jump to michaelpenneystyle.com
RSS Feed

Local History about to be Destroyed

June 19, 2012 by admin

One of the great things about working in my hometown in a little shop is I get to meet so many interesting and passionate people.  One such person is Katherine Vanular.  She’s a local history buff and has alerted me to the plight of a local historical landmark about to be destroyed in the name of a subdivision.

The house is on the east side of Simcoe Street in Oshawa on the sight of the old Windfields Farm (home of E.P. Taylor’s Northern Dancer and many other prized horses).  Before E.P. Taylor owned the farm, it belonged to the McLaughlin family – both Col. Sam McLaughlin and his brother George McLaughlin.  These two were pillars of the community we owe them for many, many aspects of our local community today including scouting, libraries and parks and the lakeshore.  It was George McLaughlin who owned this gorgeous piece of local and architectural history.

George McLaughlin House, Simcoe Street, Oshawa

It has so many charming and significant aspects like the stonework, story-book roofline and dormers.  The arches and bay window also get me!

George McLaughlin House, Simcoe Street, Oshawa

There’s even this gorgeous shaded porch on the north side for easy summer living…

George McLaughlin House, Simcoe Street, Oshawa

George McLaughlin may not be as well-known as his brother Col. Sam McLaughlin, but George was a key member of the original General Motors Company of Canada and retired to become a ‘Master Farmer’, helping to improve standards for Canadian agriculture and creating a landmark farm on this Oshawa property where his stone house stands.  Originally the foreman’s house for McLaughlin’s farm, this beautiful home stands as a piece of local history and tells the tale of ground-breaking farming industry and a family that meant so much to this community.

George McLaughlin and his young family

There are numerous historical records and newspaper clippings to commemorate George McLaughlin and his impact on early Oshawa.  Here’s just one example of a story depicting a banquet for the illustrious George McLaughlin – held at the once-posh Genosha Hotel!  This shot kills me!

Banquet honouring George McLaughlin at The Genosha Hotel, Oshawa

The Genosha Hotel is in ruins now after becoming a house of ill-repute, but that’s an entirely different story!  Luckily it still stands, waiting new life…

The old stone George McLaughlin house is threatened with certain doom by developers who have bought the land for a subdivision.  They’ve even been so bold as to base the architectural theme of the subdivision on the local Oshawa Arts and Crafts style architecture, which includes this very house!  They’ve used it as inspiration, and now they’re going to demolish it.  It seems that Rio Can now owns the exact spot the house is on so I’m guessing we’ll be losing our history and heritage to another Shopper’s Drugmart?

To make matters worse, there is another historical landmark farm house on the property – originally built by the Masson Family (Masson Street is around the corner from my house today and is one of the prettiest streets in town) and it too is scheduled to be demolished!

Masson Farm House, Oshawa

In the E.P. Taylor days, the Masson farmhouse was used as the ladies residence.  You can see it in it’s glory days below with a period General Motors car parked outside with tidy awnings, shutters and hanging plants.  Now it’s been boarded up and is awaiting the wrecking ball.

The Masson Farm house before and today

In an area like Durham where there seems to be nothing but subdivisions, new slap-together housing and strip malls and plazas, we must protect what little history we have left!  A town with no sense of history is a very shallowly rooted place indeed.  It’s a common history and an appreciation for the men and women who built our communities that holds us together.

Katherine and her team recognize this and that’s why they’re fighting to save the George McLaughlin house – to keep it in its original context as a beacon of what formed the very city around it.  Katherine has met with much resistance and much more apathy from the city councils they’ve pleaded with.  In many ways it seems like a losing battle unless people come together and support the cause, letting their concern be heard.  To read all about their fight and the developments of this pressing matter, click here.

Katherine and her band of history-protectors. Behind them stands the George McLaughlin house and the new sales house that’s been built in front of it! Maybe the developers want us to forget its back there?


20 Comments »

  1. Jen Hughes says:

    There’s nothing I hate more than old farmhouse and such being torn down to make way for subdivisions. I’m distantly related to that McLaughlin family (can’t remember exactly how…would have to ask my dad!) and so this is really disheartening. Thanks for being a champion of heritage architecture, Michael.

    • TM says:

      The birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting the insulin discoverer Alliston Ontario is saved as Mattamy homes bought land around it.

      COMMENT I had the same concern when I was looking to buy Mattamy home in new division in ALLISTON and by chance I was passing by SIR BANTING HOUSE AND STOPPED TO SEE A BIG ROUND BALL STRUCTURE TO DISCOVER IT IS WORLD FAMOUSE PERSON’s HOUSE in the middle of development of new homes and was dreading for it being demolished or torn dowm but I am so happy for Sir Banting house being saved and preserved in Alliston today .

      I was so comfortable for STONEHOUSE TOO AS I ASSUMED IT IS EDUCATIONAL AS WELL AS CIVIL THING TO KEEP THE HISTORY AND IT WAS NEXT TO UNIVERSITY <BUT YESTERDAY I PASSED BY THE SIMCOE STREET TO SEE HOUSE IS GONE I WAS SHOCKED AND NEVER EVER THOUGHT THIS WILL HAPPEN IT WAS OSHAWA HISTORY
      Now but I am very very depressed and sad as StoneHouse Northern dancer Kentucky durby's hero's history demolished with the house the History is gone
      OTHERWISE
      Oshawa proudly can call itself (When entering Oshawa city on 401 HWY with a big sign board
      THE HOME OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY HERO NORTHERN DANCER

      (AS I THOUGHT ABOUT TOWN OF ALLISTON TO BE CALLED
      ALLISTON THE BIRTH TOWN OF SIR BANTING THE DISCOVERER OF INSULIN )
      it is so sad to bury the proud historic treasure of STONE HOUSE LOVELY STRUCTURE THAT IS HARD TO BUILD OR FIND WITH A GREAT HISTORY BEHIND IT IS VERY SAD ,IT WOULD BE A GREAT SOURSE OF TOURISM AND INCOME FOR TOWN IF SOME ONE WAS CREATIVE IN THE RIGHT POSITION REALIZED WHAT THEY DID TO THEIR OWN TOWN HISTORY

      http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/2059962-council-wants-all-of-banting-homestead-protected/
      May 09, 2007 | Vote 0 0

      Council wants all of Banting homestead protected

      Alliston Herald

      New Tecumseth council wants a bigger chunk of land to be protected at the Sir Frederick Banting Homestead.

      Instead of designating only 70 acres of the property as heritage, council decided Monday night to expand their original proposal and protect the entire 100 acres of land

      =================================================================
      http://www.madhunt.com/bantinggroupripsohs.html

      Banting group rips OHS on homestead
      'Edward trusted the OHS to do the right thing'
      Posted October 20, 2004

      ED NOTE: Last week the Ontario Historical Society informed the Town it would not enter into an agreement that would have protected about 70 acres of the 100 acre property surrounding the homestead. Instead, speculation is mounting that the OHS intends to sell the property. The group needs money and mega home builder Mattamy Homes is building several hundred new houses next to the Banting Homestead Property, which is north of Highway 89 on Sir Frederick Banting Road. Below is the response from the Banting Educational Committee, which includes members of the Banting family.

      The birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting,
      =====================================================

      http://www.newspapers-online.com/tecumseth/?p=6747

      Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation receives $50,000 donation

      November 14, 2013 ·

  2. Mallory says:

    Thank you for posting this, Michael! It is so so sad to see such beautiful, historic buildings torn down to put up another subdivision. Winfield farms and the area surrounding it (Columbus where I grew up) were wonderful, quaint, filled with character places. It breaks my heart to see what is happening!!!

  3. Mallory says:

    Surely the developers could move the house if needed rather than demolish it!!! Do the buildings not have historical designation?

    • I believe they do, but I don’t think it’s enough. And if the City of Oshawa doesn’t put it’s foot down, then they’re free to demolish. I know, you think with the millions they’re making, they could afford the thousands it takes to move a house if worse comes to worst. Consider it part of the price of taking up the countryside, the history and using the house as inspiration!

      Michael

  4. Courtenay says:

    I remember a few years ago when we were living in Brampton and all the old properties kept “mysteriously” going up in flames whenever a developer wanted to build a new subdivision there. It’s just really sad. Cookie cutter subdivisions are no way for people to live. I guess that’s why we live so far away and in the country now!

    • Well I understand the need for new developments but surely there’s a more respectful and sensible solution that keeps Oshawa’s history and long-term effects in mind. Just think, when this is all said and done, there won’t be any evidence of Oshawa’s history for our children to see and experience. It’s much easier to forget that way. Somehow in Europe people are able to maintain the past, to build on it and make it part of the fabric of the present and future. That kind of continuity is priceless I say…

      Michael

      • Linda says:

        I agree with you Michael but the City of Oshawa has never been known for saving it’s historical family homes. The 1st one I remember being taken down for a parking lot (behind Oshawa Seniors Centre) was the only octagonal house in the area. They recently took down an historical home on Simcoe St. north of the hospital. It could have been restored and utilized as a centre for the family members of patients at the cancer centre. The city councillors need to start listening to their constituents & work towards preserving the historical family homes in this area.

  5. Marji says:

    Thank you for your very important post, Michael.
    Col. also kept a very beautiful home here in Bermuda. My father was his doctor…and, as a fellow Canadian, also his close friend. I remember often going to his home with my dad as a very little girl. We would all be very excited to receive his Christmas cards each year as they were very formal and always featured pictures of his beloved Ontario estate.

    What a terrible thing to lose such wonderful architecture and significant historical hallmarks all for the almighty dollar. Unfortunately this is happening all over.

    Good luck to Katherine.

  6. Barb says:

    The more voices that are heard, the better. Always remember the song… ” They paved paradise and put up a parking lot! ” Good for you to reach out through your web page. Why not make it the community center?

  7. Cobi says:

    I agree! It would be amazing!! I love your conviction and passion Michael – I hope it’s infectious. I wish you all luck in Oshawa! We’ll be watching….

  8. Chickadee says:

    I remember years ago when I was a little girl admiring Windfield Farms. I know the houses you are talking about and it makes me sad travelling past the farm now. History needs to be preserved. Thanks Michael and your friends for working on this for Oshawa’s sake.

  9. They say you can’t stop progress but you can. We lived in a rural area around Orangeville and we fought and won, a few battles when a developer wanted to build a golf course, hotel and homes at the Headwaters. We fought, and won another battle to stop a neighbour from extracting, selling & transporting his water to the USA. You need a coalition, local support and some powerful voices. Solicit, advertise and keep talking. That’s how it’s done. The same people I spoke of (north of Shelburne, Ontario) are still fighting against a U.S. aggregate (gravel pit) company who is trying to buy up farm land (in some cases it was under the pretext of potato farming)..when the real reason is to develop a mega quarry.. trickle down effect of this would effect us all, plus the local roads that the transport trucks will travel all day long to haul the gravel, noise pollution and the worst would be the effect on the Headwaters and eco systems. Never give up if the fight is worth your integrity.

  10. Mike says:

    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your blog readers,it’s vitally important to save our heritage before it’s destroyed in the name of “progress”.I would encourage all local residents to flood the respective city officials & the developers with polite but firm protestation.The squeaky wheel does get the oil, so make a racket !

  11. Lynn says:

    A great article Michael,but as long as people keep voting for the Flahertys , the Durham Region will never change.

  12. Erin says:

    Thank you for writing this, Michael. We’ve shared it around.

  13. Katherine Vanular says:

    No sympathy cards please, the George McLaughlin stone house is still alive and well in our time, and the only way to start a discussion with the city and with Minto is one person talking at a time, in a very positive discussion. Express what great things you can see with this house. Our committee has ideas too. What makes people listen to new ideas? I’m still working on that. May I quote Pierre Elliot Trudeau who wrote in 1944 the essay “Exhaustion and Fulfillment”: “It involves a starting rather than a parting. Although it assumes the breaking of ties, its purpose is not to destroy the past, but to lay a foundation for the future.”
    Become involved. This thought to those who feel the necessary part of keeping architectural and cultural heritage in our lives, is to be one of 1001 people to write to the clerks@oshawa.ca and let the city know you see a positive outcome for keeping our Simcoe St N scenery with the ‘Foreman’s House’ #31 on the Minto property in a revitalized reuse. Let them know there are options being presented and now people are listening, and could they please also listen to what the people today want. Here is Trudeau’s second quote that makes me think of this movement to become involved in deciding a cityscape and greenspace in reality not theory and reports not practised:
    “And yet there are people who suddenly tear themselves away from their comfortable existence and, using the energy of their bodies as an example to their brains, apply themselves to the discovery of unsuspected pleasures and places.”
    Read it again, it is for our need to be involved in a positive discussion with the city and land developer who has shown inspiration in other projects and can do it here again.
    The stone house must remain to be that place that you, your friends and others can continue to discover as a pleasure and place of Oshawa, of Ontario’s agricultural and architectural past and significant to Canada. Stay positive in your talk, and show them how it inspires you. Go see it this weekend, North on Simcoe just past the UOIT campas, the Foreman’s house in above Britannia on the right (east side) now behind the sales pavilion for Kingmeadow.
    **1001 names between now and July 6th when we see Minto for their feedback to clerks@oshawa.ca. Only one message per person so be honest and get a friend involved too. It only takes one voice to begin.
    Have a look at http://www.positivediscussions.com

    Thanks Michael, you and your creative work and Whitby store are truly a source of inspiration.
    Go!

  14. darlene hovland says:

    tx, great reading i love what you said about a town with no history is a shallow rooted town, so true its like ripping out someone soul this is just so wrong leave it sit and sell it, i would rather buy a home with history and great character than a plain empty box, i was born in this town and have been here all my life and yes this has always broken my heart to see so much disappear,what is wrong with these people probably its because it is not going on where they live so why should they care, they put the almighty dollar ahead of priceless history,.

  15. [...] of you have been anxious for news about the doomed McLaughlin House in Oshawa (near OUIT and Durham College).  It’s a gorgeous old house with so much historical [...]

  16. Robert Chatten says:

    I lived in that house with My Mom & Dad, Sylvia & Hubert Chatten from the time I was about 3 years old with my older sister Carol & my older brother Gord. My Dad worked for R.S. McLaughlin when it was Parkwood Estates & then for E.P. Taylor at National Stud Farm which was changed to Windfields Farm. My Dad was the Farm manager for 41 years ( give or take a year). I have a few pictures but not sure how to upload pictures to this site?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>