McLaughlin (automobile)

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1912 Model 41 Touring
1910s McLaughlin Democrat buckboard

The McLaughlin Motor Car Company was a Canadian manufacturer of automobiles, headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario.

Company history[edit]

In 1869 Robert McLaughlin started up the McLaughlin Carriage Company in a blacksmith's shop in Enniskillen, a small village located 20 kilometres (12 mi) north east of Oshawa.[1] The company began making horse-drawn carriages, and, in need of more workers, moved to Oshawa, Ontario in 1876.[2][3] In 1898 the company produced more than 25,000 carriages[1] and grossed $1,000,000.00 that year. In 1899, however, the carriage works was destroyed by fire. The City of Oshawa loaned the company $50,000 to rebuild. [4]

The company was incorporated as the McLaughlin Carriage Company of Canada Limited. in 1901. By 1915, the company was making one carriage every ten minutes.[1]

Under the leadership of Robert's son, "Colonel" Sam McLaughlin who was President in 1907, the company began the manufacture of automobiles. A corporation, the McLaughlin Motor Car Company, was set up that year,[5] and formed a 15 year alliance by exchanging $500,000.00 of Buick stock for $500.000.00 of McLaughlin Stock with William C. Durant.[6] Durant had acquired the Buick Motor Company that later would become part of General Motors Company, a holding company. Buick engines and various other mechanical parts were brought in from the Buick plant in Flint, Michigan, and incorporated into the Canadian-built automobiles.[7][8]

During the first few years of operation, the automobiles were known as "McLaughlins". The name "McLaughlin-Buick" also appeared on some vehicles.[9] By 1914 the company had built about 1,100 cars.[10]

In 1915 the McLaughlin family formed Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited, and began manufacturing Chevrolet automobiles for General Motors. In 1918 the two companies were merged and the resulting company sold, becoming General Motors of Canada, a subsidiary of General Motors Corporation in the United States.[11][12] General Motors Corporation gave the McLaughlins GM Stock in exchange for ownership of the Canadian plant. [13] Sam McLaughlin remained president of General Motors of Canada, and was also made Director and Vice-President of General Motors Corporation. Chevrolet was incorporated in the USA.

General Motors Canada in 1919 obtained $10,000,000.00 from the new parent company to build a Walkerville plant and establish Canadian Products. In 1923 the name of the Canadian-built model was officially changed to "McLaughlin-Buick",[14] and cars with this name continued to be produced until 1942, after which the cars were labeled as Buicks.[11][15]

As McLaughlin had no sons to carry on the family business, General Motors of Canada was also incorporated. McLaughlin continued to run the company as chairman of the board of General Motors of Canada, in addition to being vice-president and executive director of the parent company until his death.

The automobiles[edit]

1934 McLaughlin Buick RHD
series 50 model 57
NEC Motor Show, Birmingham UK

The first McLaughlin automobile was the 1908 Model F.[9]

Until 1914, the cars were finished with the same paints and varnishes used on carriages. This meant each vehicle required up to fifteen coats of paint.

In 1927 two identical specially designed four-door touring cars were built for the Royal Tour of Canada, one to be shipped ahead to the next city while the other was in use.[16]

In 1936 a McLaughlin-Buick was purchased by the Prince of Wales.[17]

In 1936 the Dunsmuirs, a coal magnate family in Victoria, British Columbia, ordered 3 special order 1936 Buick-McLaughlin Phaetons for 3 of their daughters.[18] In 1937 the Phaeton roadster bought for Elinor Dunsmuir was used to drive US president Franklin Roosevelt around Victoria, BC during his state visit. This is verified by photos appearing in the Daily Colonist and the Victoria Times newspapers Oct 1, 1937 because each of the Dunsmuir phaetons was unique. [19]

Two McLaughlin-Buick Phaetons were built for the 1939 Royal tour. One of these later carried Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their 1986 visit to Canada.[16]

McLaughlin-Buick touring car, one of two build in 1927 for the Prince of Wales' royal tour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Historical placard at Western Development Museum.
  2. ^ Henry W. Meyer (1965). Memories of the buggy days: an authentic historical outline of the carriage, wagon, sleigh, harness and accessory business in the United States of America and Canada. Brinker, distributor. p. 121. 
  3. ^ M. McIntyre Hood (1967). Oshawa: "The Crossing Between the Waters": A History of "Canada's Motor City". Published as a Canadian Centennial project by McLaughlin Public Library Board. p. 114. 
  4. ^ "Robert Samuel McLaughlin". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Margaret E. McCallum, 06/04/2008
  5. ^ Paul Arculus (September 2011). Durant's Right-Hand Man. FriesenPress. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1-77067-782-1. 
  6. ^ Arthur Pound (1934). The Turning Wheel. Рипол Классик. pp. 236–. ISBN 978-5-87753-029-4. 
  7. ^ Mike Filey (1 September 2000). Toronto Sketches 6: The Way We Were. Dundurn. pp. 173–. ISBN 978-1-4597-1303-1. 
  8. ^ David Farber (18 April 2013). Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist. Oxford University Press. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-0-19-990851-6. 
  9. ^ a b Terry B. Dunham (1987). The Buick: A Complete History. Automobile Quarterly. pp. 394–395. ISBN 978-0-915038-64-0. 
  10. ^ Mark Kearney; Randy Ray (1999). The Great Canadian Book of Lists. Dundurn. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-0-88882-213-0. 
  11. ^ a b "Eye Candy: 1918 McLaughlin Buick". Toronto Star, November 19, 2016, Donald Cruickshank, page W2.
  12. ^ Joe Martin (19 September 2009). Relentless Change: A Casebook for the Study of Canadian Business History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-1-4426-9715-7. 
  13. ^ Financial Post September 23, 1933 page 9
  14. ^ The World of Automobiles. 1974. p. 1302. ISBN 978-0-8393-6179-4. 
  15. ^ Automobile Quarterly. Automobile Quarterly. 1974. pp. 416–418. 
  16. ^ a b Peter Pigott (19 November 2005). Royal Transport: An Inside Look at The History of British Royal Travel. Dundurn. pp. 110–. ISBN 978-1-55488-285-4. 
  17. ^ Cars and Parts. Amos Press. 1995. p. 18. 
  18. ^ I'll Never Forget My First Car: Stories From Behind The Wheel. Dundurn. 2007. p. 160. 
  19. ^ "Dunsmuirs’ luxury car ferried FDR during Victoria visit". Victoria Times Colonist. 20 June 2015. 
  • Heather Robertson, Driving Force, The McLaughlin Family and the Age of the Car, McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1995, ISBN 0-7710-7556-1