TAXI-L Gallery of Cab History

Cabs and Omnibuses at the C.P.R. Station, 1910.

(Winnipeg, Manitoba - 10)

The Countess of Dufferin was the first locomotive to operate in Manitoba. She arrived by barge in 1877 to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway's Pembina Branch, which was to link Winnipeg with U.S. rail lines south of the border.

After ending her career in British Columbia, the Countess was returned to Winnipeg in 1910 and laid to rest in a park across Higgins Avenue from the C.P.R. Station. This photo commemorates the event.

To us, however, the background of the picture is at least as interesting as the Countess herself. Among other things it reveals that even as late as 1910 the cab business still ran on horse power.

The photo shows a total of nine horse-drawn omnibuses but only two cabs, not counting an open Victoria parked opposite the station entrance (to the left of the Countess's smokestack).

This suggests that the rail passenger business was largely monopolized by the omnibuses, and it may well be that the C.P.R. station was a closed concession. If so, the concession holder was possibly the Manitoba Cartage and Warehousing Company, which licensed 10 omnibuses in 1905-1906 (the last year for which we have detailed license information).

In the close-up below, one cab (3) and one omnibus (2) are parked at the foot of the ramp leading up to the main entrance of the station. Barring their way is (1) an official-looking gentleman in an overcoat. Evidently he is a "starter" who is waiting for a signal from a doorman before allowing one or the other vehicle to proceed.

Seven omnibuses are parked in a lot adjacent to the ramp. Some of them have their backs to the station, perhaps to make it easier for them to swing around into position at the foot of the ramp.

An omnibus and what appears to be a one-horse cab are parked on Higgins Avenue (below). They may represent overflow from the parking area on railway property, or they may represent independent operators who were excluded from the concession and forced to park on a street stand.

A public cab stand had been located adjacent to the C.P.R. station since the 1880's. However, in 1890 a bylaw (no. 1593) was passed to allow drays to occupy any vacant positions on the stand, suggesting that it was not heavily used by cabs. This may be further evidence of a closed concession on railway property, which would have severely limited any business reaching the street stand and discouraged its use by cabbies.

Picture source: Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Foote Collection, 1023.

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Revised February 13, 1998