The Guardian of Charlottetown’s Mitch McConnell writes about how 19th century Rustico priest George Belcourt, a leader in the Island’s Acadian community, was the first owner of an automobile in all Canada in the 1860s.
Although few Prince Edward Islanders are aware of it, the wheels of Canadian automobile history first began rolling a little over 150 years ago in P.E.I.
The little-known piece of Canadian history was celebrated recently at the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico Museum during a ceremony put on by the P.E.I. Antique Car Club and the National Association of Automobile Clubs.
December marked the 150th anniversary of the first automobile arriving in Canada, before the country was even officially formed, a steam-powered carriage that was imported by Father George A. Belcourt.
Rudy Croken, president of the P.E.I. Antique Car Club, said many already know Belcourt due to his “spectacular” work as a missionary.
“But his contribution to Canadian automobile history is every bit as spectacular,” said Croken. “He was the first person to have an automobile. To think the automobile history in Canada started in this very area is astounding, and that’s what Father Belcourt did.”
Croken said Belcourt purchased the car for about $300, equivalent to about $5,000 today, from a manufacturer in Bayonne, N.J.
In 2014, I shared 2013 photo from a South Rustico museum dedicated to Belcourt and his community.