Canadian Automotive Museum

The Canadian Automotive Museum is a dazzling picture of the cars that made Ontario — the colorful buggies of the early 1900s, the iconic family cars of the 1960s, the uninspired boxy sedans of the 1990s and everything in between. 

As the home of the McLaughlin Motor Car Company, the city of Oshawa is largely defined by its automotive history, including the tragic period after the industry’s decline in the early 1900s. The Oshawa’s Automotive Community exhibit, which includes many cars built in the town itself, is a look into the area’s journey through the industry. Continue your historical tour at the former McLaughlin family estate a few blocks away from the museum.

Delve deeper into automotive history at the Canadian Automotive Museum’s permanent collection, which spans 100 years of automotive history, or jump into the present with rotating exhibits like the full-scale model of Pixar’s Lightning McQueen from Cars. Kids can pose with Lightning McQueen, hop in an historic car or enjoy the arts and crafts activities offered throughout the year. 

With a collection of well kept and restored vehicles, the museum informs Canadian history through the lens of the automobile industry, making it a fascinating trip for history buffs. The vast collection also includes automobiles from the U.S., Britain and Europe, so you can take a ride all around the world. 

For up-to-date information and details on the Canadian Automotive Museum, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends. 

A vintage red and white car is showcased with the Canadian flag

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca

More about Canadian Automotive Museum

Located at 99 Simcoe Street South in Oshawa, the Canadian Automotive Museum is about 60 km from the city of Toronto and just 9km from the neighbouring town of Whitby. Situated in the centre of Oshawa, the museum is a short walk from nearby attractions like the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery and Parkwood Estate. Drivers can take the 401 toward Oshawa and park for free at the museum. GO Transit service is available to Oshawa.

Entrance to Canadian Automotive Museum costs $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $6 for children. Kids under 5, as well as members of the museum, can visit for free. The museum also offers a walking tour around Oshawa for a fee. Commemorate your trip with a book or poster from the gift shop or support the museum with a donation. 

Discover a fleet of gorgeous vintage vehicles that will take you back in time with the baby blues of the 1950s and the quintessential Volkswagen bugs of the 1970s. The museum’s walking tours provide a full picture of how the automotive industry shaped Oshawa as tour guides point out important historical moments scattered through downtown. The museum also offers periodic drive-in movies from the parking lot, making it truly feel like a journey back in time. Anyone who appreciates history, but especially those who relish the opportunity to truly immerse themselves will find the Canadian Automotive Museum to be an historical playground. 

The region’s automotive history begins in Oshawa, and the building is an historical site itself. As a car dealership in the 1920s, 99 Simcoe Street South was always a home to automobiles, continuing to house cars up to the present day. The surrounding attractions also hint at the prevalence of the automotive industry in Oshawa, like the decadent Parkwood Estate built by the area’s most wealthy automotive tycoon. 

Since 1982, the Canadian Automotive Museum has committed to constantly updating the museum to fit in the digital world. With generous donations of cars and cash, the museum has become a modern museum to rival the rest. 

Photo credit: Alex Gates