Article 39 December 2012/January 2013

Labatt's Ambulance

Ambulance service in Canada prior to 1980 was provided by a patchwork of private operators, funeral homes, hospitals, municipalities, fire departments, volunteer organizations and in a few communities by industrial corporations.

One such industrial firm, The John Labatt Corporation, began operating an ambulance in London, Ontario in 1941 and continued until 1966. The Labatt's ambulance was staffed by company employees trained in St. John Ambulance first aid. (All of Labatt's delivery truck drivers were also trained in first aid).

Although the Labatt's ambulance was intended primarily for use by employees of the brewery and their families, it also served as a back-up resource for the surrounding area when summoned by police.

The Labatt's ambulance shown in the photos was built by John Little of Ingersoll, ON using a 1941 Cadillac four-door sedan. The car was fitted with a forward facing light and siren mounted on the roof and a huge fog light on the front bumper. Very well equipped for its time, this ambulance carried a cot, two rescue stretchers, a large fire extinguisher, a well stocked first aid kit, an oxygen inhalator and a self-contained breathing apparatus.

Employees of the Labatt's brewery and their families must have appreciated the well equipped ambulance and trained staff available to them at work and at home.

Copyright 2012 Peter Adsten

Photos courtesy Tom McPherson Column

Labatt's 1940 Cadillac Column