Contact the Canadian Automotive Museum

 

 

99 Simcoe Street South
Central Oshawa, ON, L1H 4G7

(905) 576-1222

Since 1963 the Canadian Automotive Museum has preserved and shared the history of the Canadian automotive industry.

Automotive Life

The widespread use of automobiles relies upon vast networks of infrastructure and laws that have been set in place over the years since the first vehicles hit the roads. Paved streets, service stations, and parking lots are just a few of the things that the automobile relies upon for its daily, year-round use. While automotive advertisements focus on the freedom of owning an automobile, urban traffic jams, snow storms, and speed limits are a daily reality for Canadians.

Automotive Life

A Suburban District speed limit sign in North York, Ontario., c.1963. City of Toronto Archives, fonds 217, series 249, item 182.

A Suburban District speed limit sign in North York, Ontario., c.1963. City of Toronto Archives, fonds 217, series 249, item 182.

The widespread use of automobiles relies upon vast networks of infrastructure and laws that have been set in place over the years since the first vehicles hit the roads. Paved streets, service stations, and parking lots are just a few of the things that the automobile relies upon for its daily, year-round use. While automotive advertisements focus on the freedom of owning an automobile, urban traffic jams, snow storms, and speed limits are a daily reality for Canadians.

The growing population and workforce of the 1950s saw the rise of “suburban sprawl” – with new houses, schools, parks, and shopping malls and an increased reliance on the car. Plus other changes: in 1977 all posted speed limits across Canada were officially altered from miles per hour to kilometres per hour.

Coffee and donuts are constant features of Canada’s car culture thanks to the Tim Hortons chain, founded in 1964 in Hamilton, Ont.The first Tim Hortons restaurant, Hamilton, Ontario. Image courtesy of Tim Hortons.

Coffee and donuts are constant features of Canada’s car culture thanks to the Tim Hortons chain, founded in 1964 in Hamilton, Ont.The first Tim Hortons restaurant, Hamilton, Ontario. Image courtesy of Tim Hortons.

The city of Sudbury, Ontario, claims the honour of having installed the country’s first parking metres in August of 1940. Town bus on Queen Street West at Main Street, Brampton, Ont., c.1960. Region of Peel Archives/Cecil Chinn Fonds.  

The city of Sudbury, Ontario, claims the honour of having installed the country’s first parking metres in August of 1940. Town bus on Queen Street West at Main Street, Brampton, Ont., c.1960. Region of Peel Archives/Cecil Chinn Fonds.  

Blackburn’s Service Station in Vancouver, B.C., 1928. City of Vancouver Archives, AM54-S4-: Bu.N274.2.

Blackburn’s Service Station in Vancouver, B.C., 1928. City of Vancouver Archives, AM54-S4-: Bu.N274.2.

Beverly Hills Motor Hotel in North York, Ont., c.1967. City of Toronto Archives fonds 217, series 249, file 8.

Beverly Hills Motor Hotel in North York, Ont., c.1967. City of Toronto Archives fonds 217, series 249, file 8.

For nearly half the year, driving in Canada faces the threat of snow and ice. Cleaning snow off a car in Ottawa, Ontario., 1959. Library and Archives Canada/Rosemary Gilliat Eaton fonds/e010977876.

For nearly half the year, driving in Canada faces the threat of snow and ice. Cleaning snow off a car in Ottawa, Ontario., 1959. Library and Archives Canada/Rosemary Gilliat Eaton fonds/e010977876.

In 1926, Dad bought a new Studebaker four-door with a canvas folding top. By the early 1930s, we had two tractors and it was time-consuming bringing the tractors in from the field for refuelling. A fuel truck was badly needed. The Studebaker was pulled out of the shed and into the workshop, where a complete motor overhaul was done. New tires were put on, the back half of the body was removed, a rear box installed that held four fuel drums. After harvesting, it was time to have some fun. The Studebaker was ideal for getting to a dance because we never ran out of fuel. Dad dubbed it the “Dancing Truck.” Antifreeze was a rare commodity in those days, so as it got colder we had to drain the water out of the radiator when not in use. After serving overseas in World War II and on my first visit back to the farm, I noticed the Dancing Truck was missing. My younger brother neglected to drain the rad during freeze-up and the resulting split in the engine block sealed its doom.
— Bob Jorgenson, on driving a Studebaker on the farm in Manitoba during the 1930s.