McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is located near Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial Park, named after the founding family of General Motors. As the industry changes drastically, General Motors has decided to donate nearly 30-year-old wildlife reserves to the City of Oshawa. As part of its partnership with the City, GM will help advance sustainable development and investment plans for the future.
A large number of acres of land near its headquarters on Colonel Sam Drive was preserved in 1990 after the car manufacturer went beyond the typical duties of making cars.
Travis Hester, GM Canada’s president and managing director, writes that the donation will join the City of Oshawa’s waterfront trail network and provide open, protected access to the park and waterfront for the entire community to enjoy. History of McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve wouldn’t be complete without an understanding of the city’s relationship with the automobile industry. In the past, Oshawa was dubbed the “Automotive Capital of Canada,” after the industry – “The City that Motorized Canada,” and “The City in Motion.”
The McLaughlin Carriage Company was founded in 1876 by Robert McLaughlin.
The history of conservation in Oshawa’s wetlands and conservation areas is rich. Specifically, great efforts have been made to ensure that the Second Marsh and the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve are maintained and improved. Over 900 community members planted trees and shrubs, created walking trails, made ponds, and developed signage three years in a row, from 1990 to 1992. For Richards, creating a sensory trail with the Canada National Institute for the Blind was one of his proudest accomplishments.
The trail provided a means for people to feel and hear what was going on around them, according to Richards. As they walked through the trees and shrubs, they could feel the bark and leaves and hear birds chirping or frogs humming. Richards reported that he took a trip to Cape Cod to a park that had developed a sensory trail after hearing about the park. GM based the GM Reserve trail on the Cape Cod trail.
The trail was lined with posts hammered into the ground and it was equipped with trails on both sides of the trail. A rope guide guided a visitor from one post to the next to a Braille and English-inscribed sign that described the wildlife found in the reserve. There were signs instructing people to touch different kinds of trees and shrubs. Despite its age, the trail has never closed.
As a result of his good work, Richards founded a program in which he visited public schools throughout Durham Region to present his work to students and teachers. Following a period of minimal maintenance, Richards’ duties at McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve were no longer needed, so he formally retired in 2005.
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