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The 1920s were known as "the Roaring Twenties" or "the Jazz Age" in North America, and Western Europe. The end of the First World War in 1918 caused instability and labour unrest as Canada, and the world, transitioned from war to peace time economies. Cultural and artistic accomplishments nonetheless flourished, fed by the new medium of radio broadcasting. Canada had licensed its first radio broadcasting station. The automobile industry grew as public demand for cars increased. By 1929, there were over one million cars in Canada, which stimulated other car-related industries, such as highway construction, gas stations, motels, and service stations. The stock market crash of 1929 brought development to a halt, as world economies were thrown into a Great Depression.


Miss Dorothy Wood and her horse jumping over a Gray-Dort car


Gray-Dort motors starts out as a carriage works company, and from 1915 to 1925 is one of the most successful automakers in Canada.

Like many car manufacturers, Gray-Dort produced cars in Canada using imported parts. By 1916, Gray-Dort cars were made using entirely Canadian components.

Photo: 1921
Glenbow Archives

The Ford T/ Doctor’s Coupe, “As dependable as the doctor himself”. Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd, Walkerville, Ontario


The Doctor's Coupe, an enclosed style of Ford, was first introduced in 1910-11.

It's not certain where it got its nickname but some suggests it's because it was popular among Doctor's who found it convenient for carrying their equipment and for travelling to their various appointments. Others suggest it was because of Ford's advertising of the coupe; one of these ads was titled "Dependable as the doctor himself".

Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1975.0212

Brooks Steamers in the Stratford Factory, Stratford, Ontario


Made in Canada, the Brooks Steam Automobile is introduced in 1923 at the Toronto Exhibition.

Brooks cars were built partially of strengthened fabric. The Meritas brand cloth helped to make the car lighter in order to improve the power to weight ratio. Car sales never took off however, and the company closed production during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Photo: ca. 1926
Courtesy of The Steam Car Club of Great Britain

The McLaughlin-Buick used for the Canadian visit of Edward, the Prince of Wales and George, the Duke of York in 1927 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Confederation.


McLaughlin-Buick manufactures custom cars for royalty.

The McLaughlin Company of Oshawa, Ontario, was originally a carriage-maker. In 1907, Sam McLaughlin partnered with American William Durant, head of Buick, to form the McLaughlin-Buick Company. In 1918, it officially became GM Canada.

Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1986.0157

This 1928 Chrysler Plymouth Q-Four was a revamp of the four-cylinder Chrysler 52 which ceased production that same year.


In 1925, Chrysler of Canada is founded in Windsor, Ontario and the Plymouth Q-Four is the first Plymouth automobile manufactured in Canada.

A total of 60,000 Model Q Plymouths were sold in North America in 1928, their first year of production.

Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1989.0239

1929 Durant Model 40 from the Canada Science and Technology Museum


Durant Motors of Canada introduces the Model 40 as its four-cylinder market entry for 1929.

The Model 40 featured a 36 horsepower engine and was available in five body styles in both standard and deluxe trim. Despite its features, the Model 40 could not save the failing company. Nine years after it opened its first plant in Leaside, Ontario, Durant Motors of Canada gave control of the company to Canadian general manager Roy Kerby. It became Dominion Motors Ltd in 1931.

Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1976.0763

In The News

Community Picnic at foot of Dry Canyon, Hesketh area, Alberta


Canada is the world's second-largest producer of cars, after the United States.

By the end of the 1920s, the mass production of cars meant they were more affordable for more families. Canadians registered an impressive 1.9 million cars by the end of the decade.

Photo: ca. 1920
Glenbow Archives, NA-2574-42

Crowds on the grounds of Parliament Hill in Ottawa for Canada's Diamond Jubilee celebrations


Canadians celebrate the 60th anniversary of Confederation.

Across the country, Canadians joined in the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Confederation. A special, all-day, cross-Canada broadcast treated listeners to speeches by dignitaries and a mass performance of "O Canada," sung by choirs across the country and including the newly installed Peace Tower Carillon. It marked the first ever nationwide broadcast, and could be heard as far away as South America and Britain.

Photo: July 1927
Canada Science and Technology Museum, CN Collection, CN002905

Toronto traffic jam


In 1928, Canadian automakers produce 240,000 vehicles – just under half of these are for export.

Photo: 1929
City of Toronto Archives

Unemployed demonstration, Edmonton, Alberta


The New York Stock Exchange crashes, losing $14 billion in value in one day alone – Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929.

The stock market crash, a process which began in October of 1929 following a six-year period of inflated stock prices, was the worst in American history. Its effects were felt around the world, and were part of a chain of events that led to the Great Depression. The Depression ended in 1941, when the United States entered the Second World War. However, it was not until November 1954 that the stock market returned to pre-1929 levels.

Photo: December 1932
Glenbow Archives, NC-6-13068g

Pop Culture

The Winnipeg Falcons are the gold medal winners at the first Olympic hockey game


Ice hockey is introduced for the first time at the Summer Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The Canadian men’s hockey team wins gold.

Since the introduction of hockey as an Olympic sport, Canada's men's teams have won 20 medals including eight gold – more than any other country. Women's hockey was introduced in 1998, and Canada's women's teams won medals at the four subsequent Olympic winter games, including three gold and one silver.

Photo: 1920
Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

Traffic in Vancouver at Hastings and Granville Streets


British Columbia motorists join Quebec and Ontario in driving on the right side of the road.

In some provinces, cars were driven on the left side of the road, as was common in other parts of the Commonwealth. British Columbia switched to driving on the right side of the road in 1922, followed soon after by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Photo: 1922
Dominion Photo Co., Vancouver Public Library VPL 21359

Egypt's mysterious king, Tutankhamun


Archaeologist Howard Carter discovers the tomb of Tutankhamun, causing a revival of interest in the history and culture of ancient Egypt.

People in the western world have been fascinated with ancient Egypt ever since Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign, which extended from 1798 to 1801. "Egyptomania" has had a significant influence on art, culture, and science since that time. The fascination with "King Tut" continues to this day.

Photo: Canadian Museum of Civilization

Cars motoring on the world's first highway, in Italy, 35 years after its construction


The world's first motorway (highway) is finished in Italy, three years after it was begun. Other countries soon begin constructing their own highways.

Many countries now have fully developed highway systems. For example, the United States has the world's largest highway network with 6,430,366 kilometres of road. The longest international highway is the Pan-American Highway, which connects countries in the Americas through 25,000 kilometres of roadways.

Photo: 1959
Gazetta del Popolo, Archivio Photographico, cart. 67, busta 3932,
Archivio Storico della Città di Torino
Not to be reproduced or duplicated in any way

John Logie Baird poses beside his 'televisor'.


John Logie Baird invents the first black and white television system.

While Baird's "televisor" presented only faint images and silhouettes, his new invention whetted the public's appetite for this new technology. Emerging electronic technologies soon replaced Baird's electromechanical system. However, he is recognized as an important contributor to the development of television.

Photo: 1926
National Media Museum/SSPL