Ottawa's Automobile History
Everyone knows I love postcards. Almost by definition they capture what people thought to be both distinctive and characteristic of a place at the time they were made. That makes them great for studying history. They are almost always colourized, and that makes them nice to look at. So when the good people at Jane’s Walk asked me to do a virtual tour of the city as the COVID crisis continues, I decided to do a series of tours using postcards from what is known as the Golden Age of Postcards, 1903-1914.
The goal is to give you a sense of place and a feeling for the life of the city at the height of the Edwardian Era, and the end of what is often called the Long 19th Century. But let’s not dally. Let’s get started with a tour of the Plaza. Then we’ll move on to other neighbourhoods.
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A Postcard Tour of the Plaza
We continue with our latest obsession of trying to identify Ottawa’s earliest automobiles. Today we have a great candidate. It’s Professor Achille Phillion’s magnificent steam-powered “quadricycle.” According to the newspapers, Professor Phillion drove his quadricycle...