2023 Citroën Autoclub Canada Spring Outing to Oshawa

By George Dyke….

Rather than having our outing on the first weekend of May as has traditionally been the case, Citroën Autoclub Canada held its annual spring outing on May 27, 2023 hoping to have a bit warmer weather and letting members have a extra couple of weeks to get their cars out of winter hibernation. We certainly got our wish as it was a perfect May day without a cloud in the sky!

15 folks gathered at our start location at McDonalds on 16th Ave. (just west of HWY 404) in Richmond Hill for a 10:30 am start. From there we took a lovely back-road tour through Durham Region with a lunch break in Uxbridge where another member, Douglas Ogle joined us, coming west from Brighton in his 2CV, and Herns and Kettie Pierre-Jerome arrived in their DS21.

After a lovely meal at the local pub, the tour continued with a brief stop at the Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, home of the late R.S. McLaughlin, Canadian auto baron. The McLaughlin Motor Car Company, headed by R.S. McLaughlin, was established in Oshawa, Ontario, in 1907 after first operating as a carriage company. It later merged with the Chevrolet Car Company of Canada to become General Motors of Canada.

Inspired by early 20th century Beaux-Arts design, this 15,000 square foot, 55-room mansion was built between 1915 and 1917. The art, architecture, gardens, landscaping and original furnishings are all faithfully preserved in this National Historic Site.

From Parkwood, it was only a few blocks further south on Simcoe St. to the Canadian Automotive Museum housing a number of Canadian-built and Canadian-owned automobiles, including both rare and early models—such as the Kennedy, Tudhope, McLaughlin-Buick, and McKay. The museum provides important examples of Canada’s unique automotive heritage.

Independent Canadian companies were highly successful in the early years of the automobile. Early firms were originally carriage companies and produced the “horseless carriage”—a carriage with an engine. As part of the British Empire, Canada benefited from a protectionist tax, which allowed Canadian auto companies to export vehicles to all countries within the Empire at a lower tariff rate.

This success lasted only until the Great Depression of the 1930s brought an economic downturn. Canadian automobile companies did not have the financial capacity to survive the crisis and could not compete with the much larger U.S. plants. As a result, American companies began to dominate the Canadian automobile sector.

American companies established automobile factories in Canada to gain access to the Canadian market and to bypass high import tariffs. The industry boomed in the 1950s due to postwar economic prosperity and consumer demand. The museum has examples of these Canadian-built cars—including the 1950 Oldsmobile, 1955 Buick Special, and 1966 Buick Wildcat—many of them produced nearby at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.

The museum opened in Oshawa—Canada’s “Motor City” — on September 23, 1963, in a building rich in automotive history. From 1921 to 1931 it was the home of the Ontario Motor Sales dealership and service centre. The site now houses a collection of more than 80 donated vehicles and an automotive reference library. In 1995 the estate of John A. “Bud” McDougald, a prominent Canadian financier, donated 21 vehicles from his collection of European, British, and American cars to the museum.

View a photo gallery of the cars at the Canadian Automotive Museum:

Getting together with members again, having a great drive, tasty food and a rich education about Canadian Automotive history made for a perfect spring outing that ended just after 4 pm as people chose their preferred route to make their way back home from Oshawa.

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