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Past Exhibition: More Than A Machine: Motor Vehicles in Canada, 1900-1930

This exhibition traces the first full phase of the automobile revolution, from carriages to mass production. In order to demonstrate how the period between 1900 and 1930 witnessed the transformation of the automobile from the status of a technological oddity to a cultural phenomenon, the artifacts are displayed in three easily identifiable, thematic areas:

I.The Motor Vehicle as a Transportation Device

This theme demonstrates various forms in which the early automobile was available. For example; The International Autowagon, ca. 1911 or the TTC 5th Avenue Omnibus, 1921. As well, we show the evolution of the various ways in which these vehicles were able to operate, from the steam mode of power to the internal combustion engines. Some of the artifacts in this exhibition include:

  • 1929 Durant Model D40
  • Le Roy, ca. 1903
  • 1910 Baker Electric
  • Ford TT Truck, 3 Ton
II.The Motor Vehicle as a Consumer Item

This section demonstrates how the automobile became so attractive to the average Canadian. With the introduction of mass production techniques, the automobile could now be sold at a reasonable rate to the average Canadian. This new consumer item transformed rural life by allowing Canadians to travel quicker and more freely than ever before. The automobile during this time began to change in both style and variety, giving the consumer a reason to buy more often.

This area also shows how, during this time, automobiles became new items for Canadians to enjoy some friendly competition; for example, races involving hill climbs and endurance were very popular. Some of the artifacts in this exhibition include:

  • 1907 Comet
  • 1927 McLaughlin Buick
  • 1914 Ford Model "T"
  • 1922 Ner-a-Car
III.The Motor Vehicle as a Social and Economic Phenomenon

As such, the motor vehicle has had an enormous impact which has helped redefine our world. Apart from motor vehicle anufacturing, related industries such as petroleum, steel and rubber producers contributed to reinforcing the economic impact of the motor vehicle industry upon Canadian society. Some indication of the relative importance of the motor vehicle industries can be obtained from the fact that by the mid-1920's, automobile-related taxes provided the second largest source of provincial government revenues. Some of the artifacts shown in this exhibition include:

  • 1914 Russell Model 28 Touring Car
  • Gilbert & Barker Gas Pump
  • Gas Pump, ca. 1920
  • Bowser Gas Pump

These three themes incorporated into the exhibition allow visitors to gain valuable knowledge into the astounding impact the automobile had and still does have upon our everyday lives.

This part of the exhibition focuses on various social and economic issues surrounding the automobile during the 1900's. Some examples of these issues are: Automotive safety and government regulation, the automobile as a symbol of status, speed and style, and auto pollution.

It is our hope that through various interactive and informative displays, the exhibition will be able to evoke both an interest and an understanding in the history of the automobile industry in Canada.

At the Canada Science and Technology Museum you'll learn about Motor Vehicles in Canada at the beginning of century, and WE'LL MAKE IT FUN!

Comments should be sent to: sbabaian@technomuses.ca