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Celebrating McLaughlin Day in Oshawa

By Jennifer Weymark/Archivist

The first Monday in August is a civic holiday in Ontario.  While not a statutory holiday in the province, many workers have this day off creating a long weekend in the middle of the summer. In some parts of the province it is known as simply the Civic Holiday.  However, several communities across the province have chosen this date to celebrate events or people who have influenced their community.  In Toronto, it is known as Simcoe Day, in Burlington, it is Joseph Brant Day and here in Oshawa, it is known as McLaughlin Day.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, many cities throughout Upper Canada (now Ontario) began to have a public holiday in August.  The origins of a holiday on the first Monday in August appear to date back to 1869 when Toronto City Council organized the first “day of recreation.”  In 1969, attempts were made to declare the day Simcoe Day in honour of first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe.  This motion, put forth by Ontario Municipal Association, was defeated and communities continued to use the Monday to celebrate locally.

The August long weekend has not always been known as McLaughlin Day in Oshawa. Up until 1983, it was simply known as the Civic Holiday.  The proposal to celebrate McLaughlin family, in particular R.S. McLaughlin, on the Civic Holiday was initiated by Alderman Ed Kolodzie. He felt there was a need to recognize the impact of the McLaughlin family on the city and city council decided that the Civic Holiday was the perfect day to do so. The first McLaughlin Day was actually a weeklong celebration held during the first week of August 1983. The week included a special exhibit of McLaughlin art at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Parkwood Estate showcased personal photographs of the family as well as opened the grounds for picnickers, a sail past by the Oshawa Yacht Club took place off the shores of Lakeview Park and a meet-up of the McLaughlin-Buick Club. The week even had its own button designed by a local artist Dave Codling.

Today the first Monday in August continues to be McLaughlin Day in Oshawa. This long weekend, take the opportunity to visit sites in the City that celebrate our past.