Winnipeg Cab History / 46: Taxicabs (1)
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Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Above:This photo belongs to Alma Bentley, a member of the Manitoba Classic and Antique Automobile Association. Mrs. Bentley's father was a mechanic or driver for the Winnipeg Taxicab Co. In the photo he is seated on the hood of the little car in front of the garage. Below: Ford town car taxi introduced by the Taxicab and Auto Livery Co. in 1910. Both the Ford and Franklin town cars had a landaulet body style.


Top: Alma Bentley. Bottom: "New Type of Taxicab," Winnipeg Telegram, March 28, 1910, p. 2.

Winnipeg Cab History / 46

Taxicabs (1)

On March 21, 1910, the Winnipeg Free Press announced the arrival of Winnipeg's first taxicabs, part of a fleet of Franklin town cars introduced by the Winnipeg Taxicab Company. By the end of the year there were three taxicab companies operating in Winnipeg with a combined fleet of 28 cars.

The announcement in effect sounded the death knell of the horse cab which had survived competition from other modes of transportation such as the streetcar and the bicycle. The taxicab was the first mode to challenge the horse cab in its own market.

The taxicab was helped by its novelty. It gave non-motorists a chance to experience the thrill of riding in an automobile. However, its real advantage was speed. Despite restrictive speed limits, the taxicab could pick up and deliver passengers much more quickly than the horse cab.

In contrast to other cities where the taxi business evolved out of the livery trade, Winnipeg's taxis were introduced by complete outsiders. The principal owners of the Winnipeg Taxicab Company were W.S. King, a realtor, and T.J. Murray, a lawyer. Winnipeg Taxicab disappeared from the city directory in 1917, perhaps an early victim of the jitneys.

In the photo at top left, the license number 1682 is visible on the taxi radiator. The numbers 1678 to 1682 were registered to the Winnipeg Taxicab Co. in 1910.

The license plate is homemade, probably using house numbers fastened to a piece of leather. Manitoba did not issue license plates until 1911, so between 1907 and 1910 car owners painted license numbers on their cars or used house numbers.

The car in the top photo lacks the cylindrical hood and round grill that were distinctive features of the Franklin. It looks more like a Ford.


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