Those Aren’t Dinner Plates

1914 BC Auto License
1914 BC Auto License

This 1914 BC Auto License Plate can be found on display at the museum

British Columbia had been issuing automobile license plates for only ten years when this one had been struck — or in this case, printed.

The car itself had not existed long and they were already driving around on the roads of BC. The first license plates were issued in 1904, although cars had been in BC since 1890. ( The plates have changed since then and so have the cars and roads. The purpose for them remain much the same.

Early ones from 1904 to 1912, while looking very much like smaller versions of modern ones, were made of leather. This 1914 one and the 1913 one were made of heavy metal with a porcelain coating. Latter ones were lithographed flat steel plates. Embossing methods used currently and enamelling processes were not as advanced as they are today. During times of metal shortage like during times of war, only one plate was required per passenger vehicle. At times plates were issued on a yearly basis. At other times — such as the current time — decals or tags allowed plates to be used for longer periods with the tags indicating the current year.

There were a number of issues leading to the start of licensing cars and license plates. Early on there were issues with drivers driving recklessly — that’s really nothing new is it?  Drivers were spooking horses and throwing their riders — that’s a bit different unless you replace “horse” with “bicycle” — and running down pedestrians. The drivers generally got away with it because they could not be easily identified. Cars were more for “sport” than for transportation at the time.

There was a growing resentment towards “automobilists” — as they were called. Governments began regulating them, but owners of these prestige items were reluctant to mark up their shiny, expensive automobiles with painted numbers or tags. The elite car owners did not want their automobiles to look like a common taxi, reducing the car value.

License plates were a way to get around painting numbers directly on the vehicles. Uniform, cleanly, nicely designed plates were a compromise which was come up with eventually as cars became more common. The whole point was to make the owner or driver accountable for their driving.

That is something that hasn’t changed that much in a hundred years or so.1914 BC Auto License – A History of British Columbia License Plates

History of British Columbia License Plates

Archive: British Columbia Porcelain License Plates

A License Plate Collector’s Perspective – The Plate Hut

40 Years of Porcelain License Plates

Station Museum Needs Park Photos

Port Moody Park

Port Moody Park

The Port Moody Station Museum celebrates Heritage Week this Feb. 21 to 27 with displays about local parks and an Antique Appraisal event on Feb. 27th. We have created two displays celebrating park heritage. Working with the Port Moody Parks Department and Heritage Commission, we are putting together a display about the history of Port Moody parks at City Hall. The other display, at the Station Museum, depicts the natural history of the Inlet and the impact of human development on the area.

While the Station Museum maintains a large number of historical photos, there are very few that show families enjoying local parks over the years. It is our hope that long time Port Moody residents will be willing to loan us photos taken in local parks in years gone by. These images would provide a great compliment to our park history display at the Galleria. The display will include information about local parks and features information about the parks creation and uses. Images of parks such as Old Orchard, Easthill, Westhill, Pioneer Memorial and Belcarra would be helpful. These parks have all played a significant role in the community but have very little historical documentation.

The Natural History display is on at the Station Museum now until the end of March. It features full sized taxidermy animals including a bald eagle, lynx and river otter. Visitors can learn more about the natural history of the Inlet and the effects of human settlement. The Park History display will be showing at the City Hall Galleria from Feb. 21st to March 6th.

For further information or to loan a photo, contact: Rebecca Clarke, Museum Coordinator at 604.939.1648 or