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.
It has so many charming and significant aspects like the stonework, story-book roofline and dormers. The arches and bay window also get me!
There’s even this gorgeous shaded porch on the north side for easy summer living…
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.