Streetcar History - Edmonton

1893 - September 16 an Ordinance to Empower the Municipality of the Town of Edmonton to Construct and Operate a Tramway.

1902 - City Council considers a tramway.

1903 - William G. Tretheway a Montreal real estate agent presents a proposal backed by $10,000 to secure a franchise and then to construct and operate a street railway by 1905. That proposal failed.

1905 - City Council again discusses a tramway.

1907 - February 26 Council asks the Commissioners to recommend the most suitable route for street railway lines.

1907 - March 7 City Council approves a motion that a bylaw be submitted to raise $224,000 to complete the street railway.

1907 - May grading began along Jasper Avenue between First Street (101 Street) and Ninth Street (109 Street). Track in pavement was completed later that year.

1908 - March 5 following application by the City of Edmonton the Government of Alberta passed the Edmonton Radial Tramway Act granting the City the right to build tramway lines radiating from Edmonton to points in Alberta not more than eighty miles away from the existing (1908) city boundaries.

1908 - July 29 arrangements completed enabling the City of Edmonton to purchase the rights, privileges and property of the Strathcona Radial Tramway Company Ltd.

1908 - August 4 Bylaw 194 passed authorizing execution of an agreement between the City of Edmonton and the Strathcona Radial Tramway Company. Bylaw 185 passed authorizing the raising of $135,000 for the purchase of the Strathcona Radial Tramway Company ($10,000), the construction of that line, the extension of the Edmonton lines and the purchase of equipment ($125,000).

1908 - August 18 an amended track layout approved by City Council superseded all previous plans. This was an "out-and-back" plan with no turning loops. Five cent fare established within Edmonton and an extra five cent fare applied to passengers riding across the Low Level Bridge to enter either Strathcona or Edmonton. After 11 PM the fare rose to 10 cents. A motion carried at the September 1 Council Meeting officially implemented these items.

1908 - October 24 car 2 arrives at the C.P.R. yards in Strathcona the first of seven hand- brake equipped cars to come to the Edmonton Radial Railway from the Ottawa Car Company in Ottawa, Ontario.

ERR #4
Six identical double truck streetcars plus one single truck car were delivered by the Ottawa Car Comapny for the opening of the Edmonton streetcar system.
Tony Cashman, ERRS Collection

1908 - October 29 first trial operation of car 2.

1908 - October 30 car 2 operates to Jasper Avenue.

1908 - October 31 car 1 arrives at Canadian Northern Railway yards in Edmonton. Car 2 operated to Whyte Avenue in Strathcona.

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.

1908 - December 4 regular streetcar service to Strathcona on the interurban line begins Monday through Saturday only.

1909 - April 1 the first transfers are issued on streetcars in Edmonton.

1909 - June 29 new streetcars built by the Preston Car and Coach Company of Preston, Ontario inaugurate the pay-as-you-enter (PAYE) fare collection system where passengers pay at a fare box stationed on the rear platform attended by the conductor. These cars are also the first Edmonton cars to be equipped with air brakes.

1909 - September 5 Sunday streetcar service begins in Edmonton only. It would be December 10, 1910 before Sunday streetcar service was extended into Strathcona.

1911 - January, the first Peter Smith coal stove heater is installed on an Edmonton streetcar. These quickly became standard equipment on all cars.

ERR #18
The motorman and conductor pose beside streetcar #18 on Namayo Avenue (97 Street) and Sutherland (106) Avenue. The car has just completed its run from Strathcona and is about to embark on its return trip to the south side. The scene dates back to 1911 - one year after the car was delivered to the E.R.R.
Glenbow Archives NA-55-1

1911 - May 1 the first single-end streetcars go into service. They were assigned to the Edmonton-Strathcona line.

1911 - August 22 motormen, conductors and other street railway workers on the Edmonton Radial Railway organize themselves and have charter granted from the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America Local Division No. 569.

1912 - January 31 the single 5-cent fare is introduced between Edmonton and Strathcona to adhere to one of the terms of the Edmonton-Strathcona Amalgamation Agreement.

1912 - February 1 the Edmonton-Strathcona Amalgamation Act takes effect and has a significant impact on the development and operation of the Edmonton Radial Railway.

1913 - the new Cromdale Shops at 80 Street and 117 Avenue open replacing the original car barns on Syndicate Avenue (95 Street between 109A Avenue and 110A Avenue).

1913 - August 11 car 35 makes the first streetcar run across the High Level Bridge.

Jasper Avenue
The new C.P.R. station is open for business and the new streetcar tracks on Jasper Avenue between 10th (110) Street and 8th (108) Street are ready for service in this 1913 scene. The only "grand union" trackage in Edmonton was never fully used.
Glenbow Archives NA-1328-64862

1917 - April 18 one-man car operation begins on the Spruce Avenue (114 Avenue) and Calder stub lines.

1917 - September 1 street railway workers go on strike until September 11. A new agreement is signed in August 1918.

1917 - October 17 several one-man cars go into operation on two major routes. By 1920 all passenger service is provided by one-man cars.

1920 - July 1 Observation car built at Cromdale shops goes into service.

1930 - Five new light-weight comfortable safety cars enter service on the Edmonton Radial Railway.

1930 - All major routes on the system are operated with single-end cars.

1930 - December a demonstrator bus operates on the 102 Avenue stub line.

1932 - January bus service permanently replaces streetcar service on the 102 Avenue stub line.

1939 - August streetcar service is withdrawn from the Low Level Bridge and 95 Street and replaced with trolley coach service.

1940 -Streetcar service is withdrawn from the Bonnie Doon area and replaced with bus service.

1941 - Library Car service is initiated bringing library services to remote neighbourhoods in the city.

1943 - Women were hired to ride the cars on portions of the busy routes to collect fares, sell tickets and issue transfers to help speed up service during wartime years. Women also took up other duties such as track-switch tenders at downtown intersections so that motormen did not have to stop their cars to carry out this function.

1944 - 1951 - All streetcar services gradually phased out and replaced primarily with trolley coaches. Motor buses did take over some routes.

1951 - September 1, a ceremonial "Last Run" with invited guests is made with streetcar number 1 from 97 Street and Jasper Avenue to the loop at 109 Street and 84 Avenue where almost 1,000 people gathered to bid farewell in wet rainy weather. The guests were transported from this point by bus to the new Strathcona Garage where a reception was held.

Official last streetcar*
September 01, 1951: The end of the streetcar era
City of Edmonton Archives

1951 - Early in the morning of September 2, the last streetcar operated in Edmonton.

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 Cromdale barn for years and suffered the effects of weather and vandalism. At the time it really seemed that Edmonton's streetcars had gone for ever.

ERR #25
The sad remains of streetcar #25 resting in a farmyard in 1973 at Duffield, AB
Colin K. Hatcher, ERRS

Prepared by Colin K. Hatcher from Edmonton's Electric Transit by Colin K. Hatcher and Tom Schwarzkopf for the Edmonton Radial Railway Society April 11, 2008.