Wilson’s 1907 Cadillac

CVA 180-1546: Old automobiles in 1949 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade passing in front of partly demolished Hotel Vancouver #2 at Georgia near Granville. Note: The middle vehicle shows the McAdam family driving the 1907 Cadillac. 1949, Artray photo.

Dr. Thomas Haddow Wilson was the first owner of the 1907 Cadillac which I was privileged to view, recently.

Wilson was born in Kitchener, ON in 1869. He graduated from medical school at the University of Manitoba in 1897 and the next year went to Vancouver where he practiced medicine. Thomas was a Presbyterian and his bride, Clara May Mitchell (an American) was a Baptist. They were married in First Baptist Church at Hamilton and Dunsmuir in August 1898 by the first real minister there, Rev. W. T. Stackhouse. Wilson died in 1927 at the early age of 58. His funeral service was taken by Rev. J. J. Ross (First Baptist) and Rev. J. S. Henderson (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian). Clara May died in 1962 at Trail, BC, where she lived from 1937. (Both Thomas and Clara May were buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver).

During some of his early Vancouver years, Wilson lived at the NE corner of Hastings and Dunlevy until the Patricia Hotel was built by him on that site. He moved to 1142 Chilco Street (aka ”Chula Vista”) in 1913 (which he also built), where he lived out his days. Clara May and Thomas had two kids: Anna Marjorie and Frank Lloyd. Frank became a physician living in Trail. Frank died in Trail in 1982. Marjorie died in Vancouver in 1983.

Wilson first registered his 1907 Cadillac in September 1908. He then renewed its registration in 1909, 1910, and in 1911. Where Wilson bought the car isn’t clear, but presumably it came from a local dealer. There were a limited number of Cadillac dealers in Vancouver in 1907-08. Terminal City Garage was one, located at 300 Howe, across the street from Orpheum II. Another was W. M. Stark’s Vancouver Auto and Cycle (108 E. Hastings).

Wilson seems to have sold the Cadillac sometime between 1910-14. The second owner, David McAdam, registered the Cadillac in 1914. McAdam lived in Murrayville, which vintage car expert, Peter Findlay, describes as “a very long drive for this car.” It has remained in the family since that date, being passed down from David to his son, Quinton, who worked hard to get the Cadillac up and running in time for the 1949 PNE (it is Quinton, his wife and daughter who appear in the middle vintage car shown above).

The Cadillac runs on a single cylinder, so it sounds unlike any other automobile I’ve ever heard. There is a clip of the Cadillac running here.

A recent photo of the Cadillac appears below.

1907 Cadillac in Greater Vancouver, 2020. MDM Photo.

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5 Responses to Wilson’s 1907 Cadillac

  1. Ken says:

    Very nice

  2. Patricia Wilson says:

    Wow what a surprise to see some of my Grandfather’s history from doing a simple search to figure out what my grandmothers middle name was. I don’t have access to a lot of information about my fathers side of the family so this was very enjoyable to read. My grandfather was Thomas Haddow Wilson. Maybe one day I will be able to see the Cadillac. Thank you. Now if I can only figure out why I named Patricia the same name of the hotel he built.

  3. mdm says:

    Thanks for letting me know!

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