Robert Samuel McLaughlin

Inducted 1973

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1971

Established McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907

Established General Motors of Canada in 1918

Served as a Director of General Motors Corporation from 1910-1967

Loyalty to the family business paid off for Robert Samuel McLaughlin.

The McLaughlin family joked that young Sam, as he was known, “had wheels in his head.” The saying arose after he was accidentally knocked on the head by a wheel in his father’s carriage shop. As a young man, Sam McLaughlin considered a career as a lawyer or a draftsman. When his father asked him to learn the family business, young Sam became a partner in the McLaughlin Carriage Company Ltd. The company became a leading Canadian manufacturer.

Sam McLaughlin later traveled to the United States to meet with auto manufacturers including William Durant, an old carriage-maker friend, who was by then owner of Buick Motor Company. In 1907 the McLaughlin Motor Car Company was formed, using Buick engines in the vehicles they produced. By 1910, McLaughlin’s business skills were recognized and he was invited to join General Motors as a Director. When the McLaughlin company was integrated with GM in 1918, Sam McLaughlin became the first President of General Motors of Canada Limited.

Determined to remain at his desk “only as long as I can be of some value to the company,” McLaughlin retired from the GM board just five years before his death at age 100.

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Class of 1973

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