On May 25, 1904, the first automobile drove onto the streets of Edmonton. The man behind the wheel was businessman Joseph Morris. Morris worked as a merchant who wasted no time setting up his own business, JH Morris & Company, selling wholesale drinks, as soon as he arrived in Ontario. Later, he served as president of the Edmonton Exhibition Association for two years.
There was not a single traffic jam for Morris, and wherever he went, people stopped and marveled at the man behind the wheel of the first car. For more information, please visit the website edmonton-future.
Publication in the newspaper The Auto In Town
It was written that Joseph Morris decided to buy himself a Ford car (1903 Model A) – the first car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It is further stated that people saw him for the first time when he drove towards Strathcona on a hill. The townspeople lucky enough to witness this event were thrilled and waved to Morris.
During the car ride, it was very loud, with lots of wheezing and rattling sounds. Morris chose a car with a neat design and a gasoline engine. A horse-drawn carriage was attached to the car, which could seat 6 people.
What was the first car like?
Model A had an eight-horsepower engine and reached a maximum speed of 72 km/h. Ford cost $800, which was a considerable amount of money at the time. Joseph’s first car had a nice and attractive appearance. For the car to move, Joseph had to get out of the cab and crank it with a special handle.
The other local elite also wanted to keep up with Morris. As evidenced by T. Steven and R. Ingles, the directors of the Street Railway company, purchased a Rambler car. The vehicle was used by men taking turns.
Soon such a means of transportation for pleasant walks around the city will become a common occurrence in Edmonton.
License and traffic law
In a local newspaper publication, it is stated that cars must be registered by their owners in 1906, a year after Alberta became a province. The information posted on the website of the Edmonton Antique Car Club, which has a logo featuring the first car in the city, reports that there were over 30 cars in Alberta at the time, but Morris was the first to receive a license.
Everyone with a car had to provide their markers or license plates to the city council. After this, they had to register and receive a number. Driving without license plates was strictly prohibited, and drivers who violated these rules were fined heavily. If a car was involved in an accident, but not registered, and the driver hit a pedestrian, the car was sought out, confiscated, and the driver was sent to jail.
Anyone who wanted to drive a car had to pass a driving exam and obtain a license. The police carefully monitored traffic, and when they stopped someone without a license, they were fined.
During the dark hours, it was necessary to turn on the headlights. Driving at high speeds through the city was not allowed.
The first traffic accident in Edmonton
The event took place in 1907 on 45 Avenue. Jack Zdeb was driving on the street at 6:00 p.m. and did not turn on the headlights of his car. An 8-year-old girl was crossing the road. Jack did not see her in the darkness and hit her.
In addition, the man quickly fled the scene, leaving the girl alone lying on the road. Several hours passed, and the police visited Jack’s house, took the man into custody and confiscated his car. The trial lasted for some time, and Zdeb was found guilty of what he had done. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Construction of the Norwood plant
In 1914, several residents planned to establish a car factory in Norwood. They wanted to produce Baby Rex – 16 horsepower vehicles that would reach speeds of up to 90 km per hour. The engines were supposed to have air cooling. They even came up with a future price of $500. However, the factory never started working.