Montreal Streetcars

These are pictures I took of the Montreal streetcar collection at Exporail

click the image for larger picture

The early years of Montreal streetcars

Circa 1886. This was called the omnibus (Latin word meaning 'for all') and the first omnibus link was established in 1848 between Bonaventure Station and the Longueuil ferry landing. This was a brief experiment, and the first large-scale public system - the Montreal City Passenger Railway - was inaugurated in 1861 in the business district.
Circa 1886. Before the practice of clearing snow from the streets was implemented, omnibuses and horse-drawn streetcars were replaced by sleighs. As the Montreal transit network began converting to electricity from 1892, it became possible to introduce new snow removal methods - sweeping, pushing aside, then blowing. In 1894, the last sleighs were withdrawn from service. This one is the only one to have been preserved in Canada.
This is a link to a picture in the McCord Museum Collection. Montreal's first horse-drawn streetcar line, inaugurated on November 27, 1861, ran along Notre Dame Street, between Havre and McGill streets. In 1891, the Montreal Street Railway Co. was operating an urban network of horse-drawn streetcars, or trams, like this one. It had 1,000 horses, 150 streetcars, 104 sleighs for winter use, and 49 omnibuses.
horse drawn

Electrification of Montreal streetcars

The last horse-drawn streetcars stopped operating in 1894. However, on September 21, 1892, the Royal Electric Company of Montreal put the Rocket into service in the business district. Withdrawn from service in 1914, the Rocket was restored to its 1896 appearance in 1956.
MSR 274 went into service in 1892. To protect against harsh weather, it was equipped with enclosed platforms starting in 1898. Converted into a salt car in 1912, it remained in service until 1947. It was saved in 1950 by the CRHA and became the first vehicle acquired for their collection. It was recently restored to its 1895 condition.
MSR 274
Car number 1046 was built in 1902 to operate on the suburban lines serving Cartierville and Lachine. Completely refurbished in 1924, it was painted a bright orange to make it visible in the open country. Streetcars from this series were withdrawn and sent to storage in 1935. Some were repainted green and used in rush hour service when war broke out in 1939. It was withdrawn from service in 1955 and in 1956 repainted in the bright orange of 1924.
MTC 1046
This streetcar was built in 1906 with the new PAYE ("Pay As You Enter") configuration. The PAYE system, introduced to Montreal streetcars in 1905 indirectly favoured the introduction of streetcars manned by a single employee. Throughout the entire world, transit systems quickly imitated the Montreal immediate payment system. This streetcar is the only one of its kind to have been preserved in Canada.
1906 PAYE
The 901 class was introduced in 1910 and built entirely of steel. These streetcars were never as successful as initially expected. They were too heavy and costly to purchase, consumed a lot of electricity and damaged the tracks. Starting in 1919 they were increasingly assigned to support functions. A few units entered service on commuter lines serving Pointe-aux-Trembles and Lachine. Car number 997 was removed from service in 1955.
MTC 997
This car was built in 1921 and acquired from the Detroit Street Railway in 1924. It was a Birney type of streetcar that was manufactured in the States in the 1910s and 20s. The design was small and light and was intended to be an economical means of providing frequent service at a lower infrastructure and labor cost than conventional streetcars. More than 6,000 of the single-truck version were built. It was converted to a farebox car in 1945.
Birney type
Faced with growing demand in the 1920s, the Montreal Tramways Co decided to purchase a new model featuring a series of improvements designed to accelerate service on St. Catherine St. An initial order of 50 was placed in 1927 and were reordered on several occasions. No. 2222 was ordered in 1929 and was operated mainly on the Park Avenue line. All of this type of Montreal streetcars were removed from service in 1956 and scrapped except this one.
MTC 2222
Built in 1928, MTC 1959 ran chiefly on the following routes: Cote des Neiges 65, Guy-Beaver Hall 14, Windsor-Snowdon 83, Belanger 95, Papineau 45, and Rosemont 54. Withdrawn from service in 1959, it joined the collection of Montreal streetcars preserved by the transit authorities. It was given to the Canadian Railway Museum in 1963 and is one of the streetcars that regularly operate on the museum's loop.
MTC 1959
In 1929, a committee was struck by several public transit company presidents to set the standards for a rapid, comfortable, safe, durable, and economical streetcar. Over 5000 PCCs (Presidents' Conference Committee) were built and operated in North America. Montreal received 18 during World War II and they entered service in March 1944. MTC 3517 was the last streetcar purchased by the City of Montreal and symbolically closed the Montreal streetcar service termination parade on August 31, 1959.

Other Equipment

This is no. 1, built in 1905, the first of 4 open observation cars or 'golden chariots' that took locals and tourists around Mont Royal every summer. Another one, no. 3 is currently (2011) undergoing rebuilding in the museum's shops. No. 3 frequently runs on the museum's tracks. The other 2 golden chariots are preserved in museums in the United States.
golden chariot
No. 8 is a single-truck open car streetcar. It was built in 1895 for the Peterborough & Ashburton Street Railway and went to the Toronto Suburban Railway in 1918 as no. 18. It also operated on the Interprovincial Railway in Ottawa as no. 8. Fully restored, it frequently runs at the museum.
No 8
During the Montreal streetcar era, a number of utility vehicles were used to maintain tracks and ensure general safety. Picking up fare boxes was MTC 3200's first job after it was built in 1928. By 1929, however, it had been converted into a tool streetcar, carrying men and equipment to accident or derailment sites.
MTC 3200
Built in 1897 for the Ottawa Electric Railway, this single truck streetcar was initially designed to transport passengers. In 1928 it was converted into a rail grinder vehicle used to smooth out the imperfections that damaged rail surfaces over time and keep the rails in good condition. No. 6 was removed from service in the 50's by the Ottawa Transportation Commission. It was acquired by Exporail in 1961.
One way to clear snow from the streets was to attach a plow to the front of the streetcar. In this picture of a picture in the museum's collection is a streetcar with snowplow on the Cartierville line circa 1913 - 1918.
This is a picture of the band car, circa 1896, which was used as a rolling stage for the company's employees' band. . It was officially retired in 1928.
band car
This is a picture of one of Montreal's 2 funeral cars that operated between 1910 and 1927 to Hawthorndale Cemetry located at the east end of the island, which was beyond the reach of good roads at the time. It saw heavy use during the influenza epidemic of the early 20th century.
funeral car
Montreal also had 2 prison cars. The specially built reinforced steel cars were owned by the Quebec government but operated by the MTC between 1915 and 1925. They transported prisoners between the old courthouse in downtown Montreal and the Ahuntsic wye near Bordeaux jail on Gouin Blvd.
prison car
The streetcar crane's main function was to assist in the construction of lines, and moving heavy loads. The first was purchased in 1912. Afterward, two more were built at the Youville shops; the W-2 in 1923, and W-3 in 1928. All 3 remained in service until the end of the streetcar era in 1959. They served at the end to remove the same tracks that they had installed. W-2 was acquired in 1963. Still serviceable, it is occasionally used to install and maintain tracks.
Transportation companies often build customized vehicles for specific purposes. The Montreal Tramways Company was no exception. To move streetcars around the Youville maintenance workshops, company workers built a small switching vehicle, also known as a "yard goat", using a recycled 2 axle truck.
yard goat
This is an example of an early electric 'steeple cab' locomotive used to haul freight cars. This one was built in 1901 by the Montreal Park & Island Railway for the Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway. Acquired in 1959 from the Courtald Company, it was restored to its 1946 appearance. Montreal had 2 steeplecab electrics that shunted freight cars from local industries to interchanges with CNR and CPR. These locomotives operated until the end of service for Montreal streetcars.
steeple cab
Not a streetcar, this was a suburban car of the Montreal and Southern Counties Railway that operated between Montreal and Marieville, Sainte-Angèle, and Granby via the Victoria Bridge. The line to Granby was installed in 1916, and the 600 series of cars was built in 1917 for this service. These cars were often joined in trains of 2 or 3. The line was completely abandoned in 1956.
MSC 611