110 years ago, Prince Edward Island banned automobiles

Last updated on September 5th, 2018

In 1908, there were 36,000 horses and only seven cars in Prince Edward Island. But that’s enough for an overwhelming majority of islanders to call for a ban on these machines, which are then called “instruments of death”.

That year, the provincial government yielded to popular pressure and voted unanimously to ban the automobile. The ban has gone down in history as the only one of its kind in North America.

Islanders were afraid of change, says author and historian Rudy Crocken, who wrote a book on the ban on cars 110 years ago. People, he says, had some of the noise and the strong smell of gas from these first cars. They feared that they would scare the horses.

However, no serious incidents are reported at the time.

There was an equestrian culture in Prince Edward Island at the time. There was a horse for three inhabitants.

Rudy Crocken, author and historian

It was not until 1913 that the government began to lift the ban gradually.

Cars are allowed in Charlottetown and Summerside and on some roads, but only three days a week. To get from one city to another, you have to put your car on a train. To cross some villages, it is necessary to cut the engine and to harness the machine to a horse.

But little by little, mentalities change, says Rudy Crocken. The automobile is allowed on a larger number of roads. And in 1919, the Government of Prince Edward Island lifts the ban completely.

Car sales are quickly exploding, says Fred Horne, City of Summerside’s Archivist. In 1919, his family was selling carts. She started selling cars.

According to the reports of Julien Lecacheur and François Pierre Dufault.

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