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Canadian Plate History
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Canadian Porcelain Plates:

For those who are interested in Canadian porcelains, I have listed below a comprehensive accounting of everything known on a province by province basis.  This list includes passenger, non-passenger, city, pre-provincial, and oddball porcelains.  To the best of my knowledge, this is a complete listing of everything known to exist in porcelain from all of Canada.  If you have any additions or corrections to this list, please let me know by e-mailing me at the link at the bottom of this page.


1912 - white/blue (first provincial issue).  No non-passenger plates of this year are known.

1913 - white/red (second provincial issue).  A number of blank bases with only the provincial crest on them are also known which have numbers painted on, usually in silver paint.  In other cases, the painted on number is a dealer number with a "D" prefix.  In at least one case, a fully porcelainized 1913 dealer plate is known (#D106 - See photo gallery).  Finally, there is one known surviving example of a 1913 motorcycle plate, which is an exact miniature of the passenger.

1914 - While the provincial issue for this year was a black/white metal plate, there were apparently some porcelain plates made with the same color scheme.  And as reported by John Duke, John Roberts, and Jerry Woodhead in their article on Alberta plates in the April, 1991 issue of the ALPCA Newsletter, a pair of 1914 porcelains also exists, one of which is the standard black/white, but the other being black/yellow.  The authors suggest that these may have been prototypes. 

British Columbia:

Undated (?-?) - black/white city of Victoria passenger plate (see Photo Gallery). 

1913 - white/blue (first provincial issue).  Along with the 1914, the two passenger porcelains from British Columbia are among the most common Canadian porcelain plates to find.  Black/white dealer plates with a "D" prefix were also issued in 1913, as well as the much more difficult to find motorcycle plates which are miniature versions of the passenger plate.

1914 - black/white (second provincial issue).  Dealer plates for this year are reverse colors from the passenger and begin with a "D" prefix like the 1913 dealer plates.  Unlike the case in 1913, however, the motorcycle plates in 1914 are not miniatures of the passengers.  Instead, these hard to find plates, while still black/white, are distinctly different in style from the passengers, including two additional holes at top and bottom center for mounting on a motorcycle fender (see Photo Gallery).


1911 - white/blue (first provincial issue).  The first passenger run of these plates apparently went from 1-1999.  The 2000 series were reserved for truck, dealer, and livery plates, although these look exactly like the passenger plates, with nothing but the number to distinguish them as non-passengers.  Late in 1911 when the province realized that it needed to issue more passenger plates than originally expected and the 1000 series had been exhausted, a second run of passenger plates in the 3000s were made.  However, this second run of 1911 plates had one very distinct difference from the first - they were made with two additional holes, one midway down the right side of the plate, and the other midway down the left (see Photo Gallery).  Also in 1911, there is a very rare type known with a small "L" prefix.  Only two of these plates are known in collectors' hands, and the "L" is still a point of contention.  Livery plates were part of the 2000 series, so this may not be the answer, but some have suggested that this is a motorcycle plate (in spite of its rather large size - the same as the passenger).  No motorcycle plates are known, as such, from 1911.

1912 - white/black (second provincial issue).  Motorcycle plates for this year are also known.  They are miniatures of the passenger plates and come in two lengths depending on the number.

1913 - black/white (third provincial issue).  Like the 1912, motorcycle plates this year are miniature versions of the passenger plate and come in two sizes.

1914 - black/orange (fourth provincial issue).  Unlike the 1912 & 1913 Manitoba motorcycle plates, the 1914 is not a miniature of the passenger.  Instead, no provincial crest appears on the plate (see Photo Gallery).  Furthermore, all 1914 cycle plates are the same size.

New Brunswick:

1910 - blue/white (pre-provincial).  Along with the Nova Scotia plate listed below, this plate (#124 - see Photo Gallery) is one of only two known examples of pre-provincial porcelain plates from all of Canada (excluding city plates).  In this case, the plate was owned by F.W. Sumner of Moncton and was registered to a Russell automobile.  Sumner was a wealthy businessman who did business across the border in the U.S., and who could afford to have such a plate made for him.  Further evidence of this lies in the fact that this plate is exactly the same size, color, and die style of a 1910 Massachusetts plate, which is entirely different from the series of provincially issued porcelains which were to follow beginning in 1911.  Although the New Brunswick plate has no maker's seal on the back, the Massachusetts 1910 plates were made by Baltimore Enamel and Novelty Company, which had an office in Boston where Sumner may well have had business dealings.  For more information on this plate and its background, see the article by Keith Marvin in the December, 1998 issue of Tags 'n' Stuff.

1911 - black/white (first provincial issue).  This year the numbers ran from 1 to 483, with no distinction being made between passenger and non-passenger plates.  Motorcycle, Dealer, and Truck plates were issued as part of the same number series.  The numbers from 1 to 299 were first issued from 1905-1910 and the same number was given to the owner in 1911.  However, some of these cars obviously were no longer in existence in 1911, so that not all 483 plates were actually issued. 

1912 - orange/white (second provincial issue).  Numbers began with 1 and went through 700, but because they found that they needed more than this amount, about 50 of the old 1905-1911 numbers which were not issued were reissued to new owners in 1912.  Again, no distinction was made between passenger and non-passenger plates.  Unverified rumors exist of a white/brown 1912 plate.

1913 - black/yellow-orange (third provincial issue).  These plates began with number 701 and went through 1524.  Undated Dealer plates first started being made as distinct plates with the word "Dealers Tag" this year.  Motorcycle plates also probably started this year, but none are known in collectors' hands.

1914 - white/green (fourth provincial issue).  These plates ran from number 701 through 1960.  This is the first verified year in which distinct motorcycle plates are known (which were miniatures of the passenger plates), but as mentioned above, they probably actually were issued in 1913.  Only one of these cycle plates is known.  Dealer plates in 1914 are undated and read "Dealers Tag" across the bottom.

1915 - white/red (fifth provincial issue).  Plates this year began with number 701 and ended somewhere in the 2000s.  Both motorcycle and dealer plates are known for 1915 in the same format as the 1914s.  Additionally, an oddball 1915 plate is known to exist (#406) which is a yellow/black plate with an intertwined "NB" over the date on the left hand side of the plate.  It is not known what this plate represents.

1916 - dark blue/light blue (sixth provincial issue).  Plates this year began at 3000 and went into the high 6000s.  Porcelain motorcycle plates once again existed in 1916 in the same format as earlier ones.  However, the dealer plates in 1916 changed slightly, still being undated, but now reading simply "Dealer's" across the bottom.

1917 - black/yellow (seventh provincial issue).  Like the 1916 passenger plates, 1917 plates began with number 3000 but went into the 8000s.  Also like the 1916, cycles in 1917 are miniatures and the dealer plates are undated with the word "Dealer's."

Nova Scotia:

Undated - black/white (pre-provincial).  Although this unique plate (#5632) is the only known porcelain license plate of any kind from Nova Scotia, it is very likely that others were made, for Nova Scotia began issuing plates only in 1918 and thus has a great variety of pre-provincial plates made of all kinds of material.


1911 - white/blue (first provincial issue).  Motorcycle plates are believed to exist for 1911 but I have never seen one.  Another type of plate reads "M.T.S." but I do not know the meaning of this. 

1913 - white/blue city of Hamilton Harbour Commission plate.  All of these plates read "HHC" above the date.

1914 - city of Hamilton Harbour Commission plate.  This year is unknown to my knowledge.

1915 - blue/white city of Hamilton Harbour Commission plate.

1916 - black/white city of Hamilton Harbour Commission plate (see Photo Gallery).

1917 - red/white city of Hamilton Harbour Commission plate.

Prince Edward Island:

Undated (1919) - dark blue/light blue (third provincial issue).  Although it is not known if 1919 plates began with number 1, they appear to have ended in the high 900s.  One extremely rare non-passenger variety has survived - a pair of dealer plates (#24) which look just like the passenger plates except for the word "dealer" written across the bottom.


1904 - black/white city of Montreal passenger plate.  There were 48 registrations this year, issued in pairs - See the article on Quebec plates by Keith Marvin and Jean-Louis Beaudoin in the December, 1989 edition of the ALPCA Newsletter.  To my knowledge, none of these three Montreal plates (1904-1906) exist in collectors' hands.

1905 - white/blue city of Montreal passenger plate.  There were 102 registrations this year, issued in pairs - See Marvin and Beaudoin.

1906 - white/blue city of Montreal passenger plate.  There were 88 registrations, and maybe three cycles, issued this year - See Marvin and Beaudoin.

Undated (ca. 1910) - white/blue (pre-provincial).  These plates were presumably manufactured by a private company for anybody who wanted to pay for a porcelain plate.  The company seems to have been issued a block of numbers by the government in the 3000s and 4000s which it could use to manufacture the plates.  There are approximately 10-15 of these plates known.

Note: Quebec also used dashboard discs through the late teens, and while most of these are fiberboard, some of the earlier ones are porcelain.  Two different types of the porcelain discs are known.  The earliest ones read "Reg'd Auto Quebec" while the later ones read "Registered PQ."  While not license plates in and of themselves, they are still very rare and desirable porcelain items to collectors.


1912 - white/black (first provincial issue).  In addition to passenger plates, Garage, Livery, and Motorcycle plates were all made in 1912.  The Garage plates can be identified only by the fact that they have letters instead of numbers.  The Livery plates looked just like the passenger plates except for the word "Livery" across the bottom.  Motorcycle plates were quite distinct.  Unlike any of the other plates, the small cycle plates in 1912 included the provincial crest.

1913 - black/white (second provincial issue).  Starting in 1913, Garage plates became like the Livery plates with the word "Garage" across the bottom.  Motorcycle plates with the provincial crest were also issued.

1914 - deep purple/yellow (third provincial issue).  Once again, large Garage and Livery plates and small Motorcycle plates were issued in 1914, but there was one difference this year.  While the Motorcycle plates were made in exactly the same size and style of the 1912 and 1913 cycle plates, in 1914 they were a slightly different color scheme than was used on other plates.  Instead of the deep purple color of the numbers and letters which were used on the passenger, livery, and garage plates, the cycle plates had black numbers and letters on a yellow background. 

1919 - white/black (eighth provincial issue).  No non-passenger varieties exist in porcelain, as garage (now changed to "dealer"), livery, and motorcycle plates were all white on black and made of flat metal.

1920 - white/black 1919 base revalidated with a white/yellow tab. (ninth provincial issue).  No porcelain non-passenger plates were made this year (see 1919).  A distinct variety of base plate was made in 1920 for new registrations which had no year or provincial crest on it, instead being blank on the left side.  These plates seem to have been issued in the 60,000 number range.    

1921 - white/black 1919 base revalidated with a white/red tab (tenth provincial issue).  No porcelain non-passenger plates were made this year (see 1919).

1922 - white/black 1919 base revalidated with a white/green tab (eleventh provincial issue).  No porcelain non-passenger plates were made this year (see 1919).