Here’s a great collection of pictures of Streetcars on Winnipeg Streets. See if you can recognize the buildings behind the Streetcars, many of them are still part of the cityscape. The pictures are from the Winnipeg Transit Archives, and dates are noted on the photos, almost all from the early 1950’s. Note that some of the logos on the side still say “Winnipeg Electric Company” and some of the other pictures show “Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission” which replaced the WEC. There is even a great picture of Streetcar 356 in action, below. And here’s the link to the rest of the pictures http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/alltime/pics/winnipeg-colourstreetcars.html
A 5 minute radio report from CBC on the last day of Streetcar service, circa Sept 25, 1955, worth a listen:
An anniversary for today: Sept 19, 1955, was the last Streetcar run in the city. An ad in the Winnipeg Free Press proclaimed “Winnipeg Runs on Rubber” by Goodyear of course. With an aging Streetcar fleet, the decision was made to go with a modern bus fleet. Trolley and Diesel buses were the choice, and Trolley Buses used the overhead electrical lines, lasting another 15 years to 1970.
I was informed of an obituary in the Free Press over the weekend, for Grace Cameron Chamberlain (nee McMurdy) and I quote from the FP “During the Second World War she drove a streetcar and was the first woman driver to achieve a one year safety record. She was proud of that accomplishment”.
Another reason to restore 356 I’m sure in those 2 sentences, there is a lifetime of stories, and more. The picture below is from the Winnipeg Tribune Archives, U of M Collection. Looking West on Portage Ave, Trolley Buses on the right.
Thanks to everyone who came out, visited the 2nd Floor Railway Museum, came by our booth, and asked about Winnipeg Streetcars. We even sold (more) than a few Winnipeg Electric Company T- Shirts! Wear them proudly. If you would like to purchase a T-shirt, drop by or contact the Heritage Winnipeg office at 509-63 Albert Street, they are $20ea. Or order from a wider selection at the Cafe Press link. For cash donations, also contact Heritage Winnipeg, and a Tax Receipt will be issued.
It was a great time to learn about Winnipeg’s Streetcar History, and on Saturday we had a “37 year Transit” operator with us, Brian Derragh. If you can believe it, he was hired in 1954, drove Streetcars for 17 months, then switched to Trolley Buses, and then drove the Deisel Buses right up until 1992. He also had the honor (or we did!) of being named “Bus Operator of the Year” in 1988. Maybe you rode a bus with Brian as the driver? I learned Winnipeg had 120 miles of rail/streetcar lines at its peak, you had to be at least 25yrs old to be Streetcar Trolley driver due to insurance, and your starting wage was less than $2. Below is a picture of Brian in the conductors spot in 356. He says he might have even drove it! But there were a lot of Streetcars available to work on, and “you didn’t always pay attention to the number.”
Also thanks to the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association (MTHA) who came by with their 1937 Vintage Twin Coach “Winnipeg Electric Company” bus 111 (aka Winnipeg Transit). They parked outside the Via Rail Station Sunday afternoon to answer questions about Transit Heritage, and assist with the Streetcar display.
Also thanks to CBC Radio for their great coverage, the broadcast was repeated again on Sunday, and I believe you might read about “Streetcar 356” in the Free Press shortly. Maybe even tomorrow.
CBC is covering the Streetcar “makeover” or “restoration”, and possible new home for it at a Winnipeg transit museum. Exciting news. More info on Transit Museum to come.
Update: The radio segment on CBC was played on Friday Sept 12th, and Sunday Sept 14th morning. Further info is here for now, I will see if I can post the interview on the website/blog.