Text by James Bow.
We have already shown pictures of the TTC PCC graveyard at Wychwood. Here, we saw pictures of PCC streetcars waiting to be scrapped. However, not all of these cars end up as recycled metal. Some are taken from the scrapyard and continue to stand, years later, as incongruous monuments to Toronto's PCC heritage. Farmers can use the car bodies as sheds, PCCs have appeared as boutiques, and it's even possible to eat inside a number of them.
This page describes some of the PCCs which have escaped the scrapyard and the lives they are living today.
Burger and Fries in a PCC
From 1990 until around 2015, in the hamlet of Primrose at the intersection of Highways 10 and 89, just east of the town of Shelbourne, there was a diner called Super Burger. Located at the northwest corner of Highway 10 and Highway 89, the diner looked like any other diner... except that it had a PCC streetcar attached to it.
A lot of work went gone into incorporating former PCC 4341 into the diner structure. A glass passageway led from the main building and into the front of the PCC. The PCC itself was re-floored and has had its seating removed and diner chairs and tables put back in. PCC 4341 retained most of its features. The windows were original, the advertising recalled the late 1980s. Initially, the rear doors opened when you step down onto the treadle. The venue was quite popular with children.
Owner James Nicolau bought the PCC from the TTC in 1990 as the TTC was scrapping all but 19 of its aging PCC cars. He paid $1,000 for the vehicle itself, and then a lot more to a shipping company to help take it away. In an interview conducted in 2015, owner Nicolau estimated that he spent $50,000 obtaining and incorporating the PCC into his restaurant. He expected the vehicle to last no more than five years. It continued serving customers for nearly 25. There were even weddings held within its cramped confines.
In August 2015, however, Nicolau announced that PCC 4341 was being sold for scrap. After twenty-five years, the elements had not been kind to the structure, and repairing it was too costly an option. Instead, the vehicle would be taken away, the building demolished, and a new building put up on its site. The news was greeted with sadness by more than just the railfan community, as Torontonians waxed nostalgic about the vehicle, and the restaurant that housed it.
Shelbourne PCC Image Archive
The Boutique at Rutherford Road
What could be more ignominious than being abandoned? How about being abandoned twice? That's the fate of TTC PCC 4716 (ex-Birmingham 816).
The streetcar was sold complete, trucks and all, and moved to the north side of Dundas Street just west of Yonge during the late evening of July 15, 1973. Unoriginally, it was named Desire, was painted a brilliant red and opened as a boutique. On July 27, 1977 it was removed in preparation for the construction of the Atrium on Bay, and stored at an unknown location in Markham until 1981. Then it was sold again and moved to a lot at Birchmount and Steeles. In 1982, it was sold again and moved to a lot run by the owners of Shy-Low Farms on the west side of Warden Avenue just north of Steeles where it was used as a residence and office. It was repainted, poorly, in pseudo TTC colors but whether in 1981 or 1982 is unknown. The final journey took it to Bathurst and Rutherford in Thornhill (same ownership) in May, 1987 where it sits to this day.
Thanks to John Bromley and Matthew Biemiller for supplying us with pictures and information on PCC 4716.
Rutherford Road PCC Image Archive
Dale Laird was kind enough to send me two photographs of a Toronto PCC that ended up as far afield as a field in Perris, California. PCC 4460 was retired by the TTC in 1991 and kept in storage inside Russell Carhouse until it was purchased by one Ralph Cantos along with two others that almost went to San Francisco's Muni's F Line before San Francisco backed out of the deal. Car 4460 was stored temporarily beside an ex-CTA 'L' car which caught fire, causing minor damage to the PCC. Ralph looked into donating the PCC to streetcar museums in Vancouver and San Diego but the car is still in storage.
Perris PCC Image Archive
Side view shot of PCC 4460 in a field in Perris, California. Photo by David Laird.
Matthew Biemiller discovered a class A-8 PCC masquerading as a diner in Perkinsfield, Ontario, near Georgian Bay. Unlike the diner in Primrose, this diner looked to be closed down and abandoned, so there's no chance of a meal, here, unfortunately...
Perkinsfield PCC Image Archive
A Streetcar Named Dessert
In Springville, NY, an establishment called 'A Streetcar Named Dessert' uses ex-TTC PCC 4434 to enhance its gimmick. According to Duane Fischer, "You will find it off West Main Street just behind the old Depot which is called Choo-Choo Gifts. Also you will find a neat ice cream place in the middle made out of an old caboose. The owner/operators are Leo nad Linda Lubke. Great people."
West Main Street is also Route 39 - head east from the 219 Expressway or 219 from the south ( turn right) slow down when you come to the railroad tracks and turn left into the Gift Shop (Depot).
Jeffrey Kay paid a visit to this site in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and witnessed the deterioration of the PCC. By 2009, the establishment was abandoned and the PCC looked to be in poor shape. By 2011, PCC 4434 had been removed.
Springville PCC Image Archive
- Partridge, Larry, Mind the Doors, Please, The Boston Mills Press, Erin (Ontario), 1983.