By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
The Downtown Automotive Walking Tour is coming back Sept. 26.
Canadian Automotive Museum board member Gregory Johnston leads the tours and says they’ve brought the event back for a third time this year due to its popularity.
“People want to do something and being outside feels safer,” he says.
The walking tour takes attendees on a stroll through the city’s downtown core.
“We highlight all of Simcoe Street, we go through the middle of the downtown core… Bond Street, William Street, we go over towards the Genosha, over to the [Tribute Communities] Centre, and then back to the museum,” Johnston explains.
The tour takes about an hour-and-a-half and then guests have the option of touring inside the museum.
Johnston says the museum has been providing these tours for about five years, noting it started off slow and has been “picking up more and more steam as time goes on.”
“People want to discover what’s good about downtown. That’s kind of the fun part,” he says. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about downtown and we’re trying to show them what’s good about downtown.”
He notes there are some great restaurants, entertainment venues and museums all within walking distance of each other, adding just outside of the downtown core is Parkwood Estate which is also within walking distance of the downtown.
Johnston says he also highlights some of the significant buildings in the downtown along the walk.
“[The tour] gives me an opportunity to reach people and say, ‘this is the history of the building, and it also has a future,’” he explains. “It gives people something to positively look forward to.”
He adds the museum also has a historic connection with General Motors.
“We were very fortunate that we were one of the last organizations to do a tour of General Motors before they stopped automotive assembly,” says Johnston, noting General Motors sponsored the front window display at the Canadian Automotive Museum.
“[GM] is an important part of our story and we do highlight that there is still automotive in Oshawa,” he says. “It’s one of the biggest employers in town, regardless of the fact that we’re not building full cars anymore. We are building parts and we are still operating in that facility in south Oshawa.”
He notes the museum tells stories of not just General Motors, but from a diverse amount of automakers.
Johnston says many people locally don’t know much about their own downtown.
“There’s some people who have lived here all their lives, or have lived here for years, and they didn’t realize there was so much history underneath their noses,” he says, adding the museum takes it one step further.
“We’re not just going to tell you the story, we’re going to take you to where the story was.”
For more information about the Canadian Automotive Museum or for tickets, visit www.canadianautomotivemuseum.com. The museum is open five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, and tickets for children ages five and under are free.