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  • Writer's pictureMatt

A Brief-ish History of Cars In Canada

Now before reading, yes there are many more historic events that took place in the Canadian Automotive history. Quite frankly you could fill hundreds of pages, but I just want to touch on a few key points that may spark a memory, or get you interested in the history of Cars in Canada. I have included all the links at the bottom of the page, so if you want to write a report, your grade school speech (which I heard they don't do anymore) or just research learn for the sake of learning you can find the 100's of pages of information that I left out. 

The first Canadian automobile was created back in 1867 by Henry Seth Taylor. A jeweller and clockmaker from Stanstead, Quebec, he created a 4-wheeled "steam buggy". In essence, it was a high-wheeled carriage with bracing to support a two-cylinder steam engine mounted on the floor. Like many first, it didn't last long, and after a hose bursting at a public event and a crash at another, Taylor abandon the project altogether. [1] 

It took almost 36 years for Canada to create its first gas powered production car. (There where others before it, however none had any substantial production numbers.) The car was the 1903 Canadian-made Le Roy (as shown in picture above), which you can probably tell did not come with an over abundance of options. Over the coming years, many other Canadian made manufacturers came and went. Just across the boarder, one extremely influential car company would introduce the first mass production vehicle to Canada. And with it, changed the way people viewed automobiles, as they were no longer seen as novelty items, but a sufficient means of transport. In 1904 Canada's automotive industry officially began with the establishment of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. By 1913 there were some 50,000 motor vehicles in Canada, driving on whatever they drove on back then... And between 1918 and 1923, Canada became the world's second largest vehicle producer and a major exporter of automobiles and auto parts. [2] Ford to this day has significant car production in Canada. Including being charged with producing their brand new Supercar. 

Of course, Ontario being the car loving (slight sarcasm) province was the first to issue licenses to protect the largely non-motoring public from the "dangers" of the automobile (which could move faster than the more common horse drawn traffic). The first licenses were made of leather, with house numbers attached. The government issued only 713 of these before replacing them with rubber plates in 1906. [3]

Our highway system developed throughout the 1920's, literally paving the way to highways such as the QEW (the oldest inter-city divided highway between Canada). The 7,821 km stretch of road we called the Trans Canada Highway, officially opened in 1962. [4] All this expansion was needed, and not just in Canada. In 1950, there were about 100 million motor vehicles on the planet’s roads. Today there are one billion (mainly passenger cars).[5] 

Cars have no doubt become a huge part of peoples lives, especially here in Canada. In 2013 the Toronto Star reported 'The average Canadian household has 1.5 cars (including SUVs and pickups). In 2013 Canadians brought home more than 1.7 million little, and not so little, bundles of joy from auto dealerships. (By comparison, the sum of newborn babies and net immigration was under 600,000.)" [5] But what lead us here? How did we get to the point where the automobile is so ingrained in Canadian culture? and not just our current culture, our history.

Cars connect us, and with such a vast country to cover, Canadians feel that having a car is a sense of freedom, which for all intensive purposes it is. We also have an amazing car culture that combines people from all different background and nationalities who all have different tastes in cars (as well as slightly different driving styles). But looking through our history car not only represent freedom but innovation, and economic growth. Without the car, Canada would not be the country it is today. 









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