This was the home of Ewart McLaughlin and his wife, Alexandra Luke. It was featured in the 1928 “Greater Oshawa” edition of the Oshawa Daily Times, who noted, “A perfect setting has been arranged for the large Old English house for Mr. Ewart McLaughlin. The lot, 270 feet by 267 feet, is laid out with pergolas and wonderful rose and peony beds and dotted with beautiful trees and shrubbery… The house itself, which is set up on a flagstone terrace, is an excellent example of Old English architecture. The entrance is especially noteworthy with its beautiful oak carving.” It went on to say the house had a living room and library, which look out over the lawn and gardens. There was large hall, five “beautifully decorated bedrooms,” and a primary bedroom with a private tile bathroom.
Clarence Ewart McLaughlin (1898-1968) was the son of George McLaughlin and grandson of Robert McLaughlin. Ewart and Alexandra were married in Muskoka on 5 September 1928. The 1921 Census notes his occupation as ‘Salesman,’ while the 1928 City Directory records that he is the president of Moffatt Motor Sales; the auto industry was a family business for the McLaughlins.
Alexandra (Margaret) Luke (1901-1967) was a prolific Canadian abstract painter. Born in Montreal, Luke’s family moved to Oshawa in 1914, a return to the family’s hometown. In her 20s, Luke began painting, and her first exhibition was sponsored by the Lyceum Club and Women’s Art Association in 1933. Previously painting in a style reminiscent of the Group of Seven, it was in this year that she discovered abstract, the style she became best known for. In 1952, Luke organized the first Canadian Abstract Exhibition, where she met the members that would form the Painters Eleven, a collective of abstract artists, active from 1954 to 1960. She was one of two female founding members. Between 1952 and 1966, the year before her death, Luke’s work was included in 80 group exhibitions, as well as Painters Eleven group shows, two-person and solo exhibitions.
Shortly before her death, Alexandra and husband Ewart McLaughlin offered major financial support and works from their own collection toward the creation of a public art gallery for the City of Oshawa. This became the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, named in honour of Ewart’s grandfather. The collection of art she donated is known as the Alexandra Luke Collection, consisting of 81 paintings, many of which were her own, as well as works by the Group of Seven and members of Painters Eleven. Alexandra also served on various boards including the Henry House Museum Committee and the Oshawa Historical Society.