The Canadian Automotive Museum was established in 1962 as a community project of the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce to promote the history of the automotive industry and to promote tourism in the area.
The Canadian Automotive Museum was established in 1962 as a community project of the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce to promote the history of the automotive industry and to promote tourism in the area. At the time, a number of prominent Oshawa residents made financial contributions or provided interest-free loans to acquire a former car dealership on Simcoe Street. It was converted into a facility where antique automobiles and related artifacts could be displayed. The Canadian Automotive Museum opened in 1963 and was incorporated in October 1964 as a charitable, not-for-profit institution.
1963: Automotive history is made
1921-1931 : Car Dealership
The earliest record of an automobile dealership existing at 99 Simcoe St. South is in the 1921 Oshawa City Directory, which lists the tenant of the recently constructed building as Jackson Motor Company. In 1923 the building housed Oshawa Sales & Service Autos, Lee Bishop Radiator Repair, and Jamieson Bros Vulcanizers. The following year Ontario Motor Sales (OMS) began operating in the building . OMS maintained a showroom and service center at this location until 1931.
1935-1960 : Anglo-Canadian Drugs Building
During the early 1930s, 99 Simcoe St. South transitioned from Ontario Motor Sales in 1931 to the City Relief Department (1932-1934) during the Great Depression. The Anglo-Canadian Drug Company leased the building in 1935 and added the north annex and subdivided the building into numerous offices, labs, and storage rooms.
1962-1973 : Automotive Museum and Oshawa Chamber of Commerce
The Canadian Automotive Museum was a project of the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, who moved its office into the newly completed museum in 1963. A wall divided the front lobby into museum reception and the Chamber offices. This arrangement continued until 1973 when the Chamber relocated to Richmond St.
1974-1981 : Cameras and autocanada
After the Chamber of Commerce relocated, their former offices were leased by Shiloh Shop Christian Supplies until 1981 and the second floor of the north annex briefly operated as Hallmark Camera and Supplies from 1974 until 1977. During this time a new facility called autoCanada was planned on Bloor St., where the GO Transit parking lot is currently located with the goal of a larger facility near Highway 401.
When support for autoCanada waned the building plans were canceled and in 1982 the Canadian Automotive Museum renovated its front lobby and consolidated the entire building into museum use. In 1986 the former photography studio was filled with acquisition of the automotive library of the recently disbanded Craven Foundation. In 1995 further gallery changes occurred with the acquisition of 20 vehicles which formed the McDougald Collection. In the 2000s, the two rental homes on Celina were demolished to accommodate increased parking and the long-standing entrance sign was removed.
1982-2014 : Canadian Automotive Museum
In 2015 the board of directors began a multi-year plan to refresh the exhibits and invest in maintaining the historic structure of the building. The priorities aligned with Canada's 150 anniversary in 2017 and federal funding assisted with the physical improvements.
2015 - Present : A 21st Century Museum
Today the Canadian Automotive Museum continues to maintain the nearly century-old former car dealership building at 99 Simcoe St. South. The main floors holds the majority of European vehicles, while the second floor tells the story of automotive manufacturing in Canada. A gift shop and reference library compliment the automobiles and the adjoining lot hosts drive-ins and car shows.