The first Government House

The first Government House in Levuka in 1908. Picture: FILE

DID you know that the first car to land on Fiji soil came from Vancouver, Canada? On January 7, 1905, The Fiji Times published a story on a Mr Gliddon, who brought his motor carriage into the country, as part of his drive to ride around the world.

Both Fijians and local Europeans were awestruck by the speed of the vehicle and the easy fashion in which it was controlled.

The Fiji Times article stated Mr Gliddon was quite at home in steering the machine and that most Europeans who saw the machine for the first time regarded it with a great deal of veneration.

” Neither has Mr Glidden been at all selfish with his motor carriage; he has been good enough to afford many residents a spin in it in order that they might realise the sensation of fast travelling and the comparatively easy way in which the machine is manipulated,” said the article.

“Gliddon proceeded to Auckland in the steamer Navua and it is his intention, we understand to ride his motor right through New Zealand to Bluff Harbour, where he will embark for Australia in prosecution of his ride round the world.”

Gliddon had spent 10 days in Fiji before he continued on but little did he realise that he had laid a seed among locals.

Nine years later in 1914 it was reported that eight motor vehicles had since been imported into the country by private citizens and companies.

According to a Adolph Brewster, who represented the Colony of Fiji at an Imperial motor transport conference in London in 1914, the motor vehicles were so popular that local Fijians fancied a ride around Suva by paying large sums of money for it.

“The motors are now in great vogue among the natives, who on their visits to Suva pay quite large sums for the use of the taxis plying in the streets of the town.

Parties of them charter these vehicles, which carry five, and pay a shilling each just for a run from the General Post Office to the Cricket Ground, a distance of only three-quarters of a mile,” he said.


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