James Tudhope was an aggressive industrialist, building a thriving carriage business from that originally founded by his father in 1874. By 1902, the Tudhope Carriage Co. Ltd. factory occupied a full three city blocks in the downtown area of Orillia. A separate company, Tudhope Anderson Co. Ltd. was formed, and used part of the existing factory to produce a line of wagons and farm equipment marketed under the name TACO. In 1907, Tudhope entered the burgeoning car business, building a high wheeled automobile that looked more like a Phaeton carriage than a car. (A mint condition Tudhope automobile can still be seen in the Oshawa Car museum.) This venture died when the plant burned down in 1909.
The plant, with a carriage capacity of 25,000 units a year was rebuilt without delay, helped by a $50,000 interest free loan from the city. Although his love was carriages, and he had organised a new company under the name of Carriage Factories Ltd., Tudhope wanted to get back into the car business. He made a deal with the US manufacturer to build the Everett 30 car under license. This car, built by the Tudhope Motor Co., turned out to have design flaws in the rear axle and by 1913 the subsidiary was in bankruptcy.
His Carriage Factory company had been merged with three other Ontario carriage manufacturers as Tudhope pursued his dream of a carriage building empire, but the rapidly growing auto business was overtaking him, despite his attempts to be a part of it. Striving to stay alive in the disappearing carriage business, he built bodies for auto makers along with all-weather tops to keep his factories busy. As car manufacturers began building their own covered bodies, Tudhope’s business slowed down, and in 1924, he sold his dream of an empire, Carriage Factories Ltd., to the Cockshutt Plow Co. who merged it into their Canada Carriage and Body Ltd. subsidiary in Brantford.
Four year later, his farm equipment and wagon building business, TACO, was sold and reorganised under the name of OTACO Ltd, and a huge new foundry, ( now part of Kubota) was built in the outskirts of Orillia. The OTACO name continued to exist until 2007 as an auto seat manufacturer in an Orillia suburb.
James Tudhope died in 1936, and despite his ventures into car building, never learned to drive one. His name lives on in Orillia in a downtown park, and for many years towered over the city in white letters on the high brick chimney at the remaining part of his down town factory. In 2000, the chimney was taken down due to deterioration into an unsafe condition.