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History & Museum > Winnipeg Police Museum

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1925 Police Patrol Wagon

Police Patrol WagonThe largest artifact on display in the museum is a 1925 REO Police Patrol Wagon which is more commonly known as a "Paddy Wagon" and was used to convey prisoners.

This vehicle is a particular treasure to the museum as it was actually owned by the Winnipeg Police Department from 1925 to 1930. It was the third motorized Patrol Wagon used by the department.

The REO chassis was built in Lansing, Michigan, USA and was shipped to Breen Motors in Winnipeg on July 3rd, 1925. It was purchased by the Winnipeg Police who then had the body built locally by Lawrie Auto Body Works. The "Paddy Wagon" box design followed the style of the 1917 truck that it was to replace.

In 1930 the REO was sold when a more modern truck was purchased with an enclosed cab to protect the driver and wagonman. The REO next became a farm truck for many years in a community east of Winnipeg. At some point in time it was just left to rot in a field and in fact the wooden spokes and wheel frames suffered badly. The motor was not damaged and was completely rebuilt later.

In the mid 1960's, the Museum of Man and Nature obtained the REO along with a number of other old vehicles for the purpose of opening a transportation section in their museum but the project was stopped. The REO had been partly restored but was still in rough shape when it was taken to Elkhorn, Manitoba for storage. It sat there for a number of years until the Winnipeg Police Museum was incorporated and negotiations began to obtain the truck so that it could be displayed in a police setting.

After nearly a year of negotiations, the Museum of Man and Nature agreed to deaccession the REO so that ownership could be given to the Police Museum. The understanding was that the Police Musuem would be responsible for the cost of restoration.

It took three years of dedicated work by four police officers with assistance from numerous other individuals and businesses to complete the task. There restoration was complete with every nut and bolt removed. Badly rusted or worn parts were duplicated by local companies and craftsmen. Missing parts were located in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and the USA. Replacement tires of the required 33" by 5" size were obtained from a factory still making them in New Zealand.

The original financial grant for this project came from the Winnipeg Police Association who continue to provide yearly financial support to the Police Museum.

Recognition of this unique artifact came in 1994 with a postage stamp when the REO was selected by Canada Post as part of a group of six service vehicles in Canada.

 

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Last update: May 25, 2017

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