British Columbia Government Vehicle License Plates

In early 1948, it was announced that all provincial government department vehicles would be outfitted with special license plates coloured red-on-white. In an added twist, they were also assigned an 'E' prefix - which was one of the few letters in the first half of the alphabet not yet used:

Plate Type Prefix Plate Type
Farm Tractor

It has commonly been assumed that the use of the 'E' prefix was possibly to denote 'Exempt', however, this is pure conjecture and if there is any basis to this hypothesis surely the use of the 'G' prefix to denote "Government" would have made more sense.

What is further intriguing about these plates is that they were only used for a single year, and there is (as of yet) no record as to why their use might have been discontinued after 1948. It is not like the provincial government sold off its fleet of vehicles that year. Possibly, similar problems that had beset the Medical Doctor plates 4 years earlier occurred with government vehicles being targeted for vandalism and/or theft due to their easy identification by the red-and-white plates? Maybe the cost of producing and distributing special plates to each and every government department proved cost prohibitive and hard to justify, or possibly the mayhem around the 1948 plates and the near exhaustion of most simple letter/number combinations forced the government to re-think the idea.

1948 - "E" Prefix
Rick Pilotte Collection
Issuing Statistics


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.