Father Belcourt brings the first automobile to PEI and Canada
After hearing about a new form of transportation, Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt wrote a letter to Elijah Ware of Bayonne, New Jersey, USA expressing his interest in acquiring a carriage that would carry people without the use of horses. The Ware Steam Carriage was the first automobile exported from the USA. Soon after Father Belcourt purchased the steam powered vehicle. It was shipped to Charlottetown and then brought to Rustico by a team of horses. Father Belcourt’s new one-seater vehicle was powered by a two-cylinder steam engine. The steam chamber was four feet tall and the motor was connected to the wheels by a chain. Even though it was simple with no suspension, no windshield and no roof, a steam-wagon was a great wonder in its day.
In the Charlottetown Herald on December 19, 1866, it was reported that “A single seated steam wagon passed through the city on its way to its owner, Rev. Father Belcourt of Rustico. When we saw the wagon, it was drawn by horses, but it is furnished with a steam engine and can be propelled with steam. It is the first vehicle of its kind to be introduced on the Island”
“…I quite distinctly remember Father George A. Belcourt, parish priest of Rustico from 1859 -1869. That I remember seeing the steam carriage operated by Father Belcourt. This would be about the year 1866. This carriage appeared to be an ordinary driving carriage propelled or powered by a small steam engine as a source of motive power.
– Jeremiah Peters, August 31, 1940