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McLaughlin-Buick

Model Year: 1939

Location of Manufacture: Oshawa, Ontario

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Gerry Quinney:
How did General Motors meet the war situation in 1939?

Colonel McLaughlin:
As always, we wanted to help, do anything we could. Unfortunately, in the first war we weren’t able to do too much. We did what we could in the way of ambulances and all of that sort of thing. We would do any menial task they wanted, like making tent pegs. We would do anything, we hoped we were good citizens, and patriotic. But we didn’t have much chance to do very much in the first war.

Gerry Quinney:
That was in the first war. How about the second war?

Colonel McLaughlin:
In the second war, we became very extensively interested in it, and actually, I remember the great occasion when the Earl of Athlone came up, and the top general from Ottawa, and our Minister of Defence, and also Clarence Howe. They came here to Oshawa to celebrate the completion of the first 500,000 trucks made by the motor industry in Canada for the war.

Gerry Quinney:
Is that so?

Colonel McLaughlin:
500,000. And we have pictures here of Mr. Howe and I tightening up the nuts on the wheels of that 500,000th truck.

Gerry Quinney:
I don’t think very many people realize just exactly what the Canadian industry did do. We know it grew tremendously during the war, but I don’t think we were aware at the time as to exactly what production was going on. Were you into making gun carriers?

Colonel McLaughlin:
We made guns, the small guns. We made the recoil mechanism first, and then...

Gerry Quinney:
Didn’t you have a plant going in Regina on guns?

Colonel McLaughlin:
We made the recoil mechanism first, and then General Electric had a contract for the gun, then we took the whole thing on and moved it out to Regina, to our Regina plant. In the Regina plant, our factory manager – and he was a wonderful organizer too – James Highfield – the late James Highfield – he, for the first time in the history of gun manufacture, put them down the assembly line, like a motor car.

Gerry Quinney:
Is that so?

Colonel McLaughlin:
And we had them come from England and the United States to see the thing in operation. And that, of course, was one operation we were very much interested in. But they asked us to make the fuselages for the Mosquito aircraft, and so we had to rip the interior out of two big plants, you know, take out the posts, beams, floors, and make them all over, and we made the fuselages, I think, for all the Mosquito airplanes that were made in this country, most of them anyway – I think all. The fuselages, we made the engine supports and containers too, and we found that a very tricky job. We did anything and everything we could in our power, as good citizens.

© Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 1961. All rights reserved.