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Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin, CC ED CD (September 8, 1871 – January 6, 1972) was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He started the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907, one of the first major automobile manufacturers in Canada, which evolved into General Motors of Canada.

Parkwood Estate in 2007

In 1951, he established the McLaughlin Foundation which, from 1953 to 2003, donated nearly $200 million to the University of Toronto and other causes, including the McLaughlin Planetarium at the Royal Ontario Museum.

McLaughlin was a major contributor to Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario. The university's Mechanical Engineering Department is housed

McLaughlin was born near Bowmanville in the hamlet of Enniskillen, Ontario, the son of Robert McLaughlin and Mary Smith.[1] As a young man, he worked for a short time in a local hardware store, then in 1887 became an apprentice in the upholstery shop of his father's company, McLaughlin Carriage Works,[2] which had opened in 1867 and at one time was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn buggies and sleighs in the British Empire.In 1890, McLaughlin took a job at H. H. Babcock, an upholstery company in Watertown, New York.[3]

In 1892, McLaughlin and his brother George become junior partners in their father's company. In 1898, he married Adelaide Mowbray.[1]

With engines from William C. Durant of Buick, he produced the McLaughlin-Buick Model F, establishing The McLaughlin Motor Car Company, incorporated on November 20, 1907. In 1908, its first full year of operation, it produced 154 cars.In 1910, he became a director of General Motors. He sold his Chevrolet company stock in 1918, becoming president of General Motors of Canada, which continued to sell cars under the McLaughlin-Buick brand until 1942.

He retired in 1945, but remained chairman of the board until his death. He remained on the board of General Motors until the early 1960s, and was coincidentally replaced by Royal Bank of Canada president Earle McLaughlin, his first cousin once removed.

His older brother, chemist John J. McLaughlin (1865–1914), founded the Canada Dry company.[4] After his brother's death in 1914, McLaughlin became president of this company briefl

In 1892, McLaughlin and his brother George become junior partners in their father's company. In 1898, he married Adelaide Mowbray.[1]

With engines from William C. Durant of Buick, he produced the McLaughlin-Buick Model F, establishing The McLaughlin Motor Car Company, incorporated on November 20, 1907. In 1908, its first full year of operation, it produced 154 cars.In 1910, he became a director of General Motors. He sold his Chevrolet company stock in 1918, becoming president of General Motors of Canada, which continued to sell cars under the McLaughlin-Buick brand until 1942.

He retired in 1945, but remained chairman of the board until his death. He remained on the board of General Motors until the early 1960s, and was coincidentally replaced by Royal Bank of Canada president Earle McLaughlin, his first cousin once removed.

His older brother, chemist John J. McLaughlin (1865–1914), founded the Canada Dry company.[4] After his brother's death in 1914, McLaughlin became president of this company briefly until it was sold around 1923.

His mansion, Parkwood Estate, begun in 1916, was designed by the Toronto architectural firm of Darling and Pearson. In 1989, the Parkwood estate was officially designated a National Historic Site by the federal government, on the recommendation of the national Historic Sites and Monuments Board.[5][6]

McLaughlin was appointed as honorary lieutenant-colonel of the 34th Ontario Regiment in 1921. He held this position until 1931, at which time he was appointed as honorary colonel of the same unit, later designated as The Ontario Regiment (RCAC), a reserve armoured regiment based in Oshawa. Affectionately known as "Colonel Sam", McLaughlin served as honorary colonel until 1967, thereby becoming the longest continuously-serving colonel in the history of the Canadian Forces.

In 1967, McLaughlin was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Philanthropy