Tag Archives: Winnipeg Electric Company

Winnipeg Free Press Article

A very nice article about the project in the Free Press on Nov 27th . You can also email any information to winnipegstreetcar@gmail.com about the restoration work, or if you have any questions.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/farm-fields-yield-city-history-75723077.html

Also visit the Millenium Library which has a streetcar display on the main floor until Dec 31st. The picture shows a Motorman’s coat, very heavy, weighs almost 50lbs! Thanks to the Winnipeg Electrical Museum for the loan of the coat and the Winnipeg Library staff who have done such a great job with the display.

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Winnipeg Streetcar (s)


Winnipeg Streetcar (s)

Originally uploaded by buflyer200

A great picture of Winnipeg, looking West on Portage, with all the Streetcars and traffic.

I”m not sure what era this might be, the 1920’s or 30’s? In the Original size you can see a “Metropolitan Theatre” advertisement on the back of the building which says “Talking Pictures” but that could have been up for awhile.

However, I’ve counted 28 Streetcars in this one picture.

street cars silent 1955


street cars silent 1955

Originally uploaded by buflyer200

Headline news, Sept 20 1955, Winnipeg Tribune.  “Street Cars Silent after 73 Years of Noisy History”

If you have wondered, like I have, why a Streetcar was never preserved, I found a few answers.  There was a ‘suggestion’ to put one of the last Streetcars at Assiniboine Park as a display, and it came from the Winnipeg Tribune.  There are several references to a display Streetcar in other parks as well, and it was mentioned it would be something you visit with ‘your grandchildren”.

It seems the decision was with the city ‘Parks and Recreation” dept at the time, so I’m wondering if there are minutes etc at City Hall somewhere of these meetings in 1955.  There was a also a comment about the Streetcar being of wood and perhaps not lasting long as a display, and I have a feeling that’s what may have happened.  Stay tuned!

January 27, 1891 WSR opening


1892 opening WER

Originally uploaded by buflyer200

I thought it would be appropriate to mention with this ongoing cold spell, the first test of the Winnipeg Street Railway (WSR) with electric cars was January 27th, 1891 (118 yrs ago!) at 7.30pm. This test occurred on River Ave, or the “bush of Fort Rouge” as city council was fearful of electric wires overhanging the streets.  This was the first electric commercial streetcar operation in Canada. Until then, the Streetcars where pulled by horses on the rails. I have yet to find pictures of this event, however we do have a despriction, from John Bakers book “Winnipeg’s Electric Transit” p. 15.  I wonder how cold it was in that first Streetcar…..

“Punctually at 7:30pm, Acting Mayor Taylor raised the trolley pole to the wire and the car was brilliantly illuminated by the five incandescent lights mounted in the ceiling. Some of the awestruck crowd surged forward to give closer inspection to the interior. Austin explained the operation of the signal bells and the electric heater to his guests and then gave the order to proceed”.

This picture is for the new entrant, authorized by  city council, and their opening Sept 5, 1892, for the “Winnipeg Electric Street Railway” in front of City Hall. The 2 firms did merge eventually in 1894 after some ‘fierce’ competition for fares and customers. Older pictures from this time actually show 4 separate sets of railway lines, 2 for each company, per City Council orders.

NFB 1953 documentary, life of a Railway Switchman

This 1953 NFB documentary about Paul Tomkowicz, a Railway Switchman for the Winnipeg Electric Company, is fascinating. A long forgotten and thankless job which disappeared with the Streetcars, keeping the rails clean of mud/snow and dirt.  It appears he was at peace with his work, (compared to his previous life in Poland) and looking forward to retirement in a few years. He mentions he knows his job maybe coming to an end, as the bus trolleys are being used now for transit service.

I’m trying to figure out some of the background locales, too, and they must be long gone too. The names sound familiar, Ritz, Grand Theater, probably all along Portage Ave.

http://beta.nfb.ca/film/paul_tomkowicz_street_railway_switchman/