A composite image of carriage, wagon and sleigh, featuring the theme, Custom Construction: configure your own carriage.

Wagons, sleighs and carriages came in a wide range of models each of which could be further customized by customer choice.

Leslie Van Patter
Paul Bogaard, Adèle Hempel, Michael Doan
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


The Campbell Carriage Factory built several models of carriage, different kinds of wagon, and several types of sleigh. The business records suggest they produced a surprising range of styles for a small business in a small community. There are no records of the big coaches and grand carriages one might find in the bigger cities, but there are over a dozen types of carriage listed in the records (let alone wagons and sleighs) and it seems to have been driven by customer choice.1

Such diversity was characteristic of a “pre-industrial” factory of the 19th century, where they were able to meet a variety of ever-changing expectations and meet a range of needs. Skilled workmen could alter plans and easily mix & match parts to suit each customer’s wishes. By contrast, when industrial manufacturing plants are organized to produce automobiles, machines not only prepare the raw material (as they did at the Campbell Carriage Factory) but actually stamp out parts. Workers mostly assemble the autos in preset assembly lines. Consequently, we can purchase only those models THEY have chosen to produce. They need sales people to tell you “wh Read More
The Campbell Carriage Factory built several models of carriage, different kinds of wagon, and several types of sleigh. The business records suggest they produced a surprising range of styles for a small business in a small community. There are no records of the big coaches and grand carriages one might find in the bigger cities, but there are over a dozen types of carriage listed in the records (let alone wagons and sleighs) and it seems to have been driven by customer choice.1

Such diversity was characteristic of a “pre-industrial” factory of the 19th century, where they were able to meet a variety of ever-changing expectations and meet a range of needs. Skilled workmen could alter plans and easily mix & match parts to suit each customer’s wishes. By contrast, when industrial manufacturing plants are organized to produce automobiles, machines not only prepare the raw material (as they did at the Campbell Carriage Factory) but actually stamp out parts. Workers mostly assemble the autos in preset assembly lines. Consequently, we can purchase only those models THEY have chosen to produce. They need sales people to tell you “what you want”!2

At the Campbell Carriage Factory the customer could specify exactly what they wanted. To begin with they could choose from among the standard models currently popular. But the craftsmen, at this pre-industrial factory, rarely turned out two carriages exactly alike. The customer could ask for adjustments to size and shape, and pretty well custom design their own carriage.

And when it came to repairs, these craftsmen were your best bet for getting your particular carriage fixed or even refurbished. Who ever heard of taking your car back to the manufacturing plant to get it repaired? Industrial manufacturing requires an additional network of service stations and repair shops.
1 "Carriage Types." Carriage Terminology: An Historical Dictionary.  Don Berkebile.  Washington: Smithsonian Instittute, 1978. 13ff

2  Kinney, Thomas. The Carriage Trade:  Making Horse-drawn Vehicles in America.  Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.  241-244.

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

A 3 x 3 grid of thumbs, with hints to direct your choice, and when clicked each reveals the model that might fit your need.

Select the model that would best meet your needs! Each of these options is known to have been constructed at the Campbell Carriage Factory. These images are taken directly from various catalogs produced in the era of horse-drawn vehicles.

This animation features a 3 x 3 grid of thumbnail images, each with a hint of what the customer might be looking for, and when clicked reveals the model that might fit their need:
(1) Popular – The most popular choice had a spindle seat mounted on a piano box body suspended from side springs.
(2) Fast – Seat, body and springs are all stripped down for speed.
(3) Sporty – The “Dexter” mounted an elegant body on a patented set of springs.
(4) Fancy – The “Phaeton” featured a specially crafted body…this one is shown with top, lights, fenders and a curved dash up front.
(5) Fancy Double – The “Surrey” was based on the Phaeton design but with two seats.
(6) Jump Seat – A “jump seat” could disappear completely under the large seat, but required the main seat to be mounted at the back.
(7) Utility – The “Express Wagon” was the mini-van or small pickup of its day.
(8) Fancy Double – With the second seat installed this vehicle was sometimes called a “Democrat”.
(9) Exotic – The most exotic carriage produced was call the “Mikado”…this one even has fringe on its top!

Tantramar Interactive Inc.
Leslie Van Patter, Paul Bogaard
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


If you examine this range of different models you will notice they all have features in common:

    they all have wheels    (we’re only considering carriages, here)

    they all have a body of some type (of different shapes and sizes)

    they all have some way to attach the body to the wheels
             called the undercarriage or gear

   and they all have seats    (but of different sorts);

Also, you could choose whether you want a top or not, and other accessories, including whether you need the attachments for one horse (a pair of shafts) or two ( a tongue or pole).

But that’s not all you can choose, you could customize any of the four main parts listed above.  The only thing you could NOT choose would be a carriage without wheels, or without Read More
If you examine this range of different models you will notice they all have features in common:

    they all have wheels    (we’re only considering carriages, here)

    they all have a body of some type (of different shapes and sizes)

    they all have some way to attach the body to the wheels
             called the undercarriage or gear

   and they all have seats    (but of different sorts);

Also, you could choose whether you want a top or not, and other accessories, including whether you need the attachments for one horse (a pair of shafts) or two ( a tongue or pole).

But that’s not all you can choose, you could customize any of the four main parts listed above.  The only thing you could NOT choose would be a carriage without wheels, or without some kind of body, and without some way to attach the horse! 

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

This image shows an example from an “Order Book” found in the Campbell Carriage Factory for a customized Surrey.

An "orderbook" was found at the Campbell Carriage Factory detailing the dimensions and other wishes of their customers, configuring each vehicle to their own needs.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


This image shows customized dimensions for a double seated vehicle penciled onto a scrap of wood found in the Factory.

Several scraps of wood were found in the Factory sketching out a customer's preference for the various measurements that gave a vehicle its distinctive shape.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
1998.1.18
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


This image show three notes pinned up in the Campbell Carriage Factory each recording the repairs requested by a customer.

Several notes were found pinned to the wall listing the repairs a customer requested. Such repairs made up a major part of the Factory's work, reminding us this was a "pre-industrial" factory.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


From the evidence of customer orders in the ledgers and orderbooks, and the diversity of seats, bodies and wheels left at the Campbell Carriage Factory, it is clear each customer could customize their own carriage.  You could choose its colour and the amount of trim work, and which accessories to add (much as we can, today) but you could also make adjustments to its size and shape, which kind of seat, what placement of springs and which style of body.

Of course, during any one decade certain styles proved to be popular as they met typical needs.  But every customer was free to request adjustments to meet their needs.  As craftsmen, carriage makers had little to gain by making each vehicle to the same specifications.  Only in slower seasons -- when the winter production of sleighs had passed -- did the Factory build up its inventory of the more common models.

The Campbells still tell the story:  having constructed several carriages beyond their current orders, one or two of the carriage makers were given a "Spring break" ... by hitching a half dozen carriages in a line, and driving off down the road with instructions to keep Read More
From the evidence of customer orders in the ledgers and orderbooks, and the diversity of seats, bodies and wheels left at the Campbell Carriage Factory, it is clear each customer could customize their own carriage.  You could choose its colour and the amount of trim work, and which accessories to add (much as we can, today) but you could also make adjustments to its size and shape, which kind of seat, what placement of springs and which style of body.

Of course, during any one decade certain styles proved to be popular as they met typical needs.  But every customer was free to request adjustments to meet their needs.  As craftsmen, carriage makers had little to gain by making each vehicle to the same specifications.  Only in slower seasons -- when the winter production of sleighs had passed -- did the Factory build up its inventory of the more common models.

The Campbells still tell the story:  having constructed several carriages beyond their current orders, one or two of the carriage makers were given a "Spring break" ... by hitching a half dozen carriages in a line, and driving off down the road with instructions to keep going until they were all sold!

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

Another 3 x 3 grid of thumbs, with hints of available options, and when clicked each reveals what that choice might provide.

Here's your chance to customize your own carriage! Pick from several options and see the results. And this is just a small sample of the possibilities. These images are taken directly from various catalogs produced in the era of horse-drawn vehicles.

This animation also presents a 3 x 3 grid of thumbnail images, each with a hint of what options were available, and when clicked reveals what that choice could provide:
(1) Standard Body – Standard Carriage: spindle seats on Piano box body with side springs.
(2) Spring Options – [Inset emphasizing Side Springs in previous choice] Optional End Springs, full seat and top (lowered).
(3) Special Wheels – [Inset of Wooden wheels featured in previous choices] Optional bicycle-style wheels with wire spokes and rubber tires.
(4) Body 2 – [Inset of Standard body] Optional “Corning” body with extra pinstriping and full seat.
(5) Body 2 with Top – Optional top on Corning body.
(6) Trim Options – Endless choices of metal trim and upholstery.
(7) Body 3 – [Insets showing Piano and Corning bodies] Optional “Concord” body with metal trim and open seat.
(8) Fully Customized – Fully loaded: modified Concord body with spindles, fancy dash, special springs, pinstriping, lighter seat and much larger wheels!
(9) Colours - Colour options for body and pinstriping.

Tantramar Interactive Inc.
Leslie Van Patter, Paul Bogaard
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The “Custom Design” Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

• Learn about the important relationship between customer and manufacturer;

• Explore themes in that period of Canadian history when pre-industrial manufacturing becomes fully industrial;

• Establish links between craftsmen and customer choice;

• Learn about the stylistic variations in horse-drawn vehicles;

• Identify, research, and describe the similarities and differences amongst the horse-drawn vehicles available across Canada;

• Demonstrate an understanding of what it meant to be a skillful craftsman in the 19th century;

• Discuss and analyze the impact on Canadian culture as the work of craftsmen was transformed into the work of assemblers at an assembly line.

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