By David O. Hayward



The earliest Canadian use of a gas-powered automobile produced commercially in Canada was the LeRoy, which was built from 1899 to 1907 by the Good Brothers of Berlin [in 1916 the town became Kitchener], Ontario, which used a single-cylinder motor. Brothers Milton and Nelson Good were originally located on King Street in Waterloo, Ontario. They were unsuccessful with their first attempts at making an automobile, but they bought a used model Oldsmobile in Detroit, some months after the Olds had been launched in the Autumn/Fall of 1899, and had it removed to their new rented plant at King and water Streets in Berlin, Ontario. The Goods dismantled the car completely, realised that this was the car for them, and then had their friend lumber yard owner Jacob Kaufman make wooden patterns of the cylinder block, flywheel and other motor components. These were then sent off the to Shantz foundry in Preston, Ontario for casting. The motor when produced was located under the seat of this 1899-1900 prototype which was built under the auspices of the AMERICAN MOTOR CAR COMPANY, which ultimately became the LeROY MANUFACTURING COMPANY; builder of the LeRoy automobile which was built from 1902, as a very similar copy of the 1902 Curved-Dash Model R Oldsmobile. The example in the Canadian National Museum of Science & Technology shows a remarkable affinity to the 1903 Curved-Dash, with Cape Cart hood, spoked wheels, and the motor located in a box as per the Model R. The LeRoy was the first use of the Olds motor in a vehicle produced outside the U.S.A., and the second-hand 1899 Model became the first export of any Olds gasoline vehicle. The Canadian story does not end there, either. In August 1896 the prototype Olds Trap was tested and was able to achieve an amazing 25 m.p.h., which was witnessed and reported by a Reporter from the Lansing State Republican in their 12 August edition, which was picked-up by several other newspapers. Within less than a week, Olds’ achievement had spread to Canada, where horseless carriage enthusiast W.G. Walton of Hamilton, Ontario had written to his friend Charles King requesting more details of the Olds Trap. King had designed his own gasoline-powered vehicle, which was first tested in Detroit on March 6 1896, months before Olds’ Trap. This is the very first provable reference to any interest from Canada, and therefore must prove that Olds had to consider registering his Patent in the U.K. in order to protect his U.S. Patent in the British Empire. Further, Milton Beck, a Canadian was apparently employed by Olds in 1899, and is reputedly supposed to have designed the single-cylinder motor for the prototype Curved-Dash which was completed and tested by October 1900. Despite suggestions that registration in London did not necessarily automatically cover the Dominions, before 1902, it is suggested that this was in fact the case since the Australian system of registration did not start until 1904, with previously registration being made in each colony.

The first known Canadian Patent by Olds was # 75,223 for a Gas Motor, lodged by the Olds Motor Works, as assignee of the aforesaid Charles B. King, all of Detroit, lodged on 5 October 1899 and granted on 25 March 1902. It is difficult to relate this Canadian Patent to the U.S. ones, but U.S. Patent # 565,786 was for a Gas or Vapor Motor subscribed and sworn by Ransom Olds and Madison F. Bates 13 August 1895 and granted 27 October 1896 and also U.S. #679,263 for a Mixture and Controlling Device for a Gas Motor, which was applied-for by Olds 13 April 1899 and granted 23 July 1901. The fact that King, with a proven Canadian connection was the assignor of this Canadian Patent is suggested further confirms Olds’ intentions which are mentioned below.

Further, when Ransom Olds decided to exhibit a 1901 Curved-Dash at the New York Auto Show between November 2-9 1901, his Test Driver, Roy Chapin drove in a degree of publicity from Detroit to New York, with the intention of attracting sales. In fact, he persuaded the Captain of one of the Detroit-Walkerville, Ontario Steam Ferries to allow him to take the car over to Walkerville/Windsor, whereupon he drove around Windsor attracting attention and further publicity. Thus, it was said quite justifiably that the Olds was "internationally tested". However, May suggests that it was in fact Test Driver Theodore E. Barthel who carried-out this stunt in the summer of 1901. This amplifies the suggestion that Olds had the Canadian and other British markets in mind. This is confirmed by the subsequent importation into Canada from 1901 to 1904 of Curved-Dash models into Canada, although it is known that by August 1902 when an Advertisement appeared, the HYSLOP BROTHERS, Toronto were Selling Agents for Canada, and were still agents in 1903. In 1901, there was a proposal to set-up a Locomobile subsidiary in Canada, but nothing came of it. It is possible that this company was also intended to be an Olds agency as well, but the factory made other arrangements. However, the first Oldsmobile Curved-Dash known to have been imported into Canada was the thirtieth car produced after the fire, purchased in the spring of 1901 by a Richard Whittaker of Oil Springs, Ontario who had ordered the car after visiting the Olds Detroit factory: it apparently arrived by rail on 3 July 1901.

In 1904, before Ransom left the Olds Motor Works, the LeRoy company were in severe difficulties as they had moved to new premises in Louisa Street, Berlin [from 1915 called Kitchener] and they simply had a constant lack of capital and equipment to keep pace with the constant new developments. Berlin industrialist and promoter, Oscar Rumpel persuaded Ransom Olds himself to spend a day looking around the town and test a LeRoy, but any hopes for a formal arrangement with the Olds Motor Works did not materialise. However in 1904, after Ransom left the Olds Motor Works, the U.S. company started on an expansion program to build bigger and more modern cars for the 1905 Model year. It must have become clear that there was most definitely a market for Oldsmobiles in Canada, and so an agreement was reached between the O.M.W. and the PACKARD ELECTRIC COMPANY LIMITED of St. Catherines, Ontario which was a subsidiary of the Packard Electric Company of Warren, Ohio founded by brothers James W. and W.D. Packard, a cable manufacturer in 1889, [which was later acquired by G.M. Corporation]. The Packard Company produced Oldsmobiles under licence as against the unlicensed LeRoys [the direct reproduction of the Trap; the Curved-Dash Models must have stimulated Ransom and the OMW subsequently into patenting new ideas so as to best protect their investments from foreigners who might otherwise just exploit the designs with impunity], and several hundred were produced. However, assembly ceased in St. Catherines in 1907 just as the Olds ceased to be imported into the United Kingdom, and the newly-formed OLDSMOBILE COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED became a selling and servicing agency for imported Oldsmobiles at 80 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario. It is not yet known who actually owned this sales company, but it would have been "authorised" by the Olds Motor Works in any event. Given the evidence below, it is logical to suggest that it was owned by the same shareholders as the Packard company. The St. Catherines factory remained closed until 1909 when it was acquired by the REO Motor Car Company of Canada Limited: which is rather poignant.


PACKARD ELECTRIC COMPANY LIMITED was incorporated in August 1894 under the Ontario Provincial laws, as an amalgamation of the Packard lamp Company and the Dominion Electric Company of Montreal. The company purchased the property known as "Neelon’s Mill" [a former stone grist mill built in 1882] at the foot of Bond Street, St. Catherines, on the upper hydraulic race, alongside the old Welland Ship Canal which provided power through a water wheel. The company converted it into a factory for incandescent lamps, electrical meters, transformers and alternating motors. The demand for the goods grew with phenomenal rapidity, and a number of additions were made to the plant from time to time. In 1905, the manufacture of automobiles was added, the "Motor Car Department" devoted to this line being located in Mill Street: a brick structure of single storey height. The whole site was spread over three acres by 1907. By 1907, the president of the company was H.C. Potter, Jr., of Detroit, for several years Comptroller of the Pere Marquette Railroad, G.B. Morley was vice-president: The Standard, 1907.

The Packard Electric Company Limited thus holds the distinction of having the first fully equipped Canadian automobile factory. Canadian Machinery and Manufacturing News December 1905 stated that the main feature of interest centering about the motor car department was the machine shop, in which were found the newest and best designs of machine tools in their particular line. Three-quarters of the tools were the first of their kind in Canada, and in nearly all cases were special tools bought solely for the special work demanded of them.

The comprehensive array of equipment included: three Cincinnati milling machines; a Lodge & Shipley tool room lathe; a LeBlond Lathe; a Washburn drill grinder; a Could & Eberhart shaper; a Fellows shaper and others. The tools were belt-driven from line shafting powered by an electric motor of 35 h.p. A Crocker-Wheeler generator produced electricity. Castings were not made in the plant (there is no mention of foundry work) and possibly these were supplied by the Olds Motor Works, Lansing, Michigan.

The manufacture of Oldsmobiles continued until the end of the 1907 season. Canadian Machinery February 1908 stated that the Packard Electric Co. had stopped automobile production and that Oldsmobiles would henceforth be made at Toronto by the ‘Olds Mobile Co." (sic)." The reasons for discontinuing production in St. Catharine’s were presented in a letter from Packard Electric to the journal a month later. The American Oldsmobile had become too large and expensive to be successful in Canada. The Toronto operation referred to functioned only as a dealer for imported Olds products and the make was not made again in Canada until 1920. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is suggested that the Packard directors formed the Oldsmobile Canada sales company, with the full authority of the Olds Motor Works.

This marked the end of the Oldsmobile period for Packard Electric, and the plant of the automobile division remained inactive until 1909.

Records of the Packard Electric Co. show that on January 16 1909, the automobile department was apparently sold to the REO Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan. Ransom E. Olds had formed this company in 1904 after his departure from the Olds Motor Works. The old plant went back into production around April after having been closed "owing to trade depression". The Canadian branch of REO started out as the REO AUTOMOBILE COMPANY LIMITED, formed on December 10 1908 in Windsor, Ontario. The parent organization held 3,995 of the 4,000 $10 par shares. The move to St. Catharine’s became official on January 23 1909 when the company’s name was changed to the REO MOTOR CAR COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED. Capital stock was increased fivefold. $99,500 worth of stock (at par) was issued to Packard Electric in exchange for their complete automobile plant and a lump sum of $10,0000.

Manufacturing continued much as it had before. REO advertisements made no reference to Packard Electric, discounting notions that it was building cars for REO. Business was booming and a doubling of plant capacity was accomplished in late summer of 1912, from 600 to 1,200 per annum. A major promotional event for the Canadian branch off REO was a coast-to-coast drive by the Englishman Thomas W. Wilby in 1912. Wilby published a book about the expedition, A Motor Tour Through Canada in 1914.

REO followed the tradition set by Packard Electric in making extensive use of machine tools, since these were part of the plant as purchased. Components were fairly standardised and one example of this is the use of carriage bolts with standard thread that could be found in any hardware store. Some of the machinists employed at the REO factory later joined the McKINNON DASH AND METAL WORKS LIMITED, of St. Catharine’s, which was later to be a major supplier to General Motors of Canada and then absorbed by that company in 1929: see below. Production was alleged ended in 1913 and at this time many tools and pieces of equipment were simply abandoned. Reportedly one former company man outfitted his own home garage as a complete machine shop. However, it is likely that the company stopped producing cars in 1915, switching instead to war munitions, under the name of METAL DRAWING COMPANY LIMITED, located at the junction of Mill Street and Phelps Street. Packard Electric Company Limited turned their premises across the "Mill Race" to a war munitions plant as well: see below.REO production stopped in 1913 or 1915 in St. Catherines for at least two reasons. Production costs had become prohibitive, possibly since competition was becoming fierce in this period (Ford had just debugged his moving assembly lines in Michigan). The other reason was an attempt to save on weight by using a pressed fibre body, supplied by the CHATHAM CARRIAGE COMPANY [William Gray & Sons Limited]. Sadly this scheme turned into a nightmare as the panels could not be completely weatherproofed and moisture quickly caused distortion, and eventual disintegration [I think that this also applied to early Gray-Dort bodies as well]. The opening of a sales office in St. Catharine’s to handle REO distribution for Canada followed the end of production. This organization also reportedly established the first public garage in the city.The parent Packard plant in Michigan stopped automobile production in 1914 to build military trucks for the Canadian government. The St. Catharine’s plant was activated again in 1915 to produce shrapnel shells. REO’s Canadian head offices were moved to Walkerville in 1922 and later to Toronto (Leaside) in the former Durant factory then owned by Durant-Frontenac Motors Limited.

Were the Canadian Oldsmobiles identical to the U.S. models? A published photograph of touring cars look like the U.S. Model C of 1905 except that the radiator appears to be the shorter style used on the runabouts, which had one cylinder instead of the two of the ‘C. Only one cylinder motors appeared in these photos. Did this company begin the practice of producing Canadian variants from mixtures of U.S. components that the big three continued?


In 1888, Mr L.E. McKinnon assumed control of the McKinnon and Mitchell Hardware saddlery and wagon hardware business in St. Paul Street, St. Catherines, Ontario, formed 1878, and in 1900 moved the business to Ontario Street, which later became the site of the famous Axle Plant. The business was expanded and became "McKINNON DASH AND METAL WORK LIMITED", and in 1901 a malleable iron foundry was added, followed by a drop forge shop in 1905. W.W.1 saw saddlery and hardware supplied to the Canadian, British and French forces. In 1916, shell and fuse making began in a three-storey building erected on the site. In 1917, the company was reorganised under the name "McKINNON INDUSTRIES LIMITED", and the next year exploited the motoring skills learned in wartime to expand into automotive products, with the production of radiators and pioneering the production of differential and transmission gears in Canada. Because of the foundry and forge, it is assumed that all the gears and casings were produced on site. G.M. of Canada became its best customer, and in 1929 acquired the Company, which became the fourth Canadian Plant.


To introduce the Canadian McLaughlin-Buick history, we can trace the relocation of Robert McLaughlin’s McLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE COMPANY, to Oshawa, Ontario in 1876, which was a bustling town on the banks of Lake Ontario and also connected to the Canadian railway system, ideal for transportation when all roads were rutted, muddy or dusty. Brothers George and Sam McLaughlin were trained in the business and became partners in due course. In 1899, the McLaughlin plant was burned-down and with a C$50,000 loan from the City of Oshawa, the plant was rebuilt, and reopened in 1900. As part of the recovery from the fire, the previous firm was revamped as the McLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED, an Ontario-registered company.

In due course, the McLaughlins decided to investigate the possibilities of the new horseless carriage business, and R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin travelled down to an acquaintance in Jackson, Michigan, to acquire two cars, which were sent back to Oshawa for testing. In 1907, according to one version, Mr McLaughlin had an eventful meeting with a fellow Carriagemaker, W. C. Durant of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company at the Jackson Plant, Jackson, Michigan when Durant was making his headquarters there, rather than the oft-suggested Flint Buick plant venue, whilst visiting the Lewis Company in Jackson to acquire motors for an attempt to set-up automobile assembly in Oshawa. McLaughlin knew of Durant as the Durant-Dort Carriage Company had a manufacturing facility in Canada, the DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED, and thus gave Durant a degree of "respectability" in McLaughlin’s eyes. It was to protect the Canadian carriage industry that the 35% Import Duty was imposed from 4 June 1904 in the Budget Statement, to stop cheap U.S. imports of carriages and wagons being brought across the border. Sam McLaughlin bought a 2-cylinder Buick Model F allegedly from Durant’s Buick agent in Toronto, THE DOMINION AUTOMOBILE COMPANY LIMITED, and was so persuaded by its virtues that he thought that the Buick marque would be ideal for Canadian assembly: given that the first attempt at building a car was a failure, presumably Sam bought a Buick to try and copy some of Buicks’ best ideas, just as he had done when visiting the annual New York City Carriage Dealers’ Shows. Durant’s offer to supply Buick motors was not taken-up until the Lewis motors supplied turned-out to be unsuitable. Mr McLaughlin then reverted back to Durant and asked for help with the supply of a "Motorer" [Engineer] as the McLaughlin brothers intended to build their own bodies, with motor parts and castings being bought-in, but before production of the first cars was to proceed the McLaughlin Motorer fell ill and stymied further work. Responding to the request, Durant and two Executives made the journey to Oshawa instead, and after discussions, a contract was entered-into for 15 years whereby Durant would supply Buick Flint-built motors and the McLaughlin Company would build the rest of the car including the bodies.


There is no evidence that Durant had any financial interest in T.D.A.C., and initially the company sold Fords amongst others: the Canadian company may have simply been an arm’s length distributor. In fact the evidence suggests that Durant had no interest at all in the Company.

The history of this company goes back to the formation of the Canadian Motor Syndicate in Toronto in 1898. William Still then went on to form the Still Motor Company Limited who started operations in May 1899 at 710-724 Yonge Street, Toronto. The company ran out of money in 1900, and was re-organised as The Canadian Motors Limited at 710 Yonge Street, Toronto, though this company closed down in 1902. By 1903, the Canada Cycle & Motor Company leased the old premises at 710 Yonge Street for two years to produce little runabouts, bearing the name "Ivanhoe" as per Still’s 1899 machine with William Gray & Sons Limited body. The Canadian Motors Syndicate was reformed as The Canadian Motors Limited, and Alexander M. Thompson was the key man who linked these companies with D.A.C. as explained below.

The corporate records show that Dominion Automobile Company Limited was incorporated as a Dominion company on 8 August 1905, under the Companies Act 1902 and was headquartered at 146-154 Bay Street in Toronto, and wound-up by November 1934 lately handling Hupmobile, previously Distributors for Essex, Hudson, Peerless, and Republic Trucks. The company was incorporated as a Dominion Company, and immediately ran into trouble as a Mr T.P. Butler of the Dominion Motor Car Company Limited objected to the name in 1906. The Dominion Motor Car Company was incorporated in Quebec as it had its head office in Montreal, 4 April 1905. However, the lawyers for the Automobile Company stated that the earlier company traded locally in Montreal. In reply, the Car Company’s lawyers argued that although the Automobile Company had a large head office in Toronto, it also operated in Montreal. The counter to this was that the Automobile Company was a much grander affair than the paltry Car Company! There were branches not just in Montreal but also Winnipeg, Ottawa, London [Ontario], and Hamilton. The D.A.C. had a capital of $100,000, which it proposed to expand to $200,000 at an early date. The D.C.C. was practically a one-man company, whereas the D.A.C. had stocks of demonstration cars in every branch. The D.A.C. was incorporated with a $100,000 Share Capital comprised of 1,000 $100 Shares. The Capital was issued: Alexander Hector Beaton, Barrister-at-law, $6,000; Charles Lewis Wilson, Manager, $1,000; John McArthur, Manager, $1,000; James Barber, Agent, $1,000 and Charlotte Eveline Holland, Stenographer, $1,000. The company according to Cars of Canada sold U.S. Packard and Peerless, Canadian Ford, British Napier and French Clement-Bayard cars. There is no evidence at all that they were Buick agents so far.

This company became one of the country’s main dealers, with main premises at Bay and Temperance Streets, Toronto, and branches in Montreal and Winnipeg. In 1919 the address for postal purposes was 146-154 Bay Street, Toronto. The corporate records show that firstly the Capital remained at $100,000 and that 955 Shares had been taken up out of the 1,000 by then. The directors were: Noel Marshall, 58 King Street, Toronto, Alexander M. Thompson, the former manager of The Canadian Motors Limited, Vice-president and Managing Director, of 150 Bay Street, Toronto [in 1923 his address was 159 Glen Road, Toronto]; Noel C. Marshall, President, 58 King Street East, and James Glover, also of 58 King Street East. Edward Robb Alison was the Secretary and Treasurer. In 1920, the 58 King Street East addresses became 79 King Street East. By then the Company were distributors for Peerless and Hudson, though in the spring of 1920 they were Distributors for Hudson, Essex, Peerless and Republic Trucks.

In 1919/20 D.A.C. re-located to 625-629 Yonge Street, Toronto, as well as having premises at 131 King Street West, Hamilton, Ontario. In 1923 they were at 625-629 Yonge Street, still with an authorised capital of $100,000 divided into 1,000 $100 Shares. It is interesting to note that the McLaughlin Carriage Company Limited also had a Toronto office, though in a different location., went on to manage and then eventually own, becoming President, The Dominion Automobile Company Limited.


The McLAUGHLIN MOTOR CAR COMPANY LIMITED was formed in 1907 with R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin as President. The company was incorporated in the Province of Ontario on November 20 1907 with a capital of 5,000 shares valued at C$100 each. There were five directors: Robert ["The Governor"], George, and Sam McLaughlin plus Oliver Hezzlewood and O.E. Foster, owners of one share each. Early in 1908, Durant personally acquired 1,000 shares in trust for the Buick Company. Robert McLaughlin owned 2,650 shares on behalf of the McLaughlin Carriage Company Limited. Robert’s son-in-law J.B. McCulloch and Oliver Hezzlewood’s younger brother bought one share each. The remainder of the shares were set aside for future investors.

In addition to the names mentioned in the previous paragraph, there was also, in the background, another important personage that was a distinct link between W.C. Durant and Sam McLaughlin.

Margery Durant, W.C.D.’s daughter, married Canadian Dr Edwin Ruthven Campbell, Managing Director in 1905, when Margery was 18 and Dr. Campbell in reality 42. The bride’s father apparently gave a wedding gift of $150,000 of Durant-Dort Carriage Company stock! After Durant’s divorce and marriage the next morning to Catherine Lederer in New York on May 27 1908, Campbell gave up his medical practice to join Durant in New York to promote plans for the automobile industry.

In addition to the family relationship with Durant, Campbell was also a very close friend of Sam McLaughlin. Heather Robertson suggests that it might have been Campbell that persuaded Durant to leave his interest in the McLaughlin Motor company as a minority interest.

The first 100 pilot cars that were being made during 1907, to be called the McLaughlin "Model A", were scrapped when the hired Engineer Arthur Milbraith became severely ill with pleurisy. With the 1908 selling season in sight, Sam McLaughlin allegedly turned to WCD to ask for a loan of an Engineer. Instead Durant came himself and agreed to the McLaughlins having the 15-year rights to buy Buick engines and other parts on a cost-plus basis, using them in cars that the McLaughlins had adapted and built their own bodies [although it seems as though at least some chassis were bodied by others. Some of the machinery and parts were sold for the abortive Model QA though a lot of material was sold as scrap.

In 1908 the McLaughlin Company produced 154 cars of various models, though the very first Buick-based car was the McLaughlin Model F, built in December 1907 as a 1908 car, presumably using parts from the 5-passenger Flint Model F Touring of 1907 and 1908, which was offered by the U.S. company from 1906 to 1910. Although most of these 154 cars were Model Fs, the company also offered the 3-seat 1907-1908 Model 10 runabout which Flint produced from 1908 to 1910. The other 1908 Models were in theory the Model G roadster [aka runabout] using the F chassis, the 5-seat Touring Models D and 2-seat S Runabout, as well as the Model 5 Touring which was a 5-seater in the Flint line and a 7-seater in the McLaughlin line. However, the Carriage Company remained manufacturing horse-drawn vehicles, as well as being the selling agent for the horseless vehicles. McLaughlins then set up various branch offices all over Canada, including in Regina, Saskatchewan.

On September 17 1909, the capital of the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited was increased to C$1.2 million by the issue of 7,000 new shares at C$100 each additional to the previous 5,000. W.C. Durant bought 5,000 of these new shares in trust for Buick [6,000 total therefore], whilst the McLaughlin Carriage Company Limited acquired 2,350 shares to increase its holding to 5,000. The remaining stock remained unsold. Robert, George, and Sam McLaughlin bought six shares each, and the Hezzlewood brothers, Foster and McCulloch three shares each. Durant gave "the McLaughlins" 5,000 shares of Buick stock in exchange [but who held them?]. The value of the Carriage Company was inflated to C$1.2 million, and together the valuation of C$2.4 million was 3% of the paper value of General Motors Company. Durant thus exchanged $500,000-worth of Buick stock for $500,000 of McLaughlin stock on September 19, 1909. The Buick stock was then exchanged for G.M. stock and is how G.M. controlled almost half of the company.

Canadian Automotive Trade May 1932 stated that C. E. McTavish the new Sales Manager of General Motors of Canada, was born in Flesherton. "Mr. McTavish has been in transportation all his life, his father building carriages in Flesherton in the early days. His first contact with the automobile industry was during his work with the CONBOY CARRIAGE COMPANY when they built many of the first bodies for McLaughlin-Buicks on the introduction of that car in Canada". Flesherton is today a pretty village in the municipality of Grey Highlands, south central Ontario, roughly 70 miles north of Toronto. Prior to municipal restructuring, the area around Flesherton was known as Artemesia township, and was once described by the then Government of the Dominion of Canada as a "veritable garden of Eden" in its solicitation for emigrants to settle in this area. With the promise of 50 acres free, and 50 acres for 50¢ per acre, European settlers began arriving in the mid 1850s. By 1861 Artemesia had a population of 2,575. One of the first settlers was William K. Flesher who started a grist and saw mill on the Boyne River at what was then called Artemesia Corners, but which was re-named in his honour Flesher's corners, later Flesherton. He became Reeve of Artemesia, Warden of Grey County and, in 1872, Member of Parliament.

By 1911, the McLaughlin Carriage Company Limited had several depots and agents around Canada. These included branches in Toronto, Regina, and Winnipeg.



William "Billy" Crapo Durant was born in Boston, Massachusetts, 8 December 1861, the grandson of a Michigan Governor, Henry H. Crapo [Governor 1864-8] his mother being from the New Bedford area. His father was addicted to hard liquor and stock speculation, a trait that may have been passed-on to his son, though the son was later a public advocate of prohibition enforcement. Henry Crapo had travelled west to the town of Flint, Michigan in order to set-up a timber yard and buy up timberland, having accrued a fortune from whaling. The Durant family followed, and young Billy attended the Flint Grammar School. He showed natural talent for selling medicine, insurance, cigars, real estate and bicycles. One evening in 1884 he saw an attractive two-wheel horse-drawn cart on the streets of Flint, Michigan which had been invented a cart with "4-wheel riding qualities", and the next night took a train to Coldwater, Michigan to where the carts were made and bought the manufacturing rights as the inventor was about to go out of business. Durant talked his friend Josiah Dallas Dort into putting up a $1,000, Durant parted with $50 of his own money and borrowed another $1,450 to cover the $2,500 cost of buying the business and setting up a shop in Flint to final-assemble and display the road carts. In 1884, he formed the Flint Road Cart Company, and became basically a selling company. A Flint carriage-builder made the carts under contract for $8.00 and Durant and partner Dallas Dort sold them and delivered them for $12.50 each. By 1886, they had formed the Durant and Dort Carriage Company, with its own assembly plant which bought-in parts from nearby suppliers. In succeeding years Durant financed the company by subscribing a small minimum amount of stock himself, and talking stockholders and bankers into subscribing for the remainder.

By 1900, the stockholders had shares in a thriving business, which had by then become the DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY, producing 50,000 buggies, carts and carriages per year in Flint, fourteen other locations in the U.S. and one in Canada, some of which simply contracted their output to the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. This company was thus a major rival of the Flint Wagon Works run by their President, James H. Whiting, though these companies were also part of the Flint Board of Commerce, which also persuaded Durant to set-up the Mason Motor Company in Flint in later years. The F.W.W., President J.H. Whiting, acquired the Buick Motor Company from Scots-born David Dunbar Buick on 11 September 1903, and was moved to across the street from the F.W.W. The F.W.W. then sold the Buick company to Durant in November 1904, and this ultimately lead to the highly successful Buick Model 10 which enabled Durant to form General Motors on September 16 1908 however, the Durant-Dort Carriage Company still traded nevertheless.

On January 27 1905, a Flint legal firm petitioned the Ontario Provincial Secretary for a new company, DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED. Dallas Dort and his Secretary, Fred A. Aldridge signed various papers, but not apparently Durant. A George Greene was referred to as the firm’s "Representative for Canada". The D.-D.C.C. Limited had plans for the manufacturing and sales distribution of carriages in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, but not western Canada. No place of business was quoted in the corporation papers, just an address in Flint. However, given the high duty on imported carriages, it is felt that this was a short-term importation company that was superseded by an assembly company: see below. It was to protect the Canadian carriage industry that the 35% Import Duty was imposed from 4 June 1904 in the Budget Statement, to stop cheap U.S. imports of carriages and wagons being brought across the border. The Durant-Dort Carriage Company Limited, subsequently established a plant or "works" in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1907 and 1908, with no record of earlier or later in the directories that he saw. Sarnia is 150 miles from Flint, and on the Canadian National Rail Road from Flint to Port Huron and then by tunnel to Sarnia. The Durant-Dort Carriage Co. was located at 248 Christina St. North, Sarnia in a building that was previously used by the British American Can Company Ltd. and the Sutherland Fence Co. in 1904 and subsequently by the The Maclean Cream Separator Co. Ltd. in 1907. The Manager was the "Representative for Canada", the aforesaid George C. Greene, who boarded at the Colonial Hotel and who only appeared in the 1906 Sarnia City Directory. The index to the Sarnia Observer, the local paper, was checked and an article entitled "SARNIA TO HAVE CARRIAGE WORKS" was indexed as being in the November 24 1905 issue, however this issue was checked front to back and there was no sign of it. It is quite possible that Greene announced this carriage factory considerably before it ever got off the ground!

Apart from the partnership in the D.-D. Carriage Company, J. Dallas Dort seems to have been one of Durant’s close backers in other ventures involving the new automotive industry as well, and ultimately traded the Imperial Wheel Factory in Hamilton Avenue, Flint for Chevrolet Motor Company stock to give him the necessary equity rights to secure the moving of the Chevrolet company activities to Flint, and also bought Sterling stock on the basis that this company would make "sixes" for the Chevrolet Type C, the Little Six, and Light Six]. However, "Bill" Little moved from Chevrolets to Sterlings, and subsequently bought a majority equity holding in an early form of ‘management buyout’ in September ??? 1913 [basically, Little swapped his Chevrolet shares for Sterling shares, sometime between June and October 1913]. The Chevrolet and Durant-Dort Companies were closely connected at this stage: Dort was a stockholder, and elected Vice president and a director of Chevrolet Motor Company at the same time that Durant was President in late 1912 until he resigned in mid-may 1913, the reasons still being a mystery, all at the same time more-or-less. The Chevrolet General Manager, David M. Averill was on sabbatical from the Durant-Dort Company and was placed in charge of the Detroit Chevrolet operations. When Dort backed-out of his involvement in Chevrolet and resigned, he and Durant went their separate ways and by 1915, Durant had either sold or exchanged his Durant-Dort Company stock for General Motors’, increasing his personal holdings. This probably explains what happened to the Canadian carriage works: see below.


On 11 September 1903, James H. Whiting, the Flint Wagon Works’ President announced that the wagon works directors had bought the Buick company in Detroit for the Flint Wagon Works and had production transferred to a one-storey brick building across the street from the F.W.W. plant in West Kearsley Street, Flint, Michigan with Whiting and other F.W.W. management running the company for a few years. Durant then acquired the Buick Motor Company from Whiting in November 1904 after the F.W.W. prompted Durant of the rival Durant-Dort Carriage Company to become interested in the automobile. In 1906, Durant and the Flint Wagon Works’ Directors incorporated the Whiting Motor Car Company to assemble the what was to become the new 4-cylinder Buick Model 10 at the former Buick plant in Jackson, Michigan as part of his plan to increase production, though this plan never proceeded and Durant moved the Buick production back to Flint.

The former Buick assembly plant just mentioned was where the 1905-6 Buicks were built. Durant had first built this plant in Jackson, Michigan, as an Imperial Wheel plant that had been a subsidiary of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company for several years. It was available for use in 1905 for immediate production while Durant raised the money to build his Flint Buick plant north of the city at Hamilton’s Farm. It was the Buick’s Flint plant, located across the road from the F.W.W. that built the Buick motors from 1903 to 1908 or 1909. Arthur C. Mason was in charge of this motor plant, and then moved out to the new, larger motor plant when it was finished, located right next to the Buick assembly plant.

Durant then used the successful assembly and sales of the Buick 10, in addition to the 1907 Models F & G 2-cylinder Buicks, to finance his establishment of General Motors on September 16 1908. The old Buick motor plant in Flint was subsequently used by the G.M.-owned Randolph Truck company, then was sold by G.M. to the Sterling Motor Company in 1912, and then to Arthur Mason, for his Mason Motor Company which moved from its leased premises at the Flint Wagon Wagon Works to this former Buick plant.

The Mason Motor Company was incorporated Monday July 31 1911 but was not recorded by the Secretary of State until Thursday August 3, the legal date, by the Buick Motor Superintendent, Arthur C. Mason who had been with Buick since 1903 and two employees, with a Flint Banker, Mr Bishop joining as a director over a year later when he invested further monies. Later, Chevrolet Motor Company bought into the company by purchasing some of Mason stock [or Arthur Mason’s own?]. Though Mason was actually in control of his company with over 50% stock ownership in May 1914 together with Bishop, until the Chevrolet Motor Co bought Arthur Mason’s stock just over a year later in June 1915. Space was leased at the Flint Wagon Works, producing the first improved 1912 Whiting Model 22 motor for the Little Four in February 1912. Masons moved to their own Flint premises in the old Buick motor plant opposite the Little plant in February 1913. The Chevrolet Motor Company acquired all of the remaining stock that it did not own in Mason in June 1915, though it remained a wholly-owned subsidiary until January 1 1918, becoming the Motor & Axle Division of Chevrolet. Scripps-Booth was still a customer of the Motor & Axle Division since they were still owned by Chevrolet until a later in the year of 1918. In Canada, G.M. of C. sourced from McKinnon Industries instead.


In 1910, imported Oaklands were being sold by THE CENTRAL GARAGE COMPANY of 95-109 Water Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba Gas Power Age March 1910 p. 6. Central Garage Company, Limited was incorporated in Manitoba on November 10 1909. The corporation was cancelled on December 31 1914.

It is thought that Rapid Trucks were sold in Canada, and General Motors Truck were probably as well, though the McLaughlin company sold Randolph and Reliance trucks and thus were presumably importers under a deal with Durant. Elmore cars from Clyde, Ohio were sold in Canada. It is not yet known if any of the other marques bought by Durant including Scripps-Booth were sold in Canada or not.


The first General Motors Company subsidiary in Canada was GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED, a Dominion company incorporated under the 1st part of Chapter 79 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1906, known as the Companies Act. A firm of lawyers, Parker & Clark of Toronto, applied to the Secretary of State of Canada for a Charter for the above company on March 6 1912. The company was capitalised at C$10,000 divided into 100 Shares of C$100 each. The Letters Patent was then granted March 9 1912. The Directors and Shareholders were:






The Place of Business was quoted as the Town of Walkerville, but no other address was shown.

There is no evidence as yet that the company ever traded, and certainly by 1914, the company file had been closed.


There is no evidence yet as to whom were the Distributors of Cadillacs in Canada before 1913, though we know that they were imported. Cadillacs were sold by THE WINNIPEG GARAGE LIMITED, 310 Donald Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba Gas Power Age April 1910 p. 6. The Winnipeg Garage Ltd. was incorporated under the laws of Manitoba on March 19 1908. The registration was cancelled on August 19 1919.

Gas Power Age October 1912 reported on the "Winnipeg Automobile Trade" and commented that the "CADILLAC MOTOR SALES COMPANY" were "now well established in their new premises on Cumberland Avenue [Winnipeg]. A new extension has been constructed, which will give greater accommodation. The show windows attract general interest and the Cadillac 1913 will be shown to advantage to the many thousands who pass these handsome show windows daily". CADILLAC MOTOR SALES COMPANY, LIMITED was incorporated under the laws of Manitoba on August 29 1911. On July 22 1926 the corporation changed its name to Leonard & McLaughlin Motors Limited. The charter was cancelled on August 30, 1941. Thus this company can only date itself to summer 1911 at the earliest, unless the directors were trading previously as a partnership.

A company of similar name, CADILLAC MOTORS LIMITED was incorporated as a Dominion Company on 25 September 1913, and finally dissolved 23 January 1934. The Company was actually located in Montreal, Quebec, and probably 7 Park Avenue the 1917 address. We know that this Company was officially accredited as the Sales Manager of Cadillac Motor Company, 1545 Case Avenue, Detroit, wrote to the Under Secretary of State in Ottawa on 19 September 1913, confirming that the incorporation had their consent and approval. C.D.M. was incorporated with a Capital of $50,000, divided into 500 Shares of $100 each, of which 250 were taken and fully issued. The Directors were: Francis George Bush, Bookkeeper; Herbert William Jackson, Bookkeeper; George Robert Drennan, Clerk; Michael Joseph O’Brien, and George Francis Macnaughton, Student-at-Law, all of Montreal. Although the intervening corporate records are missing, we know that in 1918 Bush was still a Director and Secretary, at 145 St. James Street, Montreal. The other Directors were William Hyslop, President of 6 Scarth Road, Toronto; George MacWilliam, 46 Rowanwood Avenue, Toronto; J.E. Doane, 7 Park Avenue, Montreal; G.H. Montgomery, KC, 145 St. James Street. This raises the query as to whether the Hyslops had any connection with Cadillac and WCD before 1913 as they had for a time with Oldsmobiles.

On 2 February 1922, Cadillac Motors Limited sold its assets and goodwill to a new Company: CADILLAC CARS LIMITED, also of Toronto. The earlier company was owned by Hyslop Brothers Limited, Toronto, and all debts etc. were paid off by Hyslops. It would appear that Cadillac Cars Limited was a continuation of the existing sales arrangement: the reason for this is not clear but this is not to be confused with CADILLAC MOTOR COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED [see below] which was incorporated in 1923, and therefore there may have been pressure from the McLaughlins. We know that the old Company continued, but was not wound up as it evidently still owned a small amount of property. It also became apparent that when Cadillac Motors was incorporated, the Directors held one Share each, the other issued shares were owned by HYSLOP BROTHERS LIMITED.

In 1931 [?], General Motors of Canada acquired the remnants of Cadillac Motors from the Liquidators of Hyslop Brothers Limited, and R.S. McLaughlin became President for a short while. Finally, the Secretary of State in Ottawa complained that no Returns had been filed for years, and so G.M.’s lawyers had to arrange for back Returns to be completed.

HYSLOP BROTHERS LIMITED were [by May 1914] stating that they were "Canadian Distributors of Cadillac Automobiles" in their extensive three-storey building at the Corner of Shuter & Victoria Streets, Toronto, Ontario, "Manufacturers and Importers of Automobiles, Bicycles and Accessories", and in 1914 as well, GILMORE GARAGE were Cadillac and Overland "agents" at 250-2544 St. Paul Street, St. Catherines, Ontario. The same applied in 1915 as well. In 1926-7 the Hyslop address was 12-20 Shuter Street, Toronto. However, Cadillacs were in theory being imported through the Montreal office of their subsidiary company.


Heather Robertson suggests that the McLaughlins first met Durant in 1905, when the Durant-Dort Carriage Company were exhibiting at shows: Ken states that the Carriage Dealers’ Show was held in New York City the first week in October, annually. He suggests that Sam McLaughlin visited the U.S. Show in October 1904 or 1905, and may have done so in earlier years to become acquainted with new ideas. Robertson later mentions that the McLaughlins arranged a twelve-month loan of C$52,935.25 from Canada’s Standard Bank to cover a loan of C$50,000 to Durant, for which Durant was to give his own note secured by stock certificates in the "Durant & Dort Carriage Company" [which must have been the Flint company]; he was also to give 500 shares in G.M. Company stock to be placed with the Standard Bank as security for the loan. On September 30 1910, Robert McLaughlin exercised an option to purchase 23 shares of G.M. stock for $100 each. After Durant resigned on November 11 1910, to make way for the bankers’ nominees, eleven G.M. directors resigned including Sam McLaughlin, who had been appointed only in May 1910!


Whiting had a known distributor in the HAMILTON MACHINERY COMPANY LIMITED of Hamilton, Ontario.

The earliest known [so far] CANADIAN advertisement for Little and Chevrolet for that matter, was in the Winnipeg Tribune, 22 March 1913, p.9 which also showed that the Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited had a dealership at 81 Water Street, Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED "General Offices and Salesrooms Portage Avenue East, were Agents for Alco, Locomobile, Wolseley, Hudson, Chevrolet, Little, and Detroit Electric. These were listed under "AUTOMOBILES and ACCESSORIES" which shows that there were specialist sections in the main provincial newspapers. The Canadian Motor Company was also mentioned in Motor Age December 26 1912. This was an announcement that this company had picked up the Little agency. There was no mention of any Chevrolet agency because the Chevrolet Type C car was not available yet for delivery before March 1913 with perhaps the first few cars used for auto show displays for January and February of 1913. Gas Power Age October 1912 states that The Canadian Motor Company was a C$500,000 organisation and successor to the Fort Rouge garage and Detroit Electric businesses. The company was composed of Robert Walter Paterson, John Alexander Machray, John Christie Hicks, Frederick James Sharpe, Edward Stanley Sherwood [Managing Director], and "will" control the agencies of Locomobile, Wolseley, Hudson, Cutting, and Cameron automobiles, and commercial vehicles, and Detroit Electrics. There were to be three garages: The Fort Rouge Garage on Corydon Avenue, City garage on Portage Avenue east, and electric service station next to the then new Free Press Building on Carlton Street. The City garage was to have the general offices of the company on the ground floor, for sales and management, the rest being for storage. However, Henderson’s Directory for 1913 carried an Advertisement for The Canadian Motor Company Limited saying that amongst others they were "Distributing Agents" for Little with no mention of Chevrolet. Then in 1914’s issue, there was no reference to Little or Chevrolet! Had they been dropped?

Ken comments: "I would say the order of events were: October 1912, the C.M.C. was organised. In November-December 1912 they signed up as Little agents. They then visited the Republic Motor car display in Montreal or New York City in January 1913 and signed up for a Chevrolet agency sometime in January-March 1913 and took delivery of their first Type C demonstrator about April 1913. This company was probably only in business a few years and folded with Breens taking over the Chevrolet distributorship by 1915 [see below].

Little also had a distributor in "J.C. COLLETTE LIMITED" of Montreal. Little and Chevrolet were exhibited at the Montreal Motor Show in January 1913. There were several reports in the Flint papers of taking test-drives into Canada during 1912-13. It would be helpful to know who exhibited these first Chevrolets…was it Collette Limited? It seems that one Monsieur J.C. Collette owned COLLETTE LIMITED. They were at 143/145 St. Andre Street, Montreal, and automobile agent, in 1913-1914 at least. Collette could have sold Chevrolets as well: they advertised in the June 1 1912 Flint Daily Journal. The 1913 Toronto Show was held at the Armouries in downtown Toronto. The centre photo in Cars of Canada was apparently of the 1913 Show!

Other Chevrolet dealers in Ken’s database are VOELTZ & BOEHN of Toronto, as per 1915 Motor Age April 8. The Toronto company were pre-490 and would therefore have sold Model H’s.

In 1915 Durant announced the Model 490 which sold at U.S.$490.


The Flint Daily Journal 22 July 1915, stated "CHEVROLET PLANS TORONTO FACTORY". It was said that "an automobile factory employing 500 men and large enough to supply the demand in Canadian territory is to be built this year in Toronto by the Chevrolet Motor Company. The announcement was made in Toronto recently by W.C. Durant, president, and A.B.C. Hardy of Chevrolet". Hardy in a statement in Toronto was saying that "it was to be a Canadian company purely and simply, making Canadian cars for Canadian people. The plant will call for the employment of about 500 men and we will begin operations as soon as possible. The name of the company will be the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited and we will have a capital of $500,000. We expect the output of the plant will be 15,000 cars in the first year. Our representatives have gone all over Canada to pick out a suitable place to locate and we have come to the conclusion that Toronto is the place. The personnel of the directors has not yet been named, but Thomas Houghton, superintendent of the Dominion carriage works, will be the production manager. None of the stock will be offered for sale. The name of the car will be the "490". It will be of a touring type, five –passenger, and will have a valve-in-head motor. The car sells for $490 in the States, but it will be up to the directors what price they will receive for it here". In the end, the price was C$650 f.o.b. Oshawa.

Hetaher Robertson claims in her book that the McLaughlins acquired motors from Mason [see above]. Ken believes that this was possible - in the 1913-4 period, for Buick-based McLaughlins as Mason had extra capacity and sold motors to a few other manufactures. As Arthur Mason was in charge of the Buick motor plant that shipped Buick motors to Oshawa, he must have been well known by Sam. In addition, Arthur Mason designed the 490 motor, and so it is queried whether the McLaughlins imported the first 490 units directly from Mason’s plant.

The premises to be used by Durant for the assembly of the Chevrolet 490 were to be the Dominion C.C. in Toronto. The DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED, was located at the Corner of Perth and Kingsley Avenues, West Toronto, Ontario, [on the southwest corner of Kingsley Avenue, West Toronto, President Henry Horsman].

The Dominion Carriage Company Limited was incorporated 16 July 1906, which suggests that it replaced the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Limited. Details of the Company incorporation papers from the Ontario Archives show:

The initial Directors were:








J DALLAS DORT, $40,000







W.H. WEIR $2,000

Henry Horseman apparently earned $2,700 per year whilst his staff drew between $180 [Office Boy?] and $800. Dominion Carriage Company had an office and showroom ["carriage repository"] at 141 King Street East, Toronto, which was a very high rent area even in 1909, in downtown Toronto, and interestingly in the same street as Oldsmobile Company of Canada Limited! By 1925, Vauxhall Motors Limited had an HQ at 188 King Street, West, Toronto, but may have been in 1921: Canadian Motorist August 1921 stated that R.S. Dyball, Vauxhall’s representative, had appointed A.B. Garrow, factory distributor for Canada with showrooms and headquarters "in Toronto". It was stated that the company expected to build its cars for the "Sis-Atlantic" in Toronto.

Nash was a Director/Shareholder until, say, 22 October 1912, and was succeeded by DAVID M. AVERILL of Flint, who was a Director with Dort and others until the company was wound-up. At the Annual Meeting on 22 October 1912, one THOMAS E. HOUGHTON was appointed Director and Shareholder, his address being 387 Perth Avenue, Toronto. The following year he had moved to 310 Pacific Avenue, Toronto. However, in 1915 he had moved to North Tarrytown, New York. The Toronto Directories state that A.G. Howse was the Vice-president of the D.C.C., and was based in London, Ontario, which suggests that Durant had another operation in London: was this the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Limited, or another company?

The Company was dissolved in 1917. However, a letter in that year stated that the Dominion Carriage Company sold their Business and Factory "in the year 1915" to the "Chevrolet Motor Company", who in turn sold to the Flint Varnish & Color Works, another Durant company: however, this was not the Flint-based company but the FLINT VARNISH & COLOR WORKS OF CANADA LIMITED who took over the Dominion works, and were still trading in 1924, "of Toronto". This Canadian company was a subsidiary, incorporated in Ontario, of the Flint, Michigan company. Flint Varnish & Color Works of Canada Limited were ultimately licensed by DuPont Nemours and Co. to produce and sell the Duco paint for G.M. of Canada at the same time as its first use in the U.S. The company had apparently changed its name to FLINT PAINT & VARNISH LIMITED by 1927.However, it appears from a 28 March 1919 Memorandum that the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited and the McLaughlin Motor Company Limited used paint and varnish from THE GLINDEN VARNISH COMPANY LIMITED of Toronto!

The Deeds Register at the City of Toronto shows the following interesting information about the D.C.C. Building:









This ties in Durant at last with the property, although his name is not associated with the company!!

Ken says "I wonder if Durant or Chevrolet had stock in this company in late 1915? I bet the Toronto plant was used as "Capital paid in with property" rather like Chevrolet did with the ex -Imperial Wheel plant with the new Monroe company in late 1915. Durant personally owned the plant and property for almost two years from 1 October 1915 to 1 September 1917. This is what happened when Durant purchased the Flint Wagon Works in September 1911, but then turned around and sold it to the Little Motor Car Co. He then had to get his wife Catherine’s signature on the selling document. The difference is that Chevrolet Motor Co. of Canada Limited never owned this property so they must had leased it from Durant".

Heather Robertson claims that the first involvement with Chevrolet by the McLaughlins was on January 8 1912 when Sam purchased 200 shares of Chevrolet stock from Durant for C$19,400, Sam having apparently seen the new "Classic Six at the New York City auto show in January. During 1915, Sam McLaughlin increased his personal G.M. stock acquisitions through June". Ken responds that the 1914 Chevrolet Annual Report dated December 31 1914 shows no McLaughlin stockholders. However the 1915 Annual Report dated December 31 1915 lists both C.W. and R.S. McLaughlin at 200 shares each. The Type C Six [not Classic Six] was shown at N.Y.C. Show in January 1913. This raises queries as to what did in fact happen: Ms Robertson has evidently seen the financial notebooks at Parkwood that relate to Sam’s purchases. Given that in 1920 Durant acknowledged that he held as trustee G.M. stock for both Sam and George McLaughlin, could it be that the Chevrolet acquisitions were between Durant and the McLaughlins, with the consequence that they were not officially recorded?

Ken adds "Regarding the Chevrolet Motor Company file, the lawyer Richardson’s letter makes sense that the Toronto plant was active through the end of 1915 and filed a Annual Report for December 31 1915. Once the Oshawa plant was organised by mid 1916, the Toronto plant was not required and sold to Flint Varnish. This explains why the plant wasn't sold earlier in 1915. Of course, this surplus plant could have been placed on the market in late 1915 and it took about two years to find a seller".

The Flint Daily Journal 21 May 1913 stated that on that day the Durant-Dort Carriage Company in Flint sold a 4/5ths interest in the Flint Varnish Works to a syndicate of interests organised by A.H. Goss of Detroit. The DDC retained approximately 1/5th interest in the company. The F.V.W. directors included several present men, plus A.H. Goss and H. Morgan of Detroit together with W.W. Mountain of Flint, General Manager, who had run the company for the previous four years. The F.V.W .was formed in 1901 as a department of the D.C.C. where varnishes for carriages and wagons made by the company were made. In 1909 it was incorporated for the purpose of extending into a general manufacturing business and selling its products to outside concerns. In 1910 a three-story building was added and the company began the manufacture of paints in addition to varnishes. Since then the business had grown constantly and in 1912 instead of dealing through jobbers, big agencies were established in many of the larger cities of the US. It secured as customers more than 43 railroads in addition to innumerable wholesalers of paints and varnishes.

Ken says that "Arnold Goss was an old friend of Durant from the Buick days. This sell off of this going concern in mid May 1913 might be the key behind the Durant-Dort split. It was at the regular DDC Director meeting on May 20 1913 that Durant made the resolution to sell its stock in the Varnish Work to Goss. However "The motion was unanimously carried and the President [Dort] declared the Resolution adopted". This was the last DDC meeting Durant attended. Then, 4 days later, Dort called a Special Directors’ Meeting to discuss the negotiation to be made with Durant for DDC shares he owned in exchange for Chevrolet and G.M. stock DDC owned. This is something I have pondered for the last ten years! ".

Ken comments: "The Automobile June 24 1915 announced "CANADIAN PLANT FOR CHEVROLET" which was "about to establish plant" "'probably in Toronto". Tom Houghton was appointed Canadian representative, and the Plant was expected to build 15,000 cars per year. Houghton was of course already a Director of the Dominion Carriage Company as just mentioned.

The Automobile 9 September 1915 stated that Chevrolet had purchased a building at Toronto, and would install equipment and machinery.

The Flint Daily Journal, September 29 1915, announced Hardy’s press release on the incorporation of the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware, and stated that there were plants in Flint, N.Y.C., Tarrytown, Toronto, Canada, St. Louis, and Oakland.

The Automobile October 7 1915 issue stated that Plants "….in New York, NY; Tarrytown, NY, and Toronto, Canada, are already in operation, manufacturing cars which they will do in addition to assembly. The one in Oakland and St. Louis, will open soon".

Rolland Jerry of Toronto confirms that the Dominion Carriage Company were located at Perth Avenue [formerly Churchill Avenue] and Addison Road, just over the border in Toronto Junction from Toronto City. A 1915 City Fire Map shows that the location was in a old mill building, and was served by a siding directly off the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

It appears that Canadian Machinery and Manufacturing News also carried the same releases, and stated that the [Toronto] plant was to produce 15,000 cars, with the McLaughlin’s statement that Oshawa was being readied for Chevrolet production. Rolland Jerry has information from the Grandfather and Great-uncle of a friend of his who worked in the D.C.C. The suggestion is that Chevrolet 490 Tourer bodies were built in a nearby plant in Osler Avenue, West Toronto Junction. The site was a complex of buildings a block or so long, under the name of the WATT MILLING & FEED COMPANY LIMITED, though a large part of the operation consisted of a planing mill for finished trim, woodwork, doors, etc.

It is believed that as the D.C.C. and Watt Mill were a very short distance away from each other, the Watt company acted as sub-contractors to the D.C.C. in producing bodies. The fire map shows the D.C.C. was a sizeable property on several levels, with a warehouse at the rear. The planing mill itself was apparently a hive of activity in 1915: there were a number of workers employed. The bodies had to be lowered to street level, presumably by an elevator, as the mill occupied two upper floors in two adjoining buildings. If this is correct, as it seems to be, then the open style bodies were dressed and semi-finished, and then wheeled the short distance to the D.C.C. The existence of this Toronto operation is confirmed, of course, by the sale of the D.C.C. to the Chevrolet Motors Company Limited, and then by a reference in the 1916 Canadian Chevrolet Parts List, which refers to "Oshawa" as well as "Toronto".

The popular story has it that as a result of the discussions, W.C. Durant and Sam McLaughlin agreed that the McLaughlins themselves would build the Chevrolet at Oshawa, which meant that they had to make room for the new addition to the McLaughlin line. However, the evidence from the incorporation papers from the Canadian National Archives should be compared with Heather Robertson’s comments.

The CHEVROLET MOTOR COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED was incorporated by Letters Patent from the Secretary of State of Canada was granted a Charter as a Dominion company, dated September 23 and recorded September 24 1915. The Provisional Directors were:

Harry Horseman, Manufacturer

George Edmund Wooldridge, Accountant

George Edgar McCann, Arthur Ernest Langman and Bernard Patrick Fitzpatrick, Solicitors, all of the City of Toronto. The chief place of business was the City of Toronto. Capital Stock was to be $500,000 with $400,00 Common and $100,000 preference stock. Amount of stock subscribed was $100 each for only $500 paid in capital.



R.S. McLAUGHLIN, Director and Treasurer.

The first application for incorporation was signed and submitted to Ottawa on September 21 1915, but returned on the 22nd with a note that some explanation of the name of the company should be made and a Consent should be filed. The application was resubmitted on the 23rd with the reply that the name of the Company is the name of a Company incorporated in the State of New York which has been doing business there for seven or eight years. This time it was accepted.

On November 2, 1915 after the McLaughlins bought in to this company, its lawyer asked the Secretary of State that since "The Company is being turned over to do business at Oshawa, and the large shareholders are manufacturers here," if it was possible the present charter could be surrendered and a new one taken out in order to remove the objectionable features. The Under Secretary of State replied that there was no provision for the surrender of a charter but it could be returned and cancelled if there are no outstanding liabilities, and then the same name could be used again. However, it was recommended that Amendments could now be made in charters. It seems the charter was only amended twice in March 24, 1917 when the capital stock was increased to $1,500,00 and in December 1918 when the number of Directors were increased from 5 to 7.

The Charter was finally surrendered with no liabilities and accepted by the Secretary of State and fixed the date of October 20 1924 as the date which the company was dissolved.

However, note that the "Chevrolet" trademark was registered in Canada on 5 November 1914, under application number 0083444, but by the Chevrolet Motor Company, a Michigan Corporation, of Flint, and not by the Canadian subsidiary.Heather Robertson claims that Sam McLaughlin took a train for N.Y.C. on September 17 1915, the day after his dividend was awarded [though was this truly as a result of the dividend-see below- or a "reward", or something else] to try and meet Durant to ask for a deal to assemble Chevrolets in Canada. This was the same day that the papers announced Durant was back in control after the annual G.M. meeting in N.Y.C. on the 16th. The First press announcement was however on November 1st. The Dominion incorporation file shows the Chevrolet company was incorporated on September 23 1915, but preparations must have been going on since August at least. Unless the incorporation papers say otherwise, it is theorised that Durant had intended to establish a Chevrolet assembly operation in the former Dominion premises, and then the McLaughlins stirred into action to offer the use of the Oshawa premises instead. This would not have been possible until Durant had taken over control of General Motors Company as G.M.C owned a substantial percentage of the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited: see below. Ms Robertson claims that after the September 16 1915 G.M. meeting, Sam McLaughlin’s G.M. stock, 2,000 shares, paid out an instant $100,000 when a Dividend was declared of $50 on the share. Heather Robertson states that Sam had personally increased his G.M. stock in the first six months of 1915 from $76,995 to $208,479, with possibly the last 100 Shares acquired July 6. However, Ken has pointed out that the McLaughlins only had 400 Chevrolet shares in 1915, and suggests that Dr Campbell (not Durant) could have acted as Trustee of these 400 Chevrolet shares and did not record them until 1915. It appears this was a secret back in 1912 that Sam did not want the bankers behind G.M. to know he was backing Durant. Of course, Mott had just as high a profile as Sam, and Mott had his name recorded as a stockholder. At the end of 1911 Durant had only 1 share of Chevrolet in his name with only 126 shares at end of 1912, while Campbell had 1,978 Chevrolet shares [1911] and 1,584 [1912].

The key to the answer is as described by Sam McLaughlin himself: Sam stated in 1954 that [around September 17/18] he went firstly to the auto races at Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., auto races; these were rained off and so Sam lunched instead with Dr Edwin Campbell [Margery Durant’s husband, i.e. Durant’s son-in-law] in Pabst. He found himself lunching not only with Campbell, but also Durant and Chevrolet stockholder Nathan Hofheimer: Durant’s presence is not surprising given the family connection with Campbell. It was allegedly Hofheimer that suggested that Durant offer the Chevrolet operation to the McLaughlins. The problems were that this might affect the Buick contract, and also meant the end of the carriage business. My answer to the first is that as Sam knew full well, with G.M. under control, the Buick contract was safe, and secondly that the carriage business had no future, two years after Canada had entered the Great War, the first war of mechanisation: 1915 was the first year for the McLaughlin trucks and also the Red Cross ambulances which were similar to the Buick light delivery truck, and the predecessor of the Flint-built Model 16AA Ambulance. Sam admitted in the interview that he thought the carriages had a few more years at most of profit. What he did not mention was that G.M. Company had acquired nearly half of the Oshawa operation in 1909, and not 1914 as Ms. Robertson suggests. Ken has pointed out though that in 1915 Sam upset Buick/G.M./Nash/Chrysler by dropping the "Buick" name in Canada off his cars [calling them "McLaughlins"], which might be why he was concerned about losing the Buick deal. Of course the McLaughlins also sold electric vehicles, and launched their light six that had a Northway motor, not a Buick.

Ken suggests, with authority that this was indeed a surprise meeting with Durant, who had every intention of making a go of the Toronto operation, having $85,000 of his own money tied up in this venture that he could have purchased more Chevrolet stock with otherwise. It does raise a question as to why the McLaughlins made no approach in the preceding months when the Press blasted out about the new Toronto activities; this could give a false impression that the McLaughlins had become involved with Durant much earlier than the Fall and were involved in a greater plan involving G.M. The proof that Ken is correct is that Sam stated in 1954 that when the offer was made at the fateful luncheon, he had to confer with his father, The Governor, since this meant closing the traditional and long-established carriage-making at last. It would therefore seem that Sam was indeed swung-over by the success of Durant and the du Pont investors in G.M., and the establishment in fact of the Toronto plant. However this in turn required abandoning a well-established business, traditions, and due deference to the most senior McLaughlin.

Sam asked apparently for two days to think things over, and G.M.’s lawyer, J.T. Smith, that assembly of Chevrolets would not prejudice the Buick contract. The Governor was not strictly speaking required to assent to the closure and sale of the carriage business, but Sam and George did so nevertheless: the answer was in the affirmative. With J.B. Tudhope agreeing to buy out the carriage and sleigh business [see below], Robert McLaughlin wrote November 4 to his agents notifying them of the switch to internal combustion vehicles. This would seem to tie-in with the November 1 press announcement. Historical Sketches of Oshawa, by T.E. Kaiser, published in Oshawa in 1921 states that the decision to sell the McLaughlin carriage business to Carriage Factories Limited of Brockville, resulted in a portion of the plant being made available for Chevrolet assembly. Allegedly after the decision was taken in October 1915, on November 30, less than six weeks after the decision, the last car load of carriage materials left Oshawa for Brockville. It then took six weeks to equip the plant, and before Christmas of 1916, over 6,000 Chevrolets had been completed and shipped. This seems to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the "1915" production was in fact achieved at Toronto and not at Oshawa. This conclusion has been reached by independent assessments before this information came to light. The "official" G.M. of Canada production figures state that 313 cars were assembled in December 1915, and yet this total does not tie in with the official report to Chevrolet of 347 units. Given the delay in setting up the line in Oshawa'’ old carriage factory, is it correct to suggest that 313 cars were produced by Toronto, and 34 in Oshawa in December, and these were passed off subsequently as "Oshawa" cars? Given the body building operation fully set-up, it is likely that the 34 units had bodies produced in Toronto, and perhaps a number more whilst Oshawa geared-up so as to allow dealers to have stocks available. The next month, January 1916, 625 units were built, which does seem to confirm that assistance from Toronto in the first few days of the new month would have been handy.

"Automobile Journal November 10 1915 had an announcement as follows:


The plant of the McLaughlin Carriage Works at Oshawa, Ca., has been secured as a Canadian assembling plant for the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada, which has a plant in west Toronto. They will be able to assemble 20,000 cars in Canada during the next year. The McLaughlins have a controlling interest in the McLaughlin Motor Car Company, Ltd., which assembles and markets the Canadian Buick. General Motors owns the remaining stock in the company."

Durant offered the McLaughlins the opportunity to purchase more Chevrolet shares for $75, which traded shortly afterwards at $97. This was because Durant had organised a syndicate to boost the price of Chevrolet stock. The N.Y. Syndicate was in fact dated February 18 1916. Sam and George McLaughlin contributed $100,000 each to this syndicate, joined by Durant’s business colleagues and the du Ponts who had collectively catapulted Durant back into G.M. Heather Robertson suggests that as the McLaughlins were already producing Buicks, and were in the process of assembling Chevrolets, they may have inspired Durant’s new scheme to use Chevrolet stock to buy back into G.M.

By 1915 General Motors Company owned only 5% of the automobile market, a sharp decrease from their respected 22% in 1910. From 1914-1915 Durant had sold 15,000 cars and the net profit for the Chevrolet Motor Company reached $1,300,000. On September 17 1915 the newspapers announced that W.C. Durant was back in control after the annual G.M. meeting in N.Y.C. on the 16th. With Durant as only a member of the Board of Trustees and not in direct control, the General Motors Company faltered. After the ASfter the AAAa1October 1 1915 the voting trust that had been in control of General Motors expired. Durant owned enough stock to control a majority of the Board of Trustees. With his new control he elected Pierre du Pont as chairman of the Board. On January 25 1916 Durant offered an exchange of every five shares of his Chevrolet Company for one share of General Motors stock. By the middle of May 1916 Durant and his associates including the du Ponts owned a total of 450,000 of the 768,733 General Motors stock.

On May 30 1916, the then-current President of the General Motors Company, Charles W. Nash, resigned and William Crapo Durant replaced him as President. The $80 million Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware owned 54% of the $60 million General Motors Company of New Jersey in May 1916. Durant then turned the old Company into an operational corporation registered in Delaware. The GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION was incorporated in Delaware on October 13, 1916, with an increased capital of $100 million.

With the completion of the takeover of G.M. by Chevrolet, the McLaughlin brothers received a payout of $20,196.88 on their $100,000 investments each!


After Durant had disposed of all of his interest in Durant-Dort Carriage Company, the Dominion Carriage Company Limited became an asset-less company, and the company was applied to be dissolved by surrender of the Letters Patent on August 15 1917. In addition, there was also as mentioned above, the previous DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED, a subsidiary, of the U.S. company of Sarnia, Ontario which only lasted a short time.

Durant and his mother were reportedly bought out (their DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY stock) mostly by trading Chevrolet stock and Highland Park property $50,000 mortgage in late 1914 or early 1915. However, at the December 28 1914 DURANT-DORT Stockholders meeting, trustee Dort was authorised to sell off the stock of the GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY, DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED, PINE BLUFF SPOKE CO., FLINT VARNISH WORKS or CHEVROLET MOTOR CO. all or in part - for cash or DURANT-DORT stock - to rid themselves of these left over business and stock holdings [and make the break from Durant] so they could focus on its new Dort automotive business.

Ken adds "While I have never seen it in print, Durant must have traded the last of his and mother's DURANT-DORT stock for the Dominion Carriage Company Limited company in early to mid 1915? As you remember, there was a parting of the ways in May 1913 between Durant and Dort, with Dort trying to buy out his inactive, ex-partner out for the next 1½ years

Was the sale in fact in 1916 with the Chevrolet syndication agreement? I would have expected to see a note of the sale earlier than 1917 if Durant had bought the assets in the summer of 1915? It had to be in mid-1915! Remember the January 3 1917 letter to the Provincial Secretary from the "Lawyer" Richardson concerning why the Dominion Carriage Company Limited did not file a December 31 1916 Annual Report with the Province. Perhaps D.C.C. didn't file a December 31 1915 Annual Report either, and the Provincial Secretary was just following up on why no Annual Report had been files for the years 1915 and 1916? If a 1915 Annual Report was filed, it most likely indicated the company was not active on December 31 1915. I think it was common practice when land, plant, and assets were sold, but not the franchise, that the franchise was sometimes held active for a number of years because of possible or pending legal action against the company. At least this was the case of the Little Motor Car Co. that was sold to Chevrolet in June 1913, but its franchise wasn't dissolved nor surrendered its State Charter until 1919. Am I sounding like a lawyer yet?".

Ken adds "As you know, its authorised capital of $250,000 has nothing to do with a company’s true value or the value/price of its stock. Even though the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, Flint, carried D.C.C. stock on its books for 1914 at $68,380, I bet it was worth a lot less when the company was "liquidated" in 1915.

One hint I have found from the D.-D. report dated September 10 1913, is that D.C.C. net earnings was about 20% of its [paid-in] capital. No dividend was paid out that year because the "company obligations are quite large." It was noted that D.C.C. built and sold between 5,000 to 6,000 carriages that year but noted that its "paid-in capital is hardly commensurate" with its business volume. I am not sure what the average prices of a carriage sold for in 1913, but let’s say it was $84. That would give a sales dollar volume of [5,000 x $84= $420,000] Therefore profit based on cost of sales would be [$20,000 /$400,000 =5%. This was the slim profit margin for 1913 that was a good trade year, with the market falling on its face in 1914 when the War started.

With the so called large company obligations [liabilities] carried over to 1914-5 and a drop in sales volume, let’s say in half to only $200,000, I would think D.-D. book investment of some $68,380 at the end of 1914 was worth almost nothing by the Fall of 1915? Dort probably was happy to let Durant try and make a go with the D.C.C. property and plant [just to save jobs there] that Chevrolet got the Toronto facilities "for free". Durant certainly was a deal maker and had a good history of turning a plant around!

The date of the Toronto announcement report was July 22 1915. It must have been reported in the Toronto newspaper too! It seems to me Tom Houghton later worked for Chevrolet - you say he was living in N. Tarrytown in 1916? but I think he ended up as a plant manager in Flint too?

T.E. Houghton was the Flint Factory Manager of the Assembly plant in 1919 while Hohensee had the same position at Tarrytown. Don't remember if Houghton stayed with Chevrolet or bailed out to Durant Motors?

I noticed on September 29 1915 Durant claimed the Toronto plant was "active" but perhaps they were just cleaning out the stock of carriages while setting up 490 assembly - but who knows - perhaps a few hundred 490's were built in this Toronto plant [have Toronto on the nameplate] before all the equipment was transferred over to Oshawa? This might explain how Oshawa was able to start assembly and build over 300 490's in December 1915, only a month or so after clearing out the carriage items.

I have found no reference to a DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED in my DURANT-DORT files so it must have been a paper company only [Comment: although given that it only existed a very short time it may have traded briefly]

On December 28 1914 the DURANT-DORT CARRIAGE COMPANY claimed its investment in DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED was $68,380. More revealing is its October 9 1913 report where it states it owed $60,160 par value common stock and $4,010 par value preferred stock to total $64,270 out of a paid in capital of only $85,780. That means, if the authorised capital was $250,000, only about 34% was paid-in. Horseman, House, and Woodridge would have been minority local stockholders, with Dort and Averill fronting as trustees for the DURANT-DORT C.C..

It will be interesting to find out what kind of deal Durant pulled off in securing the DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED company for Chevrolet in 1915? I bet he got it for almost nothing since the carriage business was almost dead by 1915 and the 3 local stockholders would of been glad to get behind Durant [like the FLINT WAGON WORKS stockholders in Flint did in 1911] to increase the stock value.

Is it not possible as soon as Durant made the deal with Sam [which cost him nothing] Durant would try and dump the DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED property? So perhaps Chevrolet was the owner of the DOMINION CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED plant for only a few months in Fall of 1915? It was about this time that DURANT-DORT C.C. sold off the Flint Varnish Works for $500,000 which was a going concern. I bet Durant turned a quick profit on this deal [just like he did when he sold the Detroit property to Ford in 1915]"

He adds "The $85,000 value Durant put on the D.C.C. was past-dated in June 1920 and I would be suspicious of this value [$85,000 was just about the capital paid in by D.C.C. stockholders but seems too generous as far as a liquidation sell price?] for as an out of pocket cash expense? I think the $85,000 selling price was figured out in June 1920 as a claim against G.M. or du Pont when Durant needed money. Shortly after this Durant also put in a claim against the Perlman properties that he also personal bought earlier, but G.M. denied his claim. I still think it is possible that he gained ownership of the D.C.C. by some swapping of his Durant-Dort stock for D.C.C. stock back in 1915 at minimum liquidation cost?"

What we can say is that in 1915, the McLaughlin’s Carriage business [McLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE COMPANY LIMITED] was sold to a carriage company in Orillia, Ontario: J.B. Tudhope had a company called J.B. TUDHOPE LIMITED, although it has been repeatedly alleged that the sale was to Tudhope’s CARRIAGE FACTORIES LIMITED. Robertson states however that it was neither of these and the actual buyer was Tudhope’s CANADA CARRIAGE COMPANY [Limited?] of Brockville, Ontario: William Still had created in the spring of 1898 a 5 h.p. vehicle with an air-cooled motor added to a standard Canada Carriage Company product: Driving Force. What is overlooked is that as mentioned below, Carriage Factories Limited was incorporated after the McLaughlin carriage business had been taken over, so this could be the reason for the confusion. James B. "Jim" Tudhope had apparently made several efforts to buy the carriage business, and all it took was one telephone call to him from the McLaughlins to secure the deal. The buyer was allowed to use the "McLaughlin" name for a year: the consideration was 49,000 shares of Common Stock and only $550,000 in Cash. However the Tudhope company soon went into the automotive business themselves: the day after the sale was agreed over the telephone, material started moving out and a crash programme finished up 3,000 sleighs: within a month all the carriage material and equipment had gone as well. J.B. Tudhope quickly formed yet another new company, the aforementioned CARRIAGE FACTORIES LIMITED, ostensibly to manufacture the carriages which were previously built by McLaughlins. However, it soon became clear that the market was for bodies for cars, trucks and other commercials, so Carriage Factories Limited built truck bodies for heavyweight trucks, Babcock truck bodies for light delivery chassis, and "Orillia" sedan bodies for Essex cars [built in Tilbury, Ontario] and Overlands, [built by Willys-Overland Limited in Toronto, Ontario]. There were also the "Rex" All-Seasons Top for open cars built by competitors, including Chevrolets and McLaughlin-Buicks which were removed after the winter. Were these also the first saloon bodied Chevrolet 490s?

The first Oshawa-assembled Chevrolets were built in the former carriage factory in Oshawa, although Durant’s original intention was, as mentioned above, to use his Dominion Carriage Company. The McLaughlin carriage material was all moved out and the first McLaughlin-built Chevrolets were allegedly produced in the old McLaughlin carriage plant in December 1915. It seems that the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited changed its name to McLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE AND MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED, since the Buick-based McLaughlin cars and trucks [1915 on] and the new Chevrolets had bodies built for them in Oshawa. The word "allegedly" is used as before the evidence from the 1921 book was found, there was very strong evidence that these first cars, and perhaps others not recorded by the McLaughlins, were assembled in Toronto, or had chassis assembled in Oshawa with Toronto-built bodies. The thought occurs that if the McLaughlins were rapidly clearing out their carriage factory, would they have had material and time to build these bodies in December: using existing bodies and facilities makes more sense.

The Financial Post of Canada November 4 1916, commented that George McLaughlin had stated that his firm had in mind the export trade when "building the immense Chevrolet factories at Oshawa the likelihood that a big export business would be opened up for Canada through the inauguration of a preferential tariff among the Allies that would mean a big economic saving to manufacturers in Canada in competing for the trade in Russia, Japan and other countries as against neutrals and the present "enemy" countries. This opens a field of possibilities whose vastness may easily dwarf to pigmies the 1916 figures of Canadian exports of automobiles and other motor vehicles". Then when talking about wages bills in Canada:

"This of course does not take into account 500 or so employees in a single other new factory, the Chevrolet, nor the three large buildings, two over 300 feet in length and over 80 in width, and a third 225 feet long, that are now being occupied by this new industry with a portion of the space required for the growth of the McLaughlin car, nor a 320-foot factory that is in course of construction there for next year's needs".

I take it that this referred to 1916/17 Model Year needs.The Financial Post of Canada November 4 1916 also carried an Advertisement for the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited, Oshawa, Ontario. The picture of a car was of a Tourer, selling at C$650 f.o.b. Oshawa. The car had "selective sliding gear transmission with three speed forward and reverse, Auto-Lite two-unit electric starting and lighting system, o.h.v. motor, centre control, speedometer, cantilever springs, and non-skid tyres on rear wheels.

However, there must have been a Toronto office into 1916, as the 1916 Chevrolet 490 Spare Parts List refers to the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited being of Oshawa and Toronto, so there was a Toronto office into 1916.

Oliver Hezzlewood left the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited in 1915, and sold his shares to Sam McLaughlin. It appears that O.E. Foster also sold his shares as well at some point.


The Chevrolet 490 was joined in Canada by the first of the F models in early 1917, and also by arguably the first V-8 car assembled in Canada, the Model D, which used an motor imported from Chevrolet’s Bay City Plant complete. The first Model D was probably assembled in August 1917 and then driven around Canada as a demonstrator.

The first Models F-2 and F-5 debuted as 1917 Models, to be replaced by the first FA-2 and –5 Models a few months later as "1918" Models. The F series used motors imported from Flint Motor Plant until Saginaw Plant came on stream in 1919. In January 1918, the new Model T truck was introduced, using the F series motor, although these were not Oshawa’s first trucks: the 1915 Buick predated. It is probable that the first Light Delivery chassis based on the 490 passenger cars debuted in 1918 as well, as they were available in 1919 Model Year.

The McLaughlin Small Six of 1916 used an "Oakland" 6-cylinder motor, though in reality it was an imported Northway Model 110 unit, used from 1916 to 1920.


United Motors Corporation was incorporated as a $60 million dollar company in New York on May 16 1916, just a few weeks before Durant took over as President of General Motors. At that time, the General Motors Company was also a $60 million company, with Chevrolet just a few months previously increasing its capital limit from $20 million to $80 million to try and take over General Motors. It was initially set-up as a holding company for the stock of five parts and accessories companies with the well known trade names of DELCO, Remy, Hyatt, New Departure, and one unknown, short-lived company named the Perlman Rim Corporation. Out of the 1,101,640 shares issued by the United Motors Corporation, Durant personally owned 106,000 shares, or about 10%, which he signed over to the Chevrolet treasury as a gift, since he was an employee of Chevrolet Motor Company when he organised the Perlman Rim Company and the United Motors Corporation.

United Motors consisting of the DAYTON MOTORERING LABORATORIES COMPANY, Dayton, Ohio, REMY ELECTRIC COMPANY of Andersen, Indiana, the Hyatt Ball Bearing Company of Newark, New Jersey, run by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jnr., the NEW DEPARTURE MANUFACTURING COMPANY of Bristol, Connecticut,, the Perlman Rim Corporation of Jackson, Michigan, and other accessory and parts manufacturers such as HARRISON RADIATOR CORPORATION, Lockport, New York, the KLAXON COMPANY of Bloomfield, New Jersey, [later a $10,000 company which was a subsidiary of Remy Electric Company at Andersen] making car horns, Jaxon Steel Products Company of Jackson, Michigan, were acquired by W.C. Durant and collected together under the Holding Corporation, the UNITED MOTORS CORPORATION.

In August 1917, after Durant had over-reached himself, after having tried to prop-up the falling General Motors share price, he was bailed-out by his fellow General Motors Directors, though the price exacted was that he would merge all three corporations, General Motors, Chevrolet and United Motors together, and as a consequence after Chevrolet was acquired in May 1918 by payment in stock, in June 1918 United Motors became a subsidiary of the General Motors Corporation which became Holding Corporation itself. United Motors officially became part of General Motors Corporation, after a $46 million stock exchange, on 1 January 1919.

Chevrolet joined General Motors Corporation in May 1918: Chevrolet Motor Company sold its assets to General Motors Corporation for about $32 million worth of G.M. stock and also sold its Scripps-Booth stock to G.M. for the balance in G.M. stock. Therefore, the Chevrolet Motor Company was the owner of about 54% of G.M. stock, worth about $90 million in May 1918. The stockholders of the Chevrolet Motor Co. (which was now just a holding company of G.M. stock) were Durant, the du Ponts, friends and others, who over the next few years, simply exchanged their Chevrolet Motor Co. stock on about a 1 to 7 ratio for the G.M. stock. That is, this $90 million worth of stock was divided up between the various Chevrolet stockholders and the old Chevrolet Motor Co. was finally disbanded in 1921-22. It appears that the McLaughlins’ Chevrolet share holding was also acquired by G.M. with the result that General Motors Corporation owned a total of 49% of the McLaughlin Carriage and Motor Company Limited.

A new Canadian company was formed, GENERAL MOTORS OF CANADA LIMITED, incorporated in the Province of Ontario on November 8 1918 when McLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE AND MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED and the CHEVROLET MOTOR COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED, were merged: President: R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin; George W. McLaughlin, Vice-President. Ms Robertson states that there had been discussions concerning a sale to G.M. for some time previously. G.M. had made an offer to the McLaughlins direct, as evidenced by a memorandum from George to Sam of July 4 1918. G.M. already owned 49% of their company.

R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin was appointed President of G.M. of Canada Limited, George McLaughlin as Vice-President. Sam had been a Director of General Motors Company for about six months in 1910, and was then appointed a Director of General Motors Corporation, November 7 1918.

December 12 1918 saw John J. Raskob, chairman of G.M.’s Finance Committee submit to the directors a list of 25 parts-and-assembly plants he recommended G.M. buy for a total of $52.8 million. Fifth on the list was the McLaughlin company, the committee approving its purchase for 50,000 shares of G.M. stock valued at $5 million [though nearly half of the Motor Company was already owned by G.M. of course]. In 1919, the General Motors Board acquired further companies, such as the FISHER BODY COMPANY and the Delco-Light Company from Durant which manufactured farm lighting and power plants and Frigidaire washing machines and refrigerators. This acquisition of Fisher Body also meant the purchase of FISHER BODY COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED, with premises in Walkerville, which would be required for G.M. of Canada.

On December 14 1918, Raskob acting in his capacity as a vice-president of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company recommended to the du Pont company that it purchase the McLaughlins’ 50,000 G.M. shares at the then market value of $6.5 million. However, this proposal was not consummated as planned.

On December 19 1918 G.M. Corporation bought the rest of the General Motors of Canada Limited shares in consideration of 49,000 shares of common G.M. stock, and $550,000 in cash. However, George McLaughlin received a cheque for $1.46 million on December 22 1918. Is this true??

Sam McLaughlin was appointed a Vice-President of G.M. Corporation on December 31 1918.

By February 1919, the McLaughlins had sold the majority of their $5 million of G.M. shares to the du Pont company for $5,590,000, though Sam and George retained 6,000 G.M. shares valued at $780,000 as their investment in G.M. of Canada. The remaining 1,000 shares were likely held by G.M. Ms Robertson suggests, but was it a Durant holding???

It has been claimed that the McLaughlins sold out to G.M., though the only stipulation placed from New York was that the brothers McLaughlin were to stay and run the Canadian end. This does not ring totally true since the negotiations took some time and were "hard".

Following on from the acquisition of General Motors of Canada Limited, two new companies were formed: McLaughlin Motor Company Limited, and then Canadian Products Limited, though the announcement by G.M. of the building of a new plant in Walkerville was made earlier than the incorporation date.

The new McLAUGHLIN MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED was incorporated on March 12 1919, as the Buick-based McLaughlin production and sales company, being a subsidiary of General Motors of Canada Limited. The Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Limited had become the first production and marketing subsidiary when G.M. of Canada was incorporated, and after the McLaughlin company, there were subsequent subsidiaries "in penny order":





In addition there was probably also the SAMSON TRACTOR COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED, as there was such a Division of G.M. of Canada until 1921.

Canadian Machinery and Manufacturing News 3 July 1919 wrote the first known detailed article on the complete Chevrolet production line at Oshawa, and printed a picture of a 1919 Model FB centre-entrance sedan, which was very similar if not identical to the Hayes-Iola bodies as supplied to Chevrolet in the U.S.. By then, the Chevrolet plant was quite extensive. The article purported to show that motor assembly was undertaken in Oshawa, whereas the photograph actually showed FB engines being mated to transmissions, with ancillaries being added. This is hardly "assembly" in the same context as was to be undertaken in the new Walkerville engine and transmission plants. It was stated that the motors had the underpan, radiator, starter, added. The underpan is what the Americans call the belly pan which is not part of the engine but attaches to the frame. Ken says "I believe these engines were built and then run under their own power on test stands in Flint before shipment with only the add on engine accessories like starters, etc. It doesn't make sense that for complex items like engines, transmissions, and rear axles, that were built cheaply in Flint and then bench tested - to be shipped as loose parts to Oshawa for local high price non assembly line finishing?

To accommodate the assembly of Olds and also Oakland cars, G.M. of Canada built a new assembly plant building in Oshawa with work under way by September 1919, dubbed the "Oldsmobile Plant" to assemble the Model 37A cars, as well as the 43A with its Flint-designed SAGINAW PRODUCTS COMPANY motor. The National Archives show that the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway Company laid in spur lines on the application of the Oshawa Railway Company into the General Motors of Canada plant ["the Oldsmobile Plant"].

By December 1919, General Motors of Canada Limited increased its capital stock to 10,030 shares valued at C$1.3 million.


The BREEN MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED, as it was originally called, was incorporated in 1910 on Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, and then in 1912 moved to the corner of Broadway and Sherbrooke Streets. The founder and president of the company was T.G. BREEN. An article in the Winnipeg Free Press February 19 1972 mentions the Breen Automobile Company during a discussion of Winnipeg's first auto show in February 1911.

In the Fall of 1916, a new showroom was built on a new site. In 1920 [?] they moved to the Board of Trade Building. In 1923, they expanded further on Main Street, four stories high and 48,000 square feet. The company was in 1924 BREEN MOTOR COMPANY AND CONSOLIDATED LIMITED.The Breen company was instrumental in ordering a large number of Chevrolet cars in 1916, which precipitated setting up a Zone Office of the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada in Regina and Calgary, and then Winnipeg in 1919.

Canadian Automotive Trade April 1923 referred to the story of the Breen Motor Company of Winnipeg. In the March issue of Canadian Automotive Trade, there appeared a story dealing with the opening of the Breen Motor Company’s new building at Winnipeg. The description of the new garage, which was one of the largest and best equipped dealer establishments in Canada, was so interesting that the editor was prompted, in the interests of the readers of Canadian Automotive Trade, to get in touch with the Breen Motor Company for further information regarding the company’s history and the business methods which helped to build it up. The following story and the illustrations accompanying it, gave an illuminating sketch of this company’s business career.

The Breen Motor Company started business in 1910 in a small building, 20 x 60, on Portage Avenue, and in 1911, they held the first Auto Show in Manitoba. In less than two years from opening, due to hard work and an honest desire to satisfy, it was necessary to find larger quarters to take care of the rapidly expanding business. A new location was found at the corner of Broadway and Sherbrooke Streets, and upon it was erected, what was considered in those days, a very modern garage indeed. The building was 60 x 120 feet, built of brick, with entrance in the middle and two large windows at each side. Gas Power Age October 1912 stated that the Breen Motor Company had been appointed direct factory distributors for the Cole Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, which had sold in Winnipeg and the West of Canada during the "past year". Breen were also selling the Canadian built Brockville Atlas, Studebaker, E.M.F. and Flanders models. Studebaker Corporation had arranged for a service department at Breens and for a direct factory representative to be maintained in the Winnipeg headquarters.

A real showroom was now provided and accommodation also made for an office. "Those were the days of the hand cranking, gas lamps, and looking wise as the versatile salesman explained the action of the commutator, crankshaft, piston pin, selective gear shift, etc., and, incidentally the days of cash on delivery and no trades," said T.G. Breen, president of the company. In 1916, through the Breen Motor Company, the Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada announced that they would place on the Winnipeg market a five-passenger car equipped with electric self-starter and electric lights. In six weeks by hard canvassing, advertising and by use of one demonstrator, the Breen Motor Co. sold six hundred cars. Mr. T. Breen then hastened East for a further allotment and succeeded in securing an additional seventy-five cars. This success inspired Mr. Breen to further efforts, and the following spring the biggest shipment of automobiles to a Western dealer on record left the Chevrolet factory, billed for the Breen Motor Company. The shipment consisted of a train load of three hundred automobiles for which the Breen Motor Company’s cheque for $203,750.00 was given to the Chevrolet Motor Company Ken….$203,750.00 / 300 = $679.

The business now growing rapidly, it again became necessary to provide larger accommodation. In the fall of 1916 a new showroom was erected on a lot 44 x 120 feet, giving ample room for new cars and salesmen’s demonstrations.

The used car problem was now asserting itself, and a department exclusively devoted to this end of the business was created and housed in the Board of Trade Building. Four years later the new car sales was moved there in order to consolidate the sales end of the business.

Working under a serious handicap, due to the different locations of head office, service department, showrooms, and warehouse, the Breen Motor Company decided to erect a building that would house under one roof all the departments necessary for handling sales and service. The new home, erected on a lot 100 x 120, on Main Street, was four stories high, and contained 48,000 square feet of floor space.

"The general service policy of the company," said T. G. Breen, "had been to give a just and reasonable amount of service with all new and reconditioned used cars. Our experience has taught us that the public expects far more than should, or can be, reasonably give I by any automobile dealer. It has also taught us that in many instances the factories do not back up the dealer, and in order to get things settled and keep our customers satisfied, we have found it good policy to meet the customer’s reasonable demands and take our chances of adjustment from the manufacturers."The Breen Motor Company acknowledged by personal letter, signed by the president, every order received. This courtesy was appreciated by the purchaser and creates a good feeling in his mind toward the company.

"In handling used cars it was the policy of the Breen Motor Company, where they had a prospect for a new car, to do their utmost to sell him the new car, by presenting it in the most attractive manner, and by getting the customer to the point where he wanted the car. Somewhere during the process of selling, the question of the company’s valuation of the used car was brought up, but they purposely avoid discussing it until they are forced to do so. They have found who was responsible for all of its activities, this method very successful. The impression they endeavoured to create in the prospect’s mind was that he was buying a new car rather than trading in an old one. The used car department occupies almost half of the second floor of the new building".Vernon's Windsor, Walkerville and Sandwich Directory – 1916 carries an Advertisement as follows:
"Windsor Auto Sales Agency, Dealers in Studebaker and Chevrolet Automobiles 11 Pitt St. West. Phone 1540".


All Ken’s 1917 Parts Books list only Oshawa as a plant with the start of using Zone codes for the various Zone offices. Then on March 1 1918 both Regina, Saskatchewan and Calgary, Alberta, were listed as Distributing Plants, but by August 1 1918 only Regina was listed. Regina continued up to at least March 15 1919 when every thing was switched over to Winnipeg Zone by at least the June 1 1918 with Mr. Guscott in charge as Zone 10 Manager. The Regina Western Service and Distributing Branch of the CHEVROLET MOTOR CO. OF CANADA LIMITED was on the corner of Smith Street and Seventh Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan, although they were listed under the 1917 Regina Street Directory so may have been opened in late 1916 or 1917 [with the closure of Toronto office]. There was also a Chevrolet agency at Masterson Motors, 1706 Scarth Street in 1917 and 1918 as well. However, it seems that there may have been a Zone Office in Regina before, namely 1916: Canadian Automotive Trade 14, May 1932

"C. E. McTavish Becomes Sales Manager General Motors.

Born in Flesherton, Mr. McTavish has been in transportation all his life, his father building carriages in Flesherton in the early days. His first contact with the automobile industry was during his work with the Conboy Carriage Co. when they built many of the first bodies for McLaughlin-Buicks on the introduction of that car in Canada.

It was during his connection with the Cockshutt Plow Co. in Regina in 1916 that he made his change to the automobile field as western sales manager of the Chevrolet Motor Co., with headquarters in Regina. His territory at that time was from Port Arthur to the coast. As Chevrolet parts and service manager he made his headquarters at Oshawa in 1919, and in 1921 was appointed assistant general sales manager for Chevrolet". Note that the Cockshutt company also produced tractors, and this must have launched McTavish onto automobiles. No evidence has yet been found for where the Conboy Company were based…it is unlikely that they were in Flesherton according to the local history society.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba, office was open in the Spring of 1919 as a Distributing Branch for cars and parts when Chevrolet expanded its selling Zone Offices from the original 9 Zones to 16 Zones for the 1920 selling season. Since Winnipeg was the first of the seven new Zones to be established, it became Zone 10. The address was probably the same as the 1927-on one: 270 Assiniboine Avenue, Winnipeg.




















1915 OSHAWA                      



  END S/N’s                      































  • 1915-1919:



    1917 6 11 43 24 84 9-449 – 9-532

    1918 16 8 3 20 55 55 23 14 1 195 9-533 - 9-727
















    SERIAL #











    7000 - 7626










    7627 - 44789








    44790 - 68107









    9-101 9-220  








    9-221 9-387  









    68108 - A38814








    9-388 9-771  








    9-449 9-532  









    A38815 - A71630








    9-151 9-1935

    A71631 - A86564










    9-772 9-2131  








    9-533 9-727  








    9-01 9-028 FA MOTOR








    9-098 9-103  








    9-1936 9-14186

    A86565 - B69938





    1918 MODEL 490

    9-2048 ENGINE # A8711 # 967 10-26-17 OCTOBER 26 1917 FMP Co. HEAD: 407-4 P 10-2-17 OCTOBER 2 1917 OWNED BY RAY TULLY, ASSEMBLED 1ST WEEK IN JANUARY 1918

    9-9950 BLOCK CASTING # 6 1 18 JUNE 1ST 1918 CYLINDER HEAD # P407-4 5-11 18 MAY 11TH 1918 OWNED BT SANDY SMITH







    9-2132 9-4036  








    9-104 9-1335  








    9-029 9-355 FB MOTOR








    9-14187 9-28153

    B69939 - C91990

    R1 - R2500






    1919 MODEL 490



    # 9 21732 OPEN TOURING BLOCK CASTING # P6 967 DATED 12-26-18 DECEMBER 26TH 1918 HEAD: "MASON" D.F. CO. 407 A



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