, and Oshawans were encouraged to visit the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Parkwood, and the Automotive Museum, and even though it rained, ‘spirits were high,’ and the day ended with fireworks in Lakeview Park!  McLaughlin Day was the beginning of a week long celebration known as McLaughlin Celebration Week.

Parkwood National Historic Site
Parkwood National Historic Site

This McLaughlin Day, visit RS McLaughlin’s former home, Parkwood National Historic Site for special basement tours, or come down to the Oshawa Community Museum and regale in the history of the City that Sam so loved.  We are offering tours from 12-4 on Monday, August 5.

“I love the old town and am always glad to do anything towards its improvement.” 
-Col. RS McLaughlin

 

Happy McLaughlin Day!

References:

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Civic Holiday”, from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/civic-holiday

Canada Info, “First Monday in August Holiday,” from http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/symbols_facts&lists/august_holiday.html

Oshawa This Week, ‘Hats off to McLaughlin Day,’ August 3, 1983