McQuarrie Motors expands North Shore reach

McQuarrie Motors expands! McQuarrie Motor Products Ltd. has purchased Milltown Motors of Blind River and Elliot Lake. From left, Chris Lees, Heidi Lees, Don Lees Jr. officially transferred ownership of their business to Ron McQuarrie and Art Madore of the McQuarrie Motors Group, on August 2.

Purchases Milltown Motors GM franchise in Blind River, Elliot Lake

MANITOULIN—McQuarrie Motor Products has expanded its product line with the purchase of Milltown Motors of Blind River and Elliot Lake.

“Milltown Motors is run by Don Lees Jr., a company his father started,” stated Ronald McQuarrie, who along with Art Madore announced the purchase on behalf of the McQuarrie Motors group. “Milltown Motors is an excellent company, and we are very pleased to be able to purchase the business.”

Mr. McQuarrie explained, “no, we don’t plan to change the name of the business with the purchase. The Lees are a well-respected and loved family, with many of the similar values that we possess. They too are a family operation. We will be keeping the name the same and all the employees (currently employed by Milltown Motors) will continue.”

“The McQuarrie Motors group will benefit (with the purchase) as we will be expanding our market area and will have a greater inventory with additional new and used vehicles,” said Mr. McQuarrie.

The deal was officially reached on August 2. “It has taken some time, this deal has been in the works for about six-seven months,” continued Mr. McQuarrie. “We had heard that Don (Lees Jr.) was potentially looking to retire and so we approached him. 

Don Lees Jr.’s son Chris will be staying with Milltown Motors.

Mr. Lees told The Expositor, “My dad, Don Lees Sr., started this business 61 years ago, in 1961, with his business partner Frank Graham Sr. His son still works for the business and will be continuing.”

“The exciting thing for me in selling the business is that it will remain a family run business,” stated Mr. Lees. “I knew the late Don McQuarrie, he was a personal friend of mine, as Art (Madore) has been as well. I didn’t know Ron McQuarrie as well previously, but we have become friends over the past few months.”

“This business is in my blood,” stated Mr. Lees. “I new from an early age I didn’t want to do anything else but work here in this business. We have a good, strong staff here and I sure hope they will all stick around.”

“McQuarrie Motors is like us they are family oriented and not that big city high pressure atmosphere. And they live right across the North Channel. We are pleased we have been able to sell the business to them,” said Mr. Lees. He was born and raised in Blind River and married his wife Heidi there. “For the last 15 years I have been commuting every day, going to Elliot Lake, and then transitioning back to Blind River.”

As for retirement, Mr. Lees said, “I have a beautiful Harley Davidson motorcycle that I would like to ride more often and I plan on taking up fishing again and we definitely want to start travelling. I won’t have a problem getting used to retirement, but if they get into a jam here, if Ron and the business need assistance, I’m always here.”

“McQuarrie Motors has the humblest beginning,” the company history reads. “It all started with 25-year-old Donald A. McQuarrie opening a garage business in Gore Bay in 1929. He later partnered with his brother M.R. (Mac) McQuarrie to grow the business. Ronald M. McQuarrie, son of Donald, began working with his father and uncle soon after returning from war service and university. Ron would typically start at 8 am sharp and work until 11 pm. Ron watched as the business grew from a small repair garage to a thriving Goodyear Tire and GM dealership. After many years of successfully selling Hudson, Austin and Reo vehicles, the brothers accepted a GM franchise for Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in 1950.”

“Less than a year later, construction began on a new building for the dealership. The success of the business allowed them to open a new branch in Spragge. In 1959 Mac McQuarrie took over the North Shore operation, leaving D.A. McQuarrie and son Ron to run the Gore Bay location. In 1968 Ronald M. McQuarrie purchased the business from his father. Being an innovator, Ron made many expansions to the business. He made service to farmers and loggers easily accessible with roadside calls, which kept his 60-mile market happy.”

In 1984 Ron’s son Donald J. McQuarrie purchased the operation in Gore Bay. After many successful years, Donald the keen businessman looked for expansion. He feared globalization would make it difficult for a small rural dealership to survive. In 1998, Don reached an agreement to purchase the thriving GM store, Lake Shore Motors Ltd. in Kirkland Lake. Several years later, in 2004, Donald purchased the GM dealership Espanola Garage. He then rebranded Espanola Garage, along with Gore Bay and Little Current to form McQuarrie Motors Products Inc. The much larger operation thrived and was and is active in the communities under Donald’s operation.”

McQuarrie Motor Products Inc. and Lakeshore Motors Ltd. have remained a family run operation with Donald’s son Ronald J. McQuarrie and Donald’s long-time business associate Arthur Madore at the helm.