Collecting Ontario licence plates for 39 years
1938 ONTARIO PLATE ALLOCATION
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Ontario used a "floating letter" format on its passenger plates from 1937 to 1954. The license plate series of the time were allocated throughout the province as shown in the table below. You can sort by the issuing city, or by the order in which the alphanumeric serials were issued. You may also search for a city name.
Ontario omitted the letters G, I, O and Q in 1938. One single letter appears in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th position of the serial number. No plates ever began with the digit zero in this era. Plates had a minimum of three characters and a maximum of five characters. Trailing numbers (to the right of the letter) advanced first, starting at 1, and ending with the maximum value (999, or 99, or 9, depending on available space). Leading numbers (to the left of the letter) advanced each time the trailing numbers rolled over, like so:
1A1, 1A2, 1A3 ... 1A8, 1A9, 1A10, 1A11 ... 1A98, 1A99, 1A100, 1A101 ... 1A999, 2A1, 2A2 ...
The letter moves from the 2nd position to the 3rd when the leading numbers advance from one digit to two (e.g. going from 9 to 10 in the example below). Thus, the issuance progressed like so:
9A998, 9A999, 10A1, 10A2 ... 10A8, 10A9, 10A10, 10A11 ... 10A98, 10A99, 11A1, 11A2 ...
The letter moves from the 3rd position to the 4th when the left numbers advance from two digits to three (e.g. going from 99 to 100). Thus:
99A98, 99A99, 100A1, 100A2 ... 100A8, 100A9, 101A1, 101A2 ...
The leading numbers must advance from 1 all the way to 999. Once 999 is passed, The letter advances and returns to the 2nd position, and the cycle repeats:
999A8, 999A9, 1B1, 1B2, 1B3...
In 1938, more Ontario plates were required after the regular series were exhausted. To satisfy demand, Ontario manufactured "overflow" plates with letters A and B in the first position. The Ontario Motor League Road Book does not mention these overflow allocations, and only includes up to 4Z982. Allocations of subsequent Z plates, as well as the overflow series, were probably determined after the OML press deadline. It is projected that the overflow plates were sequenced as follows:
999Z8, 999Z9, A1, A2, A3 ... A9998, A9999, B1, B2, B3...
There is no OML data for 1938 to indicate where in Ontario these plates were issued, and they have been omitted from the table below.