British Columbia Passenger License Plates
1940-1948

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A special thanks to Tom Lindner, Dallas Doyle, Pierre Delacote and Ron Garay for providing many of the plates pictured.

1940
"A" Prefix / 1-digit
"A" Prefix / 4-digit
Shown at left is Premier Duff Pattullo exiting his official car with the No. 1 license plate for 1940 (the same one as shown above)!
1941



1942
Shown at left is a car displaying an example of the "F" prefix that was issued to passenger vehicles in New Westminster between 1940-47. Available MVB records indicate that this particular plate was the last in the initial bloc of 1,000 plates (i.e. F1 to F1000) produced in 1942. An additional bloc of over-run plates with an "F" prefix was subsequently produced in 1942.
1943
Due to material shortages associated with the War Effort, British Columbia (as well as many other jurisdictions) opted to issue only a single license plate for the 1942 license year, and would continue to do so through 1947.
This decision, however, was only made after Oakalla had already produced pairs of 1942 plates. So that the metal did not go to waste, the pairs of 1942s were split-up with one plate heading back to Oakalla were it would be re-stamped for issuance in 1943 and repainted, and the other plates being issued to motorists.
Although not generally visible from the front of the plates, it is possible to see the restamping process on the back of the 1943 plates (with some plates showing this better than others):
 

1944

1945
By 1946 the MVB had expanded the prefix system to include the letter "H":
In the event of Issuing offices requiring further allotments of passenger plates, these will be supplied in the usual manner.  However, if the ordinary numerical passenger sequence is exhausted during the licence year, Mainland points will be supplied with a series beginning with the prefix “H” (with the exception of Vancouver Motor Licence Office which will be allotted “B” and New Westminster Motor Licence Office and Sub-Offices which will be allotted “F”.  The alphabetical prefix for Vancouver Island being “A” as in previous years.

1946

1947

1948
On March 1, 1948, the MVB reported that "a defect had developed in a large number of motor-vehicle licence plates issued for 1948 (the white paint on the numerals and letters coming off after exposure to dampness) it is necessary that such plates be substituted ..." It is thought that the plate shown above represents an example of this "defect".
Subsequently, the MVB would have to replace inexcess of 30,000 defective plates. This, combined with the growth in private vehicle ownership following the end of WWII led to as many as 11 different prefix letters being used.
In the Letter to the Editor at right, which appeared in the Vancouver Sun in October of 1948. "M. Porritt" of 999 Beach Avenue, Vancouver (which is now under the site of the Burrard Street Bridge) is complaining that anyone attempting to record the license plate numbers of reckless drivers would be unable to due to the poor state of the paint on many plates.

Quick Links:
1904-1912  | 1913-1914  |  1915-1917  |  1918-1923  |  1924-1929  |  1930  |  1931-1935  |  1936-1939  |  1940-1948  |  1949-1951
1952-1954  |  1955-1963  |  1964-1969  |   1970-1978  |  1979-1985  |  1985-2001  |  2001-2014  |  2014-2023  |  2023 and beyond

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