Winnipeg Cab History / 44: Private Carriages (1)
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The Victoria's low-slung body and absence of doors were purposely designed to allow ladies in voluminous dresses to get in and out easily. The photo, taken in 1919, is one of a series documenting Sir Augustus Meredith Nanton's Winnipeg home. The series of photos included two other vehicles, a two-wheeled "dog cart" and a 1911 Packard.


C.W. Wright, coachman, at kitchen entrance with Victoria [and] pair. Archives Manitoba, Winnipeg -- Homes -- Nanton, Augustus Meredith 32 (Negative N15432).

Winnipeg Cab History / 44

Private Carriages (1)

It's a safe assumption that a carriage with a separate driver's seat ("box") is a cab when we see it on a designated cab stand or in front of a livery stable. But how we distinguish between a cab and a private carriage in other street scenes?

True, Winnipeg horse cabs were standard four-passenger vehicles with no special features that would positively identify them in contemporary photos. Nevertheless, there is a strong likelihood that a four-passenger carriage is a cab rather than somebody's private transportation.

The four-passenger carriage was a specialized vehicle whose carrying capacity was beyond the needs of most private owners. If a person with the necessary cash wanted something more than a buggy, he or she would likely opt for a carriage like the Victoria in the picture. The Victoria was created for pleasure driving on sunny days. It allowed its owner to see and be seen and it made a statement about the owner's wealth and importance.

If they had to go out on a miserable night, carriage owners would likely hire a cab rather than exposing their own horses to cold or wet weather. Besides, in an emergency, a cab could usually be summoned faster than a horse could be harnessed:

"I want you... to take a cab, unless your carriage should be actually at the door... to drive straight to my house."
&emdash; Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), chapter 9.


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