Henry Seth Taylor’s Steam Buggy is also 150 years old
Henry Seth Taylor was a watchmaker and jeweller in Stanstead, a little town on the south border of Quebec. Taylor invented Canada’s first car, the four-wheeled Steam Buggy, in 1867. This was two decades before Karl Benz officially invented his Patent Motor Car. Sadly, the vehicle didn’t get the appreciation it deserved at the time. The people of Taylor’s hometown ridiculed the vehicle. In fact, many considered the invention was a large and useless toy.
The vehicle had four wheels, was made of wood, with what looks like a thin strip of metal bent around the edge as tires. A two-cylinder boiler mounted behind the driver produced power. This system allowed the buggy to go at a top speed of roughly 24 km/h. A vertical coal-fired boiler would generate steam… “The boiler was connected by rubber hoses to a six-gallon water tank located between the front wheels,” Mark Kearney and Randy Ray wrote in the book Whatever Happened To…? “Forward and reverse movements were controlled by a lever, and a vertical crank connected to the wheels was used for steering,” Kearney and Ray write. So there was no steering wheel and no brakes either!
First car accident
This mistake have caused the first automobile accident in Canadian history. Unfortunately, Taylor crashed his invention at the bottom of a steep hill but was able to jump off in time. The Steam Buggy was a total loss and Taylor decided to give up and build a steam-powered yacht instead. He kept the broken car in the back of his barn until it was re-discovered and eventually taken to the United States. Finally, they restored the vehicle (with brakes this time) and returned to Canada afterwards. It eventually became the property of the Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. A stamp featuring the Steam Buggy was designed by Joseph Gault and Tiit Telmet and issued on August 23, 1993.