In 1923, J.N. Willson purchased a cutter and sleigh company in Oshawa and began selling cars. It was an exciting era when automobiles were becoming an integral part of Canadian society.
His car company – later named Ontario Motor Sales – has remained in the Willson family for four generations. And while the business is one year shy of its centenary, celebrations of its 100th anniversary have already begun.
“One hundred years in business is a testament to the staff and ownership of the company,” said David Hicks, marketing and business development manager at Ontario Motor Sales. “It’s also a testament to the company’s strong ties to the community.”
To celebrate this milestone, Ontario Motor Sales is planning several events this year and in 2023. On May 6, the company hosted a reception and tour for staff members at the Canadian Automotive Museum, which is on the site of the original dealership.
This summer, the company will host a picnic to honour recent retirees, and in December the company will raffle a new Cadillac Escalade, with all proceeds going to Lakeridge Health, a hospital network serving Durham Region. Other charitable events are also being planned.
Hicks said Ontario Motor Sales has grown and thrived by listening to its customers and delivering outstanding service. Recently, some customers requested the ability to purchase vehicles entirely by digital means, and the company made that option available.
The 100th anniversary of Ontario Motor Sales coincides with another new era in automobiles – the growing popularity of electric vehicles. “The move toward electric vehicles is a paradigm shift in the industry, and we look forward to meeting the evolving transportation needs of our customers and continuing to give back to the community,” Hicks said.
A million dollar thank you
In 2017, Hank Mews entered the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) for valve replacement surgery. Fortunately, his procedure was successful, and the Myers Automotive Group, which is owned by the Mews family and operates 15 dealerships mostly in the Ottawa area, is now giving back.
Myers Automotive Group recently made a $1 million gift to the UOHI Foundation on behalf of the business. Its donation helped complete the foundation’s Bringing the Future Closer capital campaign, which secured hybrid operating rooms and the building of an expanded facility.