It Happened in Hespeler: Waterloo County’s First Speeding Ticket

by Jan 15, 2024Turner Tales0 comments

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by Lary Turner

The recent debate regarding electric-powered vehicles vs. internal combustion engines got me thinking about our reliance on automobiles which have become a necessary part of our hustle and bustle lifestyles. With Hespeler transitioning from an industrial & textile town to a bedroom community; workers are now forced to make commutes to their employment, most by automobile. This has resulted in a large impact, damaging our climate to the point that a ban on the production of new internal combustion engines begins in 2035.

Looking back in history, the internal combustion engine had rivals from the beginning of the automobile age. The first recognized gas powered “car” was built by Karl Benz in 1866 and patented in 1885-86. Prior to this, Nickolas Cugnot built the “Cugnot Fardier” vehicle in 1769, known as a “steam tractor”, and recognized as the world’s first true car.  German engineer Andreas Flocken built the first real “electric car” in 1888.

Benz 1866

Benz 1866

Flocken Electric Car 1888

Flocken Electric Car 1888

The first car in Hespeler was a steam powered runabout, brought from Brooklyn in September 1906, and owned by Jack Farnsworth, Charles Phillip Grill and Winfield Brewster.

First car in Hespeler
Hespeler’s First Car in the 1926 Ole Boy’s Reunion Parade

In the early 1920s, there were only four places to buy fuel between Brantford and Guelph: Mitten’s Garage in St. George, Koppel’s Garage in Galt and Ott’s Garage in Hespeler.

Ott's Garage

Ott’s Garage

Hespeler's first car. Not running. 1947 Parade
Hespeler’s First Car in the 1947 Ole Boy’s Reunion Parade – no longer running.

Automobiles have made it faster and easier to get where we wish to go and I dare say every driver to slide behind the wheel, has broken the speed limit at one time or another. Long before “Road Rangers”, “speed traps”, “photo radar”, “fuzz busters” and “CB radios” drivers had love of speed and a heavy foot; even though roads were little more than wagon tracks!

Mr. Herb Andrich of Detroit, in a 1947 letter to the local newspaper confessed to receiving the first “speeding ticket” ever issued in Waterloo County. Mr. Andrich, then residing in Galt, and Mr. Fred Fisher co-owned a two-cylinder Ford motor car; in the days when cars were so few and far between that they were considered a novelty. He got “busted” for speeding through Hespeler while returning from Elora. He recalled that Dr. Lockhart had become very annoyed with him for frightening his horses on several prior occasions. On this day, he was driving through Hespeler at 22 miles per hour when the good doctor “clocked” him. Maximum speed limit in towns and villages at the time was 12 miles per hour and he was therefore cited for speeding.

He engaged solicitor J. H. Hancock to represent him in court, but was found guilty and ordered to pay $10 and court costs, a stiff fine when $2,000 per year was considered affluent! He recalled that most magistrates and judges of the day were prejudiced against motorists.

Under the Ontario Driving Laws then in force, horses had the “right of way”. A motorist was required to stop, turn off his engine, and assist the driver of any scared and unruly horse by taking the bridle and leading the animal past your quietly sitting automobile.

Although not ordered to do “community service work” for his heinous crime, Mr. Andrich claimed he had the pleasure of treating over 200 Hespeler area Sunday School children and teachers to their first short car ride. My guess is that he was forgiven for his past sin!


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