THE MAXMOBILE is a feature length documentary about David Maxwell, the man who said no to Henry Ford. Maxwell invented the first completely hand made car in Canada in 1900. Only one of his cars remains in a museum
in Watford, Ontario, Canada, where he lived. He died in 1930. The only remaining car was restored by Ross Saunders and Neil Werden and a number of other men in Watford for the town's centennial.
DAVID MAXWELL was born August 10, 1861. Orphaned at an early age he ended up in Watford, Ontario, Canada working as a blacksmith for John Baimbridge. Eventually he bought some land across the street and started
his own blacksmith shop and built the building himself, which still stands today more than 120 years later. David Maxwell invented lots of things, not the least of which was one of the first cars in Canada.
Dave Maxwell built the entire car, every part, from the engine to the wheels. He built about half a dozen models and only one remains today. The car to the left is the first one. A modified buggy with a "one lung" motor and a steering
tiller and "run flat" tires. Yes, way ahead of his time.
Neil Werden (in red t-shirt) did most of the restoration of the Maxmobile along with his father Lloyd Werden. Ross Saunders had a ride in the Maxmobile when he was a boy.
Always a lover of cars, Ross was instrumental in getting the Maxmobile returned to Watford and restored. With the help of Lloyd Werden and his son, Neil, Ross and a few others along with the mayor of Watford went to London, Ontario,
and returned with the wreckage of the Maxmobile. The men restored the car with a Wintario grant from the province for the town's centennial. The Maxmobile documentary chronicles the life and work of D.A. Maxwell along with the
restoration of the car over 100 years later.
HISTORICAL VIDEO REVIEW
by Robert Tremain, Curator of Lambton County Museums.
"THE MAXMOBILE", DVD, by Revision Studios.
Among all of the astounding inventions and transportation technology to emerge in the 20th century, none exerted so profound an effect as the automobile: the machine shaped our cities, industry and roads, and preoccupied
our movies and popular songs. All the more remarkable then, to learn that as the last century dawned in 1900, one of the first hand-built cars in North America could be found cruising the streets of Watford, Lambton
That automobile, painstakingly hand crafted by blacksmith-inventor David Maxwell, soon became the subject of much local folklore: Maxwell's driving machine was the first automobile encountered by either man or horse in this pastoral region of southwestern Ontario.
Now made available to us in DVD format, Revision Studio explores and celebrates the story of those wide-eyed encounters using digital multi-media, drawing on historical portraiture, photo-postcards, and interviews with a slate of family descendants. The result is as though a professional camera/editing crew showed up to record the childhood memories of everyone in attendance at our family reunion.
Videographer Max Mitchell arrives at his interest in the story naturally: he explains in his engaging, easy-going narrative that he is the great-nephew of David A. Maxwell, tinkerer extraordinaire. Mitchell soon has us peeking over the shoulder of craftsman and auto restorationist Neil Werden, holding our breath as he tirelessly cranks the beast back to life.
The lasting legacy of 'The Maxmobile' DVD is not so much that it judiciously weaves together rare historical material, but that its authors take a further step, laying down a valuable digital record of living memory associated with the Town of Watford, and the Maxmobile in particular.
It is to Mitchell's credit that he has the foresight to apply his camera and editing skills to the undertaking of fresh research: several townsfolk interviewed for his project are no longer with us.
In short, this video allows us a delightful glimpse into the daily life of a rural service town in the first quarter of the last century, sharing its insights in broadcast-quality. It will appeal to 'armchair historians' of southwestern Ontario, the Town of Watford, and those interested in the earliest days of the automobile.
Local historians take great satisfaction in finding patterns that repeat through time, and that span the generations. Viewers of this video will take comfort in the fact that this man's descendants are still tinkering with technology, this time to preserve the story of a small town and its gifted inventor. David Maxwell is smiling.