British Columbia Passenger License Plates
1955 - 1969

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Propuction of BC license plates would continue at the Oakalla Plate Shop throughout the 1950s and 1960s and one of the biggest changes following the Thunderbird experiment of 1952-54 was the standardization of license plate dimensions in 1955 ahead of the new North American standard of 12" x 6" due to take effect in 1956.
The province would also use some of the wildest colours ever seen on a license plate between 1959-62, and the reasons why can be found in Tales from the Back Bumper, which is available for purchase by Clicking Here!
1955
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to 275,000
Registered:
303,481
Over-run:
35,000 (310,000)*
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
...
* Estimate / Unconfirmed

In late 1955, the Provincial Cabinet authorised the purchase of new plate making equipment for the Plate Shop at Oakalla, which was to cost approximately $98,289.00 and was to reaplce equipment that was described by the media as being "obsolete and inadequate" - it is thought this "obsolete" equipment was the machinery bought from J.R. Tacey & Son in 1930 (at a cost of $30,000). The supplier of the new equipment was the Screw Machine Products Company of Portland Oregon (as no Canadian firm was seen as capable of providing the necessary equipment).
1955 would also be the first time that the MVB would issue over 300,000 license plates, while 400,000 would be surpassed in 1957; and 500,000 in 1962.
Precautionary Tabs Slots: 1955 - 1957
Despite the ease with which the renewal tabs could be easily stolen from the 1952-54 license plates - which was, in no small measure a contributing factor to the early abandonment of the Thunderbird base - the Plate Shop at Oakalla punched slots into the 1955-57 plates as a precaution and in the event there was a major steel shortage that made procuding annual license plate unfeasible.
1956
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:
341,650
Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 351-401, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 355,000 to 360,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
1957
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:
371,727
Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 401-862, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 405,000 to 410,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
The 1957 Colour Scheme Conflict!
Ron Garay Collection
As is apparent in the above photos, the 1957 Alberta and British Columbia license plates shared the same colour combination. This "faux-pas" violated an unwritten rule that neighbouring jurisdictions could not use the same colours in the same year.
1958
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:
393,337
Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 420-117, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 425,000 to 430,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
BC's First Slogan!
In March of 1956, the Chair of the Province's Centennial Committee, Lawrie Wallace, announced at the annual convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in Penticton that special Centennial license plates would be issued in 1958 to commemorate the anniversary.
The plates would display a gold-on-green colour scheme to denote the importance of the forestry industry to the provincial economy (green) and the historical significance of the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush to the formation of what would become British Columbia.
The plates would also display, for the first time, a slogan ("CENTENARY") as well as the date 1858. This was seen to be a major coup (and victory) as the MVB had historically pursued a policy of keeping BC license plates free of the clutter it considered adorned the plates from other jurisdictions.
While BC was fairly democratic in how it allotted numbers below 3,000 in the period prior to 1970, having political connections certainly helped on occassion. Take the No. 1958, which held significant importance in 1958 as the Social Credit administration of WAC Bennett used this date to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Crown Colony of British Columbia's founding. It is now known that Bennett's Attorney General, Robert Bonner (1952-1968), was issued this number for 1958. We wonder then, who was issued the No. 1858 (pictured above) for that year?
1959
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:
419,422
Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 426-335, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 430,000 to 435,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
1960
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:
446,050
Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 453-007, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 455,000 to 460,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
"All right ... start with your two, the only even number and it's in the middle ... go left, add three ... that gives you five ... go right from your two and add a two ... then back to your first number and add another two ... then add a one and you've got it ... simple?".
1961
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:

467,370

Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 471-046, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 475,000 to 480,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
Minor Die Variations: 1961 date stamp
Here is one of those interesting, but ultimately not very significant variations that can be found in some of the dies used to stamp out the plates. It is assumed that additional plates produced late in the 1961 run begin to display the new '6' to be used in the 1962 series (which was probably already being manufactured).
1962
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:

495,308

Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 508-687, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 510,000 to 515,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     
1963
Issuing Statistics
Initial Series:
1 to ????
Registered:

531,116

Over-run:
unknown
Issued:
Pairs
Manufacturer:
Oakalla Prison
Dimensions:
302 mm x 150 mm
Material:
Steel
Comments:
Known high plate is No. 533-307, so it is thought the series (including possible over-run) went as high as 535,000 to 540,000.
* Estimate / Unconfirmed
     

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