Canada has long been a major player in the auto industry—it was the world’s second largest producer of cars in the 1920s and ’30s.

In the early days of car-making, every vehicle was hand-crafted by individual craftsmen in small shops. As time passed, car companies employed tradesmen in ever-larger factories to increase production. Today, cars pour off of highly-mechanized assembly lines—a system pioneered by Henry Ford in 1908.

It’s increasingly difficult to classify cars as ‘domestic’ or ‘foreign.’ Many so-called foreign cars are actually produced—in whole or in part—in Canada. Might a car’s method of production—whether it is handcrafted or mass-produced—affect how Canadian it truly is?

Canada has long been a major player in the auto industry—it was the world’s second largest producer of cars in the 1920s and ’30s.

In the early days of car-making, every vehicle was hand-crafted by individual craftsmen in small shops. As time passed, car companies employed tradesmen in ever-larger factories to increase production. Today, cars pour off of highly-mechanized assembly lines—a system pioneered by Henry Ford in 1908.

It’s increasingly difficult to classify cars as ‘domestic’ or ‘foreign.’ Many so-called foreign cars are actually produced—in whole or in part—in Canada. Might a car’s method of production—whether it is handcrafted or mass-produced—affect how Canadian it truly is?

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Henry Seth Taylor Steam Buggy, 1867

Henry Seth Taylor designed and built his Steam Buggy in Stanstead, Quebec. It was the very first car to be designed and constructed in Canada. Henry Seth Taylor, a jeweller and clockmaker, designed the whole machine—steam engine, working parts, frame and body. He created many of the working parts himself. Construction of the Steam Buggy is believed to have started in 1865, and it was unveiled at the Stanstead Fall Fair in 1867.

Canada Science and Technology Museum
1867
Stanstead, Quebec, CANADA
CSTM 1983.0423
© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Format: Research, group discussion, writing

Watch the split-screen video on the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition website, noting the similarities and differences between the two assembly lines. Discuss the following questions as a group:

• What are the visible similarities and differences between the two work environments?

• How are the workers’ tasks similar? How are they different?

• How are workers themselves different in each of the videos?

On your own, write two fictitious journal entries from the point of view of an auto worker. The first entry should depict a worker making the transition from hand crafting to assembly line production in the early 20th century. The second entry should reflect a current viewpoint.

Base your journal entries on information gathered from the split-screen video.

Tip: Also explore the Read More
Format: Research, group discussion, writing

Watch the split-screen video on the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition website, noting the similarities and differences between the two assembly lines. Discuss the following questions as a group:

• What are the visible similarities and differences between the two work environments?

• How are the workers’ tasks similar? How are they different?

• How are workers themselves different in each of the videos?

On your own, write two fictitious journal entries from the point of view of an auto worker. The first entry should depict a worker making the transition from hand crafting to assembly line production in the early 20th century. The second entry should reflect a current viewpoint.

Base your journal entries on information gathered from the split-screen video.

Tip: Also explore the exhibition’s timeline, particularly entries from the 1920s and the 1930s. This information will help you to create a more realistic ‘snapshot’ of a day in the life of an assembly line worker.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Canadians sometimes create their own car companies using funds borrowed in Canada. Canadians also use foreign investments to run companies in Canada. Some foreign companies come to Canada and start ‘Canadian’ divisions, while others simply build assembly plants.

Materials and parts may also impact how Canadian a car is. Canada is a well-known producer of raw materials, but Canadian companies also process these materials and form them into parts. In the past few decades, auto-parts production has become very important to Canada’s economy.
Canadians sometimes create their own car companies using funds borrowed in Canada. Canadians also use foreign investments to run companies in Canada. Some foreign companies come to Canada and start ‘Canadian’ divisions, while others simply build assembly plants.

Materials and parts may also impact how Canadian a car is. Canada is a well-known producer of raw materials, but Canadian companies also process these materials and form them into parts. In the past few decades, auto-parts production has become very important to Canada’s economy.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Dofasco-ArcelorMittal basic oxygen steelmaking facility, 2004

This image shows the control pulpit of a crane. The worker is loading molten iron into the oxygen furnace, in which scrap steel and iron are combined to make steel.

Photo: Vytas Beniusis
2004
© Dofasco-ArcelorMittal. All Rights Reserved.


Champion Spark Plug Co. of Canada Ltd., 1935

This image shows the Champion Spark Plug Company’s Assembly and Inspection Department. What can you learn about auto parts production in the early twentieth century from this photograph? How have work environments changed since this time?

National Film Board of Canada, Library and Archives Canada PA-176477
1935
Windsor, Ontario, CANADA
© Library and Archives Canada. All Rights Reserved.


Format: Research, journalistic writing

Choose an event from the list below and write a newspaper article revealing how it impacted Canada’s car industry. Use your class history resources and the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition to help you in your investigation. Write your article as if you were a reporter at the time of the event. Be sure to explain how your chosen events impacted primary, secondary and tertiary industries related to the automotive sector.

• Industrial Revolution

• First World War

• Second World War

• Auto Pact

• World Oil Crisis

Format your news report following the 5Ws of investigation, answering the following questions:

• WHO is involved (which governments, organizations or individuals)

• WHAT is going on

• WHERE is the event happening, and WHERE is its impact being felt

• WHEN will key events happen

• WHY is this event Read More
Format: Research, journalistic writing

Choose an event from the list below and write a newspaper article revealing how it impacted Canada’s car industry. Use your class history resources and the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition to help you in your investigation. Write your article as if you were a reporter at the time of the event. Be sure to explain how your chosen events impacted primary, secondary and tertiary industries related to the automotive sector.

• Industrial Revolution

• First World War

• Second World War

• Auto Pact

• World Oil Crisis

Format your news report following the 5Ws of investigation, answering the following questions:

• WHO is involved (which governments, organizations or individuals)

• WHAT is going on

• WHERE is the event happening, and WHERE is its impact being felt

• WHEN will key events happen

• WHY is this event occurring, and WHY impacting the automotive sector

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will identify how the manufacturing sector has changed over time.
  • Students will identify and understand the impacts of major world events on the automotive industry in Canada, including related primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

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