A Website for Porcelain License Plate Collectors & Enthusiasts
Saskatchewan Archive


None known.


On March 15, 1912, the Vehicles Act was passed by the Provincial legislature.  As
part of this act, vehicle owners for the first time were supplied with license plates
by the Provincial Secretary.   Issued as singles only, Provincial laws stipulated
that the plates be prominently displayed on the back of the vehicle, securely
fastened so as not to swing, kept clean and free of dirt, and be lighted from dusk
until dawn.  As O.A. MacGillivray reports, the registration fee in 1912 was $10 and
plates expired on December 31st.  Thus, the first issue Saskatchewan plates were
only on the road for about nine months.

The numbering of Saskatchewan plates began with 1 in 1905, when plates were
first required on vehicles.  Numbers were assigned sequentially to new
registrants throughout Saskatchewan’s pre-provincial period of homemade
plates.  By the time the first governmentally-supplied plates were issued in 1912,
a grand total of 2,127 numbers had been assigned, according to MacGillivray.  In
rough figures, there were maybe 2,000 1912 plates issued to new registrants.  
Thus new registrants in 1912 might have received plates numbered from the low
2,000s to around 4,000 (the highest I’ve seen is #3,775).  However, those who
were not new registrants – but rather were simply re-registering a number
assigned to them in some prior year – retained whatever number they already
had, thus accounting for the presence of low numbered 1912 plates.  It’s not
entirely clear how the Province handled this task – did they order an entire run of
plates based on anticipated need beginning with #1, distribute whatever low
numbers re-registrants claimed, and then destroy the remaining lower numbers
intended for re-registrants who never claimed them?  Or did the Province only
order a sequential run of new plates beginning with that year’s first new number
and then separately order specific numbers from the manufacturer to whatever re-
registrants came forward?  The first theory involves a lot of wasted plates and the
second theory involves a lot of extra effort.  Whatever the case, the fact that 1912
plates could range from #1 to somewhere around #4,000 does not mean that there
were 4,000 plates issued in 1912.  There were certainly many hundreds of plate
numbers assigned between 1905 and 1911 that were no longer needed in 1912 –
maybe the car was junked, maybe the owner died, maybe the car moved out of the
Province.  Exactly how many 1912 plates were in fact issued is highly speculative.

The same system held true in 1913 and 1914, but hazarding a guess as to the
exact numbers issued is extremely difficult.  Suffice it to say that numbers for
each year could theoretically reach as low as #1 (if that original 1905 owner was
still re-registering his car each year) and existing plates show that numbers
reached at least 6,189 in 1913 and X,XXX in 1914.  The large, heavy porcelain
plates issued by Saskatchewan from 1912 through 1914 are among the most well-
made porcelains from Canada.  For some reason, however, the Province
abandoned porcelain in favor of flat roll-bar framed metal plates in 1915 and 1916,
completely flat painted metal plates in 1917, and a combination of flat metal and
embossed metal plates in 1918.  

After four years of metal plates, Saskatchewan legislators reconsidered their use
of porcelain and re-introduced a base plate designed to be used for the next four
years.  Registrants in 1919 got a dated plate, which was then re-validated with
tabs in subsequent years: a yellow 1920 tab, a red 1921 tab, and a green 1922 tab.  
As reported by MacGillivray, nearly 55,000 pairs were issued in 1919.  However,
porcelain base plates were only actually issued for the first two years.  In fact,
even in 1920, only the first 10,000 or so pairs were porcelain (porcelains were
issued sequentially beginning at #1 in 1919, and running up to approximately #65,
000 in 1920).  Notably, the last few thousand issued were manufactured with no
date or crest, and an entirely different numeral font, making them a distinct,
collectible variety.  Once the porcelains ran out, new registrants were issued
embossed metal plates.  These plates were very similar to the porcelains – they
were the same color and size, and carried the same yearly tabs.  The porcelain
bases were still good, of course, and were used on the streets of Saskatchewan
in 1921 and 1922, but only by those who had registered their vehicles and
received their base plates before the switch to metal was made early in 1920.  By
the time the last porcelain plates disappeared from Saskatchewan once and for all
in 1923, all other provinces had long ceased porcelain production.


In terms of non-passenger plates, Saskatchewan is notable in the 1912-1914 era
for having three distinct varieties in addition to the passenger plates – Garage,
Livery, and Motorcycle.  No other Canadian province ever issued more than two
non-passenger varieties in any given year.  It is interesting to note that when
Saskatchewan revisited the use of porcelains beginning in 1919, only passenger
vehicles received porcelain plates.  Garages, Liveries, and Motorcycles in the
base plate years were all flat or embossed metal.  


Garage plates are dealers and come in two formats – all letters, and a combination
of letters and numbers.  Apparently, beginning in 1912, plates were lettered
consecutively from A through Z, and then from AA through ZZ, and then AAA
through ZZZ, although multiple letter plates always had the same letters (different
letters are never seen in combination on Garage plates).  Dealers paid a $25
annual registration fee and the existence of two 1913 plates – both lettered “V” -
suggests that dealerships were given multiple duplicate plates depending on
their needs.  No other Canadian porcelains carry the “garage” identification, and
the only example from the United States of a porcelain with this designation
comes from the city of Jacksonville, Florida.  

In 1912, about 50 garage registrations were issued, with the letter sequence
probably not surpassing double-digits.  Interestingly, in this first year of Garage
plates, the designation “GARAGE” was absent.  In 1913, a greater demand for
Garage licenses than was conceived of under the original act made the Province
have to reconsider their whole lettering of garage plates.  With no mixing of
letters, the total allotted plates under the initial letters only system could handle
only 78 issues (the 26 letter alphabet in single, double, and triple like digits).  
However, the numbers needed in 1913 surpassed this allotment.  Now that the 78
mark had been passed, numbers were added to the mix, creating letter/number
combinations for the first time.  Thus, the 27th Garage plate issued in 1913
received number #A1.  The highest 1913 Garage I’ve seen is #A24, indicating that
the total number of Garage plates issued that year surpassed the 100 mark.  In
1914, it seemed silly to go back to the antiquated letter-only system, knowing now
that letter/number combinations would surely be needed again, so the Province
appears to have ordered only letter/number combination Garage plates in 1914.  
These plates appear to have begun at #A1, and although MacGillivray reports that
the numbers of Garage actually declined in 1914, surviving plates nevertheless
show numbers once again surpassing the 100 mark.


The second variety of non-passenger porcelain issued from 1912 through 1914
are livery plates, assigned to anybody who operated a vehicle for hire.  The livery
class was introduced in 1912 and it is believed that Livery numbers began at #1
that year and ran sequentially to new-registrants through 1914.  Thus, some of the
first numbers in 1913 which were set aside for re-registering those who took out
Livery licenses in 1912 may not have been issued.  As with the Garages, the
numbers of Livery plates seem to have declined in 1914.  The highest known
number in 1914 is 703.


Finally, Saskatchewan issued attractive motorcycle porcelains from 1912-1914.  
Interestingly, these are not miniatures of the passenger plates in the one very
distinct respect that they carry the Saskatchewan Provincial crest, which the
passenger plates do not.  As with the Livery plates, these were issued
sequentially to new registrants beginning in 1912, when motorcycle issues are
known to have surpassed 150.  In 1913, most of those who had registered the
previous year appear to have re-registered, and an additional 250 or so cyclists
took out new registrations and received plates beginning at about #150, thus
pushing the numbers on 1913 plates to around the 400 mark.  As was the trend in
all classes of plates in, there seems to have been a slight falling off in
registrations in 1914, but another 200 or so took out new motorcycle licenses that
year, explaining the existence of 1914 cycle plates in the low 600s.  The 1914
issue, furthermore, is notable because it has black characters, rather than the
beautiful deep blue-purple characters of the passenger plate.


Saskatchewan is also home to one of the true mysteries in Canadian porcelains.  
In 2003, a very strange red version of a 1914 motorcycle-sized porcelain turned up
on EBAY.  It is conceivable that this is a previously unknown Provincially issued
motorcycle variety – perhaps a sidecar, cycle dealer, cycle livery, official cycle,
etc.  However, it may also simply be a prototype.  Until evidence surfaces
identifying this as a Provincial issue, it has to be classified as an oddball.


O.A. MacGillivray, Memory Lane: 85 Years of Saskatchewan License Plates.  
Saskatoon, 1990.  Pages 6-10, 19-23.
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. 4,000*
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. 6,500*
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. ???*
* Note that not all of these plates were actually issued.  Numbers ran consecutively from #1 in 1905 and any
vehicles no longer registered did not receive plates.  
Range: Approx. 1 - 155
Range: Approx. 1 - 400
Range: Approx. 1 - 630
* One and two digit plates measure 2 1/2" x 6".  Three digit plates measure 2 1/2" x 7 1/2"
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. 40
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. 250
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: 1 - Approx. 703
5 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Range: 1 - Approx. 55,000**
White/Black, Type I*
5 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Range: 1 - Approx. 63,000**
White/Black, Type II*
5 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Range: Approx. 63,000 - 65,000**
5 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Range: 1 - Approx. 65,000**
5 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Range: 1 - Approx. 65,000**
* These plates were re-validated with a new tab each year: white/yellow in 1920; white/red in 1921; and
white/green in 1922.
** Note that not all of these plates were actually issued.  Numbers ran consecutively from #1 in 1905 and any
vehicles no longer registered did not receive plates.
2 1/2" x 7 1/2"
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: Approx. A - XX
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: Approx. A - ZZZ; A1 - A24
6 1/2" x 12"
Range: Approx. A1 - A105

Examples of single digit 1913
Garage plates.  The first 26
plates ran from A to Z, with
no letters skipped.