Before there were motorcars, there were horses and carriages. Goods and people could be taken from one point to another with horsepower so what brought about the change to the horseless carriage? Keeping horses was, as it still is, an expensive proposition far beyond the purse of most of the middling classes and totally out of reach for those at the bottom of the class system. Add to that horses could be cantankerous, had to be fed whether they were being used or not, had to be kept in good health and decently housed. Carriages were also not very protective of their passengers so injuries and even death could result from accidents.
It was not only buggy accidents which could be injurious to health, but the animals themselves, or rather, what they produced. Around about the time that automobiles were invented, germ theory of medicine was gaining converts. Efforts were made to protect food from contamination. Those with a stake in public health realized that the fly was a major contaminator which picked up and spread germs from various sources such as horse droppings in the street and stables.
When cost and public health were taken into consideration the motorcar seemed a good option, at least for the well-to-do who could afford them. And so it remained, until Henry Ford and his production line came up with a car with the aim of being affordable for the masses – the Model T. The Model T began production in 1908; and continued to be produced for 19 years. Ford produced millions of them. Maybe your family owned one. Maybe they still do, as many have survived.
Ford cars on display at Steamship Days, Bowen Island
Robertson, Heather. Driving Force: The McLaughlin Family and the Age of the Car. McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, 1995
Sherk, Bill. 60 Years Behind the Wheel: The Cars We Drove in Canada 1900-1960. Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2003.