Birth of the automobile in Canada worth celebrating

From the sun-dappled forests of Vancouver Island to the towering granite cliffs of Newfoundland, this weekend Canadians will be celebrating the 150th birthday of this great nation. As proud as I am of this anniversary, I would like to recognize another milestone that is worthy of celebration — the 150th anniversary of the first automobile built in Canada. The first documented automobile built in Canada took place in the same year as Confederation, 1867, in Stanstead, Que. That’s where local jeweller and clockmaker, Henry Seth Taylor, designed and built a steam buggy. Taylor exhibited his new invention at a local fair, where it raced against trotting horses. The Stanstead Journal wrote about this new invention: “This mechanical curiosity is the neatest thing of the kind yet invented.”For several years afterward, Taylor toured the local countryside in his steam buggy, but he eventually lost interest in his invention and put it into storage. Taylor’s steam buggy survives to this day: it was displayed at the 2015 Canadian International AutoShow, and its permanent home is at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.Article Continued BelowIn 1893, William Still and Frederick B. Fetherstonhaugh designed and built Canada’s first electric vehicle in Toronto, and in 1896, George Foote Foss from Sherbrooke, Que., built the first successful gasoline-powered automobile in Canada.Then, in 1904, Henry Ford established Ford of Canada in Walkerville, Ont., and began producing Model Ts in 1908. In 1907, Sam McLaughlin founded the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in Oshawa. Since the early 20th century, the Canadian auto industry has become a major engine of our economy. Ontario is home to five of the world’s top automakers (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Toyota) and more than 350 parts manufacturers. The industry employs 90,000 skilled workers who produce 2.5 million vehicles per year.