City of Orillia
Millennium Trail | Orillia, ON

Tudhope Carriage Company Plaque

A point of interest on the Orillia Millennium Trail Audio Walking Tour available on the Tripvia Tours App for Android & iPhone.

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Audio Excerpt

Hi folks, I'm William Tudhope. When I opened my wheelwright shop in 1864, I began a legacy of industrial entrepreneurship. I built wagon wheels and carriages in my shop at Coalborne and West Street. My son, James Brockett Tudhope, joined me and helped expand operations. The Tudhope Carriage Company Limited was formed, and the sale of carriages and cutters prospered.

I soon decided to build automobiles In Orillia, so I sent my son, Bill, to the United States to arrange a deal to buy engines. Bill met with a young man in Michigan named David Buick, but I felt that Buick's engines did not have sufficient financial backing, so I went with another firm and engine, the McIntyre.

The first Tudhope-Mcintyre, a two cylinder, air-cooled horseless carriage with hard, rubber buggy tires, was produced in the Orillia plant in 1907. At $550, it sold for more than a Ford Model 7, and Included a horn and three lamps. The vehicle had a top speed of thirty miles per hour. One thing was for sure, quite a stir was created when it was first test driven on the streets of Orillia.

Soon, we began large-scale production and were preparing a shipment for the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1909, during preparation for the exhibition, fire broke out in the paint shop. In the span of 2 hours, the main four storey brick building, 12 factory buildings and 11 neighbouring houses and businesses melted from the intense heat.

Over half a million dollars in property was left in ruins, leaving behind nothing but ashes, and 200 unemployed workers. Many would consider this to be a devastating setback, but that very night, I sketched designs for a new plant. Many other towns asked me to relocate my factory there, but I stayed loyal to my hometown of Orillia. I'm proud to say that within 79 days of its destruction, the newly named Tudhope Motor Company was back in production.

Now for the sad part. The Tudhope Motor Company used the latest mass-production equipment and techniques, yet I did not have the network of dealers, especially in Ontario, to sell my cars.

 

By 1913, we were in serious financial difficulty. I died in 1936, but not before serving as the Mayor of Orillia, and Member of the Provincial Parliament. The Town of Orillia purchased land from my family, and established the J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park in 1917.

 

For many years it was a popular campground for motor campers, but reverted to open parkland for recreational use in the 1990’s.

Millennium Trail

Walking Tour

This POI is featured on the Orillia Millennium Trail Audio Walking Tour, part of the Tripvia Tours mobile app available for Android & Apple.

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