Brandon’s early auto era chaotic
In 1904 horseless carriages made an initial appearance on Brandon streets.
Local newspapers reported that Ernest Christie, founder of Christie’s School Supplies:
“purchased a Ford auto upon which he intends to do some speeding on local streets. This machine will be the first imported by a resident of Brandon.”
Next came a report that “T. S. Matheson’s new auto, an Olds runabout, is here and the owner is speeding around the city.”
Five weeks (and several automotive-inspired horse stampedes) later, city fathers prepared a bylaw for the regulating and controlling of motor vehicles.
– Brandon: A City by G. F. Barker
In 1906 these two Brandon women fearlessly took to driving on the open road.
Miss Ford is at the wheel and her passenger is Miss Trotter.
Driving the heavier automobile (a one-cylinder job) is T. B. Mitchell, with Harry Crowe and Jack Pritchard advising from the back seat.
The license plates are 84 and 86, so there were at least that many automobiles in Manitoba that year.
In 1911 when this photo was taken there were about one hundred automobiles in Brandon.
Brandon had its own automobile club, and here is one of the city’s first car rallies lined up in front of the Empire Hotel, 725 Rosser Avenue, in 1911.
The next year, in February, even though the temperatures had dipped to forty-three below, these enthusiasts took part in what they called the Victoria Avenue Driving Club matinee.
– Brandon: a prospect of a city by Mary Hume
In 1911 six of the Brandon’s approximately one hundred automobile owners were penalized for operating their machines at night without lights.
By resolution, auto club members denounced police for employing a spotter and condemned the magistrate who accepted such informant’s evidence.
Six more residents, that same week and for the identical offence, pleaded guilty in magistrate’s court (while blaming extinguished lights upon the rough streets) and were advised that many complaints had been received about car operators.
Still, accidents continued and people suffered injuries when automobile axles broke or wheels flew off.
This caused those machines to swerve wildly about the thoroughfares, endangering life and property, before stopping.
More than one owner lost his vehicle at a city railway crossing.
Then another Auto Club howl went up with the passing of a bylaw levying a fifty-dollar penalty upon any driver who exceeded ten miles per hour along local roads or four miles an hour at intersections.
In 1920, the first real influx of automobiles arrived in Brandon.
New right-of-way rules were introduced. Cars might be parked on any side street, but not along Rosser Avenue.
Use of thoroughfares for fast driving would bring police action.
Alexander Fraser, the police magistrate, had very little lenience with drivers who broke the law.
The result was a significant increase in city revenues from fines levied by Fraser.
He subsequently received a raise from city council.
Newspapers stated that people were buying automobiles right and left, making it a wonder how some can afford it, if indeed, they can afford it.
A Brandon Sun editorial went on to say:
“The gasoline motor, capable of vast service to mankind and yet developing in ways that inspire awe, if not alarm, is here to stay.
They line the streets solidly, parade along thoroughfares in city and country, bringing a problem of traffic control that keeps getting worse every day.
Thousands of people, buying and riding in them, are spending money that used to go into homes and furniture and clothes and education.
Also, they are killing people pretty freely … It is a wonderful genie, this motor genie which somebody has let out of its bottle.” – Brandon: A City
AAA’s Main Man
The Chairman of the American Automobile Association (AAA) board, and the first Canadian to hold this position, is one of our own.
Brandon’s Don Main was elected to the lead the 55 million member group in May 2015.
“Don Main has been an integral part in maintaining AAA’s position of leadership in the automotive industry over the past decade,” says Marshall Doney, AAA President. “As chairman, he will ensure we maintain that position.”
Don takes the helm at unique time in the AAA’s history.
“Automotive technology is changing faster than ever before,” Marshall says. He stresses the need for AAA to “educate motorists about the growing fleet of connected cars and the safe use of technology in the vehicle.”
“This is an exciting time for AAA,” Don says. “As we navigate through the challenges of connected car issues, we must not lose sight of our… commitment to be the motorist’s advocate.”
The owner of Brandon’s Pik-A-Dilly RV Centre, Don has worked for over thirty years to strengthen the RV industry.
The business began in 1962, when his father, Frank Main, introduced an emerging North American-wide RV trend to Brandon.
For the first time, manufacturers were turning out well designed, comfortable, camping trailers. And the public was eager to experience the outdoors in style.
Eight years later, aware that the fledgling RV industry needed structure, Frank worked to create an RV dealer’s association for Manitoba.
When Don became owner in 1978, he, too, worked with like-minded dealers to continuously improve customer service.
Don also became active in associations that promote and protect the interests of travellers.
That led to a range of executive roles including Chair of the board for the Manitoba and the National Canadian Automobile Association.
And now, the talented leader is continuing this role on an international stage.
– Reprinted from Brandon Now magazine
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