Canada's History



Louis the parrot is likely the first bird to ever “own” an electric car. Victoria Jane Wilson asked her father, Keith Wilson, to buy her the vehicle, a luxury Hupp-Yeats electric automobile, so that she could take her pet parrot for short drives.

The Hupp-Yeats was produced in Detroit from 1911 to 1916 and employed a then new technology, the Exide Hycap battery, for propulsion. The vehicle featured a glass roof, lamps on each side of the upper hood, and a holder for flowers behind the driver’s seat.

Unfortunat­ely, Louis reportedly didn’t like the car’s noise, and the auto was put into storage after just a few outings. Following Victoria Jane Wilson’s death, the vehicle was purchased in 1959 by Stan Reynolds, an Alberta vehicle collector.

The Hupp-Yeats is today displayed in the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. The museum traces the mechanizat­ion of transporta­tion, aviation, agricultur­e, and industry from the 1890s to the present. Museum curator Justin Cuffe said the car was found in a garage behind a sealed wall in Wilson’s mansion. He noted that Reynolds had to take great care “to delicately remove it without bothering Miss Wilson’s pet parrot Louis, who had his aviary set up in front of the garage.” When the car was finally extracted, it had less than 160 kilometres on the odometer.

— Susan Goldenberg

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