Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin | Colonel Sam

Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin

Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin | Photo: General Motors of Canada Ltd.


One of the most influential figures in the history of Durham Region was Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin.  A family man, business man and philanthropist his vision resulted in some of the most recognizable landmarks in Ontario including Parkwood, Windfields Farm, Oshawa General Hospital and General Motors of Canada to name a few.

Robert Samuel McLaughlin (1871-1972) began working for his father’s company, McLaughlin Carriage Works, in 1887.  In 1907, with engines from William C. Durant of Buick, the McLaughlin Motor Car Co. began building the McLaughlin-Buick Model F and became one of the first major automobile manufacturers in Canada. In 1908 the company evolved into General Motors of Canada and continued to produce the McLaughlin-Buick brand until 1942.  In 1918, McLaughlin became president of General Motors of Canada.  After retirement in 1945, McLaughlin remained chairman of the board until his death.

The 34th Ontario Regiment appointed McLaughlin an honorary lieutenant-colonel 1921-1931 and honorary colonel 1931-1967. Affectionately known as “Colonel Sam”, McLaughlin had the distinction of being the longest continuously serving colonel in the history of the Canadian Forces.  Also in 1967, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Colonel Sam and The McLaughlin Foundation have donated generously over the years to individuals, institutions and charities. These include the University of Toronto, York University, Queen’s University, St. Andrew’s College, the McLaughlin Planetarium and the Royal Ontario Museum. McLaughlin also endowed the Regimental Foundation of The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) and quietly paid the salaries of some of the regiment’s soldiers during times of severely curtailed government funding.

His home, Parkwood Estate, in Oshawa, Ontario was officially designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989.   To see into the past, you can tour Parkwood and the beautiful gardens.  To drive the legacy left by Colonel Sam visit Boyer Chevrolet Buick GMC!