McLaughlin Public Library

65 Bagot Street, Oshawa, ON.

The McLaughlin Public Library is associated with the period of post-war economic expansion and urban renewal in Oshawa, a city that was dominated by the burgeoning Canadian automobile industry.

OThe eponymous library is associated with Canadian industrialist and patron of modern architecture, Colonel R.S. McLaughlin (1871-1972).  The library was designed to replace Oshawa’s first public library, a Carnegie Library (1909), which was outgrowing its premises.  McLaughlin proposed his gift to the Library board in 1952, and on December 6th, 1954, Premier Leslie M. Frost officially opened the building.

The stepped massing of the building, and the low, horizontal emphasis of its forms deferred to character of the surrounding neighbourhood, comprised of single-family houses at that time.  The library is characterized by fine quality materials and craftsmanship, principally quarry-faced Credit Valley sandstone walls, ashlar details, and industrial steel sash windows.  Inside, the building features serpentine marble details, travertine floors, wood finishes, and a large mural by Canadian artist William Winter.

The building is very late work of architect Arthur Hunter Eadie.  The library has been the subject of expansion and rehabilitation campaigns, by Mathers & Haldenby in the 1970s and by J.R. Freethy from 1999 to 2010.

Since 1967, the library has formed a key component of an urban civic precinct that includes Oshawa City Hall and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, with its 1987 expansion by Arthur Erickson.

Today, known as the McLaughlin Branch, it is the oldest surviving public library in Oshawa.  The building is part of an expanded library system comprised of four branches.  It continues to hold an important place in the cultural life of the community.