On a freezing cold day 40 years ago, Toronto got its first glimpse of the next chapter in its streetcar history.
Cherry red, with a rounded snout, the first of the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) streetcars arrived in the city from Switzerland on Dec. 29, 1977. It was car number 4002.
“I’m still cold from being out trying to photograph it as they off-loaded from the railway flatcar,” remembered columnist and history writer Mike Filey.
Now a symbol of Toronto that adorns everything from postcards to t-shirts, the CLRV streetcar — and the streetcar network as a whole — almost never made it into the 21st century.
By the mid-60s, the TTC’s plan “was to get rid of its streetcars by 1980,” said transit advocate Steve Munro.
Streetcars had been running in Toronto since the 1860s, when unheated horse-drawn cars with straw on the floor for freezing passengers to bury their feet in got Torontonians to work.
In 1921, when the TTC was created, the network was vast, with one line going as far as Woodbridge (and passengers able to count on small coal stoves to stay warm.)
Post-war plans to abandon streetcars
By the end of World War II, however, streetcars had fallen out of favour all over the world.
The city’s extensive network was also pared back significantly following the opening of the subway — and Toronto had plans to build more.
“The Queen subway was going to open,” said Munro, chuckling. “You’ve probably noticed there’s no subway on Queen Street.”
Munro, Filey, and a group of others calling themselves the Streetcars for Toronto Committee pushed to save streetcars by compiling a report that outlined their benefits, leading the TTC board to reconsider.
“The streetcar has always lived and was reborn in Toronto,” said Filey of the victory.
The next task was to replace the ageing Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcar, first introduced in 1938 and known as the “Red Rocket.”
When the new CLRV streetcar finally went into service in 1979, two years after that first prototype arrived, the Toronto Star praised it as a “handsome creature,” and local politicians called it “the best streetcar in the world.”
CBC News, meanwhile, lambasted the TTC for rolling out the cars a year and a half late. (Sound familiar?)
“That delay caused the price to double,” said a CBC news report. “And who will pay? You and me.”
Nostalgic symbol for Torontonians
Late or not, the CLRV is now a beloved, nostalgic symbol — something Munro is admittedly somewhat perplexed by.
Munro grew up in Toronto with the PCC’s as the “new cars” and Peter Witt cars — which date from 1921 — as the “old cars.”
“There’s an interesting generational thing in this,” said Munro. “I kind of look at [CLRV’s] and say, those cars don’t have anywhere near the character! PCCs, what a warm car… it’s all curves.”
He says that the newest cars, Bombardier’s Flexity, are borrowing a page from the PCC book by going back to a “more rounded design.”
But for fans of the CLRV, some good news — Flexity production remains delayed, and the TTC is continuing to fund “life extension overhaul programs” to keep the older cars on the road.
And car 4002? It’s still kicking, with a charter planned to take it around town on Saturday in recognition of its four decades of service.
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Edmonton Alberta News Headlines
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Edmonton /ˈɛdməntən/ (About this sound listen) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.
The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta’s second-largest city and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality. Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost city that has a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982.[ Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.
Further information: History of Edmonton and Timeline of Edmonton history
The earliest known inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region.
In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade, as competition was fierce between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The new fort’s name was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, the home town of both the HBC deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake, and Pruden.
In 1876, Treaty 6, which includes what is now Edmonton, was signed between the Aboriginal peoples in Canada (or First Nations) and Queen Victoria as Queen of Canada, as part of the Numbered Treaties of Canada. The agreement includes the Plains and Woods Cree, Assiniboine, and other band governments of First Nations at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area covered by the treaty represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to southern Alberta in 1885 helped the Edmonton economy, and the 1891 building of the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railway resulted in the emergence of a railway townsite (South Edmonton/Strathcona) on the river’s south side, across from Edmonton. The arrival of the CPR and the C&E Railway helped bring settlers and entrepreneurs from eastern Canada, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world. The Edmonton area’s fertile soil and cheap land attracted settlers, further establishing Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Some people participating in the Klondike Gold Rush passed through South Edmonton/Strathcona in 1897. Strathcona was North America’s northernmost railway point, but travel to the Klondike was still very difficult for the “Klondikers”, and a majority of them took a steamship north to the Yukon from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jasper Avenue, ca. 1907
Incorporated as a town in 1892 with a population of 700 and then as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later, on September 1, 1905. In November 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) arrived in Edmonton, accelerating growth.
During the early 1900s, Edmonton’s rapid growth led to speculation in real estate. In 1912, Edmonton amalgamated with the City of Strathcona, south of the North Saskatchewan River; as a result, the city extended south of the North Saskatchewan River for the first time.
Just prior to World War I, the boom ended, and the city’s population declined from more than 72,000 in 1914 to less than 54,000 only two years later. Many impoverished families moved to subsistence farms outside the city, while others fled to greener pastures in other provinces. Recruitment to the Canadian army during the war also contributed to the drop in population. Afterwards, the city slowly recovered in population and economy during the 1920s and 1930s and took off again during and after World War II.
The Edmonton City Centre Airport opened in 1929, becoming Canada’s first licensed airfield.Originally named Blatchford Field in honour of former mayor Kenny Blatchford, pioneering aviators such as Wilfrid R. “Wop” May and Max Ward used Blatchford Field as a major base for distributing mail, food, and medicine to Northern Canada; hence Edmonton’s emergence as the “Gateway to the North”. World War II saw Edmonton become a major base for the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.
Canadian News Headlines
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Originally posted 2017-12-30 09:04:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter