Its initial function as a transportation centre was based on its excellent harbour, good road connections and the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY, which in 1856 was completed from Toronto to Montréal. Manufacturing soon took precedence. Especially notable was the Oshawa Manufacturing Company, owned by Joseph Hall, who developed it into the largest producer of agricultural implements in Canada.
|Oshawa: Statistical Summary|
|Population (City):||141 590 (2006c); 139 051 (2001c)|
|Population (CMA):||330 594 (2006c); 296 298 (2001c)|
|Rate of Increase (City):||1.8% (2001-2006); 3.5% (1996-2001)*|
|Rate of Increase (CMA):||11.6% (2001-2006); 10.2% (1996-2001)*|
|Rank in Canada (by CMA in 2006):||Fourteenth|
|Year of Incorporation (City):||1924|
|Land Area:||(City) 145.67 km2; (CMA) 903.29 km2|
|Average Daily Temperature July:||20.3ºC|
|Average Daily Temperature January:||-5.3ºC|
|Yearly Precipitation:||877.9 mm|
|*Based on 2001 boundaries|
The dominant manufacturer was to become McLaughlin Carriage Works, developer of the McLaughlin-Buick automobile. In 1918 the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Canada were merged into GENERAL MOTORS OF CANADA LTD (GM) with local entrepreneur Robert S. "Colonel Sam" MCLAUGHLIN as president.
In the years that followed, GM became the dominant employer, but after several years of poor labour relations, it was the target of a major strike. GM workers certified the United Automobile Workers (UAW), an industrial union affiliated with the American-based Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO; later Congress of Industrial Organization). Much to the chagrin of Ontario's premier, Mitchell HEPBURN, who hoped the UAW would lose the strike, the union, despite the use of special police, established itself as a force in Canadian labour (see also: OSHAWA STRIKE).
The AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY is still the principle employer. The major issue in the industry has been that of outsourcing, the practice of ordering materials formerly produced at the GM plant from offsite suppliers which are often nonunion and pay lower wages. This was the focus of a strike at Oshawa's GM plant in 1996. The agreement reached provided a model for contracts with Chrysler and Ford. This is likely to be an ongoing issue.
Oshawa is home to Durham College, part of Ontario's network of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. There are several museums: Canadian Automotive Museum, Oshawa Aeronautical Military and Industrial Museum and Robert Stuart Aeronautical Museum. The Oshawa Sydenham Museum consists of 3 historic homes featuring local historical artifacts. Parkwood Estate and Gardens, the 55-room mansion which was the home of Robert Samuel MCLAUGHLIN, is a national HISTORIC SITE.
The ROBERT MCLAUGHLIN GALLERY features changing exhibits of works by Canadian artists. Downtown, 9 buildings have been adorned with murals depicting Oshawa's history and multicultural diversity. Other attractions include Oshawa Trails along the Oshawa and Harmony Creek valleys, the Lake Ontario waterfront and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa has a symphony orchestra and numerous sports and recreational facilities.
Prominent Oshawans have included Michael Starr, Cabinet minister in the Diefenbaker government; Edward BROADBENT, former federal leader of the New Democratic Party; and Donald JACKSON, world figure skating champion.
Author GERALD STORTZ
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the City of Oshawa, Ontario.
Regional Municipality of Durham
The website for The Regional Municipality of Durham. Many local government links.
My Eighty Years on Wheels
This autobiography by R. S. McLaughlin provides intriguing details about his personal life and his role as one of Canada's leading industrialists. From the website for General Motors.
The website for Jane’s Walk, a network of free walking tours that explore the quality and livability of local neighbourhoods based on ideas espoused by Jane Jacobs. Click on "The Community" to access the latest news and photos on their blog and more. Also, check out "Find Your Walk" for maps and descriptions of local walks throughout the country.