If ever there was a name for a toy that just didn’t seem to fit, these trucks are a perfect
example. Almost gigantic in comparison to most other toys on the market, these
Canadian trucks were called “Minnitoys.” They were made by the Otaco Limited
Company located in Orilla, Ontario. Produced from the late 40’s through the early 60’s
these beefy toys enjoy a strong following today, both north and south of the border.
Minnitoy trucks were not only large (28” long), they were very sturdy. Most were strong
enough to accommodate a small child’s weight with extra reinforcing ribs built into the
semi-trailers. As a result many were literally “ridden into the ground” by their lucky
owners. Finding well-preserved specimens today is very difficult.
Prior to the introduction of their famous truck line, Otaco manufactured other toys. Their
construction equipment (a steam shovel and a 3-piece bulldozer and trailer set) could be
considered quaint, if not a little crude. The first trucks produced were also a bit on the
primitive side. Most of the fabrication and assembly was done by hand using crimp-over
tabs instead of spot-welding.
In the 1940's Otaco marketed a line of five of these early trucks and a ride-on Canadian
Flyer train that were of lighter construction and lesser quality than the trucks featured on
this site. Later production ride-on trains were larger (30” long) and offered in two
different paint schemes; Canadian Pacific and Canadian National. These were
advertised along with the truck line in their 1955 catalogs.
The most collectible Minnitoy trucks are those produced from about the early 1950’s
through the early 60’s at which point the Otaco plant closed its doors. These trucks truly
set the standard for what a quality, big steel truck toy should look like.
An interesting anecdote regarding these trucks is the misspelled name of the company
on the rubber tries. It was spelled with only one ‘n.’ This error was never corrected.
Private label trucks (built in cooperation with various commercial businesses) were a
Minnitoys specialty. Just how many private label trucks are out there is still a mystery,
but there were at least 40. The lists found on this site were compiled from information
gleaned from an April 8, 1998 article in Collecting Toys magazine and also from
knowledgeable collectors, Ron McBain and Keith Davis of Canada, and Gary Coghlan at
Perhaps the most prolific advertiser on the Minnitoy semi trucks was Heinz. Their
products were responsible for at least 7 different private label trucks, most with English
lettering on one side and French on the other.
Trucks can also be found that have been painted over by commercial businesses and
which were not actually part of the Minnitoy production line.
This line of toy trucks really has no equal when it comes to size, variety, visual impact,
and just plain style. A collection of Minnitoys is certainly one to be desired, enjoyed, and