In a column several years ago I noted that the province first registered automobiles in 1907, and the first license plate was issued in May that year. In the column, I wrote that a car owned by a Wolfville resident received the very first license plate issued and it carried the number 1.
When I wrote this column, a collection of local history trivia, I didn’t know the identity of the Wolfville resident who owned the first registered car. I can report that I now do. The column mentioning the license plate was included in a collection of my articles published recently by the Kings Historical Society. Fortunately, it was read by a former Wolfville resident who saw the first license plate issued by the province and the car it adorned; he told about the car’s owner, who apparently was a prominent Wolfville citizen, and he related some interesting lore about the town in the 1930s.
When he was growing up in Wolfville in the 1930s, Gordon Hansford was shown a car that was stored in a barn on Pleasant Street. “The barn was owned by the Burgher family,” Gordon recalls. “Eugene Burgher, a boyhood friend of mine, was the one who took me in the barn and pointed out the car.
“The first thing I noted was the license plate; it was made of leather and it had the number 1 on it. The car it was on – it looked like a buggy – had a name written on it, ‘One Lung Long Distance.’ Evidently, it only had one cylinder, a one lunger.”
Gordon doesn’t remember any other details about the automobile but believes he was told it was made in Hartford, Connecticut. The automobile was owned by one “Ardy Young, Gordon said. Of that he is sure. However, he doesn’t know what happened to the car.
Gordon recalls that Young was a Wolfville businessman who operated a bakery and restaurant. He was famous locally, Gordon said, for cooking up massive amounts of baked beans and selling them. “Every Wednesday he baked beans in the bakery and people from all over town would come with pots and pan and whatever to get the beans at his bakery or restaurant. You could go in and eat or you could go around back and get the beans; whichever you liked.”
Baked beans by the bucket or whatever. An amusing bit of Wolfville folklore from Mr. Hansford who had the opportunity to see a historic license plate and shared this experience with us.
There’s a P.S. of course. Gordon told me that Ardy Young was related to Cecil Young, who operated a long-time Wolfville fixture, a restaurant called “The Palms.” Gordon thought Ardy may have been Cecil’s father.
Actually, Ardy and Cecil were brothers, a fact I learned by looking these gentlemen up in the Wolfville history, Mud Creek. According to this book, Ardy was Arthur Young and he was Cecil’s older brother. The history chronicles people buying baked beans at the “bakery and restaurant that… Arthur ran at the corner of Main Street and Elm Street.” Arthur served as a town councillor in the 1920s and is mentioned several times in the Wolfville history.