Winnipeg Cab History / 43: Early Automobiles
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This dramatic 1903 snapshot captures one of the earliest cars in Winnipeg squeezing between a horse cab and a wagon in the 400-block of Main Street, heading south.


1903. View of Main St. South from Portage Ave., Winnipeg. Archives Manitoba, Ernest Crocker Collection 116.

Winnipeg Cab History / 43

Early Automobiles

The first automobile in Winnipeg was reputedly a three-wheeled Knox purchased by University of Manitoba professor Edgar Boteler Kenrick in 1901, but it was not until 1910 that motor cars became a serious threat to the horse cab.

The number of horse cabs remained almost static between 1882 and 1910. In 1882 cabs and omnibuses constituted the only form of public transportation other than a single streetcar line down Main Street. Moreover, few urban dwellers could afford private transportation of their own.

Over the years the horse-cab's share of the transportation market steadily dwindled as horse-drawn and electric streetcar lines expanded, bicycles became fashionable and, after 1900, cars began to appear.

It was only the city's growing population, from less than 8,000 in 1881 to more than 136,0000 in 1911, that gave the cab business a fairly stable customer base and allowed it to operate virtually unchanged for 30 years.


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