British Columbia Public Works License Plates

In early February of 1938, the Victoria Times reported that vehicles belonging to the Public Works Department would begin to be issued with plates the letters 'PW'. This move was intended to address a "confusion that had arisen" and was part of a trio of new letter combinations introduced that year, including 'PN' (for Doctor`s vehicles) and 'PF' (for Forestry Department vehicles). It is not clear at which point the use of these types of plates ceased, but it is thought to be in the 1948 as this is the last year that MVB records make reference to the plate type.

1938 - 1944: "PW"
1941
Issuing Statistics
1938:
unknown
1939:
unknown
1940:
PW1 to PW900
1941:
PW1 to PW900
1942:
PW1 to PW850
1943:
PW1 to PW850
1944:
PW1 to PW800
1945:
PW1 to PW800
1946:
PW1 to PW800
1947:
PW1 to PW800
1948:
PW1 to PW999
1942
1944
1945
1947
1948
 

Another great find from the City of Vancouver Archives (Reference Code: AM1184-S1-:CVA1184-2669). This particular shot of two Department of Public Works dump-trucks was taken by Jack Lindsay in 1948 and clearly shows sequential 'PW' plates starting at No. 954 (which is also shown in the inset at right).

*     *     *     *     *
It is not yet clear what were the precise origins or purpose of an 'E' prefix plate that was issued in 1948. It has commonly been assumed that the 'E' stands for 'Exempt' and that these were used on provincial government vehicles - accordingly, they have been included under the Public Works section of the web site. It has been claimed elsewhere that these were a permanent plate and were valid into the early 1950s, but such a practice is not consistent with the Motor Vehicle Branch's approach to vehicle licensing in this period and would have occurred against the backdrop of renewal tabs being issued to all other vehicle types.
1948 - "E" Prefix
   
Issuing Statistics
1948:
unknown

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