The Story of Samuel McLaughlin and his Car Business

On this day, September 8 in the year 1871, the founder of the McLaughlin Motor Car was born in Ontario, Canada. His name was Robert Samuel McLaughlin, the man considered as the most generous businessman in Canadian history.

Robert Samuel McLaughlin
Robert Samuel McLaughlin (Credit:

Robert Samuel McLaughlin was the son of a carriage manufacturer who was considered the largest producer of horse-drawn carriages in the entire British Empire. As a young man, he considered a career as a lawyer. Yet with his experience working in his father’s shop, he became attracted to the lure of the automotive industry. He went to the United States to study the motor industry. In 1892, he and his younger brother became partners in the family business.

In 1907, Samuel McLaughlin set up The McLaughlin Motor Car Company. A year later, the company produced its first car using engine from the Buick Motor Company in Michigan. In 1918, it was acquired by General Motors and renamed General Motors Canada. He was appointed president of the company in addition to his directorship in the board of the parent company in the US, a position he held since 1910. He remained president of GM Canada until 1966.

Samuel was an avid supporter to the educational advancement of the Canadian People. Through his McLaughlin Foundation, he donated substantial amount to many universities and colleges such as Queen’s University in Kingstown, Ontario, University of Guelph, York University and St. Andrew’s College.

Robert Samuel McLaughlin died in 1972 at the ripe age of 100. He had 5 daughters with his wife Adelaide.



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