Winnipeg Cab History / 34: Two-Horse Cabs (2)
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Click on the picture to see a larger version.

A bystander helps a female Paris cab driver and her fallen horse, about 1910.

The photo caption reads "The young cabwoman is a bit embarrassed! but in Paris there is no lack of gallant gentlemen; a devoted companion will soon have her horse back on its feet." In fact, she may not have been very pleased the gentleman's assistance. In order to qualify for her cab license she, like male cab drivers, had to prove that she could single handedly get a fallen horse back on its feet. (For more about Paris cab horses, see: Les Femmes Cocher: Cab Horses at


Paris Nouveau no. 2250 -- Les Femmes Cocher: L'Accident. (Item no. 13663625).

Winnipeg Cab History / 34

Two-Horse Cabs (2)

The persistence of two-horse cabs in Winnipeg may reflect an attitude toward horses here that differed from attitudes in more industrialized cities.

In London, Paris and other large cities where human and horse labour were cheap, horses and drivers were trapped in a ruthlessly exploitative industrial system. Horses were expendable components of that system and were deliberately worked to death.

Pulling a cab in these cities was usually the last stop in a horse's career before being converted into horse meat, leather, pet food, glue and fertilizer. Cab horses often collapsed in the street from accident or exhaustion, as shown in the picture at left.

In Canadian and American west horses and horsemanship were much more highly valued than they were in large industrialized cities, partly because the demands of the frontier economy put a high premium on labour of all kinds.

In 1910 Charles "Dublin Dan" James complained that he had to pay his drivers $12.50 a week compared to going rate of $9 a week in Montreal, and the Montreal drivers had to work as stable hands in addition to driving. Horses, like human workers, were a much-needed commodity and therefore were better treated than their counterparts in London, Paris, and large North American cities.


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