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Canadian Rail 496 2003

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Canadian Rail 496 2003

ISSN 0008-4875
Pennlt No. 40066621 CANADIAN RAIL
FRONT CO VER: The corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg during the 1880s, with two horsecars of the Winnipeg Street
y. Winnipeg was the westernmost Canadian city to have horsecars, and the first routes were inaugurated in 1882.
About this time, the building
of the Canadian Pacific Railway set off a land boom, and it was logical that a street railway
would be started
in the rapidly-developing city. Compare this view with the two photographs on page 203 that show the same
location. For a time
in the early 1890s there were four tracks on Main street, as the new electric line coexisted with the older
horsecar route
for a few years. This painting hung in one of the offices of the Winnipeg Electric Railway, and was later
acquired by the uncle
of the author and presented to him in 1964.
BELOW A drawing of an open horse car on St. Denis street in Montreal in 1887. This drawing is based on the photograph
that appears on page
197. Cars like this were very popular in the summer, and were used as trailers behind electric cars for
few years after the electrification of the Montreal system.
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A typical omnibus, photographed at the John Stephenson factory about 1875. This one ran in
during the horsecar era. Note the seats on the roof, and the rather precarious ladder
construction. By that
time horse street
railways had been in
existence for more than
two years, and showed
much promise for the
future. This first
Stephenson street car
was a strange vehicle,
obsolescent before it
was built; it was,
essentially, an omnibus
on a railway truck, and
arranged so the body
would swivel through
180 degrees at the end
of the line. Amazingly,
one of these cars has
survived, and is
probably the oldest
surviving street car in
the world. It IS
preserved by the
Museum of the City of
New York.
leading to them. National Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection, photo No. PA-166484.
Before going any
Eslabllshed 1831. Incorporaled 1876.
Built by John Stephenson In 1831.
The so-called first street car built by John Stephenson in
1831 and placed in service in 1832.
From A
John Stephenson advertisement of 1891.
John Stephensons actual first street car was like this, and
built in 1855.
From A
John Stephenson advertisement of 1891.
further, we should try to
answer the question what is a horsecar? We cannot simply
say that it
is a railway car pulled by horses, for then we would
have to include hors.e-drawn operation
op mam line railways.
In this article we· will consider that a horsecar is an urban
transit vehicle, running on rails and hauled by horses or other
draft animals (mule cars were quite common
in the South). It
is not necessary that it run entirely on city streets, but the
line must be urban
in character and offer a local service.
Vehicles that do not run on rails, such
as omnibuses or sleighs,
are not horsecars; however we will touch on them briefly as
many horsecar companies did operate them in addition to the
cars on rails.
By 1850, cities had grown
to the point where distances
were quite long, and something better than an omnibus was
required. Why not a railway? Steam was obviously out
of the
question, but how about building a smaller, four-wheel,
version of a conventional railway car and haul it by horses
along a light track through the city streets? This was quite
different than the New York line
of 1832; it was a strictly local
line, for city use, offering much the
same service as the
omnibus, but using larger vehicles
which were smoother,
roomier and much more comfortable. So it was that about
1852 or 1853 the first true horsecar lines appeared. Both
York and Boston have a good claim for being the frrst, but it
was not long before Philadelphia, Baltimore and other
American cities had street cars. At this time street railways
were strictly a North American innovation, not
across the Atlantic until the 1860s. Canada built its frrst street
railway (in Toronto) in 1861, and eventually twenty Canadian
cities had horsecars. Certainly by 1859 anyone could realize
that the
horsecar had come to stay, and urban passenger
transportation would never be the same.
Canadas first street railways had a very strong
connection with Philadelphia, and were greatly influenced
by developments
in that city. Accordingly, some discussion
of Philadelphia horsecars, and of Alexander Easton, is in order.
In the late l850s the city
of Philadelphia started to go
into the new technology
of street railways in a big way. A
of companies were chartered, each operating on only
one or two streets. Because of the narrow streets, the
Philadelphia cars often went one way on one street and
returned on a parallel street; this continued throughout the
horse and electric car era in the city
of brotherly love. Many
lines under different management were built, possibly more
than in any other city, so the much later Philadelphia
Transportation Company (predecessor of the present-day
SEPTA) could point to an ancestry of no less than 65
companies! One of these early companies was that on
Chestnut and Walnut streets, and one
of tbe proponents of
the system was a gentleman named Alexander Easton.
Alexander Easton, an Englishman who had moved to
Philadelphia, was what we would today call an entrepreneur,
a mover and shaker, and a very strong advocate
of street
In 1859 he published a book entitled A Practical
Treatise on Street or Horse-Power Railways: Their Location,
Construction and Management. This 150-page volume,
perhaps the frrst of its kind in the world, was basically a how
to do manual on building and operating a street railway.
went into details of engineering, .finance and, perhaps most
important,politics, and it showed examples
of organization,
rules. and regulations
of existing companies . in Philadelphia
elsewhere. The political consideration was of great
importance since there was much opposition to laying rails in
the streets, even though the result would be a faster, smoother
and more comfortable ride. One master stroke
of Mr. Eastons
was quoting a letter signed Omnibus, purporting
to be from
an omnibus advocate who was an avowed enemy
of street
In this letter, Omnibus condemns the whole idea
of street railways, but admits that the omnibus system could
do with
some improvements. He then proceeds to outline
these proposed improvements, and says that adopting them
will completely defeat the street railway movement. What be
ends up with
is no less than a full-fledged street railway, and
he has effectively demolished all
arguments against street
The identity of Omnibus is not given, but it does
not take much imagination to detect that it is Alexander
Easton himself! At any rate street railways won the battle
and before
long were such a part of city life that people
wondered how they had ever got along without them.
Jncaiintt, ~oJtsirudion anh lUamtlltmeni;
ABOVE: The title page of Alexander Eastons definitive
treatise on street railways, printed in 1859.
illustration of a horsecar of the late 1850s as
depicted in Mr.
Eastons book. Although the construction is
typical of an 1850s horsecar, the clerestory roof is very
unusual for this early date
Since the progressionists have made it
to turn all our streets into railroads, and to
cry down the omnibus, I wish to say a word in behalf
of the latter.
It will, I hope, be a long while before the citizens
of Philadelphia will be contented to endure such a
as the railroad is likely to be. Look at the
Third street, the Market street, the Broad street,
the Willow street railroads. Are they not unmitigated
nuisances? Every body knows they are, and yet a set
of speculators would make all the streets
in the city
just like these,
to the inconvenience of the public, and
to the
damage of property. What is the use of
experience, if we go directly counter to the lessons it
teaches? Who would believe that any set of men could
be found,
so desperate, and so defiant of the sense of
the public
on this question, as to insist upon laying a
in two of the best streets in the city, viz.:
Chestnut and Walnut streets?
Yet it is so. A charter has actually been granted
to a company to perpetrate this great outrage, and it
is likely to be accomplished, unless the people speak
am an omnibus man, and am opposed to
railroads; and while lam content to remedy any defects
of the present omnibus system, I protest against their
being driven out of the streets.
Let us consider what are the objections
to the
omnibus, and suggest the remedy.
It is said, and the
charge, I confess, has some weight, that,
in Chestnut
street particu larly,
they occu py the entire street,
lumbering about, careless
of all other vehicles, first on
one side, then on the other, so that it is dangerous to
attempt to drive a private carriage through the street
at all. Let
us learn wisdom of our enemies. It would be
certainly desirable, if practicable, to compel all the
omnibus drivers – a very reliable and compliant set of
men –
to keep their unwieldy machines exactly in the
of the street, imitating in this respect the
railroad. If this were done, then every body would know
to pass them. Fast young men and tigers could
show their skill
in driving their light wagons within an
inch of the omnibus, on a full trot, without danger of
being crushed,
as now, by a lee-lurch of the great
battering ram.
To insure this end, I would pass an
ordinance, and impose a fine upon every Jehu that did
not comply with the rule. 170
It may be objected that the drivers could not, if
WOUld, keep the exact middle line of the street. I
am ready to meet this objection. Take two metal bars,
nearly flat, and lay them at a proper distance apart,
so that the wheels could travel on them; the horses
would naturally keep between them. This would have
the effect, also,
of diminishing the terrible noise the
vehicle now makes over the rough stones.
To prevent
the wheels running off the metal bars or slabs, a slight
projection might be made
on each, say about seven­
of an inch high, and, if you please, let the
wheels have a corresponding
rim on their tires. This
as anyone may see, would effectually prevent
the omnibus from wabbling from curve
to curve, and
surging through holes, and over loose stones.
It is evident, too, that, owing to the ease with
great weights may be pulled over smooth
surfaces, a desirable modification of the present bus
may be made. The wheels can be much smaller, and
the frame let down lower,
so that feeble persons and
children may be able
to use this mode of conveyance,
to which they have hitherto been almost debarred,
to the difficulty of ascent to the back door. The
omnibus could also be much enlarged, without
increasing its weight -thus affording room for a greater
of passengers – a very important matter in a
hot summer day, and when
it is raining.
I think I discover a smile
on the lips of the scorner
of my proposed improvement, inasmuch as I have
provided for the omnibus keeping the exact centre
the street, but not for their passing each other in
opposite directions. I anticipate the sneering criticism,
and have the remedy at hand. I
am not ashamed to
avail myself
of a good idea, although it comes from
the enemy. Let all the omnibuses run up Chestnut
street and down Walnut, or vice versa, completing the
circuit by using the cross streets at either end. The
system will then be complete; and with this
improvement easily brought about, I defy the opponents
of the omnibus to point out a single remaining
objection. Why then insist upon having railroads, when
it is well known there are so many respectable people
opposed to them, so that the very name
is detestable.
Witness the immense list
of remonstrances against
the Chestnut and Walnut street Company laying rails
in those streets. The improved omnibus system will
satisfy the entire commanity. Nine out of ten
of these
remonstrants will, if they have the opportunity, petition
to adopt my plan, in the place of the horrid
This delightful piece of satirical writing appeared as a letter in a Philadelphia newspaper in 1859, and was quoted in Alexander
Eastons book the same year. While the author is not named, it is almost certainly Mr. Easton himself. Under the guise of an
omnibus supporter, and great enemy of street railways, the author promotes improvements to the omnibus lines, and, in
so doing, procedes to demolish all the arguments against the introduction of Street railwaysl Mr. Easton built a number of
street railways in the United States and, in 1861, came to Canada to construct the first lines in Toronto and Montreal.
No one will be silly enough to assert that this
system will injure the property of those living
on the
streets where
it is introduced; on the contrary, it will
enhance the value of
it. All complaints against the old
rudderless monster -as I once heard a malicious
man call that highly respectable public vehicle,
the omnibus -will
be at an end; and it will hardly be
recognized by its old admirers, in its improved shape
and parts.
Again, the railroad
in the hands of a company
is a perfect monopoly; and, although their advocates
boast that they help the income of the city treasury,
and diminish the taxes, by keeping the streets
in good
at their own expense, yet the people very properly
to monopolies.
Now, there is no reason why a revenue of the
same sort, and a stipulation
to keep the streets in
order, may not be equally well secured under my
proposed new omnibus system. Charge twenty-five
dollars per annum for the privilege for each omnibus,
and compel the owners
to keep the streets in order.
This could not, perhaps, be done,
concert of action between the several owners; but to
insure its being carried out, I would suggest that a
number of individuars club together,and take certain
streets, and that Councils recognize the club, and
hold them jointly responsible. This would
be a very
different concern from
an incorporated company. The
former consists of individual citizens; the latter
is a
monopoly, and have
the right, by an act of the
to use a great seal.
Of course, the railroad advocates will find, or
to invent, some objections to my plan; but I appeal
to every reflecting man, if it does not possess all the
merits claimed for the railroad, and at the same time
preserve all the good characteristics of the omnibus,
with none of its disadvantages.
in their private carriages may then
have some satisfaction
in driving through Chestnut
street. There will
be no more noise, no blockading the
street; people may converse and read newspapers
the omnibus; ladies dresses will not be splashed with
dirty water from the gutters; the street will
be inviting;
shopping will be pleasant pastime, and every body
be pleased with the change.
Thus, I have proved that we can
do without the
railroad. Some one may
say, a rose by any other
name will smell
as sweet; but people will have their
fancies, their notions,
or, if you please, their prejudices.
no one do unnecessary violence to them. If my
improved omnibus system will answer,
and satisfy both
parties, why insist upon having a railroad? Let the
be used for what they were .intended for.
Although taken late in the horsecar era, October 17, 1893 to be exact, this photo shows a Philadelphia horsecar of the
running on the Chestnut and Walnut Streets line· the same line referred to in the 1859 letter. This car would date
or soon after, that period; certainly contemporary with Alexander Easton.
National Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection, photo No. PA·164708.
Far to the north, in Canada, the cities of
Montreal and Toronto were growing at an
unprecedented rate as immigrants poured
in from Europe. A
rudimentary omnibus
service had been stalied in Montreal in 1848
and Toronto in 1849, but both were small
very limited in coverage. What was
needed was a street railway, and
in 1859 the
first definite steps were taken in this
direction. Undoubtedly the authorities in
both cities had seen
Mr. Eastons book, and
this likely influenced their decision as to how
to proceed. Both cities incorporated street
railway companies in 1861, and both
employed the same contractor to build the
lines. The name of that contractor was
Alexander Easton of Philadelphia! Since Mr.
Easton could not be in two places at the
same time, and since Toronto had made its
contract first, Toronto had the honour of
having Canadas first street railway. It
opened on September 10, with a very
elaborate ceremony typical of the Victorian
era, followed by a concert and then a ball
started at midnight and continued
until an undetermined hour in the early
morning of September II. Later that day,
regular service began.
of the guests at the festivitjes was
John Ostell
of Montreal, the first . president
of the Montreal City Passenger Railway. In
speech he noted that, although Toronto
was first with a street railway, Montreal
would soon have six miles compared to
Torontos two! Sure enough, just a week
later, on September 18, work began on the
Montreal system. This opened on
November 27, with another elaborate
ceremony, so, as 1861 came to an end, both
cities had street railways
in operation.
A good description
of the progress of
the work, and of the cars, appeared in the
Globe on August 30, 1861: The
of laying down the track of the Street
Railway is being proceeded with in a
vigorous manner, and Mr. Easton is
confident that the opening day will be this
day week. A large
number of men are
employed, and already the track has been
from Yorkville to the junction of Yonge
Some stock certificates of early street
railway companies in Philadelphia. The
1858 example,
shown at the top, is one of
the earliest horsecar certificates known.
All three show typical horsecars of the
time. Note the improved design of the 1862
car on the certificate at the
bottom of the
The nndersigned having beeD, Cor upVarog of Twenty Ye&rfI, RIltinly engaged In the m8Dufact~ro
of Cars of 811 descriptlonll, and. betng in P09SNioD o(ery utausln sbopa aDd me.chlnerY,-sohcit ordent for P&I8enger
or Freight. Cars, which will be built of the best matel1Rls and workma.nshlp, M
the DOUce, and on tbe moat reasonable terms.
Pa.rtlcular attention p&ld to the construotlon of Pa.s&engera Can (or City R&llroadA. Referencea
can be m&d.e to the numerous compe.n.lea oftbltJ city.
and Queen streets, and from the progress already made the
men will be at work on King street early next week. The
passenger cars, seven
in number, arrived from Philadelphia
yesterday. They have a comfortable, tasteful appearance,
and on the sides are several prettily executed views of the
various public buildings
of the city. They are fitted up in the
same style as railway passenger cars, but
of course much
and are seated for twenty-four persons. They were
conveyed last evening from the Queen
s Wharf to Yorkville,
on seven
of Messrs. Shedden & Co. s mammoth waggons
drawn by powerful horses, and as
they passed through the
several streets attracted much attention. The villagers
Yorkville to the number of about three hundred had
congregated in front of the Town Hall, and on the arrival of
the cars a series o/cheers arose/rom the crowd which made
the welkin ring.
The Street Roilwa)l promises to be a very
popular institution among our citizens,
and the Committee
of Arrangements for the opening day are busy at work. A
large number
of vocalists are nightly at practice for the
grand concert
in the Yorkville Town Hall, and an efficient
Furnish Chilled Railroad Wheels and Tires i Rolled and Hammered Axles; Wheels and Axles fitted
ooml1 ete; Light Wheels for City Railways,
with or wlthout Axles.
Two advertisements from Alexander Eastons 1859 book.
These are
almost certainly the firms that built Canadas
first horsecars, and the wheels on which they ran.
quadrille-band will be engaged for the ball which is
to take place at the termination of the concert.
The cars and track were identical to those used in
Philadelphia; hence the Philadelphia Connection. The cars
were almost certainly built by Kimball & Gortons Philadelphia
Car Works, while the rails were from Messrs. Hancock and
of Danville Pennsylvania. The former firm advertised
in Mr. Eastons book, the only one in its line to do so. On
1, 1862 the firm of Kimball & Gorton was succeeded
Joseph R. Bolton, at the same location, and their
advertisement shows a car very like the frrst Toronto type, as
by a photo of one of Torontos original cars. There
is no photograph known of Montreals first horsecars, but a
of the 1860s (see next page) shows a car almost the
same. A picture on
an early Montreal street car ticket shows
a similar car, as does a line drawing
of an 1875 street scene. At
least some
of these original cars, in both cities, survived as
long as thirty years, maintaining the Philadelphia connection
to the end of the horsecar era.
rH—,.–~–···——–__ —,.–~_-,-:—~~-. __ . ___ . __ ~ .. _._. —.-__ –++i
.faU Siu
. t:l …
.. ~ .
Actual size cross section of Philadelphia rail identical to that used on the first horsecar lines in Canada.
Alexander Eastons 1859 book.
One of Torontos (and Canadas) first horsecars, photographed outside the
Yorkville Town Hall.
of Montreals earliest street cars as
shown on a woodcut made in 1875.
oldest known illustration of a Montreal street car. This engraving dates from the 1860s,
shows one of Montreals first horsecars at Place dArmes. Collection of Douglas Brown.
(9 U. 0 0 E) 151 151 <> r 1; ~ ::a;;:::1 IX1 l:> a ~ ~ c;e, G-~ r 1; <> :n…)
Ihe subscdber hnving pnrchAse,} Ihe enl.iFe Slack. M~.
C-___ -:J nd hoving cllgAgeu ~lt-. L. 1>. GORTON Iu .,urpedntenJ
ohinery, &0., uf tho In.e Hrll of KDfUAi-L .I: GORTON,
liiiii~ii~~~~~;;i~~ the ru;:.;;;~;;;r[:;~ is;;;I:;;re~~~:rUish
of every degerinlion, according to order, at Ih .. shortest
e, find. of the best mllterials aud workmanship.
of all kind. mad. on the most reasonable lerllls.
Orders for anJ kind of
respeotfully solicited.
21.t Aud lIamllton Street •• PhUa.delpht.,
FbruBry 1, 1862.
Early in 1862 the firm of Kimball and Gorton became Joseph R. Bolton. The car shown on the advertisement of the new firm
is almost identical to the first Toronto and Montreal cars.
Toronto Street Railway,
111&sDAY :sur, TRI 10th INSTAlI1.,
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_&&1 Oloe .1 ) b-LI1~U
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TIde lIs mBT 00 purch~B :u!)f the rondlJl.t.or.On the (,.al.
In B~rpt8 or !6llckols for ono Io:Jar.
A LJT..x A,.,. F. R HlJi:.U( LIlT,
, tlaporlntcndont.
TOfonLo, Snpt. 1 2. 8~TO-~t
On Thursday, the public holiday, four
thousand two hundred and fifty persons rode in
the cars on the street railway between Toronto and
Yorkville. Yesterday every car was crowded as it
passed along the
streets, and as they were
running from seven
in the morning till half-past ten
in the evening, the number could not be far short
of the previous day. Of course large numbers rode
to Yorkville and back for pleasure, but there is every
indication that the Railway will pay well. Upwards
of forty
men are employed to work the line. The
and drivers all belong to Toronto, and
appear to
be civil and obliging; but as they are
new to the business some little forbearance
the part of the public may be expected. One or
two persons were
ill-bred enough to smoke cigars
in the presence of ladies, but it is to be hoped that
they will not
be allowed to repeat the nuisance.
Mr. Easton, the President of the road, states that
in a short time he will commence laying down the
on Queen street to the Asylum, and he is
confident that the line will be open by 1 st November.
This will prove a great boon to the citizens residing
in the western part of the city.
Globe, September 14, 1861.
LEFT: The announcement of the festivities for the opening
of the street railway. Toronto Globe, September 4,1861.
TOP: The announcement that the street railway was open
for business. Toronto Globe, September 12, 1861.
An account ofthe first two days of operation of the
street railway. Toronto Globe, September 14, 1861.
street railway was opened with all
ceremony and speechmaking that was typical of the
Victorian era. The
report of the ball ends abruptly as the
reporter had to leave in
order to meet the deadline for the
morning paper! Toronto Globe, September 11, 1861.
The Street Railway was opened yesterday,
creating much interest and excitement
in this city and
Yorkville. The hour announced for the first car
to start
from the Town Hall, Yorkville, was one oclock, and
long before that time large crowds had wended their
way to the village, and all were on the
qui vive for the
start. Yorkville presented a gay appearance, the greater
of the villagers having hung out flags and
banners to the breeze, and every window was filled
with spectators. Seldom has the quiet village seen
such a bustle and excitement, and when the first car
came out
of the depot and was placed on the track, a
grand cheer arose from the assembled multitude. The
street railway had become a fact. At two oclock a
message was brought to the Superintendent
th~t a
portion of the line would not
be cleared. for some time,
and it was not till four oclock that the first car started,
on board the Reeve and Council of Yorkville,
and several of the Toronto City Council, and having on
the roof the Artillery Band playing spirited airs. A short
distance behind came the other three cars, all filled to
the utmost capacity. It was intended that
on the first
trip only the civic dignitaries and leading citizens would
occupy the vehicles, but when the cars moved a
took place, and those who got inside or on the
platforms kept their places in spite of every
remonstrance. The first car, with the band, had only
proceeded as far as the line which divides Toronto from
Yorkville, when it
ran off the track and came to a sudden
stop. The passengers inside alighted and assisted
placing the vehicle on the rails again, and the driver
received the order go-ahead. This occurred several
times with all the cars, but the passengers treated the
delay as a joke, and the crowd were always ready to
give a shove or a Iift
to keep moving. If the opening
had been delayed until Thursday everything would have
in first-rate order, but the day was announced
during the absence
of Mr. Easton, and yest~rday
morning the rails had to be cleared from York~llIe to
st. Lawrence Hall, while one or two
of the sWitches
still remained unfinished. Mr. Easton, however, was
determined that the public should not be disappointed;
the opening day had been fixed and the Railway should
be opened on that day, and opened it was. Yonge
street was crowded with citizens, and when the cars
passed the engine hall of
No.2 Independent the
members of that company turned out and gave three
rousing cheers
and a tiger. When they reached the
front of the
St. Lawrence Hall, the crowd gave three
hearty cheers for the Queen, while the band performed
the lIational Anthem. The Mayor, several of the
Aldermen, Councilmen and leading citizens here joined
the party, and the horses heads being turned towards
the west, the cars proceeded towards Yorkville. It was
intended to continue running the cars at intervals during
the afternoon and night, but the rough state of the road
prevented this.
This rather muddy but historic photo shows a very
early view of Toronto Street Railway horsecars outside
Yorkville town hall. It
is thought by some to be a view
of the first two cars shortly before their inaugural run
on September 10,1861. Note the
musicians of the band
of the artillery regiment on the roof of the car, ready to
play their spirited airs as the parade moved south.
Now that the Railway is opened, although a good
deal still requires to
be done, we may be allowed a
few remarks regarding it.
The first communication
relative to it was made to the City Council
on the 1 st
of October 1860, when many of the members
attempted to throw cold water on the project, but
ultimately a committee was appointed to investigate
the matter and report. The Globe and other
newspapers, and the citizens generally, warmly
supported the enterprize, and petitions in favour of
street Railways poured into the Council. At length,
after protracted delays and discussions the Council
agreed to co-operate with
Mr. Easton, in procuring a
Street Railway Act.
In this they were well seconded
by the Councils
of Montreal and Quebec, and the Act
was passed during the last session of Parliament. The
next thing to do was to sanction the contract with
Easton, and this was done on the 19th of March last.
Delays again arose from various causes, but on
Thursday three weeks ago the work of laying the track
and building the depots and stables was commenced.
of two hundred mechanics and labourers
were employed, under the superintendence of
Mr. David
Smith, and the works were put
in such a forward state
that the Yonge street line was opened yesterday. The
cars have a neat and comfortable appearance, and
are well lighted and ventilated. The larger ones are
calculated to seat twenty-four passengers and the
smaller sixteen passengers. There are seven cars
all at the depot, but it is only intended to run four of
them, the others being designed for Montreal. They
were built
in Philadelphia, and a description of them
has already appeared
in the Globe. The rails were from
the foundry
of Messrs. Hancock & Foley, Danville
Pennsylvania. Messrs. Hamilton
& Sons, St. Lawrence
Foundry, Toronto, supplied the castings, and Messrs.
& Burke, Toronto, the ties and timber. We have
not learned the sum expended
in the construction of
the Yonge Street road. We presume the other parts of
the line will
be commenced soon. Mr. Easton is to act
as President of the road; Mr. Alexander Blakeley will
officiate as Superintendent, and a number of
conductors and drivers have been engaged. It may be
mentioned that Mr. Williams
ran his busses yesterday
in opposition to the railway, and it is stated that he will
continue the competition.
The dejeuner in honour of the opening of the
Street Railway came off
in the Yorkville Town Hall on
the return
of the cars from Toronto. At half-past five
about 300
gentlemen sat down to a very elegant
entertainment, which was got up in a style exceedingly
creditable to the skill
of Mr. Steers, who was the caterer
on the occasion, and to the liberality
of the Yorkville
under whose superintendence it was
provided. Col. W.B. Jarvis presided, having on his right
J.G. Bowes Esq., Mayor
of Toronto, and Mr. Easton,
the builder
of the railroad; and on his left John Ostell
of Montreal, Rev. Dr. McCaul, and Col. R.L.
Denison….. Rev. Dr. McCaul said grace and returned
After the cloth had been removed, the Chairman
said….. that inasmuch as the city
of Toronto and
Yorkville had this day been united into one, and as the
committee wished the business of the festival to
proceed with railroad speed,
he found in the list before
him, instead
of the usual toast The Queen, the double
one The Queen and Prince Consort
. He thought it
was a happy union -[cheers) -and
he called upon the
company to drink with him
ina full bumper the health
of The Queen and ·the Prince Consort. The toast was
with much loyal enthusiasm ……
Mr. Mayor Bowes said a toast had been put
into his hands,
of which he was very happy to be the
Mr. Easton had come amongst us as a total
stranger, and had made a proposition to the City of
Toronto, stating that he was prepared
to build street
railroads if he got permission
to do so. That permission
was granted after a great deal of trouble….
He was
happy to hear that
Mr. Easton had not only constructed
at his own expense, and
in an incredibly short time,
the railroad between Toronto and Yorkville, but had also
entered into a contract with the people of Montreal to
construct railways there, and he trusted the street
railway enterprise would not end there, and that Mr.
Easton would rest satisfied until
he had built one of
his railroads
up the acclivities of Quebec -[cheers) –
and had also extended his operations to Hamilton,
London, and and other places
in Canada. He was glad
it was Toronto which had taken the initiative in
this work, and that Yorkville too had come out and
done herself credit by the manner
in which she had
celebrated this opening. [cheers] He had much
in giving as the next toast, Mr. Easton and
the street railways of Yorkville and Toronto. [cheers)
Mr. Easton, on rising, was greeted with renewed
and most enthusiastic cheering. He said he felt more
gratified at this moment than he had at ever been at
any previous day
of his life….. He had come amongst
them a stranger about
11 month ago, his desire being
to build here the pioneer street railway in Canada, after
having pioneered works of that kind through the United
States ….. He had commenced them
in Canada under
very propitious circumstances. He had successfully
carried through the pioneer street railway
of Canada,
and, if the almighty should spare him till his hair should
be gray, this evening, with the kind treatment
he had
received, would ever have place
in his memory as the
brightest spots
in his life ….
The Chairman said he had another toast to
propose -the health of the gentlemen who had come
from the first commercial city
of Canada [Montreal) to
take a leaf out of our book in this matter of street
railroads. [cheers)
He was satisfied that as Mr. Easton
was to be their contractor, they must succeed.
[cheers) He was sure all would heartily join in drinking
prosperity to their enterprise. [cheers]
Mr. Ostell, on rising to respond, was warmly
cheered. He said the general public was certainly
benefit very much by these enterprises. The citizens
of Montreal were following in the footsteps of Toronto
in the matter of street railroads. They had got their
capital, they had got their contractor, and
in a few weeks
he had
no doubt they would be drinking to the prosperity
of six miles
of street railroad in Montreal, as they were
now drinking to the prosperity of the two miles
completed in Toronto. [cheers]
It now being half-past seven, and time to prepare
for the concert,
no more toasts were given, and the
proceedings at the dejeuner, a pleasant entertainment,
long to be remembered, were brought to a close by
the singing of
the National Anthem.
The festivities of the day were wound up by a
concert and ball
in the Yorkville Town Hall …. Everybody
there seemed determined
to be pleased. Even the rain,
which fell heavily
in the evening, was looked on as a
sort of blessing, inasmuch as it prevented
overcrowding. The concert commenced at eight oclock
and lasted until half-past eleven….. The performance
as a whole was very much superior to most
entertainments of this description. Mrs. J. Beverley
Robinson delighted the
audience with two songs
Something to love me and Kathleen Mavourneen,
both of which she sang very beautifully and
in most
correct taste. Mr. Armstrong sang How to ask and
an answer and Thou art so near and yet so far in
a manner which earned for him the well deserved
plaudits of his hearers. Miss Davis
in Lo! Here the
gentle lark and
Oh Maritana! gave great gratification
to the audience. The band of the
3Uth regiment was a
very great acquisition to the evenings entertainment.
A selection from II Trovatore, with the miserere
chorus, was especially beautifuL ….
When the concert was concluded a rush was
made for the supper room. Those who succeeded
getting in found the tables amply spread with
refreshments by Mr. Coleman of King street. Everything
was of the best quality. Dancing commenced about
twelve oclock and was kept up with vigour until the
whole programme was disposed of.
Toronto Globe, Wednesday, September
11, 1861.
The next Canadian city to adopt a street
railway was Quebec City, which inaugurated its
fust line in 1865. Others followed
in short order;
Ottawa opened its first line
in 1870 and in the
east, Halifax and Saint John opened their lines
1866 and 1869 respectively. During the 1870s many
other cities joined the ranks of those running
horsecars, and,
in 1882, the horsecar came to far
away Winnipeg, then in the midst
of a land boom
caused by the building
of the CPR. As it turned
out, Winnipeg remained the farthest west city
Canada to be served by horsecars.
While street railways were being
inaugurated and expanded, the design of the
horse car itself was undergoing major changes.
early cars, being based on contemporary
railway cars, were heavy, and very hard on the
horses as well as the track. Especially
in cities
with steep grades, this was a very serious
problem. In the late 1860s and early 1870s
A Quebec City horsecar built in 1865. In only four years car design had
evolved considerably since the
designs of 1861. But the car was still very
heavy. National
Archives of Canada, photo No. PA-103138.
first example of the Bombay Roof.
improved designs began to appear. The new breed of horsecar
no longer looked like a scaled-down railway car but was a
of its own. The horsecar of the 1860s averaged about
5700 pounds without passengers, whereas the type
introduced about 1870 weighed less than 5000 pounds. The
cars had curved sides that allowed them
to clear more easily This roof, with its elegantly curved
roof ribs, clerestory side
windows and eyebrow end windows, became the standard
horsecar design from then on. About 1873 J.G. Brill
developed the full deck, or monitor,
roof which was also used
numerous horsecars, but never really superseded the
Bombay design. The deck roof came into its own in the electric
car era and was almost universal from the early 1890s until
the 19l0s. Eventually the weigbt
of a typical horsecar was
reduced to about 4200 pounds, which for a closed car was
about the practical limit in weight reduction, as it was
considerably less than the weight
of its passenger load.
It became the practice in some cities to paint the cars
a distinctive colour for each route, since cars were seldom
transferred from one route
to another. Not until the late 1880s
was a single, system-wide, paint scheme adopted, and
moveable (but still colour-coded) destination signs installed.
About the
same time as these improvements were
taking place, open cars began to be placed
in service. These
had cross
benches and no sides, passengers boarding by
means of a running board which ran the length of the car.
the hubs
of the wheels of
horse-drawn road
vehicles. In the new
design the small sash
windows that raised to
open were replaced by
larger windows that
dropped into the side
walls. The so-called
Bombay roof (so called
because the first cars
that design were shipped
to that city
in India) was
introduced by car builder
John Stephenson and Co.
which, by that time was
the largest builder of
street cars in the world.
A Bombay roof horsecar in Montreal about 1890. National Archives of Canada, photo C-65442.
These cars were even lighter than
the closed cars, and
became very
popular for summer operation with
the public and the company alike.
The open car design also carried –.
over into the electric car era where
they were used until the volume
automobile traffic made open cars
too dangerous.
Yet another horsecar design
appeared about 1870. This was the
conductorless or bobtail design.
This was somewhat
of a retrograde
step, as these were small cars with
no rear
platform, only a step leading
to a rear entrance, rather like the old ~~~~–..~~~~
omnibus. On boarding, the
passenger was expected to make his
way to the front and give his fare to
the driver who also acted as
A Halifax horsecar of about 1870. National Archives of Canada, photo PA-164685.
conductor. These cars were disliked by the public, and were
very seldom used
in Canada, but they did save money and
were useful on lightly travelled lines that might otherwise not
A Bobtail car about 1870.
have had any service at all. The bobtail cars were single­
enders, unlike most
of the regular cars, and had to be turned
at the end of the line. This was done by a loop or small
turntable, but some cars could be rotated about a vertical
axis, much like Stephensons early cars
of 1855. Finally, the
I 870s saw the introduction of the double­
decker horsecar. Here, the passenger had the option
of riding
in the closed lower portion, or climbing a set of curving stairs
and riding on longitudinal seats on the roof. Double-deckers
became popular
in Europe, especially Britain, but were never
widely used
in America. However Montreal did have a number
of double-deck horsecars in use in the 1880s.
Driving a horsecar was not as easy a task as one might
think. Besides keeping control
of a two-horse team, the driver
had to operate the handbrake with great care, especially on
grades and with a heavy load
of passengers; a fully loaded
car could weigh eight tons.
In starting on an upgrade, he had
to release the brake at
just the right time to avoid having the
car roll backwards and pulling the horses back. Descending a
grade was even more tricky, as the driver had to keep enough
on to prevent the car from rolling forward too fast and
running over the horses! On lines with steep hills it was the
practice to station a team
of two helper horses at the bottom
of the hill. They would assist the car to climb the hill, then
walk back down. Hitching and unhitching the helpers could
be done
in a few seconds. Bells, often marked
with the companys initials, were hung from the
horses collar, and gave a pleasant sounding
warning to all and sundry that a horsecar was
An open horsecar as built in Toronto in 1880. This one is a replica;
built in 1934 at the time of Torontos centennial. This car is now at the
Shoreline Trolley Museum near New Haven, Connecticut.
By 1880 the horsecar had reached its final
of development. It was a strong, lightweight
efficient vehicle that provided a very
necessary service in cities all over the world. In
Canada, twenty cities operated horsecars, with
the total
of cars reaching over 600 by 1891.
Worldwide, the investment
in horsecar systems
amounted to many millions
of dollars, and the total
number of passengers carried amounted to
uncounted millions. The horsecar was a vital part
of urban society, and is seemed as if it would go
on forever. Little could one guess that,
in North
Toronto Transit Commission Archives, photo No.1 0463.
America, it would be almost gone in twenty years.
Canadas only double-deck horsecars ran in Montreal in
the 1870s and 1880s. The City Passenger Railway purchased
twelve double-deckers new in 1874, and converted a
number of others from single to double deck. This was to
increase capacity
without increasing the number of cars, a
move made necessary by the citys refusal to permit the
company to build more passing sidings. In later years, when
most of the lines were double-tracked, the need for double­
deckers disappeared and they were withdrawn.
ABOVE: The only known photograph showing a Montreal
double-decker in service.
It was taken from the fourth floor
of a building on McGill street, looking towards Victoria
Square. The horsecar is heading south on McGill street.
The statue
of Queen Victoria (erected in 1872) appears new,
dating this photo to the late 1870s or early 1880s.
of Douglas Brown.
ABOVE RIGHT: An enlargement from the above photo
showing the horsecar in more detail.
RIGHT: Three engravings from
Picturesque Canada, printed
in 1882. These
show double-deckers at (reading from top
to bottom) Notre Dame street at Place dArmes, Notre Dame
street near City Hall, McGill street at Victoria Square. The
car in the bottom engraving is at almost exactly the same
location as that in the photograph above.
To the Editor of the Globe.
Toronto, Nov.
Sir, -If any member of the Local
Legislature desires to immortalize his
name, let him apply at the very next
session for such amendments to the
City Railway
Act as will compel the
proprietors to carry only a limited
number of passengers at a time. It is
really too bad, after a hard days work,
and securing a seat
in the car for the
ride home, to
be obliged to give your
to some fair lady, and stand the
rest of the journey, and all that the
proprietors of the railway may pocket
another fare. But the proprietors have
no consideration for the public comfort.
All they seem
to aim at is to get as much
money as possible, and give
as little
as they can. Another annoyance
from this liberty
to carry as many as will
get on the cars is, that when the
platforms are crowded fore-and-aft, the
conductor comes through and insists
holding the front door open while he
collects the fares from all the outside
passengers, regardless all the time of
the draft which is blowing the insides
nearly out;
and if anyone expostulates
with the conductor,
he is sure to receive
a rude answer. I was present
on two
recent occasions when this occurred,
each time the conductor was
unnecessarily rude. Now, if we are to
submit to crowded cars, we might be
saved this further annoyance, by the
proprietors insisting
on their conductors
going round outside
to collect the fares
from those passengers who are allowed
to occupy the front platform. Indeed, I
think if our Legislature will not go
so far
to compel the proprietors to carry
only a limited number of passengers,
they may safely enact that passengers
shall not
be allowed to travel on the front
platform; for
all the sad accidents, fatal
and otherwise, which have occurred
our City Street-Cars, have been incurred
either in getting on or off the front
Toronto Globe, November 20, 1872.
TOP: Toronto Street Railway car 16, built by Stephenson in 1874, photographed on September 11,1946. This car has been
preserved. TTC
photo No. 15541.
MIDDLE: Replica
of a Toronto omnibus run by the street railway on outlying lines. This replica was built in 1934, and was
photographed on November 12,1947. TTC photo No. 15953.
BOTTOM: Replica Toronto sleigh,
built in 1934, photographed on June 21, 1934. TTC photo 10465.
Anyone who still thinks that a horsecar was a simple vehicle should study the diagrams and index on the
two pages. These are taken from the Car Builders Dictionary of 1884, and show all the complex parts that went into a
horsecar of the 1880s.
From the Car Builders Dictionary, Edition of 1884
1. Wheel.
2. Axle.
3. Pedestal.
4. Journal-box.
5. Jaw-bit.
6. Side Journal-spring.
7. Spring-saddle.
8. Sill.
9. End-sill.
10. Transverse Floor-timber.
11. Sill Tie-rod.
12. Floor.
13. Wheel-box.
14. Wheel-box Button.
15. Window-post.
16. Stud.
17. Corner-post.
18. Door-post.
19. Belt-rail.
20. Belt-rail Band.
21. Fender-rail.
22. Fender-guard.
23. Inverted Body truss-rod.
24. Inverted Body Queen-post.
25. Inverted Truss-rod Plate.
26. Turnbuckle.
27. Outside-panel.
28. Lower Outside-panel.
29. Upper End-panel.
30. Lower End-panel.
31. Inside Frieze-panel.
32. Panel-strip.
33. Panel-furring.
34. Seat-bottom, and Long Seat.
35. Seat-leg.
36. Front Seat-rail.
37. Front Seat-bottom-rail.
38. Back Seat-bottom-rail.
39. Back Seat-rail.
40. Lower Seat-back-rail.
41. Upper Seat-back-rail.
42. Seat-back
43. End Seat-panel.
44. Upper Belt-rail.
45. Window-ledge.
46. Letter-board. 47. Plate.
48. Eaves-moulding.
49. Window-blind Rest.
50. Window-sash Rest.
51. Outside Window-stop.
52. Inside Window-stop.
53. Carline.
54. End carline.
55. Roof-boards.
56. Clear-story, or Upper-deck.
57. Deck Bottom-rail.
58. Deck-post.
59. Deck-window.
60. Deck Carline.
61. Deck End-ventilator.
62. End Roof-lights.
63. Ventilator-hood.
64. Window.
65. Window-rail.
66. Window-stile.
67. Sash-lift.
68. Sash Parting-strip, or Stop-bead.
69. Window-blind.
70. Window-blind Stile.
71. Window-blind Rail.
72. Window-blind Mullion.
73. Window-blind Lift.
74. Lamp-case.
75. Lamp-case Door.
76. Lamp-case Chimney.
77. Window-guards.
78. Door-stile.
79. Door-mullion.
80. Door-window Mullion.
81. Middle, or Lock Door-rail.
82. Top Door-rail.
83. Door-c3se Top-rail.
84. Door-case Intermediate-rail.
85. Door-case Top-panel.
86. Door-case Sash.
87. Door-case Sash-button.
88. Door Guard-band.
89. Fare-wicket and its Door.
90. Fare-wicket Door-case.
91. Sliding-door Handle.
91 Door-sheave.
92. Door-latch Plate.
92 Sliding-door Holder.
93. Door-sill.
94. Inside Hand-rail.
95. Inside Hand-rail Bracket.
96. Hand-straps.
97. Signal-bell.
98. Bell-strap.
99. Bell-strap Guide.
99 Bell-strap Guide, with Roller.
100. Draw-timber.
101. Platform-timber.
102. Platform-timber Clamps.
103. Platform End-timber.
104. Platform, or Platform-floor.
105. Platform-timber Band.
106. Draw-hook.
107. Helper-ring.
108. Platform-post.
109. Base-washer, for Platform-post.
110. Platform-rail.
111. Dash-guard.
112. Dash-guard Straps;
113. Body Hand-rail.
114. Platform-step, or Side-step.
115. Platform-hood.
116. Platform-hood Bow.
117. Platform-hood Carline.
118. Platform-hood Knee.
119. Platform-hood Moulding.
120. Brake-shaft Crank.
121. Brake-shaft Crank-handle.
122. Brake-shaft.
123. Upper Brake-shaft Bearing.
124. Lower Brake-shaft Bearing.
125. Brake Ratchet-wheel.
126. Brake-pawl.
127. Brake-shaft Chain.
128. Brake-shalt Connecting-rod.
129. Centre Brake-lever.
130. Centre Brake-lever Spider.
132. Secondary Brake-rod.
133. Brake-beam.
134. Brake-hanger.
135. Brake-head.
136. Rubber-tread.
Side View. Longitudinal Section.
HU: ….. -._.
;j4 i
Showing Floot, Seats, etc. Showing Fmming.
In future years, when the children and grandchildren
of the present generation are told of the strange visitation
which we received
in the year 1872, and the extraordinary
scenes and circumstances connected therewith, they will be
hardly able
to imagine the queer predicament in which we
are placed. No horsecars, no express wagons, no hacks, no
nothing drawn by that most useful and docile
animal, the horse. .
This quote from the Boston Globe, as reprinted in the
Globe on October 31, 1872, described the fust big
crisis which faced horsecar systems throughout North
America. In the fall of 1872, a mysterious disease with catarrh
or flu-like symptoms broke out among the horse population
and soon spread throughout North America. Called the
Epizootic (simply a term for an epidemic among animals) it
soon attained crisis proportions, as thousands
of horses fell
ill and many died.
Of course it affected all horses, in every
of service, but the street railways were particularly badly
It was said at the time that it originated in Canada, although
is no proof of this. Regardless of where it originated, its
effects were felt more in the United States than
in Canada,
although no city in North America escaped its effects.
The spread
of the Epizootic was very rapid, so much
so that it was thought at the time that
it must be atmospheric
in action.
It finally reached Atlantic Canada in November,
and on November 20 the entire Halifax Street Railway was
shut down except for a few cars that went to the station.
During the Epizootic, street car service
in many cities
was greatly reduced and
in a few cases in the United States
unemployed men were hired to haul the cars. However it was
relatively short-lived. By late
November its severity was
reduced and it appeared that the disease had run its course.
By the end
of the year the Great Epizootic was virtually over.
The disease that has been so widely spread
among horses
in this district appears to have run
its course, and now shows considerable abatement.
Dr. Smith informs
us that this is the case in the
principal stables
in the city. The disease now
to be extending eastward. There have been
very few fatal cases,
and of these it may be said
that they were the result of want of ordinary care of
the animal,
or, what is less excusable, a resort to
quack nostrums and practice. These are entirely
in a disorder like the present, which must
run its course, and requires simply attention and
ordinary treatment during the continuance of the
Toronto Globe, October 16, 1872.
Nov. 4. -The horse disease prevails
here to
an alarming extent. The Second, Third,
Union, Fifth
and Sixth street lines of cars are not
running today. The Carson, Chestnut and Walnut
street lines are drawn by men to-night. The
business interest is suffering considerably.
Numbers of fatal cases among the horses are
Globe, November 6, 1872.
Although the Epizootic never again occuned with the
of 1872, street car executives began to think that
somehow, perhaps, there would be a
way of running street
cars by mechanical power which would not require a horse.
Not right now, but maybe in a few more years. It was one
more step on the road towards the demise
of the horsecar.
A view of men hauling a street car during the Great Epizootic of 1872. Actually the men would not have to strain as hard as
shown in the picture, since the cars rolled quite easily. Although this is a New York scene, the picture was published in Paris
France in the magazine LI/Iustration. This showed that the
Epizootic was very newsworthy all over the world.
For the past month the community generally
have been somewhat excited and alarmed about
the prevailing disease amongst horses, which has
extended over the greater part of Canada, and
now fast spreading over the United States. The
American papers of the past week contain very full
of what they call the Canada Horse
Disease, and give Canada the credit of being
means of spreading the infection. As we have several
times already mentioned through the columns of
Globe, the prevalent disease first appeared in
Toronto and surrounding country about the end of
September, and
it gradually continued to extend in
every direction, attacking all kinds of horses, old
and young, in good condition or poor: almost every
animal being affected
to a greater or less extent.
The disease
is of the nature of catarrhal fever,
an epizootic character; probably dependent upon
some atmospheric influence,
as is shown by its
simultaneous appearance over a very large extent
of country.
We have no hesitation in stating that at
least two-thirds of the horses
in the city of Toronto
became affected
in the course of forty-eight hours,
which goes far
to show that it is the result of other
influences than direct contagion.
Globe, October 31, 1872.
The disgusting sight
on several of the car
yesterday of wretched, tottering brutes
dragging the trebly overladen vehicles was
to be
witnessed from morning until night. Dummies
[steam] may now
be used on the lines in this city,
and it is to be hoped, if the arrangement can be
carried on under safe conditions, that the enfeebled
horses will get a chance
to recover.
New York
Herald, October 30, 1872.
Every horse
in the car stables is sick; some
of them slightly ill. The managers
say they will take
and will not run a car out until their animals
are beyond the reach of a relapse.
Press, November 1, 1872.
Since the temporary suspension of travel
the car and omnibus lines occasioned by the horse
distemper, the attention has been drawn to a
consideration of the use of [steam] dummies
the street railroads. The common council has
permitted the railroad lines
to use dummies for thirty
days, and residents are considering the propriety
of urging the city railway companies
to apply for
to use the dummies altogether in future.
York Times, November·1, 1872. 185 CANADIAN RAIL -496
BR01tlf •• UIILORllUM,
TILDEN CO. New York.
W.1Jt reeelYiD~ IDWlis of Urla _n~laloW11
arUcle, which I.t recommended fcit the ~
of H~ and ~e. Ind Weoaiyel7 uaed 1.D t.hII
Unlt.4 8tueL
10 4titroy III bad odo1lll. ad
thereby 1Z1eIt~ and prenoUng the spread1Dl of
LYMAlf BROS. &; CO.,
Toronto, On$.
FOol sale by Dtuntatt getllnny.
An advertisement from the Toronto Globe of October 16,
1872, when the Great Epizootic
was at its height.
While the horse disease, called the
epizootic, hopporhinnorhea, hipposimus
and various
other equally interesting names, was ravaging the
cities of Ontario, Quebec, the United States and
New Brunswick, Halifax was exempted from it,
to the satisfaction of our citizens, and owners
of horse flesh especially. The idea was prevalent
that favored Halifax would have immunity from
But these pleasant anticipations have been
unpleasantly dispelled. The epizootic
is here, and
from being a laughing matter has become one of
serious importance
to the owners of horses and to
all whose business requires the labor of horses ….
The largest number of horses affected
in one
place was at the stables of the Halifax City Railroad
Company, where
57 animals were under treatment.
The first symptoms of coughing, &c., appeared
the stables on Saturday night. On Sunday the
coughing was general. Monday being a fine healthy
day, some of the horses were put to work as usual.
Yesterday morning a cold
rain storm prevailed, and
disease had become so serious that the
manager of the company resolved
to suspend the
general operations of the road and only turn out
horses enough
to supply cars to connect with the
railway trains.
Morning Chronicle, November 20, 1872.
By 1875 the horsecar was tried and true, and well
throughout the world. It was almost a quarter
century since
horsecars had appeared on city streets, and
they were
by far the dominant form of urban public transit.
That is not to say that they
were the only form, for others
were on the scene as well. Cable cars had appeared in San
Francisco in 1873, and showed promise for the future,
especially in cities with steep hills. The steam dummy
locomotive was also in limited use, especially in Europe, and
various other mechanical devices were tried, most
of them
In New York City, steam-powered elevated railways
were beginning
to be constructed, and they seemed to be the
solution for
heavy traffic urban areas. The old rival, the
omnibus, was still on the scene, especially on lightly-travelled
routes. In fact the omnibus never fully disappeared, and its
Two views of Quebec City 16-foot
horsecars, the one above being one
of the first, built in 1865, the one on
the right a later type of the improved
lightweight design.
ABOVE: National Archives of Canada,
photo PA-103138
Archives de la ville de Quebec
No. 10290.
twentieth century successor, the motor bus, eventually came
back with a vengeance and all but wiped
out the horsecars
successor, the electric car. Among the experimental devices
for propelling street cars, was one that seemed very strange;
it was actually proposed to harness that strange force known
as electricity. However in 1875 most
of these other means
were either too impractical or too expensive for most cities
and towns, and accounted for only a small proportion of
urban transit. In hundreds of locations throughout the world
(eventually twenty in Canada) the horsecar was king.
Horsecar systems ranged in size from tiny operations with
one car,
half a mile of track and two or three horses, to the
largest system under one management in the world, the West
End Street Railway
of Boston, formed in 1887, with more than
two thousand cars and 8000 horses. The cars themselves
came in many shapes and sizes, most had a body length
(excluding platforms)
of from 10 to 16 feet, but a few were
smaller or larger. Virtually all had four wheels.
Even the Great Epizootic
of 1872 was
just a bad memory, as street railway operators
believed that improved sanitation, and better living
conditions for the horses would prevent a
of that malady. In the late 19th century,
cities were growing at unprecedented rates, and as
the depression
of 1873 lifted, the horsecar lines
were expanded
to serve the new urban areas. People
could now live at a considerable distance from their
work and commute on a daily basis. By the
standards of earlier years, the horse car was smooth,
comfortable and convenient, and
mod~rately fast.
In cities small and large
it was the best way for the
average person to go.
Herewith we
present a photo section
depicting horsecar operation in many parts of
Canada during the great years of that means of
transportation, from the 1870s to the early 1890s.
Some systems were big, some small, but all
depended on the same principle, a light four-wheel
street car hauled
by one or more horses.
RIGHT: Toronto
one-horse car 42, built by
Stephenson in 1876, at Seaton Village (Spadina
about 1888.
TIC photo 3363
RIGHT: A larger horsecar,
also at King
and Queen (Sunnyside) in 1888.
TIC photo 3368.
LEFT: King and Queen (Sunnyside) in 1888.
TIC photo 3375.
LEFT: A heavily retouched
photo taken on the
Yonge street route at CPR North Toronto
station about 1886.
photo 3367.
NEXT TWO PAGES: An article
from the Toronto Globe of April 15, 1880, describing the operations of the street railway. At that
time Toronto street cars did not run on Sunday.
How Sunday Passes in the Street Car Stables
The Work the Horses do, and how They are Cared For
Howthemen are paid-The number of men and horses
employed -Some Interesting Notes Respecting Life
on the Street Railroad
is generally looked forward to by all classes
as a day
of rest after the labours of the week. The thrifty
labouring men and mechanics expect to spend the day
quiet enjoyment with their families, and after the church
hour, gather the children round their knees, relate to them
well-known scripture stories, and endeavour to
impress on their youthful minds the familiar legend,
That a Sabbath well spent,
Brings a week
of content,
And health for the toils
of to-morrow.
The merchant too is anxious for the Sabbath
come, as on that day he leaves the cares of the counting­
house, and devotes himself to a day spent
in the bosom
of his home. None of our citizens, however, look forward
more anxiously
for the Sabbath than the street car
employees, and no creatures who, like the majority of
mankind, has to do its share
in carrying on the every-day
of the busy world, is more grateful at there being one
weekly day
of rest than the street car horse. In other large
on this continent Sunday is deemed one of the most
remunerative days for the proprietors of horse railroads
to carry
on their business, and it must be gratifying to the
Company to know that their employees appreciate this
on their part, and that changes in their staff are
A Globe reporter a few Sundays ago paid a visit to
the stables
of the Toronto Street Railway Company on
Yonge Street, and was shown through the premises by
the Superintendent
Mr. Willis. These stables supply the
horses and cars for the Yonge and Queen Street routes,
and certainly the horses appear to be well cared for. The
stables are warm, well ventilated, and kept scrupulously
clean. One hundred and forty horses are housed here,
and each team
is supposed to make two round trips per
day, which averages a distance
of twenty miles per team.
This may seem a good
days work, especially when
carried out from week to week, but between each trip the
teams have a rest
of five hours, and are meantime well
fed and cared
for, and there are to-day in these stables
horses which have been on the road for eight years. This,
is more than the average run of horses can
nd, but when they seem to be getti ng the worse of the
wear they are immediately disposed of, and others
purchased to fill their places.
At the King-street stables,
which supply the running apparatus for the King,
Sherbourne, and Spadina avenue lines, one hundred and
ten horses are kept; these are driven singly, the cars being
much smaller and lighter than those on the other routes,
and are run without a conductor. Eighteen cars are kept
on the Yonge and Queen street routes, and pass a given
point on the former every five minutes, and on the latter
every ten minutes. Thirty-four one-horse cars are
employed on the other routes, and make average time of
from seven to ten minutes between the passage of each
car. Thus a person desiring to go to Yorkville, if he misses
a car, has only to wait five minutes for the next one, and
from seven to ten minutes
on the other lines. One track of
the Company now reaches to Parkdale via Queen street,
but operations will be at once commenced when the frost
leaves the ground to extend the double track from its
present terminus, at the corner of Duncan street, the whole
length of the line, which the Company claim will make the
trip much easier for the horses, and enable them to make
the same time as
is now made on Yonge street.
In the building, the cars of the company are housed
nightly, and the sleighs and busses used
in winter are
also stored. Here also hang the timetables for the running
of cars, and from here they all start on their first trip.
A book record is kept of every horse purchased by
the Company, and each horse
is known by a number. For
instance, when a horse is brought
in he is known by the
succeeding number to the one last entered. Then
separate columns opposite his number is his
description, age, when purchased, where purchased, and.
his cost. The horses used
in the street car service here
cost on an average $150, and their usefulness
in the
service extended from six to eight years, although there
are good horses now
in the stables who have been on
duty no less than 10 or 12 years. Street car horses, to be
serviceable, should weigh about 1200 pounds, and the
weight should certainly not exceed 1250.
The horses of the Company are fed on corn
imported from the Western States, and ground by Messrs,
& Worts. This mixed with chopped hay and a
little bran has proved itself to be the most strengthening
food that can possibly be given to horses. This is fed to
them three
times daily, and between meals they are
allowed no hay or other food. Horses which are not good
feeders are generally looked upon with distrust, and
there are men
in the stables specially detailed to see
whether or not a horse has eaten his supply.
If he has,
and wants more, he is supplied with it, and afterwards
his allowance
is increased. If, however, he has not, his
is decreased for the time, until he regains his appetite.
Dr. Smith,
of the Ontario, Veterinary College, is specially
engaged to look after the health of the horses, and such
things as sore necks or feet are rarely known, each horse
having its own colour and harness, the Company dOing
their own shoeing and blacksmithing. A regular stock
medicine is kept in the stable, and a supply of hot water is
always on hand
in case of accident or a sudden attack of
illness. One stable-man has to look after twelve horses;
is, clean, bed and water them. The bedding is made
up of a mixture of straw and sawdust, and seems to be
highly satisfactory to the horses, as at the time
of the
reporters visit many were enjoying the
lUxury of a lay down.
Some idea of the large quantity
offood consumed by the
Companys horses may be learned from the fact that two
of hay are daily chopped up for mixture with the corn
and bran. The horses at present are not
in very good
condition, but this, the Superintendent explained,
is caused
by the heavy roads, and he said that when the roads
hardened the horses would present a much better
appearance. The hardest part
of a street car horses work
is getting the car started after a stop
to take on or let off a
passenger, and
in case of delays from running off the
track, or from other causes, the horses are often driven
in order to make time at switches. This latter feature
will, however, soon be remedied when double tracks will
extend all over the Companys lines. When a car runs off
the track the horses are often taxed to their utmost
to get
on again. There are very stringent rules, however, laid
down by the Company as to how
to proceed in these
cases, but the drivers do not always carry them out,
to drive the horses and the cumbrous cars two
or three hundred feet over the rough roads to save them
the trouble
of unhitching and fastening the team to the
other end
of the car. The method of pulling the car back on
the track has proved to be a much easier way of getting it
on again than driving ahead, which often lands the car in
the ditch, there generally being a decline in the street
from the car track
to the gutter. Taken in all, however,
perhaps the car horses
in Toronto have just as easy a
time of it as the equines employed
in other branches of
business, and certainly as a general thing they are much
better fed and cared for.
The pay roll of the Company contains the names
of over 100 employees, some twenty of whom are
conductors, the balance being drivers and men employed
around the stables. The time
on duty of a conductor or
driver averages
14 hours per day, one hour being allowed
them for dinner; supper
is either eaten on the car while in
motion, or in the interval at the end of a trip when fresh
horses are being hitched on. These hours seem long,
but the duty
is not unpleasant, and Mr. Willis assured the
reporter that when a man got the position of conductor
rarely gave it up of his own accord. The hours of the
stablemen are from 5 oclock a.m.
to 7 p.m., they being
an hour each for breakfast and dinner. The horses
in late are cared for by the night watchman, of
whom there are several at each stable. The wages
stablemen and drivers is $7 per week, while conductors
receive $7.50. Any person applying for a conductorship
must first serve two weeks as a driver without
pay, and
the Company a guarantee that any damage done to
the car or horses during that time through his negligence
will be refunded them. The experience thus gained gives
the applicant a general knowledge of the route, and
enables him, should anything happen
to a driver during a
trip, to take hold
of the ribbons. After serving this term
the drivers names and references are placed
in a book,
in their turn, as vacancies occur, they get appointed.
These vacancies so seldom occur, however, that unless
a person has a special longing for this mode
of life his
attention would perhaps be better directed
to some other
pursuit. The conductor has evidently the cream
of his
riding, as the driver
in front has often to face bitter winds
or fierce rain storms which the conductor usually avoids
by being
in the rear. The man who acts as driver and
conductor on the the one-horse cars has perhaps the
hardest time
of all. He makes change, stops his car when
called on, and has, besides,
to keep a sharp look out at
all cross streets for passengers.
Queer stories are told by street car men of the
various kinds
of people whom they meet. Some are self­
possessed, and make
it a part of their every-day life to
ride down town
in the morning and home again at night.
Others, especially old people who rarely use a car, are
nervous and fidgetty, fearing they will
be carried past their
destination, and are continually bothering the conductor
as to whether they have arrived there or not. Then, when
their street is called, they can hardly be restrained from
getting off before the car is fully stopped. Accidents very
often occur
in this way, especially on the one-horse cars,
where the driver, being
in front, has not the means of
forcibly restraining the passengers. The irrepressible
dead beat often gets aboard too, and resorts
to some
amusing methods
of getting free rides. Getting on a Yonge
street car at the market, he rides away
up past Queen,
and, when the conductor comes around, blandly asks
him if this is a Queen street
car. On being answered in
the negative, he seems greatly put about at the loss of
time in having to retrace his steps to Queen street. When
the car is out
of sight, however, he quietly resumes his
up Yonge street, chuckling at his little bit of deception.
The one-horse cars suffer most from this, as when the
0.8. sees a number going in together he slides in with
them. The driver finds out
in a few moments that he is
one fare short, but does not know whom
to blame, and
consequently the Company loses five cents. As a rule,
however, Toronto
is, comparatively speaking, free of this
but in cities on the other side, where no
conductors are employed, the car companies lose large
sums annually
in this way.
The Toronto Street Railway Company, it may be
in concluding this article, are in favour of the local
or any other system of taxation that will
make good roads, and promise that the citizens will have
no cause to complain of their part of the roadway not
being kept in the best possible shape.
Source: The Toronto
Globe, April 15, 1880.
RIGHT AND BELOW: Two views on busy King
street, Toronto, between
about 1887 and 1890.
view on the right looks east, while that
below looks west.
ABOVE: Open horsecar 174, built by the Toronto
Street Railway in 1885, at the corner of Yonge and
about 1886. This car became trailer 99, and
scrapped in 1925.
Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection,
photo No. PA-166917.
LEFT: Open
car 142 on Torontos Yonge street in the
1880s. This car was built by the Toronto Street
Railway in 1881 and placed in service in 1882. It later
became electric trailer 191, and was scrapped in
1925. TTC
photo No. 61013.

ABOVE: The only known photo of a car of the Peoples
Street Railway in
Saint John. Prince William street, 1870.
W.W. White papers.
An Army Worm omnibus at the bell tower in
John N.B. before 1877.
BELOW: An 1888
schedule ofthe Saint John City Railway.
Both items from New Brunswick Museum
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6.2f P. M. UII 6.43 12.31 6.~ 7.0.1 12.16 0.22 6.67 12.21 6.27 1.lI 0.16 7.39 6.16:
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7.03 12.15 6.03 7.19 120M 6.37 7.40 12.40 6.34 7.33 .,.2.46 6.39 8.09 Uti 8.27 6.4.5i
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8.09 12:1 6.03 8.26 2.01 6.6. 8.6211.62 6.28 846 1.6716~ 10.77 7.39 10.45 7.46i
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~ w = _ w ~.~ ~.=.=.~.~ = ~ ill ~l
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2,61 -5
9.39 3.16 8.27 9113 va 9191012 ,1,46 8,62101.5 34.5 909 2111 …… 3,M ~ •
,. ~ i 1
Peoples Street Railway, Saint John, 1869-1876
yj~ o? . . ,Av., $%01
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(Mvo/ ~Ur –A.lJ. J861_.
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Peoples Street Railway Uompany.
ilBdTHE above Company
=;0 are desirous of Leas·
.~~ In.g the wo.rking of the,ir Lme
of Railway. now m
operation, (from Reeds Point, in tbe C·,ty of Saint
John, to lnuiantown, in the Parish of Portland,
County ef St. John,) for a term ot years.
Tenders will be received at Ih~ Companys Of· fice,
indiantown, up to WEDNESDAY, Ille 15th
day of March, ensuing, trom parties willing to lease
tbe working of said Railway..
All Tenders to bo addressed to tbe President
and Directors .1 Peoples Street Railway Com·
pany, Indiantown, St. John, New Brunswick.
1¥r All parties having accounts against the
Company will please render thc same to the 8ec·
Indiantown, N. B ,21st Ifeb., 1871. President.
feb22 d till 15 mar
lUllS flOI11 Heeds Point to Indian Town.
Its rate of travel is S8V0U miles an hour.
ABOVE: An 1870 item relating to the Peoples Street Railway
in Saint John.
BELOW: A car of the Saint John City Railway on Prince William
street about 1888.
Saint John City Railway, 1887-1892
St. John Oity Railway Ooy,
O~tober 15th, 1887.
18th, Cnra will run between INDI.NTOWN
LANDING, Portland, nnd lOIt.· ST. JAMES .!.ND
CARMARTHEN STREETS, St. Johu, as followa:
Lea.vlng Indla.ntown
at 6.10, 0.30 n. m., ann OlCry
16 mlnnto~ nntil 8.00 no Ill.; then every 10
mlnnteq until 800 p. Ill.; u.fterthat every 15
minutes untl110.3U p. m.
Returning from Cor. st. Jnmcs and Carmarthen
Strcets. a. m .. nndevery 16 minutes
until 8.25: then everj 10 mwutes until 8.25
. ro.; nIter that evory -16 minutes until
10.65 p. In.
fhe Lqat Car will leave Mq.rket Square at 1l.0l!
The Faro will be FIVE CENTS tor one COlI
tlnuoue rJde. Children
under four yearn will be alJowed tQ
ride treo. If ocoupying seats they Will be oh~l8
ed tnll fore. –Change to
the amount of $2.00 wlll be furniah· ed by
the driver. who wlil rot urn tho full
Under no cironmstancos will the driver be
allowed to recoive 01 depo&it fnrc.
~ King Street,
Timetable about 1888
Three views of cars of the Saint John City Railway about 1888. Most of the buildings
in the bottom photo are still standing.
All illustrations on this page are from the New Brunswick Museum.
A horsecar fare register made by the Passenger Fare
Enumerator and Classifier Company, a complex machine
containing levers, bells and indicator wheels. These were
used, starting
about 1863, in an attempt to keep conductors
honest by recording all fares collected. Depressing the
plungers, or pulling the knob, registered the fare and rang
the bells with a distinctive tone for each kind of fare. This
example, made
about 1877, is from Philadelphia, but similar
devices were used on several street railways in Canada.
Collection of Fred Angus.
photos of horsecars on
the St. John Street
Railway in Quebec City.
company operated
cars on St. John street,
and had
no connection
with a street railway in
Saint John N.B. with a
similar name.
A horsecar ticket from the Quebec Street Railway.
RIGHT: A Quebec City sleigh in
this wintery scene in 1882.
Picturesque Canada.
BELOW: A small photo of a
horsecar at Champlain Market,
Quebec City. Note
the elevator.
Although tickets were sold at reduced prices,
standard cash fare on a horsecar was
usually five cents. In Canada, from 1858 to
1921, this was a small silver coin half the size
of a 10 cent piece. The five cent nickel was an
American coin; Canada did not adopt nickels
until 1922. This photo is double actual size.
Collection of John Loye.
City street car lines were not
electrified until 1897, well into the
of the Kodak, so horsecar
photos, taken by tourists in the
1890s, are sometimes found.
Although showing older cars of
the St.John Street Railway, these
photos were taken as late as
1894. The fur sign is on the roof
of the car. In those days, several
horsecar companies put the
name of the city in large letters
on the
side of the car.
National Archives of Canada,
Merrilees Collection,
photos PA-
164365 (left) and PA-164707
Double track Improvements -Sixteen New Cars
from Troy, N.Y.
The double track on the Montreal Street
is now used as far east as Guy street. The
company yesterday ordered sixteen new cars from
J.M. Jones
& Son, of Troy N.Y., which will arrive
here about the beginning of October.
In order that
there shall
be no confusion at night, particularly on
the new Craig street circuit, by which the switches
between Victoria square and
S1. Lawrence Main
street have been done away with, the following
colors and lights have been decided upon for the
different routes:-
St. Denis street, green cars and
blue lights; Craig and
S1. Antoine streets, maroon
cars and
red lights; St. Lawrence, Bleury and St.
Catherine street west, vermilion cars and green
St. Catherine street east, blue cars; Notre
Dame street, vermilion cars.
Gazette, July 9, 1886.
One of the much maligned between-the-seasons
omnibusses used be the Montreal City Passenger Railway,
later the Montreal Street Railway. They were used
when the streets were in such a condition that neither
sleighs nor horsecars could be used, but were not popular.
ABOVE: A proof of a Montreal Street Railway ticket
of about 1886.
LEFT: A one-horse
closed car outside the Chateau
de Ramezay in Montreal
about 1890.
Archives of Canada, photo No. C-65442.
St. James street in Montreal in the 1880s. Both
and omnibus are visible.
Archives of Canada, photo No. C-70921.
St. Catherine street in Montreal
about 1891, with a horsecar
visible. The large building is where the Eatons store was
later built. On Sunday, September 17 1899, the southeast
corner of the building fell into the street, fortunately with no
injuries. National Archives of Canada, photo No. C-7889.
An open horsecar on St. Denis street in Montreal in 1887. Some cars
like this were later converted to trailers hauled by electric cars.
CRHA Archives.
Two cartoons of 1871 showing
the interiors of Montreal
Canadian I/Iustrated News,
February 25 and May 27, 1871.
Crargstreet near the drill
hall in Montreal about 1890.
National Archives of Canada,
photo No. C-70927.
BELOW: A sleigh used in
Montreal in the winter when
the tracks were not plowed.
Collection of Donald F. Angus.
It began at early dawn, the first onset being
n~~~~~;;~~:~:;:~< made by a detachment of Tramway Foot, under
command of Count Shoveloff. At the word of
. command the force gallantly charged along the
i—:7=-~ line and began to throw up breastworks on either
side …. The enemys attack was led by
Counterhopper Pasha, the right and left wings
being respectively under command
of Baker
and Butcher Pasha. The opposing forces
were alike armed with snow shovels. The
engagement began with a vigourous assault on
the breastworks, which were quickly thrown
…. The attackers at once brought their arms
to bear, sending in a continuous volley of balls
upon the Tramways. Thus the battle raged for
nearly half
an hour, neither side appearing to gain
rit~I–:i~~~B;,19~~5~ any advantage. Then the attacked party received reinforcement
in the shape of a detachment of
horse –
two horses and a car, which, on their arrival,
were furiously assailed .
… I saw it was useless to
wait for the end of the battle,
and so I started off at
. once. The fight is still going on.
Grip, January 29, 1881.
This comical account, and cartoon, of the Tramway Battle appeared in the humour magazine Grip on January 29,1881.
One of the most bizarre incidents of the horsecar era
occurred in Toronto
in 1881. In the days when most vehicles
on city streets were horse-drawn, it was not the
practice to
plow the streets after
Ii heavy snowfall: The usual procedure fifty or sixty street railway employees were at work shoveling
off again, and the battle was on! All morning the struggle
continued, and when a horsecar appeared the cry would go
up here comes a car. The car would then break through the
of snow, with the horses lashed to a gallop· and foaming
was to
put away wheeled vehicles
and use sleighs, which would run
ly over the packed snow. Street
railways in many northern cities
maintained fleets of sleighs for .~~~~ •• ~ ?;Ijf~~fr~~
at·the mouth from the heavy
exertion. The police seemed unable
or unwilling to break up the
disturbance, as many sympathized
with the storekeepers. There were
a few ugly incidents,
but in general
the whole affair was conducted
with a great deal of good humour;
is surprising that there were few
if any acts of vandalism such as
broken car windows. The real
ufferers were the horses, which
were worked far beyond their
capacity. There is no record of a
horse dying as a result of the
winter use when the horsecars
could not be used. There were also
omnibuses used when there was 1~~3:t
too much snow for the cars, but not
enough for the sleighs. The street
railway companies disliked having
to maintain two fleets of equipment,
but had
no real alternative, as there
was much objection to plowing the
streets all win ter. In Mo n trea I, t…===~~_u!!~_-=-I~L–=.::~~n~£~
Marooned horsecars after the Tramway Battle. battle, but some became very ill.
horse cars were seldom used
between December and April, but
Canadian Illustrated News, February 12,1881. Ab t 2·00 PM th k ou.
.., e attac was
in Toronto,
where there is usually much less snow than in
Montreal, it was the practice to run horsecars when the
streets were reasonably clear. Tills could cause trouble with
the owners
of sleighs, especially after a large snowstorm which
followed a period
of little snow; there would be a tendency to
continue to clear the snow and operate the cars. For several
years prior to 1880 this situation had caused bad feeling
between the Toronto Street Railway and the storekeepers,
especially on Yonge and Queen streets. This situation finally
broke out into the Street Railway War in January, 1881.
Snowfall that month was exceptionally heavy,
culminating in a big blizzard on Friday, January 21. That night
the company put their snow plows to work and thoroughly
cleared the tracks, afterwards rolling the snow at the sides
the street, leaving the roadway perfectly level. On Saturday
, January 22, 1881, the trouble began. A boy started
shoveling snow on to the track, and within fifteen minutes
between two and three hundred were doing the same. Soon
renewed, and this time the storekeepers succeeded in
stopping the cars, and
so gained the victory. Hundreds of
shovels were at work piling snow so effectively that at least
a dozen cars were hopelessly marooned. The company then
gave up the struggle, unhitched the horses and walked them
back to the stable. The battle was over. The company made a
half-hearted attempt to run
some omnibuses and sleighs, but
it was a week before service got back to normal.
The marooned
cars remained in the street until Wednesday, January 26, when
they were dug out, apparently having suffer
ed little damage.
Although in later years there were disputes over snow
clearing, there was never again such an
uprising as had
OCCUlTed in 1881. The question was finally solved for good
when electric cars appeared. With electrification, it was vital
to plow the streets and run the electric cars all year round; it
would have been totally illogical to revert to the old-fashioned
sleighs during the winter. So, although the street railway lost
the battle in
1881, they eventually won the war.
The illustrations on this page
show some of the facilities
available at stables during the
horsecar era. They are from a
book entitled Street Railways, their
Construction and Maintenance,
published in 1892.
Transfertable for moving cars
from one
track to another.
LEFT: Stalls, drying rack and tools.
BELOW LEFT: Hospital,
stalls and sling
for disabled horse.
Cross Gangway, showing
trough and filter.
An early Kodak photo of an Ottawa horsecar about 1890,
showing the poor condition of the streets, and hence the
big advantage of horsecars over omnibuses.
National Archives of Canada, photo No. C-17828.
Illustration from an 1872 Montreal directory.
The FIRST & LAST Sleighs leave each Terminus as follows:
(nO.ItH ANn \I·:.-IIEI& 1·1·:H,I·II·l~U.)
Notre U:une Sneet! 10 Ilochcln(::t DCI)oI, 6.00 a.lII. ,s.. 0.50 (.0.. 9.00 a.m. Jro 9.60 p.lII.
I.ine ……….. SI. Ih:nri, n.oo 9.50 9.00 9.50
SI.I.nwltllce::uul51. l -12)1 Mile End, U.16 9.25 10 8.46 9.00
Catherine SI!:. Line i West End, SL.C:..IUiI.O.68 10.08 0.28 0.46
SI; Call~crinc Street I 12~ .lCht:la~9., 0.52 9.25 9.22 0.00
EQ~I Line ……. i Hlc:ury titrcel, 7.17 9.60 9.47 9.26
Cmi~ &-SI. Antoine! tID PO)linc:1I1 SquClIC, 7.00 9.35 9.00 9.00
Sir,,,,, Line……. Dominion Stree. 7.00 9.30 9.00 0.00
(luI Slelg~ lea … DominIon SIre •• ~ Papineau Square lor Cole Slreel only. 10 p.m.)
8(. Denis Slr~cl 1120 j Crnil::St.\,~ilia!.r~JII1,7.0j 0.25 II j 0.06 II 0.05
Line ….. , … I Upper SLI)cLlISSI.7.;)6 0.55 9.:35 0.35
Iu~nl Sl. Ch:Uh:S! 30 I:o~~ .on~cc, . 0.30 0.00 0.00 0.00
1.1Ile:: ………. _. G. 1. CrosslIIg, 1.00 0.30 9.30 9.30
• 20 lIIinutes nfler 8.25 p.m.
·tS 7-30 I:. I.IS a::u, 1Ilullugor.
MONTREAL, 2o~h LJFC., 1884.
Public transportation in winter in Montreal was provided
by sleighs (see photo on page 197). The service provided
was distinctly inferior to that provided by the horsecars.
This timetable covers the winter of 1884 -1885.
Leach Collection.
brass token of about 1888, good for one fare on the
Ottawa City Passenger Railway.
A 12-horse team
hauling a snow plough in Toronto in the winter of 1891-92.
TTC Photo.
RIGHT: Ottawa City Passenger
Railway car No.4 which has been
preserved as a relic. Note that
its running gear has been
National Archives of Canada,
photo No. C-2458.
ABOVE: Ottawa City Passenger Railway
No. 13,
shown brand new at the John
Stephenson factory in New York in 1889.
This is the same car that apPear!; in the
photo at the top of the opposite page.
. . .-,-
National Archives of Canada, photo No.
Ottawa City Passenger Railway
open car No. 26, also at the John
Stephenson factory; this time in 1891.
Archives of Canada, photo No.
BELOW: Two views of horsecars in Hamilton during
the 1880s.
Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection,
photos PA-166488 (left) and PA-166487 (right).
BonOM: Two photos, a horsecar and a sleigh, taken
in Winnipeg in the 1880s. The
circular format was a
of the early Kodak cameras.
Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection,
photos PA-118141 (left) and PA-118140 (right) .
. /
LEFT: An engraving of a horsecar on
Richmond street in
London, Ontario
in 1882.
Picturesque Canada.
BELOW: A detail
from an oil painting
of the corner of Portage and Main in
during the 1880s.
ABOVE: The carbarn and stable of the Halifax Street Railway
Barrington and Hanover streets in 1894.
RIGHT: A Halifax open
horsecar on Barrington street near
the corner of Blowers street about 1890.
Both photos from Collection of Douglas Brown.
ABOVE: The corner of Portage and Main in
Winnipeg in 1882, the year the Winnipeg
Street Railway opened.
Photo by Professor Buell.
RIGHT: A few years later
the street scene
was much more crowded and some early
buildings had been replaced by larger ones.
However the same horsecars were running
back and forth, and it would be about four
years before electric car tracks would begin
to share the street with the horsecar line.
Photo by Hall and Lowe.
this page we see photos of
the most easterly and most westerly
horsecar systems in Canada, Halifax
and Winnipeg.
Ld New York, U. S. A.
)1OR .LJ:JJil
c.~ (If flU l>O …… III/nn …
The SteDhenSOIl Co.ns lle to be round in every port or the civil ned glObe. as shown on the above map.
An 1891 advertisement from the John Stephenson Company in New York. Though the horsecar still dominated, within a year
or two this changed drastically, and by 1893, the year of John Stephensons death, electric cars were in the great majority.
. Halifax Halifax Street Railway Jun II, 1866 May 171876
Nova Scotia Power Oct 21, 1886 May31 1896
Saint John Peoples Street Railway Aug24,1869 March,1876
Saint John City Railway Oct 17,1887 Jan 18, 1890
Consolidated Electric Co. Jan 18, 1890 May, 1893
Quebec City Quebec Street Railway Aug 17, 1865 1897
St. John Street Railway c.1870 1897
Montreal Montreal City Passenger Railway Nov 27, 1861 1886
Montreal Street Railway 1886
Oct 1894
Ottawa Ottawa City Passenger Railway Ju121,1870 1893
Cornwall Cornwall Street Railway 18?? 18??
Kingston Kingston Street Railway May 9,1877 Nov 8,1894
Belleville Belleville Street Railway May 23, 1876 Nov 26, 1891
Toronto Torooto Street Railway Sep 10, 1861 Aug31,1891
Toronto Railway Co. Sep I, 1891 Aug31,1894
Hamilton Hamilton Street Railway May 15, 1874 1893
Catharines St. Catharines Street Railway Nov I, 1879 1887
Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Wesley Park & Cliftoo Dec 6,1886 1900
Brantford Brantford Street Railway Sep 4,1886 1893
Berlin and Waterloo Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway Jun 13, 1889 1895
London London Street Railway May 24, 1875 May, 1896
Thomas St. Thomas Street Railway 1879 1898
Chatham Chatham Street Railway c. Oct, 1885 1890
Sarnia Samia Street Railway 1875 1901
Windsor Windsor Street Railway Ju120, 1874 c. 1893
Sandwich Windsor & Amherstburg 18?? 1891
Windsor Electric Street Railway
c.1889 1891
Winnipeg Winnipeg Street Railway Oct20, 1882 Jun, 1894
In addition, the Canadian Pacific Railway is reported to have had one horsecar in the 1880s, and the predecessors
ofthe Toronto & York Radial Railways had some horsecar operation.
1888 1891
Halifax Halifax Street Railway 7 15 65
Nova Scotia Power 7 25 100
Saint John Saint John City Railway 7 15 65 7 15 65
Quebec Quebec Street Railway 3 9 46 3 11 52
St. Jolm Street Railway
1.5 4 20 1.5 4 24
Montreal Montreal Street Railway 30 80 cars 700 35 119 cars 1150
80 sleighs 104 sleighs
40 omnibuses
75 omnibuses
Ottawa City Psgr. Railway 5
23 45 ? 14 cars 52
15 other
Cornwall Cornwall Street Railway 3 4 ? 3 4 ?
2 steam motors 2 steam motors
Kingston J(jngston Street Railway 7 10 36 8 11 35
Belleville Belleville Street Railway 2 5 14 2 5 12
Toronto Toronto Street Railway 60 180 850 60 252 1300
Hamilton Hamilton Street Railway
12 46 cars 170
10 sleighs
Catharines St. Catharines Street Ry. 6 14 ? 8 10 electric none
some electric
Niagara Niagara Falls, Wesley Park 4 10 40 4 10 40
Falls and Clifton
Brantford Brantford Street Railway 4 6 20 5 7 22
Berlin Berlin & Waterloo Street Ry 3 8 16
London London Street Railway 6 12 40 10 30 82
Thomas St. Thomas Street Railway 2 5 9 2 4 8
Chatham Chatham Street Railway 2 4 9
Sarnia Sarnia Street Railway 2.5 3 9 2.5 5 11
Windsor Windsor Street Railway 4.5 6 26
Windsor, Sand.
& Aburg 4.5 6 26 6.5 16 electric none
Windsor Electric St.
Ry. 1.5 1 elec motor 1.5 4 horse 9
2 trailers 1 electric
Winnipeg Winnipeg Street Railway 5 15 cars 100 9 20 horse 100
15 sleighs IS sleighs
4 electric
NOTE: Cities that had electric operation only during this period (eg. Vancouver and Victoria) are not included.
Some data appear to be inconsistant
The City Passenger Railway expect to have cars
running by tomorrow evening between Hochelaga and
Chaboillez Square. Since 1877 the earliest car was
March 15th 1878, and the latest, April17th 1879. The
busses which replace the sleighs
in the spring, will
be put up for the year.
April 18, 1885.
Two handsome new street cars were running
on the City Passenger Railway. They were
built by Mr. N.C. Lariviere of
St. Antoine street, at a
cost of $750 each.
2, 1886.
The new street railway track
on St. Catherine
to Guy street will be finished today, when the old
track will
be lifted and a second new one laid. Two
new closed cars from J.M. Jones and Sons of
N.Y., will be put on the road this week, one on St.
Catherine east and the
other on Craig. The City
Passenger Railway carried 23,000 passengers on
June 23, 1886.
The Montreal Street Railway Companys service
on Craig and St: Antoine streets seems to be going
from bad to worse. Car
38, which left the end of St.
Antoine street before 7:30 last evening, had to wait 12
minutes at the switch near Versailles street, and in
endeavoring to make up for lost time went off the track
twice between Mountain and Cathedral streets, the
second time running into a cab which was
on the right
side of the street, breaking
its spring and frightening
its lady occupants.
7, 1886.
The new car stables
of the Street Railway
Company which are being erected at the corner
Chen neville and St. Vitre streets and which will
accommodate 400 horses, are
to be occupied by the
horses working the
St. Lawrence, St. Catherine west,
St. Antoine, St. Denis, Point St. Charles and
the new Ontario street routes. The very latest
improvements as regards lighting and ventilation,
facilities for feeding etc., are being adopted for the
horses comfort. When these stables are finished, the
company will have three depots -one at Hochelaga,
one at
St. Henri, and the one above described. It is
the intention to dispense with the present stables at
Mile End.
January 6, 1887.
The Street Railway Company now has
its cars
on Bleury and St. Catherine routes, and buses
from the waiting rooms
on Craig street up St. Lawrence
street. Cars
are also running on St. Denis street and
the track
on St. Catherine east will probably be cleared
of the winters debris by the end of the week. All the
sleighs have been put away for the summer.
28, 1887. 206
It was a sight
to make one stand and stare:
cars with actual wheels running yesterday
on the Notre
Dame street route. The track
is still heavy, and four
horses are necessary
to furnish motive power. The other
lines are being rapidly opened
up, and if the weather
continues favorable a rapid extension
of traffic is looked
March 28, 1889.
on Craig street will probably be open for
the street cars this evening, although there
is only
of one side cleared, and efforts are also being
to open the St. Catherine street line, which will
most likely
be clear by the end of the week.
1, 1889.
The Montreal Street Railway has at last begun
accommodate the public in an original and
way. Yesterday afternoon a blue car on
St. Catherine street actually stopped at the corner of
Drummond street while a lady passenger alighted,
her purchase at a grocery store and returned to the
car. Meanwhile some twenty-five passengers were kept
October 25, 1889.
The Montreal Street Railway Company has
to pay under protest the citys claim for a tax
on its horses, amounting to about $8000 for the last
two years.
Mr. Lusher, the manager, said that the
had difficulties not encountered in other cities.
It had three equipments -cars, sleighs and buses. It
had to keep a sufficient supply of buses, although it
only used them for a few days in the spring when it
was too late for the sleighs and too early for the cars,
the latter of which were used only about seven months
in the year. So, much dead stock had to be carried in
the three seasons. It was taxed $20 on each car and
$2.50 on each horse, although up to two years ago it
had only to pay $25 for the car. It takes two horses to
each car when running, but each car required from
to ten horses throughout the day.
15, 1890.
The street cars made their spring appearance
on Saturday on the paved portion of Craig street, the
on which have been cleared of snow and ice.
They were spick and span and painted and looked
beautiful, clean and comfortable. People gathered
to admire them and the horses. Some persons
to descend from those high and awkward
between-season buses
to enterthe smooth-going cars,
their faces showing pleasure with the experiment.
16, 1890.
The Montreal City Passenger Railway changed
its name
to Montreal Street Railway in 1886.
Before and after photos of the conversion, by the St. Catharines Meritton & Thorold, of horsecars to electric cars in 1887.
By 1890 horsecars were in service in most major cities
of the world but, for the first time, there was some doubt as to
whether this situation would last much longer. For all their
benefits, horsecars did have their disadvantages. They were
slow, had a limited range, and required several times as many
horses as cars. The latter point was the most serious; caring
for all those horses was expensive, not to mention the problem
of disposing of tons of manure over the course of a year
(some street railways actually made money selling manure as
In fact, in many cases the investment in horses was
greater than the value
of the cars themselves. Ever since the
Great Epizootic
of 1872, street railway officials had been
if there was a better way to run street railways,
articles on the subject appeared with increasing
frequency as the years went on.
In the preceding twenty years, as we have already
seen, other means of urban public transport had arisen. Some
were already
in operation. On August I, 1873 the worlds first
cable car line opened
in San Francisco. This was the creation
of Andrew Hallidie, a manufacturer of wire ropes. It is said
that he was inspired by seeing a terrible horsecar accident in
which the horses were dragged backwards down a steep hill
by an out-of-control horse car full
of passengers. In the next
twenty years cable operation spread to a
number of large
cities and offered faster and more
convenient service than
horsecars. In some cities steam-operated elevated railways
were in use, and there was even talk
of a subway system.
Steam was also used,
to a limited extent, on street lines, as
cars were hauled by small dummy steam locomotives which
were disguised as street cars to avoid frightening horses
.. All
of these methods had disadvantages; cable cars and elevated
lines were very expensive to build, and so only suitable for
larger cities; steam dummies presented the problem
of smoke
and sparks, besides which there was a long-standing aversion
to nlllning any kind
of steam locomotive in city streets. As
long as these methods were the only serious alternative, the
horsecar would reign supreme.
Two examples of electrified horsecars in Saint John N.B. in
1894. The small car, No.
21, had been a Saint John horsecar,
while the larger car below was a former Boston horsecar
electrified in Boston before being shipped to Saint John in
Both cars are equipped with trucks and wooden trolley
poles, unlike the St. Catharines car illustrated at the top of
this page. Both photos from New Brunswick Museum.
There was, however, another
of moving street cars that
beginning to be developed –
electricity. Talk
of electric propulsion
of railways had been around for a
long time,
at least as early as the
However it was not until
Siemens built his first successful
electric locomotive in Berlin Germany
in 1879 that the idea became even
remotely practical. The first public
electric railway began operation in
1881, and that was quickly followed
by numerous small lines, often highly
experimental, in other places.
Canadas [lIst electric railway was at
the Toronto Exhibition
in 1884, and a
regular electric car operation began
in Windsor Ontario in 1886; in the
latter case
breakdowns caused the
horses to
come back and continue
to haul the cars for a few years longer.
1888, Frank Spragues
successful electrification of the
system in Richmond Virginia showed
that electric street cars were practical,
and then followed a widespread
This strange vehicle is obviously a horsecar converted to electric operation, while
still retaining its pedestals. Amazingly it was photographed as recently as November
21 1943 in Kitchener Ontario. It was probably a passenger car of the Berlin & Waterloo
Street Railway,
later used as a work car. Its final disposition is unknown.
Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection, photo No. PA-166504.
program of conversion of horsecar lines to electric power.
1:>Y 1890 the horsecar was still very much in the
majority,aQd there was, every reason to believe that ,some
horse car lineswOlj/d continue ,for many years
to come. Even
as late as 1892, the prestigious
Street Railway Journal, the
standard for the industry, could write:
It is by no means a
foregone conclusion, as
is often stated, that mechanical
power will eventually supersede animal power on all street
railways, It will continue to increase, no doubt, till a
majority of roads are operated under some form of
mechanical power, but the living motor is in the field, new
men are constantly coming into this branch
of the street
railway business,
and the veterans sometimes need to be
of things that they already know. However, in
this case the Street Railway Journal was wrong; the
conversion to electric power proceeded at a great rate, and
the decline
of the horse car was much faster than anyone
could have imagined. The
rust efforts at electrification in Canada were not
all that impressive. The very first was an intramural electric
railwayatthe Torontoelcilibition that ran only during the two
eacH year that the exhibition. was open. The pioneer
electric line between Windsor and Walkerville was plagued
with troubles, both technical and political, and the horses
came back on duty. By 1890 many believed that electric street
cars were
in the same category as other mechanical propulsion
methods that had been tried and discarded. But 1890 was the
turning point. In that year the directors
of the new street car
systems in Vancouver and Victoria B.C. decided to give up
the planned horse operation, for which stables had already
been constructed, and power the street car lines with electricity
from the very start.
It is rumoured that, even there, on
occasions such as power failures, some horses were called
out to haul the electric cars. Also
in 1890, Winnipeg began an
electric line (which on Main street paralleled the horsecar
line), and in Ottawa Messrs.
Ahearn and Soper won the
Two old Quebec City horsecars mounted on trucks and used as work cars, one of them a snowplough. These photos date
from the 1920s.
Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection, photos Nos. PA-166560 (left) and PA-166561 (right).
A Sarnia horsecar about 1880. National Archives of Canada,
Merrilees Collection,
photo No. PA-166522.
contract to build an electric Railway in Canadas capital. The
largest systems
of all, Montreal and Toronto, were not fully
of the practicability of electric traction, especially
heavy snow, and hung back, watching to see how
successful Ottawas effort would be. By the spring of 1892 it
evident to all that electric traction was a complete
success, and it is then that full scale conversion from horse
to trolley began.
The actual peak of the horsecar systems in Canada
occurred in 1891. Despite the forecasts of coming
electrification, horsecar lines had been expanding at
unprecedented rates. Car builders such as Stephenson were
working at full capacity supplying new cars for street railways
all over the world. In the three years since 1888, the number
of horsecars in service in Canada had risen from just over 400
to well over 600. The number of horses had shown an even
greater increase, having doubled from about 2000 to over
4000. The mileage had gone from
161 to
20 I, and the frequency of service was also
greatly increased. The ultimate frequency
achieved in Montreal during the
provincial exhibition of 1892. At this time,
on September 19 1892, there was one car
per minute on St. Lawrence Boulevard, a
of service seldom matched in
the electric era, and almost never reached
today. By that time, however, the peak had
been passed and conversions
to electricity
were proceeding. The horsecar had begun
its decline and the end was near.
late 1892 the program
of electri­
in most Canadian cities was well
way. Both Montreal and Toronto
started to electrify that year, and both
tuese large systems took more than two
years to complete the job.
The watershed
year was 1893, for during that year the
number of electric cars in Canada
surpassed the number of horsecars.
Motors on the Horse Car
The electric railway are fixing up some of the
old horse cars
by putting vestibules on and placing
the cars
on motors. Car No.7 is now running on the
New Edinburgh route. The company have returned
to their old time of running the New Edinburgh cars
St. Patrick street.
Ottawa Evening Journal October
12, 1893.
An interesting item; especially as it is one of the few cases
where the digit 7 was used on an Ottawa street car.
the line until it was electrified a few weeks later. Montreals
schedule was not so rigid, but its last horsecar ran some time
in late October of 1894.
Conversion to electric power was more complicated
than originally thought.
It had been expected that much of
the existing track could be used, after being electrically
bonded. Also it was thought that many existing horsecars
could be fitted with motors and run as electric cars. Neither
these plans was successful; the horsecar track was too light
to carry the weight
of the heavier electric cars, and the old
cars were not suitable for the higher speed
of the electric
The major problem with the cars was simple. Most
horsecars did not have trucks; the journal boxes were simply
bolted to the car body. Unless the car was fitted with a truck
(which was sometimes done, but was expensive) the vibration
would shake the car to pieces
in short order. The most use
obtained from old horsecars was as trailers behind electric
cars, but even this use died out
in a few years. In the end, the
street railways were rebuilt with new roadbed, new track and
new cars.
In Toronto, the franchise agreement
with the new Toronto Railway Company
required the electrification to be complete
by August 31, 1894. When that date
arrived, one line (McCaul) had not been
converted. Rather than seek a time
extension, the company simply shut down
The last known photo of a horsecar in service in Canada; Sarnia Street Railway
car No.1 0 in 1901. A tattered poster on the fence advertises an event that took
place on Thurs. June 20,1901. Since the trees are bare, it suggests that the
photo was taken in the late autumn of that year. Note the trolley wire over the line
in the background. National Archives of Canada, photo No. PA-60649.
A view of Montreal open horsecar No; 85 being hauled by new electric car No. 244 on St. Catherine street about 1895.
By 1895 the horsecar was almost gone from Canada.
The only large cities using this means
of transportation were
Halifax and Quebec City. Halifax converted in 1896, and
Quebec City in 1897.
The very last horsecar system of all
Canada was at Samia, Ontario. Because
of arguments between
the street railway and the city, electrification
of the Sarnia
system did not get under way until 1900. FinaJly, however,
the re-Iaying
of the track began, and on January 17 1901
Samias first electric cars made their trial trips. Then at 3 :00
P.M. on January 28 1901,
just six days after the end of the
Victorian era, the electric line
to the St. Clair tunnel station
was opened, permanently replacing horsecars on that line.
of one line was still horse operated for a few more months,
but by the fall
of 190 I it too was
converted. It was forty years
since Alexander Easton had built
the first Toronto Street Railway,
but now it was the end
of the
line for horsecars in Canada.
RIGHT: In 1900 the Montreal
Street Railway photographed
one of its newest electric cars,
38 (which used the number
of a recently scrapped horse­
car) at the old carbarn on St.
Denis near what is
now Laurier.
the background, at the right
of the photo, are the bodies of
two closed horsecars, probably
used as trailers after 1892, but
retired by 1900.
of Fred Angus.
Advertisement: Three hundred horses, blankets,
harness, collars, halters, rope traces and double
whiffletrees to
be auctioned. The subscribers have
received instructions from the Montreal
Railway Company to sell these at the stables,
on Monday, the 26th of March, and the
following days until the whole is disposed of. –
Benning and Barsalou, auctioneers, March 24, 1894.
An advertisement that needs no explanation. It was the
of an era. Soon the system would be 100% electric.
Well Done, Good And Faithful SeNant, Gone But Not Forgotten. A cartoon from Electrical World, October 311891. A horsecar
(complete with horses, driver and passengers) is carried up to heaven by bolts of electricity, the force that made it obsolete.
A llntE COoI)(fNG To RE·RouTE A CAR. .
c~510€R SOME.
Of lHE I C€ ~)(£S
WASlJT sunl A
, WOo..lDEIt I~ 014E Milt.) CARS WERE DRAWN By A f./O~c
AIlD llIr5 SU5INES.!O of CALLlI-lG r:o~ YoU AT yov~ DOo~
In the 1940s and 1950s a series of cartoons called Around
Our Town, drawn by Gordie Moore, appeared regularly in
the Montreal Gazette.
Frequently the subject of his wit was
the street car system and its problems. There was a series
called Tramway Improvement Suggestions, some of
which we have previously reprinted in Canadian Rail, that
offered hilarious ideas for improving the service.
These three
cartoons appeared on March 4, 1950 as part of
an article on the early days of street cars in Montreal,
including the horsecars. It showed that the problems of
1950 were not much different than those of 1862.
The end of horse operation on street railways was not
the end
of all the cars. Street railway companies were too
to scrap equipment in good condition, much of it only
a few years old. As we have already seen, their first thought
to convert the cars to electric propulsion and continue
to use them. This was easier said than done because of the
light construction
of the horsecars and their lack of a truck.
Since the electric cars did not have to depend on the strength
of a horse, they could be made heavier and stronger (even
the smallest electric cars were at least 25 or 30 horsepower).
Some horsecars were fitted with motors without major
modification (see photos on page 207, top and 208, top) but
such conversions were not very satisfactory. More successful
was the addition
of a truck (example: car 21 on page 207,
bottom), but
even this method was not perfect since the
average horsecar was considerably smaller than the new
electrics. Most conversions
of horsecars to electric motor
cars were short-lived, and were retired by about 1900.
Somewhat more successful were the conversions
to trailers,
and both Montreal and Toronto did this to considerable
numbers of horsecars, both open and closed. Montreals
trailers were retired by 1902, but some of Torontos had
amazingly long lives, a few being
in passenger service right
up to the formation of the TIC in 1921. Two closed horsecars
(16 and 64) were saved, and some
of the open cars, refused
by the TTC,
were scrapped by the old Toronto Railway
Company in 1925.
Many horsecar bodies were sold
to individuals for
various uses.
It is reported that a group of Montreal closed
cars became boathouses at the Lachine
wharf in the 1890s,
but all traces
of these is long gone. A newspaper article of
1902 reports that Saint John car No. 17 (a former Boston
horsecar electrified in 1893) was sold as a country cottage.
cars claim to fame was in 1894, when it became the fust
street car
in the Maritimes to be fitted with electric heaters. In
1904 and 1905 ten ex-Toronto horse cars became houses on
the grounds
of a tuberculosis hospital; they remained in use
until 1929. A group
of Quebec City horsecars was still in
existence in 1932, and another survived as a hot dog stand as
late as 1964! A few Toronto horsecars that had become trailers
were among the large group
of old street cars that were sent
to Haileybury after the disastrous fue there in 1922. Old
horsecar bodies (some used
as the proverbial chicken coop)
dotted the countryside for years, but after more than a century
is very doubtful that any survive today.
ABOVE (Left and Right): A Montreal horsecar and sleigh
that were saved at the time of conversion to electric power.
horsecar was destroyed in the 1920s, but the sleigh,
No. 20, has survived and is at the Canadian Railway Museum.
Old Toronto horsecars at the tuberculosis hospital at Weston.
Rapid lransil in Canadas melropolitan cilies in 1868-and ur
to as lat. as l891-meanl a legal
maximum 0 6 miles per hour. Even so lhe
horses usually lasled only a year in lhe service.
The drivers wage was SI.20 for a 12 hour day.
When Libbys food company celebrated its 75th anniversary
in 1943, it ran a series of nostalgic advertisements. One of
these featured a Toronto horsecar.
St Thomas Times-Journal, December 4, 1943.
LEFT (WHOLE COLUMN): Five views of old horsecar bodies
from Quebec City, comprising a closed car, an open car and
a sleigh. These were
photographed by Donald F. Angus at
St Andre de Kamouraska south-east of Quebec City in 1932.
Collection of Fred Angus.
The Quebec City horsecar that became a diner, seen here
in that role at Kamouraska, Que. It was rescued about 1964
is now at the Canadian Railway Museum.
by Orner Lavallee.
In addition to conversion to passenger use, some
horsecars became work equipment. Most famous are those
converted to mail cars by the Ottawa Electric Railway, but
there were others. Two examples are the Quebec cars (see
page 208, bottom) that had trucks fitted for work service, and
of which became a snow plough. As with the passenger
cars, these work cars have long
since vanished.
Although most people were happy to see the horsecars
replaced by
electric cars, there was a certain amount of
nostalgia, and some companies actually did save one or two
of the old technology. Montreal saved at least one
horsecar, an omnibus and a sleigh as relics; while the omnibus
and sleigh have survived (and are now at the Canadian Railway
Museum), the horsecar deteriorated and appears
to have been
in the I 920s. Certainly a photo taken about 1910
it in rather poor shape. Ottawa also saved a horsecar,
and this
is now at the Museum of Science and Technology in
that city. While Toronto did not officially preserve a horsecar
in the 1890s, they did have some remaining in service as
trailers, and they did save two horsecars
in 192!. These are
also at the Museum
of Science and Technology in Ottawa.
Interestingly, when Toronto celebrated its centennial
in 1934,
they built replicas
of early street railway equipment that had
previously been scrapped. This included an omnibus, a sleigh,
and an open horsecar, as well as an early electric open car.
Years later, a replica
of a Winnipeg horsecar was built, and is
now at Heritage Park
in Calgary.
The only other horsecar to have been saved
in Canada
is the aforementioned Quebec car that had become a hot dog
stand and diner at Kamouraska.
It was rescued about 1964,
went to the National Museum
of Science and Technology,
and later
came to the Canadian Railway Museum. It is a
Stephenson car
ofabout 1880, and still has some of its original
glass bearing the name
of that fum. Unfortunately it does not
have its pedestals, platforms or running gear. The relics
mentioned above are the only remaining survivors of the
horsecar era in Canada.
Two views of Douglas Corporation Transport car 27. This car, along with Nos. 28 and 29, were built by G.F. Milnes c:>f B~rkenh~ad
England in 1892. These three cars are virtually as built and the most authentic examples of horsecar construction In servlve
anywhere. They are usually used in rainy weather when the open cars remain in the barn. All 10M photos by Fred Angus.
After the great conversions to electricity in the 1890s,
some horsecar systems remained. There were several reasons
for this, many
of them economic; some of the smaller systems
could not afford the cost
of the change to electric power. In
Europe street railways were slower to electrify, so the horsecar
hung on a few years longer. Britain still had 37,000 horses
tramway and omnibus service in 1900, and 1200 as late as
In North America few horsecar lines lasted beyond 1900;
Bostons huge system ran its last horsecar that year. One
the strangestlines was. the Cherrylyn line in Denver, Originally
an electric line,
it went· broke in the. panic of 1893, was de­
electrified and converted to
horsecar operation. Since the
line was on a steep grade, the horse pulled the car up the hill,
then climbed on to the specially-strengthened platform and
rode the car back down! This strange procedure lasted until
the horsecar was discontinued
in 1910. New York Citys last
horsecar line survived until July 26, 1917 before it was closed.
In other parts of the world, horsecars lasted even longer, one
in Mexico is reported to have lasted until 1957.
What about the
horsecar today? Well, there are a
number preserved
in Museums, some of which are run on
occasion by real horsepower. There are also several replicas
LEFT: An interior view of
No. 27, showing the roof
construction so typical of
the horsecar era.
18 was built
as a double-decker
1883 and later rebuilt.
used at amusement parks, including the famous ones at
Disneyland. A replica horsecar is run at the railway museum
at Budapest, Hungary. This is an exact duplicate
of one that
in the Hungarian Capital. It is also reported that in the
of 2002 a rail enthusiasts excursion in Romania used
to pull a coach when it was found that the line was in
too bad condition to use a locomotive! However, amazingly,
is still possible, in the 21 st century, to ride a horsecar on an
actual street car line
in regular city service. In order to do this,
one must go to Douglas, the capital
of the Isle of Man.
The Isle
of Man, situated in the Irish Sea, is noted for
its. ancient railways; These include a Victorian narrow-gauge
steam tailway,an electric interurban of the 1890s -and an
authentic horse car line! This line was
builtin 1876 and has
run with horse power ever since, despite several schemes
the past to either electrify or abandon it. Today it is the only
authentic horsecar line running anywhere
in the world, and is
a great tourist attraction. One can still board a 110 year old
car, pay the fare to the conductor and sit back and listen to
the clip-clop
of the horses hooves and the rumble of the
wheels as the car rolls along at a leisurely 4 or 5 miles an hour.
It is almost like being transported back to the time of our
great great grandparents, the 19th century, and that
interesting, but long gone time, the horsecar era.
LEFT: A front view of
No. 28, identical to No.
Open car 44 was built in 1907.
Car No. 49
is one of three convertible cars built in 1935, the
newest cars in ·the Douglashorsecar fleet. They are open
whichcan be converted·to Closed in bad weather.
Toast rack car 31 dates from 1894.
still turn up in unexpected places. This delightful
1905 scene,
complete with turning loop, appeared on a
banknote{now demonifized) in the late 1980s.
As a final backward look at the era of the horsecars, we have chosen this photo taken at Winnipeg about 1890. The little
horsecar is at the end
of the line, ready to return back downtown. The houses stand on land that had, until not long before, been
bare prairie, but, thanks
to public transportation, was now close to the centre of the city. This represents the limit of the horsecar
in Canada, for Winnipeg was the most westerly city in the Dominion to be served by a horse-operated street railway.
BACK COVER TOP: Douglas Corporation Transport car 27, built in 1892, moves along at a fine rate behind a sure-footed horse.
BACK COVER BOTTOM: Ottawa City Passenger Railway
car 4 outside Cobourg Barn on May 2,1959, the last day that Ottawa
cars ran. Car 4 was built in 1870 (not 1866 as shown) and has been preserved. Both photos by Fred Angus.
This issue of Canadian Rail was delivered to the printer on October 30, 2003.

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