Oshawa today is a tale of two cities. When General Motors shuts down in a few days, it’ll be the end of an era for the town. On Dec. 20, the last vehicle will roll off the assembly line as the industry that defined Oshawa for 100 years closes its doors.
But for all that the history of Oshawa is entwined with the history of GM, the city is no longer dependent upon cars and trucks for either its jobs or its identity. Oshawa has evolved into an education, health sciences and IT hub and is currently experiencing a real estate boom.
In its heyday, GM Canada employed more than 20,000 people in Oshawa, indirectly creating other jobs in all the attendant services required to house and feed that workforce.
But GM’s glory days are long past. The big American automaker had the best of people and places, using up four generations of loyal workers all over North America before departing for greener — or at least cheaper — pastures, sometimes leaving polluted ghost towns in its wake.
It was exactly 30 years ago — Dec. 20, 1989 — that documentary filmmaker Michael Moore released Roger & Me, a sharp social commentary on the damage done by a huge GM downsizing in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.
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