We’ve already seen a series of buildings on Burrard Street with automotive connections. Here’s another; A W Carter’s Hudson showroom in 1936.
The Old Motor blog outlines what the Carter garage was selling. “In the air, it’s aeroplaning, on the water, it’s hydroplaning and on the ground, it’s Terraplaning.” So went one slogan about Hudson’s low priced car. The Essex-Terraplane was advertised as costing $20 less than the equivalent Chevrolet and $35 less than the new Ford V-8 when it was introduced in 1932. Many credit it’s sales success with saving the parent company’s market share as economic conditions in the country worsened.
Spun off as a separate line in 1934 by Roy D. Chapin, Sr. after he returned to the company from the Hoover administration, Terraplane continued to provide some real bang for the buck and by the time of our feature photo today, April 6, 1936, some of the most distinctive styling of the era, too. The elaborate window display at the A.W. Carter Limited showroom at 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver touts some interesting mechanical highlights.
Double Brakes refers to a mechanical linkage to the rear brakes that operated off the pedal should the primary hydraulic system fail. The Air Conditioning system is their Automatic Draft Eliminator, and not true refrigeration. It operated in concert with a large cowl vent to provide lots of fresh air for passengers, and the Electric Hand was their pre-selector semi-automatic transmission they offered.”
The garage featured some fancy equipment for the day – the early version of a plug-in diagnostic system. This didn’t start out as Carter’s garage – initially it was Fordyce Motors Ltd, who in the 1920s were located on Granville Street and were probably the first Chrysler dealer in the city. In 1933 it became Barton Motors, and in 1934 A W Carter, an established Victoria dealership took over.
The son of David and Martha Carter, Alfred Williams Carter (who seems to have been known as Nick) was born on a ranch near Calgary and enlisted on 23 December 1915 at Kingston, Ontario where he had been a student at Queen’s University. In 1916 he joined the Royal Naval Air Service and attended flight school at Thomas Brothers’ School of Aviation in St. Augustine, Florida. In 1917 he successfully flew the Sopwith Pup and Sopwith Triplane, and by the end of the war the Sopwith Camel. He was promoted to command his squadron and after the war he worked for the Air Board until April 1922. In 1923 he opened his automobile dealership, A W Carter Ltd, in Victoria.
Carter was an active member of the Air Cadet League of Canada, and during the second world war his role in organising the Air Cadets led to him being referred to as Squadron Leader Carter.
We noticed this detail in the background of the 1936 image – presumably gas loss was an issue in 1936.
Today the Sutton Place Hotel stands where the garage once stood, featuring finely crafted Louis XV-style furnishings, and until recently the Fleuri restaurant was where the garage stood – now reopened as Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4862 and CVA 99-4878 – Stuart Thomson