The automotive industry in Canada has a long and rich history of success and innovation. Today, Canada is one of the largest auto producers in the world, with its factories putting on the road almost 3 million cars per year. To reach this point, many Canadians have had to put bold, daring ideas into practice over the years.
If you’re a student at auto mechanic schools or interested in pursuing auto mechanic training, here are a few historic items and anecdotes to help you fully understand the amazing history of the Canadian automotive industry.
The First Canadian Automobile
In 1867, a clockmaker and jeweller from Stanstead, Quebec named Seth Taylor unveiled his Steam Buggy at the Stanstead Fair. Running on steam power, Taylor’s buggy had taken him five years to design and two more to build. Though Taylor later abandoned his invention after the Buggy crashed at a public event, he can still be credited today as the inventor of the very first Canadian automobile.
McLaughlin-Buick becomes GM Canada
A huge player in the Canadian automotive industry, GM Canada had humble beginnings as the McLaughlin Company of Oshawa, Ontario, originally a carriage-maker. At the beginning of the 20th century, the car as we know it today was starting to take shape and multiple companies were experimenting with different ideas and car models. In 1907, Sam McLaughlin partnered with the American William Durant, at the time the head of Buick, to form the McLaughlin-Buick Company. By 1918, they officially changed the name to General Motors Canada. The company’s success and longevity comes from the two companies’ mutually beneficial partnership. The first McLaughlin cars, for example, were equipped with Buick engines.
The Chrysler Airflow’s radical design
In the era of box-shaped cars, the Chrysler Airflow, introduced in 1934, stood out. The car, made in Canada, featured a more rounded design and front, giving it a sexier and more aerodynamic look and feel. Though this is a standard feature for cars today, it’s interesting to note that consumers, at the time, were slow to adopt the design. In the end, the Chrysler Airflow was a tremendously influential car, but not necessarily a popular one.
Chrysler brings power-steering to the market
Though power steering was invented in the 1920s by Francis W. Davis and George Jessup, it only made its commercial debut with Chrysler Canada’s 1951 Imperial. Power-steering make heavy vehicles easier to manoeuvre and is now a standard feature in most vehicles today. Once power steering was introduced to consumers, there was simply no going back.
The Canada-US Automotive Products Agreement is introduced
In 1965, an auto pact was reached between Canada and the US. This landmark accord allowed Canada’s automotive sector to bloom and reach full maturity. With the agreement in place, vehicles as well as automotive parts could travel freely across borders, without tariffs or additional fees. The agreement invigorated the Canadian car industry, creating jobs and raising wages for workers in a wide range of automotive careers.