Perry E. Doolittle

Plot U, Lot 68
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Recognised as “the father of the Trans-Canada Highway,” Doolittle was born near Aylmer, Ontario on March 22, 1861. At the age of seven he assembled his first bicycle using bits and pieces found in the basement of the family home. This was the first of many of his cycling creations, and, between 1881 and 1890, Doolittle won more than fifty cycling trophies including the 1883 Canadian championship. Doolittle also constructed the nation’s first motorcycle and it was his deep interest in riding his creations that made him such a strong advocate for improved roads.
   Meanwhile, his schooling was also important to him and he eventually graduated from Toronto’s Trinity College with a degree in medicine. Doolittle opened a practice in a large home at 619 Sherbourne Street where he was soon specialising in electro-therapeutics.
   His spare time hobby shifted away from cycles to automobiles when he purchased Canada’s first used car, a Winton formerly owned by John Moodie of Port Nelson (Burlington), Ontario. It bore licence tag No. 3. Sir John Eaton (Plot 2, Lot 4) had Nos. 1 and 2. Doolittle became an even stronger advocate of good roads and with a few friends established the Toronto Automobile Club, forerunner of the modern CAA. In addition to advocating what would become years later the Trans-Canada Highway and a uniform set of traffic regulations from coast-to-coast, Doolittle was also largely responsible for officials in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island changing their respective province’s basic rule of the road from “keep to the left” to “keep to the right.” By doing so, as Doolittle kept pointing out, they too could take advantage of the money being spent by touring American automobile drivers. Doolittle died at his Sherbourne Street residence on December 31, 1933 at the age of 72.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded

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