It all started with one plate...
about 30 years ago on a family trip from Ottawa, Ontario to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1991. I was 14 at the time and happened to stumble upon a neat statue of liberty New York license plate by the side of hotel parking lot in Binghamton, NY. I thought to myself, what if I could collect one from each province and state for my wall at home? That's when my plate obsession began!
Automobiles were very much a rich man's toy and very few existed from 1895 to 1900. As the industrial revolution took hold throughout North America, more business tycoons and businesses themselves began to purchase 'horseless carriages'. The explosion of cars and trucks from 1900 to 1920 drastically shaped the world we know today.
Both provinces and states throughout North America grappled with how to regulate and pay for infrastructure required for this new modern marvel. In response to this, one key item was born - the license plate.
Ontario was the first province in Canada that passed a law in 1903 that required motorists to pay $2 for a leather license shield adorned with aluminum numbers. John C. Eaton bought the first two — one for his 1903 Winton, and the second for his National electric vehicle. Dr. Perry Doolittle, who would later found CAA, bought the third of what would eventually be 178 plates issued that year. Only a handful are known to survive.
From 1905 to 1910, Ontario's registration numbers grew exponentially and a second series of rubber plates was ordered by the province from Gutta Percha & Rubber Ltd. With registrations still skyrocketing, the province began to issue annual plates in 1911 with a striking cobalt blue porcelain plate from the McClary Stove Company of London, ON.
Several private contracts were issued from 1911 to 1931 to produce Ontario's license plate needs until which time provincial correctional facilities took over manufacturing - which is still the case to this day.
The tradition of issuing annual plates continued all the way to 1973 at which time permanent plates were introduced. A yearly validation sticker was used going forward which did away with the very wasteful process of discarding hundreds of thousands of plates every year.
Painted plates produced from 1973 to 1994 (which are still valid today) were well made and have had great longevity. Some would argue they are much better than the reflective plates that have since followed - but that's a discussion for another time!
YEAR OF MANUFACTURE
Have a general interest question or perhaps a neat Ontario plate you’re thinking of letting go?
I also buy collections - small or large. If I’m interested in what you have, I’ll offer a fair price and pick them up in person if possible. I’m always looking to expand my collection.
~ Thanks for visiting, Eric Vettoretti ~