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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Edmonton Streetcar #1, Past and Present

The great majority of my blog posts have been about steam locomotives. Today I am going to veer over to the electric railway; in fact, the electric railway that was (and is) right here in my own hometown of Edmonton.

Between 1893 (September 16: an Ordinance to Empower the Municipality of the Town of Edmonton to Construct and Operate a Tramway) and 1908 (November 9: regular streetcar service begins in Edmonton Monday through Saturday only. Fare is collected by conductor passing through the car with a hand-held fare box) there was a lot of city-level discussion and activity regarding the construction of a streetcar service. There is a great website that provides detailed history about this exciting venture by the City of Edmonton: That is the website from which the information in this blog post came.

This post card is from between 1908 and 1915 (see note below). It shows street car #1 on Jasper Avenue, the main street of Edmonton.
Interesting fact: Streetcar #1 was not the first streetcar to be delivered to the Edmonton Radial Railway. It arrived a week after Streetcar #2 arrived.

Streetcars operated as the main public transportation until buses were introduced in the 1930s and slowly took over the dominance of the public transportation system. The last streetcar to run on Edmonton streets pulled into the car barn early in the morning of September 2, 1951.

Upon abandonment, streetcars were stripped of their metal parts (trucks) and electrical equipment. Many bodies were sold for further use as cottages, pig or chicken barns, sheds and even roadside diners. Streetcar #1 escaped this fate and became the only survivor. Held for future restoration, the car was stored outside the Cromdale car barn for years and suffered the effects of weather and vandalism.

It was not until 1964 that first efforts were made towards restoration to showcase the artifact in the 1967 Centennial Parade. Much more restoration was however required to make #1 operational again under its own power. In 1979 trips across the High Level Bridge (with the help of a diesel generator) were organized to celebrate Edmonton's 75th anniversary during the Thanksgiving Weekend. As a result of this successful operation, the Edmonton Radial Railway Society (ERRS) was formed and incorporated as an Alberta Society in early 1980.

The development of Fort Edmonton Park called for a streetcar line in the Park and an agreement between the Fort Edmonton Foundation, the ERRS and the City of Edmonton was reached. In 1981 streetcar #1 operated briefly over the railway tracks using a diesel generator to provide the power. Over the next three years the current track system and overhead lines were constructed.
On June 10, 1984 members of the ERRS started regular streetcar service at Fort Edmonton Park. Since these early days a number of displaced streetcar bodies were found and brought back to be restored. This post card is a picture of Edmonton Streetcar #1 after it was restored to run in Fort Edmonton.
Note Below:
I know that this postcard is from between 1908 and 1915 because it was published by Stedman Bros. Ltd., Brantford, Canada. They were only in business between those two years.

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