Winnipeg Cab History / 63: The Winnipeg Taxi War (3)
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Telephone book ads from the 1920s. The Veterans ad, top, appeals to customer patriotism with proprietor R.H. Ellison citing his service with the second battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles. Bruce Russell's frank appeal to charity was unique (he dropped it in later ads). The third ad makes closed and heated sedans a selling point aimed at taxi customers tired of chilly rides in open touring cars.

The bottom two ads appealed to customer snobbery by offering "no conspicuous colors" and "private cars". These unmarked cars allowed customers the fantasy of riding in their own chauffeured limos. George Moore aimed at the same mentality when he offered "plain cars" to his U-drive customers. Unmarked cars also saved taxi owners the expense of painting them in fleet colours.


From top: (a) and (b), Manitoba Government Telephones, Official Telephone Directory No. 36, January, 1920, Classified Business Directory p. 8; (c), No. 40, 1921, Classified Business Directory p. 8; (d) and (e), No. 54, 1925, pp. 269 and 264.

Winnipeg Cab History / 63

The Winnipeg Taxi War (3)

Despite the decision upholding the City of Winnipeg's authority to regulate the taxi industry a new bylaw was required and this was passed in July, 1932.

A minimum fare was included once again, but this time it was lowered in a vain attempt to placate George Moore. To reassure drivers who thought that the minimum fare would threaten their incomes by driving away customers, council included a provision for a minimum wage of $18 for a 60 hour week.

This bylaw was ignored by everyone. Even the old line companies, who had pressed for a high minimum fare, were forced to ignore it in practice if they wanted to compete with Moore's Taxi and other companies that charged zone rates or flat rates.

Some companies got around the minimum fare by giving passengers discount coupons that they could use on subsequent rides, a gambit that had been used by jitney operators. Moore offered a less direct and probably more attractive enticement in the form of coupons that were redeemable for premiums (cigarette cases and lady's compacts). City council responded in 1935 by making all such marketing ploys illegal.

Competition from Moore and other cut-rate operators forced Diamond to change tactics. According to John Blackie, Diamond "had a fleet of Elcars and I believe some Checkers. In 1932 they took all these old cabs out of service and put on a fleet of Model B Ford sedans. To advertise the new '32 Fords the company gave free rides anywhere in the city limits the day the cars went into service."

This desperate and expensive move may have hastened Diamond's demise. By 1934 the company was out of business.


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