Text by James Bow
Revised by Robert Lubinski
For the first thirty-three years of TTC’s existence, the Peter Witt streetcar was the workhorse of Toronto’s streetcar fleet. With the arrival of the Presidents’ Conference Committee car and the opening of the Yonge Subway, however, the Peter Witt car started to fade from the scene. As the TTC purchased used PCC cars from American cities abandoning their streetcar networks, the Peter Witt cars gradually hit the scrap heap. As streetcar service was trimmed with the abandonment of the OAKWOOD route and the opening of the UNIVERSITY SUBWAY, the number of Peter Witt cars in service dwindled and they were only used as rush hour extras on Bathurst and Kingston Road.
The last route where they provided base service was the DUPONT streetcar. When this route closed following the opening of the UNIVERSITY SUBWAY, the Peter Witts remained only to act as spares, used as extras for special events which required extra service (such as the CNE) and for fan trip charters. Official retirement came on January 1, 1965. However, the TTC kept one Peter Witt car behind.
Peter Witt car #2766, one of 100 Small Witts, remained on active duty until July 18, 1965, when it was used for a retirement fan trip. The vehicle remained on TTC property in storage until it was brought back to life in 1973 as part of a special ‘Belt Line Tour Tram’ service. Unfortunately, despite a lot of initial interest, this service was discontinued in 1975 due to lack of ridership, and 2766 returned to occasional charter duty. It was then used for various sightseeing tour operations, such as a King Edward Hotel “brunch and streetcar ride”, and then for tours operated by “Toronto by Trolley” as well as occasional fan trip charters throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, including being the last streetcar to operate on Mt. Pleasant Rd. on a fan trip in July 1976 when the track was abandoned.
The sightseeing tours and charters ended in November 1988 with another retirement fan trip and the car was then put into storage. After a touch-up of fresh paint, it was used for the ceremonies at the opening of the new Exhibition Loop in 1996 and the opening festivities for the Spadina streetcar line in July 1997. However, the car wasn’t getting any younger. It had been built by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1922, and was deteriorating to the point that it was no longer safe to run. In 2001, after a report was released recommending that the Witt and the two remaining PCCs on TTC property be donated to the Halton County Radial Railway Museum, the TTC Commissioners decided against the idea. Partial restoration of the Peter Witt car commenced and it was able to operate under its own power for the TTC’s 80th Birthday parade of historic vehicles on September 6, 2001.
In 2002-2003, the car was given a heavy rebuild, including new steel for the body and new wiring, and of course a gleaming new paint job. The car was put on display at the Canadian National Exhibition in August 2003. It was also dedicated to Ray Corley, a long-time engineer, streetcar historian and one of the “fathers” of the CLRV streetcar. Since then 2766 has operated in special service on the Harbourfront route to the CNE on Warriors’ Day 2005, and makes regular annual appearances in the Beaches Easter Parade to the delight of the parade-goers.
As of July 2013, Peter Witt #2766 remains on TTC property and sees occasional use in charter service.