Traffic Jam
Jon Upton : The Back Bumper
Traffic Jam is a page devoted to automobile-related subjects, such as collecting or stories. Although my main interest is in license plates, I find other things interesting as well-- and they're the ingredients to a mixture I call the Traffic Jam. Enjoy!  (BACK to Jam Index)
The Red Route Revisited
1912 Reo 5-passenger touring carIn 1912, two men named Thomas Wilby and Jack Haney drove a 1912 Reo automobile across Canada on what was the first trans-Canada automobile crossing. Wilby, a career writer and journalist, was born in England in 1867 and spent much of his career writing travel features for magazines. Jack Haney was born in Indiana in 1889 and left home when he was a teenager to be a mechanic for the Reo Motorcar Company, where he was renowned for his expertise over his years of service. When a Reo 5-passenger touring car was provided for the trans-Canada drive, Haney was selected as driver and mechanic. 

The trip followed "The Red Route", which was entirely contained within Canada's borders. Such a journey was quite a feat in those days, as the rural roads which did exist were in poor condition and would take their toll on the Reo. Several areas across the country were impassable, which necessitated the use of local ferrys and transport ships. The Reo slowly made its way across Canada, starting from Halifax on August 27, 1912 and arriving in Victoria on October 17. 

In 1997, Lorne Findlay, an automotive historian, commemorated the 85th anniversary of the first trans-Canada automobile crossing by driving his own 1912 Reo across Canada, retracing the Red Route and following the same schedule which Haney and Wilby kept so many years ago. The car pictured above (with Lorne to the right) is the same make, model and year as the original vehicle on the first trip. It is in original condition and had only 26,000 miles on it before Lorne's recreation of the Red Route journey, which took the car another 7841 km, or 4900 miles. The car was decorated with remake 1912 Ontario license plates, which bore the same "REO" legend as the original plates. Could the Reo have had the first-ever set of personalized plates? 

In September 1997, I met Lorne on his trip as he wound his way through the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario. He was kind enough to let me take photos of the car-- a couple of which are seen here. 

For more info on the Red Route Journey, read John Nicol's book, The All-Red Route, which was published in 1999 by McArthur & Co. (ISBN 1-55278-097-X). Look for my name on page 135.

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