• Canada Day

Canada Day and The Legacy of The Automobile

One cannot talk about freedoms and opportunities in Canada without mentioning the automobile and the important role it has played for more than a century.

Cliff Lafreniere By: Cliff Lafreniere June 30, 2019

Monday is Canada Day, a national holiday where Canadians celebrate the freedoms and opportunities that have defined our country for 152 years.

One cannot talk about freedoms and opportunities in Canada without mentioning the automobile and the important role it has played for more than a century.

Think about the early 1900s, when the horse and buggy ruled the day. A couple of horses pulling a carriage might travel eight kilometres per hour at top speed, if the road and weather conditions were favourable.

On a good day, that horse and carriage might travel 32 km, and visiting nearby towns and cities was a rare occurrence indeed. Yes, trains existed then, which helped to unite Canada, but automobiles provided more personal liberty for individuals and families.

Imagine the impact that automobiles had on a young country like Canada. By 1913, there were 50,000 automobiles on our roads. A decade later, Canada was the world’s second largest vehicle producer, as well as a major exporter of automobiles and auto parts.

With the advent of the automobile, Canadians discovered a sense of freedom they had never known before, and the automobile gave rise to the automotive industry, which has created employment for hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Today, Canada is the 11th largest producer of automobiles in the world, our retail stores are world leaders in terms of styling and design and our customer service is second to none. Canada’s automotive industry is world-class in every respect, and that’s worth celebrating.

Whether it’s the large numbers of people who are employed within our sector, or the millions of car owners who depend on their vehicles to get around, the industry has been a crucial part of Canada’s economic prosperity.

The automobile has been an essential component in linking families, friends, colleagues and strangers across this vast divide, and our industry contributes immensely to the unity and cohesion of Canada.

Canada Day

Other things besides automobiles have contributed to Canada’s greatness on the world stage as well. For one thing, the ethnic diversity of Canada has helped fuel much of this country’s growth, innovation and entrepreneurism. The immigrant experience in Canada is defined by hard work, resourcefulness, commitment to family and building for the future.

Our regional diversity is another one of Canada’s strengths. From Vancouver to Newfoundland, Canada is a country with a rich mixture of cultures and nationalities that give the country its unique flavour. Each region has its own dialect and character, and each contributes to the beautiful mosaic of our country.

A column about Canada Day would not be complete without acknowledging the men and women in the retail car sector who work hard every day to satisfy their customers.

Auto manufacturers also deserve special mention as they continue to raise the bar in terms of styling, technology and design. Five auto assembly plants in Canada produce two million vehicles per year for the Canadian market, and some plants build cars for global markets. (The various assembly plants are supplied by more than 700 parts suppliers.)

For example, the Ford assembly plant in Oakville will build the revamped Ford Edge and plans to export the vehicle, which features an array of smart technology, to 100 countries in 2019.

The banking and finance industries also deserve praise for supporting our industry and its consumers. Financial stability and creative financing have allowed Canadians to enjoy their vehicles and the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

This Canada Day, take a moment to reflect on why Canada is such a great country. As a nation, we have made a lot of progress over the past 152 years, and our best years are yet to come.

On behalf of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, and please drive safely.

This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to president@tada.ca or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.