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2610 Lorne Ave
Saskatoon, SK

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Come for a ride on the Bennett Buggy
AKA the Oatsmobile!

Where can you see it?

Ride this piece of automotive history at the Saskatoon WDM in the  Winning the Prairie Gamble exhibit - The Great Depression.

Bennett Buggy on display

What is it?

Climb in and pull on the reins to begin your journey. The horses begin to trot along a Saskatchewan prairie road and your vehicle rocks gently. Soon, the vehicle comes to a fork in the road. You have two choices: to turn right for a smooth ride or to turn left for a wild ride. Which will you choose?

During the prosperous 1920s, the number of automobiles on Saskatchewan farms doubled. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, car registrations in the province fell rapidly. By 1933, nearly half the farm automobiles on the prairies had been taken off the roads. Money for gasoline and repairs was not available, so farmers brought their horses and even oxen back into service, creating a startling contrast between old and new. Buggies and democrats, common in the earlier years had largely disintegrated, and these horse-drawn automobiles, known as "Bennett Buggies," took their places.

The Bennett Buggy became the symbol of the Depression in Saskatchewan. It was converted from cars such as the Model T Ford, the Essex touring car or the McLaughlin-Buick. Farmers removed the engine and attached a pole and doubletrees so the vehicle could be pulled by a team of horses. The name for these strange vehicles reflects the farmers’ disenchantment with the Right Honourable R. B. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada between 1930 and 1935.

Bennett's Conservative government appeared indecisive and ineffectual to those struggling to hold onto their farms. However guilty or blameless he might be, Bennett was blamed. All over Saskatchewan there were these carved up cars, named after him, and a constant reminder that he had been prime minister when the disaster struck. Of course, it was wonderful advertising for the Liberals, too. Bennett and his party were too closely associated with the hardships of the Depression. In the October 1935 election, the Liberal party won under the leadership of Mackenzie King. Bennett remained leader of the opposition until 1938.

As the Depression dragged on, more and more Bennett buggies were seen on the dusty roads of the province, taking people to church, to town for shopping, to sports gatherings – wherever they had once travelled in cars. They had at least one obvious advantage – soft cushions.

WDM staff and volunteers made the Museum’s Bennett Buggy from a 1923 Essex touring car. Media Group of Saskatoon (now called Bamboo Shoots) created the AV experience, and WDM staff as well as F&D Scene Changes (Calgary) prepared the mechanical experience.