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Dime-A-Time Meter Co.
Ready to Supply Toronto

$125 Annual Expense to Local Motorists

A 22 year-old invention which won him an international reputation as a coin machine expert may make David A. McCowan, a Main St. manufacturer, the producer of Toronto’s first parking meters.

President and owner of one of four Canadian concerns making parking meters, and the only one now in Toronto, Mr. McCowan is at present perfecting a dime-in-the-slot version of the nickel and copper coin model his company has installed in Edmonton and other western cities. If Toronto proceeds with its plans, meters made by his or other companies will soon be lining the curbstones of Wellington, Spadina, Dundas, Jarvis and other downtown thoroughfares. The continent’s first dime meters, they are expected to collect yearly an average of $125 each from motorists.

According to Mr. McCowan, 100 Canadian municipalities are now using the modern equivalent of the old hitching post to rotate downtown parking traffic. Sixty of them are in Ontario where the first Canadian meters were installed in Sudbury back in 1939. Their 25,000 machines are collecting an estimated $1,500,000 a year or about $60 a piece.

Parking meters cost about $95? each. Municipalities buy them outright, paying the manufacturer 75% of the total receipts until the initial cost has been paid off, within a year or 18 months. In a few isolated instances in the United States where 25,000 cities and towns have a total of 750,000 parking meters, the manufacturer has retained the ownership and rented them to the municipality in return for a portion of the take.

A precision instrument containing anything up to 400 parts, a parking meter must provide reliable service for long periods in all kinds of weather. In northern cities like Edmonton, that means temperatures ranging from 90 above the 40 degrees or more below zero. Some early model produced in the 1930s broke down under such conditions but most of those now on the market in Canada and the U.S. will provide reliable service in all kinds of weather. If the newest types do breakdown, however, the police can open the aluminum casing with a key, lift out the mechanism and install a new one in a matter of seconds.

The son of a former Scarboro Sheriff and farmer, Mr. McCowan acquired his reputation as a coin machine expert when he dreamed up one of the world’s first automatic photo machines in 1928. Hundreds of them have since been used in exhibitions, country fairs and shopping arcades. Prior to that, while serving as a radio operator on a lakesteamer, he invented a dispensing machine which he sold to a chewing gum manufacturer for enough money to start himself in business.

Since the 1930s he has specialized in the design and manufacture of point-of-sale displays taking time out during World War II to make precision parts for radar equipment. Oil concerns, candy and biscuit manufacturers have purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his products.

Mr. McCowan organized his meter manufacturing concern last fall. He was approached by a U.S. firm -- the Park-O-Meter Co. of Oklahoma City -- which produced the world’s first parking meter in 1935 and knew him as the inventor of the coin-in-the-slot photo device.

His Main St. factory is now tooling up to produce a larger proportion of the product’s components in Canada and perfecting the dime model for possible use in Toronto and other centres. It is also busy on the redesign of parts now made from zinc and other metals in short supply. An assembly plant, which Mr. McCowan set up recently, has a capacity of 100 meters a day.

(March 20 1951 Toronto newsclipping)

The Scarboro Heights Record  V12 #3
The McCowans' Who's Who  Vol. 4