Model T Fords Built in Canada Part 1

Ford initially contracted with a company known as the Walkerville Wagon Works in 1904 to accomplish assembly of 1904 Ford AC vehicles in Canada, necessary to avoid taxes on imported vehicles. Ford ultimately purchased Walkerville Wagon Works and built a huge manufacturing complex on the site in order to carry out full scale manufacturing of the entire vehicles.

Ford was the world’s leading manufacturer of automobiles by the time the Model T began production near the end of 1908. Early in the history of Ford Motor Company a Canadian businessman, Gordon McGregor, wanted to invest in the Ford Motor Company. McGregor was the owner of the Walkerville Wagon Works located on a large parcel of land on the south shore of the Detroit River. Most of us think of Canada as being North of the USA. In fact Walkerville (known as Windsor today) was entirely south of Detroit, with the Detroit river separating downtown Detroit from what was then a tiny Canadian town.

Ford of Canada was set up as a sister company to Ford Motor Company in the USA. Initially Henry Ford owned a little more than 10 percent of Ford of Canada. Other investors, including McGregor, owned the rest. Ford of Canada was given the task of supplying Ford vehicles to the world excluding the USA, Britain, and Ireland. This started with Walkerville producing around 100 Model AC cars in 1904 built from parts manufactured at Ford vendors in the USA as Ford did not manufacture anything in those days, Ford designed and assembled cars.

An aerial view of the Ford Walkerville complex in the 1930’s.

By the time Model T production began at Walkerville most parts of the car, excluding the engine and transmission parts were being made in Canada, either by vendors or at the Walkerville Ford plant. A town grew up around the plant known as Ford City.

Residents of Walkerville voted to change the name of the city to Windsor in 1934. Not everyone agreed.
A 1909 Model T Ford in the Canadian Automotive Museum. The windshield was an accessory available either from Ford of Canada or from various sources in the era. Canadian Model T’s would standardize on 30 X 3 1/2″ tires on all four wheels by 1910. This car is equipped with an accessory spare tire bracket which blocks the driver from entering or exiting on that side.
Canada had some provinces with cars driving on the LH side of the road while others were like the United States. Confusing! As a result some Canadian built Model T’s have RH drive like this 1911 runabout that was for sale on eBay a few years ago.
Things get crowded with RH drive but it all fits.
Fenders on early (pre – 1913) Canadian Model T’s have what is called a double bead. Very distinctive and not reproduced.
Street scene in Vancouver showing a nearly new Canadian built right hand drive 1912 touring parked behind another early teens car – Huppmobile maybe?
Beginning with 1913 model year the Canadian built Model T Fords had serial numbers beginning with C. Prior to this serial numbers were assigned in batches to Canadian production by Ford in Highland Park Michigan .
Patterns for engine castings were made at Highland Park. The “Made in USA” logo was deleted from patterns sent to Canada so that the castings (made in Canada) had a faint rectangle showing where the word plate had been removed. This is a 1914 Canadian engine that someone decided to paint in a lovely earth tone. Originally Canadian engines were painted black just like the ones sold in the rest of the world.
Canadian Model T bodies have doors on both sides to accommodate the steering column position confusion. This is a 1913 runabout.
Not many Canadian town cars were built. 1917 was the final year for town car production in both Canada and the USA.
Canadian prices were higher than the same car in the USA. These prices are in Canadian dollars.
Ford was still the most popular car in the world when this advertisement was made in 1919.
Canadian Model T Ford bodies evolved differently than the cars built in the USA. Here is a group of new 1921 tourings shown in a Vancouver Island warehouse. Notice the different slanted windshields and different rear windows compared to USA built Fords of the same year.
Another 1921 – 23 Canadian Model T Ford touring.
Then as now it’s hard to get the kids to look the right way for pictures. This young family has two Model T’s in the driveway, an early 1920’s Canadian touring and a closed car.
Model T Fords built in Canada were exported to many countries around the world both as complete cars and as parts to be assembled in Ford of Canada owned assembly plants. This early 1920’s Canadian touring was sold new in Sweden. Notice the nickel plated radiator shell and headlight rims – these options were not available on USA built Fords at that time.
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