There are many wonderful Canadian History lessons, but one that has often been overlooked, is that of inventor and carmaker, George Foote Foss, from Sherbrooke, Quebec. More than 120 years ago, a prosperous mechanic, blacksmith and bicycle repairman named George Foss invented Canada’s first gasoline engine automobile, which was referred to as the “Fossmobile.”
The Foss family has re-opened the “Foss Family Archives,” to better document his remarkable accomplishment and to finds ways to share this historic Canadian event with automotive enthusiasts and historians alike. The family, as a means to build networks, foster collaboration and share important historical memorabilia, has established “Fossmobile Enterprises.”
George Foss’ grandson, Ron Foss has talked with some visionaries and is seeking the help of other potential experts in “Vintage Automobile Restoration,” for a very special project. The goal is to use reverse engineering (the reproduction of an inventor or manufacturer’s product), to create a replica (as close as possible) of George Foss’ invention: the first gasoline powered automobile in Canada: the Fossmobile. There are no original drawings, so the replica will have to be based solely on detailed scrutiny of original Fossmobile photos. Ron Foss has begun the process of acquiring vintage parts from the era, with the hope to build this vehicle, replicating parts only when it is absolutely necessary. He will provide oversight for this process and collaborate with historic and automobile experts. Along the way, he will document the journey while ensuring attention to detail. He hopes to honour his grandfather’s legacy and bring to greater light this significant chapter of Canadian history. With its completion, this replica will be a tangible embodiment of the first gasoline car in Canada. There is a growing interest to showcase the completed replica in classic automobile shows, however it will be eventually donated to a Canadian museum to enhance historic education for future generations.
The Foss family is endeavouring to bring together a team of craftsmen and enthusiasts, including historic guardians and dedicated promoters of Canadian automotive history. To tell the Fossmobile story, the Foss family hopes to attract writers, journalists, and documentary producers who are interested in showcasing this significant historic Canadian invention. This could include the personal stories of George Foss himself and the story of the Fossmobile rebuild process.
If you are interested in: joining this informal team of designers, fabricators, builders and production experts; helping to source period automobile parts; or are just wanting to contribute ideas or advice, you are welcome to contact Ron Foss directly.
Photos courtesy of the “Foss Family Archives” – Copyright 2017 The Foss Family Archive