V v), t
N ~ ~
w , J W
o l> Z l> o l> Z III C,j ~ ~ III
;u l> r
CA NAD I AN
R A I L
There were no serious accidents during construction of the
line, but there were at leost two near ones. A four-wheeled
push car got away and gave the two trackmen on it a rather wild
ride, but ended up safely on Park Ave. loop. Another incident
might have hod tragic conse~uences. A steel dump cor (3125 class)
looded with some 60,000 Ibs of crushed rock was left unattended
on the steepest part, and started to roll. Fortunotely an official
in the Companys operating department happened to be visiting the
work ond saw what was happening. He was able to catch the car and
bring it under control,-an unsung here indeed. One shudders to
contemplate the delivery of thirty tons of crushed rock at high
speed somewhere on Park Ave.
Trolley wire suspension was by span wire over both tracks.
This was considered better looking than bracket arms on center poles.
Conse(luently the devil strip was for the most part, of normal
width; 49. Lattice type steel poles were used throughout.
Specific rolling stock for the mountain line was chosen
from a group of 200 two-man cars built in 1913-14 (1325 class)
There was some variation in enuipment on 1325 class cars. Those
selected for the mountain were renuired to have Westinghouse No.
533 motors. General Electric K35 control, and Can. Westinghouse
air brakes, all of which could be depended upon for good performance.
Safe operation being of primary conc.ern, and considering the long
10% grades it was though wise to provide an auxiliary braking system.
Consenuently the ZO cars selected were fitted with dynamic brakes
as well as new powerful hand brakes. Also the circuit breakers
were replaced reclosing line switches under the car. None of
these changes prevented the cars from operating in regular city
CA NAD I AN
R A I L
ON JULY 10 1930, service began on the Movntain tramway line.
The roadbed had cost $287,415, engineering $92,585, and track
constrvction $260,000. These three photos were taken at the
start of the service, and are the oldest known showing trams
rvnning on the line. They first appeared in the Canadidn Railway
and Marine World in September 1930.
CA NAD IAN
R A I L
serv1ce when not reouired for the mountain line. When on this line
the use of the dynamic brake was mandatory on the steepest portions,
but prohibited on other parts of the system. The cars were stationed
at Mount Royal Ave. car house, and operated only by specially
trained motormen attached to that Division.
Service commenced on July 10, 1930 between Park Ave. loop
and Summit loop, designated route no. 75. During the first season,
on fine weekends, a longer route was set up; from the intersection
of Mt. Royal Ave. and Iberville St. to Summit loop, designated
Mount Royal No. 11. This was not successful and subseOuently the
cars ran only from Park Ave. loop, retaining the number 11, and
designated Mountain-Montagne. The periods of operation were
generally the same as Shakespeare No. 93, although there was never
any through running. On weekdays one or two cars was usually
sufficient~ giving a 20 min. or 10 min. service respectively. On
fine weekends and holidays, up to ten cars might be reouired on
Route 11. Aside from the terminal loops there was only one passenger
stop in each direction this was located just beyond the west portal
of the tunnel at the highest point on the line. There were steps
at that point leading to higher points on the mountain. On the
down trips motormen were reluired to make a safety stop just
after emerging from the tunnel, which incidentrally afforded the
passengers a remarkable panoramic view of the north, and east
sections of the city, as well as the St-Lawrence River.
Regular fares were in effect, with free transfer to and
from the connecting lines.
In 1931 M.T.Co. s famous Observation cars were eOuipped for
use on the mountain, with the idea that one or two might be
operated over the mountain as part of a sightseeing route. Belat
edly it was found that close clearances in the tunnel presented
some danger to persons on the highest ieat level, so the plan was
dropped. However, the Observation cars did go up several times
on charter trips.
In the mid-1940s evening service was provided for the
thousands of music lovers attending the open-air symphonic concerts
held weekly at thp. Chalet. Fifteen or more streetcars would
sometimes be reouired.
It can be said without hesitation that the mountain line
was successful. It was responsible for countless hours of outdoor
enjoyment for young and old. During twenty-seven years of operation.
Route 11 cars carried 6,304,653 passengers, without accident or
injury of any kind. No trouble was experienced with the cars or
track, aside from the tight gauge problem, which finally solved
itself. The fine safety record speaks well for the ouality of
construction, car maintenance, and the good performance of operat
Remembrance Road (Shakespeare) Route 93 was replaced by buses
on May 28, 1955. Route 11 lasted a couple of years longer. It
was ironical that the City, which in the 1920 s had clamored for
a tramway line on the mountain was, in the 1950 s, clamoring for
its removal. Operation ceased on October 6,1957. No. 1347 was
the last car on the line. Rails were immediately removed and work
started on building Camillien Houde Parkway, -an automobile facil
ity that replaced the tramway service.
Now, in 1980, it is interesting to look back at the creation,
half a century ago, of a colorful component of the large tramway
network existing in Montreal at that time.
MONTREALS FAMED OBSERVATION CARS were equipped to run on the
Mountain line but did not because of restricted clearance in the
tunnel. However on special occasions, notably C.R.H.A. excursions,
they did. The last time was on October 5 1957, only one day before
service ended, when No.1, the oldest of the four made the trip,
and is depicted here on that day.
Photo by Fred Angus.
R A I L
DESCRIPTION OF DYNAMIC BRAKE APPLIED TO STREETCARS OPERATED
ON THE MOUNTAIN LINE.
When a car is coasting with the controller off, the
motors are spinning and are generators of electric current.
The dynamic brake consists of an auxiliary controller which
connects the motors to a resistor of nickel chrome ribbon
mounted under the car. This resistor constitutes a load
tending to retard the motor speed, and therefore the car
speed. The resistor can be designed to allow a flow of
current about equal to that required to drive the car up
the same grade at the same speed. In this case the speed
was fi xed at 12m. p • h. 0 n a 1 0% g r a de. Ins h 0 r t , the
energy of the descending car is turned into electrical
energy and dissipated as heat in the resistor, instead
of heat at the brake shoes as in conventional braking.
With the dynamic brake it is impossible to lock the wheels
or go into a skid. To make a dead stop the dynamic cont
roller must be shut off and air or handbrakes applied.
MONTREAL TRAMWAYS CO. -ROLLING STOCK DEPT.
CARS EQUIPPED FOR MOUNTAIN LINE
1325 1326 1331 1332
1337 1338 1339 1340
1466 1471 1477
1488 1495 1496
OBSERVATION CARS 2 3 4
NOTE: NOS. 1339,1,3 are pre
served by the C.R.H.A.
1339 and 1 are at the Cana
dian Railway Museum at
St. Constant Que.
No. 1339 ROUNDS THE ROCKY CURVE just before starting the straight
ten percent climb towards the Eastern portal of the tunnel. This
car, built in 1913, is now preserved at the Canadian Railway
Museum, where it represents not only the Mountain route, but also
the largest class of street cars ever to run in Montreal.
Collection of R.M. Binns.
CAR 1339 AT MOUNTAIN LOOP with passengers embarking, about to start
the run back down to Park Avenue.
Collection of R.M. Binns.
PARK AVENUE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ROUTES SERVED by 1325-class cars,
os shown by this front view taken by LeRoy King in 1913. Seventeen
years later, twenty of these cars were specially e9uipped to run
on the Mountain line, not far from Park Ave.
Collection of R.M. Binns.
By: Jim Telfer.
(All photos by the author)
It was two days after Christmas 1927 when the first excavating
started to remove the huge quantity of earth and rock required to
give a track base for a tramway line over the northern top of Mount
Royal, linking Shakespeare Road with Mount Royal Boulevard in
The contract had been awarded to Cooke Construction by the
City of Montreal on December 9 1927, and, under the able management
of S.M. Telfer (father of the author), the tough job went through
The first day, December 27 1927, eight men with picks, shovels,
wheelbarrows and steel bars started to dig into the mountain. The
job started near the Western end while other gangs of men worked on
the Eastern end. On December 29 there were 43 men at work, while by
January 3 1928 the gang had been increased to 75 men. It was on Jan
uary 3rd that Mr. Telfer broke his ankle just as No. 1 air compressor
arrived on the job to supply air for the rock drilling. On the 4th
a second air compressor arrived on the job, and the rock drilling
was started on January 6th.
By January 8th there were foremen, general labourers, rock
drillers, blacksmiths, compressor men, blasters or dynamite men, watchmen,
carpenters, mechanics, and surveyors working on the pro
ject, and on that day the first dynamite shot was fired at station
79, breaking up about 1100 cubic yards of rock.
The complete cooperation afforded to Mr. Telfer by Mr. John
Roy, caretaker of Mount Royal Cemetery, the City of Montreal engin
eers, and the invaluable understanding of Mr. John Henderson, Care
taker of Mount Royal Park, greatly assisted in making this a fine job.
For more than a year the job went on, and the progress was well
recorded by Mr. Telfer from the start until the completed roadbed was
turned over to the city preparatory to the construction of the track
by the Montreal Tramways Co. in 1929. Some of the more important
entries im Mr. Telfers record tell the story of the job in a vivid
and direct way.
February 3rd 1928: The temperature was 14 below zero (F.).
The four blacksmiths almost froze. The city engineers didnt show
up, however their office burned down destroying their instruments.
The Fire Brigade arrived, but too late.
R A I L
THE START OF THE JOB. Near the future site of the Mountain loop,
a gang of eight men turned the first shovel full of earth for the
construction of the Mountain tramway line. The date was Tuesday,
December 27 1927, and this historic photo shows the gang at work
less than an hour after the first sod was turned.
TWO MONTHS AFTER WORK BEGAN the excavation had reached the summit,
about half way between the loop and the tunnel. This view was taken
on February 28 1928 looking Eastward, and shows Cooke Construction
Companys power shovel loading a truck with blasted rock.
R A I L
THE PARTLY-COMPLETED RIGHT OF WAY as seen on March 1 1928 looking
Westward from just below the summit, near where the previous photo
was taken. The temporary light tracks are for carrying debris from
the excavation site.
THE EASTERN APPROACH TO THE TUNNEL as seen on March 10 1928, looking
Westward before the excavation began. A comparison of this view with
one taken of the completed line shows the tremendous amount of rock
which had to be removed. At this point a deep cutting was made into
the mountainside leading up to the tunhel. The pipe lin~ running to
the right of the future cut is to carry compressed air for the drills
CANADIAN 373 R A I L
set off a big shot,
Clear and cold; 16 below zero. The dynamiters
1800 cubic yards, using blasting mats.
February 9th: A crew of 126 men was digging, hauling, and
dumpingo However heavy snow and wind made work very tough on the
Eastern end of the job.
February 10th: A 1t cubic yard Thew power shovel arrived,
however the dipper stick was broken. A new stick was installed and
the shovel started digging at station 97 with three trucks. The
days loads totaled 132.
February 16th: The shovel was working near the Western end
of the job with the trucks dumping and forming a rock fill 400 feet
long, 35 feet wide, and approximately 20 feet in height. That day,
232 loads were carried. It was most important th6t the proper grades
be maintained, so the engineers were constantly checking the grades
February 25th: The temperature was 20 below zero on the moun
tain. Men endured the cold but no complaints. Everybody was getting
paid and many sensed the coming depression.
job relative to power
one of the compressor
of the engine.
The Montreal Light Heat and Power men on the
for a new air compressor. In the afternoon
men had his head split open by the backfiring
March 1st: Temporary track laid for cars running down the
Western grade. The cars were dumped, then drawn back by winch. 247
cars for the day.
March 5th: Mr. Schmidt of Montreal Light Heat and Power was on
the job relative to bringing electricity from Cote Des Neiges
for work on the tunnel. There was a discussion between Mr. Telfer
and the City of Montreal as to pushing through a 500 foot tunnel
or making it an open cut. Mr. Telfer suggested an open cut while
the city wanted a tunnel. The open cut would be approximately
40,000 cubic yards while the tunnel would reQuire drilling and
blasting through vaspar rock and pouring several thousand yards
of concrete. The city still insisted on a tunnel.
March 6th: New shovel operator, Carlo Cavicci arrived from
the Maritimes. Had it not been for this fine operator the shovel
probably would have been lost over the edge due to extremely icy
March 9th: Running into the biggest rock. Breaking the big
ones by mudcapping.
March 16th: One truck went over the dump, dropped 68 feet.
No injuries. Mr. Telfer again suggested to the city the use of an
open cut spanned by an arch bridge. The city wanted a tunnel.
Mr. Henderson said he heard of some complaints relative to the
blasting, one complaint coming from St. Lambert~ Imagination works
wonders with some people.
May 10th: Mi. Philip Pagano and Mr. Henry Holgate on the
job. They said it looked good. Final decision was made regarding
a cut or tunnel. The decision was for a tunnel. The shovel was at
the Eastern end of the tunnel.
CANADIAN 374 R A I L
May 25th: Several sharp shots from over Mount Royal Cemetery
from a North-Westerly direction were noted between 11 :00 and 11:30
A.M., coming from the Cote St. Catherine Road district.
June 12th: Hard digging. Shovel at portals at Eastern end
June 30th: Loose rock at Eastern end of tunnel. Air-gunning
concrete, under heavy pressure, into walls as deep as possible.
July 10th: Heavy shots at Eastern end of tunnel. Shovel cab
badly dented even when 250 feet from shot. Blasting mats blown high
into the air.
July 14th: Montreal Tramways Co. wanted tunnel widened to
35 feet with corresponding height.
August 12th: The tunnel gang put new 35-lb. rails in the
tunnel. Drillers going down 16 feet.
August 14th: Tunnel cut in 199 feet from Eastern end; cut
in 212 feet from Western end.
August 28th: Heading of tunnel cut through at 11:00 A.M.
This was the first tunnel breakthrough.
September 24th: All grades satisfactory with Montreal
Tramways Co. and city engineers. Sixty holes drilled.
October 24th: Shovel moved up to cut high spots on Northern
wall near East end of tunnel.
ACTUAL WORK ON THE CUTTING FOR THE TUNNEL started from the West side,
near the Mount Royal Cemetery, and here we see this work on the first
day, March 15 1928. At this point only earth and roots are being
encountered, but soon the hard work and rock-blasting will begin.
LOADING DYNAMITE INTO THE DRILLED HOLES in preparation for blasting
for the cut at the East end of the tunnel. The sun is shining but thp
weather is cold as work continues in March 1928.
THE EASTERN END OF THE TUNNEL IS BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE in this view
token on April 10 1928. In the preceding five weeks much of the rock
from the cut has been removed and the bore itself is being started
The ~hoto is strikingly similar to some taken during the construction
of the C.P.R. through the rockies in the 1880s, showing that mountain
roi~rood construction is a tough job whether a tram line or a trans
continental railway. Note the narrow-gauge rail line and cor for carry
ing rock from the tunnel.
376 R A I L
November 3rd: Piling rock at South portal to be used for rip
rap and stone fill. Men moving in concrete plant.
November 7th: Cleaning up tunnel.
November 8th: Making forms for concrete.
for concrete work.
Installing water tank and erecting buildings
Putting in pipelines, and installing forms
74 men at work.
Putting in footing courses and erecting forms.
November 13th to 21st: Continuing with footing courses and
forms. 91 men at work.
Building forms in tunnel and drilling holes
December 21 st: Reinforcing forms.
January 2 1929: Too cold to pour concrete.
January 3 1929: Eighty-six men on job. Too cold to pour
THE WEST END OF THE TUNNEL ON JULY 9 1928, about seven weeks before
the East and West headings met. Although o~ly one bore is visible, the
scene is beginning to appear more like the completed job.
February 16: Brought shovel, air compressors, jack-hammers,
trucks etc. etc. to base at head of Shakespeare Road.
March 1929: Poured concrete for tunnel, Mount Royal Avenue
bridge, and culverts. The tunnel excavation had been 9400 cubic
yards of rock, and the concrete lining of the tunnel was 2900
By the Spring of 1929 the job had been completed, and the
roadbed was now ready for sub-track fill. Then came the rails.
BY JULY 16 1928 WHEN THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN, the view from the top of the
Eastern end of the tunnel was beginning to look like that of the line
which would soon be traversing the mountain. The power shovel is busy
side-casting or throwing rock down the embankment to provide a wider
OWN BELOW THE ROAD BED at the East end of the tunnel, another shovel
s moving rock which has been dumped down from above. This will pro
ect the embankment from erosion. This entire area was later completely
overed by debris and smaller rocks. An interesting note is that the
hovel in the photo, bought new in 1928, remained in use, with alterat-
ions, until 1974, a period of 46 years. The photo was taken in July 192}
R A I L
A CLOSE-UP VIEW OF THE COOKE CONSTRUCTION CO. SHOVEL at the East end
of the tunnel. The panaroma of the ~ity in the background was a famil
iar sight to a generation of tramway riders.
ANOTHER WINTER HAS COME, but the Eastern portal of the tunnel is
quickly approaching completion, as the forms are in place ready for
the pouring of the concrete. The date is December 21 1928, almost
one year since construction began, but now the job was nearing its end.
BY MAY 1929 THE JOB OF BUILDING THE ROADBED WAS COMPLETE, and crews
of the Montreal Tramways Co. were already at work at the Western end
of the line. However track had not yet been laid under the bridge
near the Park Ave. end of the line when this photo was taken.
ON A QUIET SUNDAY MORNING IN 1929, the author took a last look at
the completed roadbed and tunnel. Here we see the West portal, and
already one track has been laid by the Tramways Company, and the
trolley wire is starting to be put up.
THE EASTERN PORTAL OF THE COMPLETED TUNNEL in 1929. This view shows some
of the lining of the tunnel interior. Although the roadbed was
now finished it would be July 1930 before street car$ would begin
ROUTE II AS WE KNEW IT
THE NORTH-EAST SECTION OF MONTREAL stretches in a panorama, as
car 1496 climbs the 10% grade leading to the tunnel near the
top of the Mountain line.
CANADIAN R A I L
AN UNUSUAL VIEW SHOWS TWO CARS PASSING near the tunnel entrance.
No. 1474 is passing another 1400-type car.
THE SECOND CAR OF THE SERIES, No. 1326, emerges from the West
portal of the tunnel and continues its climb to the summet, only
a short distance away.
THIS VIEW LOOKING WEST shows car 1496 climbing the slopes of
Mount Royal. Note the famous St. Josephs Oratory in the distance
on the right-hand side.
FRAMED BETWEEN BIRCH TREES, AN EASTBOUND TRAM passes between a
steep cliff on the left, with the Mount Royal Cemetery on the
THE CONDUCTOR IMPATIENTLY LOOKS AT HIS WATCH, the ~otormon looks on,
while a ~aintenance worker for the H.T.C. jocks 1347 back on the
track. In a few ~ore ~inutes the cor would be on its way again, none
the wnrse for wear. However the next day No. 1347 ~ade its final
run, and as it descended, the whine of dyno~ic brakes and the squeal
of flanges was heard for the lost time on Mount Royal. By coincidence, two
dOY5 before, the first earth satellite hod been launched, so as
the space era began the era of tramways on the mountain co.e to on end. Pho
to by Fred Angus.
MISHAPS ON THE MOUNTAIN LINE WERE RARE and of a qinor nature. In
fact .ace than 6 million passengers were carried without injury. H
owever on annoying happening occurred on October 5 1957 when No.
1347 hit a rock at the East entrance of the tunnel and derailed. A
trouble truck was soon on the scene, and 1347 was rerailed, to
continue service for one qore day.
Photo by Fred Angus.
BACK COVER __ …………………………………….. ___
ABOUT 1950, CAR 1488 WAS PHOTOGRAPHED clim~ing the 10% grade up to
the Eost portal of the lunnel. This view clearly shows th. excellent con
struction of the track and the goad ~aintenonce it received. Thi5
was a feature of the line that continued as long a~ it ron.