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Transcript LeRoy

The LeRoy was the first commercially produced gasoline automobile to have been built in Canada. The car was produced from 1899 to 1907 by the Good Brothers of Berlin, which later became the city of Kitchener, Ontario. Propelled by a small, one cylinder engine designed by the Ramson E. Olds company in Michigan, which was later to become the cradle of North America’s automobile industry, the LeRoy was well poised to take over from the horse drawn carriages of the day.

The engine was located under the seat. The body was fairly basic, with the roof hanging high above and no covering in front. The presence of rubber tires, a steering lever and dash board set it apart from the old buggies of the day.

Over that 8-year period, only 32 of these cars were built. As far as we know, only two of these cars still exist in Canada. One of them can be found at the Doon Pioneer Village in Kitchener, and the other is at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. Its original owner, Mr. Gordon Cavanaugh, was one of the most important car collectors in Canada. When he acquired this famous automobile, Mr. Cavanaugh knew nothing of its origins and history. The item was part of the personal collection of H.G. O’Connell, a collector who owned close to one hundred antique cars. When Mr. Cavanaugh bought the car at an auction in 1966, he thought he had purchased an early 20th century Oldsmobile.

However, during a mechanical inspection while restoring the car, he realised this was no Oldsmobile. It only had one forward gear, assisted by a planetary transmission, and had no braking system. The only way to stop it was to press on the reverse pedal. As he could find no documentation on this type of mechanics, he began an investigation to try and identify this mystery car.

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