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Getting into the sporting spirit at Parkwood

Two-day exhibit gives rare glimpse into everything sports at the historic mansion

A two-day exhibit is set to showcase the sporting side of Parkwood Estates including a glimpse at the rarely-filled swimming pool, the mansion’s bowling alley and squash court among other artifacts. (Photos courtesy of Parkwood Estate)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Many different historic veins of history run through the walls of Parkwood Estates, and now, visitors will get a rare chance to glimpse some of the more hidden aspects of the mansion’s connections to the world of sport.

As part of the museum’s 100th birthday celebration, the Sam McLaughlin Sportsman Experience will provide an in-depth look at all things sports at Parkwood and will allow visitors on Nov. 4 and 5 to view things usually kept away from the public eye.

Along with getting the rare chance to see the mansion’s indoor pool filled with water, visitors will get to see many other aspects of McLaughlin’s affinity for sports.

“It enlightens another whole aspect of the lifestyle of Parkwood (and) the lifestyle of being an auto baron,” says Samantha George, Parkwood’s curator.

And that enlightenment comes as the result of a little serendipity as the pool is filled due to a film crew using the mansion and needing it filled for a shot. It gave George a chance to perhaps answer a question many visitors ask when walking the halls at Parkwood.

“On tour people always ask us that question, when was it last filled? Have you seen it filled? That sort of thing. So we knew there was a popularity and an interest in it,” she says. “So we thought the pool can be a launching-off spot where we can take a look at the recreation wing in a whole different light.”

To compliment the sporting history that’s built into the infrastructure of the historic mansion, like the bowling alley and swimming pool, Parkwood staff have been busy pulling several pieces of sporting artifacts from storage, including the King’s Plate trophy that Parkwood Stables won three times. Along with that, attendees will get a chance to see the clothing the Parkwood Stables jockeys donned on race day as a uniform in the McLaughlin family colours of gold and aubergine will also be on display.

Visitors will also get a candid look at the recreational life of McLaughlin and his GM execs from many years ago.  Home movies showing McLaughlin and peers fishing at Cap Chat, his private 1,000 acre fishing camp in Gaspe, and GM execs playing tennis at the Parkwood tennis court (dismantled in the 1940s) will be on view.

And finally, viewers will get the rare chance to step onto the floors of the Parkwood squash court, something that hasn’t been allowed for nearly 20 years, giving people a glimpse of the view from the player’s perspective.

“We think it’s a little bit different, people who love Parkwood I think will love this hour glimpse into the life of the recreation wing and also Sam and his sporting pursuits,” George says.

Running for two days only on Nov. 4 and 5, the one-hour tour is $15 per person and will run each hour from noon until 4 p.m. both days. Preregistration is strongly encouraged and those interested can do so by calling 905-433-4311.