Camp Samac honoured for nearly 80 years (and counting) of memories in north Oshawa

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Published June 29, 2023 at 11:58 am

The City of Oshawa and Scouts Canada honoured the nearly 80-year history of Camp Samac Wednesday with the installation of a heritage plaque at the entrance to the Simcoe Street North property.

Camp Samac, a 188-acre site in the north part of the city, was a gift from industrialist, philanthropist and GM Canada founder Robert ‘Sam’ McLaughlin in 1944 to the Oshawa Boy Scouts and after a couple of years spent waiting for the war to end, has been used by the public and Scouts Canada since 1946.

Now designated as a property of “cultural heritage value or interest” under the Ontario Heritage Act, a heritage plaque was installed prominently at Camp Samac’s main gateway structure to celebrate the Oshawa Creek Valley site’s rich heritage in the city.

“This designation recognizes Camp Samac’s incredible natural features and celebrates its rich history and the legacy of environment stewardship in our community,” said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter. “In 1944, Colonel Sam McLaughlin generously donated nearly 150 acres to the Oshawa Boy Scouts Association and today we are proud to continue to welcome hundreds of youth and volunteers each year to this amazing property.”

City Council, Heritage Oshawa and Scouts Canada representatives were on hand Wednesday to celebrate the heritage designation of Camp Samac and the installation of the plaque.

The property has been used by Scouts Canada year round for scouting and guiding program for 77 years and tens of thousands of youth have had the opportunity to learn outdoor skills, develop leadership qualities and teambuilding skills and enjoy outdoor sports and recreational activities since then.

“At Scouts, youth get to experience a world of opportunities to explore new skills and discover what they’re great at. We are grateful to the City of Oshawa and Heritage Oshawa for recognizing the importance of Scouting in the lives of youth and the community,” said Kevin Anyan, National Property Operations Manager for Scouts Canada. “Thanks to their support, Camp Samac will continue to offer kids exciting outdoor experiences, as an adventure-destination, for years to come.”

Scouts Canada offers programming for children and youth aged 5-26, with more than 40,000 youth participating across the country in those programs, supported by a 12,000-strong team of volunteers.

“Oshawa’s Camp Samac is without question one of Canada’s natural heritage treasures. This majestic Central Park-like property is a vital presence in the heart of our urban city that has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people, myself included, throughout its long history,” said Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, who was “proudly born and raised” near Camp Samac. “I was fortunate to enjoy almost daily visits to the property. I fondly remember the learning of lifestyles, collaborating with visitors from around the country and internationally, hiking its trails, camping, swimming and developing leadership skills at Camp Samac.”

Councillor Bob Nicholson, Council’s representative on Heritage Oshawa, also has memories of his youth spent at Camp Samac. “I remember as a young scout the annual sleepovers and outings to Camp Samac and I am so happy to see it continue as a key part of Oshawa.”

The property features outdoor spaces, hiking trails and woodlands as well as the popular Camp Samac outdoor pool, which is used by Oshawa residents every summer.

Councillor Bob Chapman said Oshawa residents are “privileged to have such an amazing property” in the city, citing the “breathtaking views” and wildlife on the property. “We are proud to celebrate with Scouts Canada the legacy of Camp Samac.”

Diane Stephen, Chair of Heritage Oshawa, said the preservation of heritage properties is “core to the mandate” of the organization. “We firmly believe that Colonel Robert S. McLaughlin, who donated the land to Scouts Canada, would be very pleased with this designation.”

 

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