The Montreal Streetcar and Trolley Bus Photo Gallery

Text by James Bow

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Through much of its history, Montreal remained the largest city in Canada, until Toronto passed it in the early 1980s. As befitting a major metropolis, Montreal operated an extensive network of streetcar lines both on the Island, and on interurban lines running to it. Streetcar service was established in 1861 and continued until August 30, 1959. The Montreal & Southern Counties interurban service operated electric trains from 1909 to 1956, making it one of the last interurbans to be abandoned in Canada.

A wide variety of equipment was used, including PCCs and articulated streetcars. Some of these units are preserved at rail museums across the country (M&SC car 107, for instance, operates at the Halton County Radial Railway museum).

A more modest trolley bus network consisting of four routes was introduced in 1937. These outlived the streetcars, but not by much. A city proposal to alter a number of arterial roads through the city to complimentary one-way operation promised to disrupt trolley bus operations, and the transit operator elected to abandon service in 1966.

Montreal has a rich history of electric transit operations and it was dutifully logged by railfans at the time. A selection of photographs have been presented below, but they are a small sample of what is available. Consult the resources linked above for further information.

Special thanks to Art Mayoff, Marc Dufour and Michael Di Mambro for identifying many of the locations of the photos shown here and providing interesting anecdotes. Some of what is written here is quoted verbatim from Art. Thanks also to Julian Bernard, for catching a few mistakes on these captions, and clarifying who took what photographs.


Montreal Streetcar and Trolley Bus Image Archive

MSC 8, by Julian Bernard

Montreal boasted an Interurban operation called the Montreal and Southern Counties, which connected with the Montreal streetcar system and used city streets to access the downtown. Here, we see M&SC car #8. Photo by Julian Bernard, donated by Curt Frey.

streetcar-4753-24.jpg

M&SC car #321 picks up passengers in Montreal's McGill Street terminal on the way south to Mackayville. The photo is by Julian Bernard and is from the Curt Frey collection.

MSC 326 by Julian Bernard

M&SC car 326 picks up passengers in Downtown Montreal. This track was shared with the streetcars of the MTC, including the PCCs. Photo by Julian Bernard, donated by Curt Frey.

MSC 502, by Julian Bernard

M&SC freight car 502 in the McGill Street terminus loading (or unloading) express parcels. Photographer Julian Bernard noted "the terminus had about four tracks stub ending at the south wall of the terminal building but 502 was the only active car I ever saw in that little yard which was usually stuffed with old CN equipment - all other cars used the street trackage which circled the yard and station."

streetcar-4753-25.jpg

M&SC freight motor 504 leads a train into the loop at McGill Street Terminal for another run south. Photo by Julian Bernard, from the Curt Frey collection.

MSC 604 by Julian Bernard

M&SC car 604 passes a CN switcher at Marieville. Photo by Julian Bernard, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1695, by P. Lambert

MTC Car 1695 in the carbarn, ready to enter service onto the Cartierville line. This was the streetcar that took Montreal residents to it's Coney Island - Belmont Park on the North Shore of the island of Montreal. A major feature of this route was that it had it own right of way. It was like taking a ride out to the country with few stops as it "flew" along this private right of way. Everyone riding this line really knew that the seventeen was a prelude of more exciting things to come once they arrived at the the end of the line.... Belmont Park with its rollercoaster, ferris wheel, house of mirrors and dozens of other exciting rides. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1864, by P. Lambert

MTC Car 1864 in service on THE Cartierville #17 line, near it's northern terminus in the city of Cartierville. It is on a relatively short run where it's northern route departed from its private right of way and traversed the city streets. This car appears to be heading north towards Cartierville in southbound traffic. As this is a single direction car, The date that this photograph was taken would have to be after the turn around loop was added at the north end. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1864 in Cartierville, by P. Lambert

MTC Car 1864 1864 in Cartierville, south of it's most northern terminal. This picture is on D�carie, right at the CN St-Laurent subdivision, in Saint-Laurent. The picture is obviously taken from the railroad crossing watch tower (the tower shadow is visible in the picture). Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1864, by P. Lambert

MTC Car 1864 at the Jean Talon carbarn, about five minutes east of Decarie Blvd and the Garland Terminal. This facility still exists in 1999 and was converted to a bus maintenance garage in the 1960's. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1864 leaving Cartierville right of way, by P. Lambert

Another shot of Car 1864 leaving the Cartierville right of way, turning west and re-entering normal southbound traffic on Decarie Boulvard between Jean Talon Blvd and Van Horne Ave in front of the Capri Hotel. Once traversing Decarie Blvd, the 17 car will continue south for a short distance and then enter the Garland terminal. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 1868, by P. Lambert

This slightly blurry image of a northbound 1868 is taken from the west side of Decarie Blvd looking east, about 500 meters south of the transition to the east side right of way. This car has just departed Garland and is heading to Cartierville. The Capri Hotel and the northbound lane of Decarie Blvd are quite visible allowing the viewer to have a mental picture when combined with the prior photo - of an "S" curved track that goes from the center median of Decarie to the east side of Decarie and the "High Tracks.". Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 2000, by P. Lambert

MTC 2000 in operation. This is either a line 54 or 44 streetcar going north on Papineau, immediately north of the CPR viaduct, from which the picture is taken. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 2007, by P. Lambert

MTC 2007 along with comrades in storage. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 2187, by Joseph Testagrose

2187 appears possibly eastbound on Mt Royal St near Rachel St. about 1 km from "The Mountain." This line's western end was at a turn around the bottom of "The Mountain" on a small parcel of land at the Southwest corner of Park Ave and Mt Royal. A public restroom now sits on this site. Joseph Testagrose caught this shot during the last days of streetcar operation in Montreal.

MTC 3500, by P. Lambert

PCC 3500 rolls out onto the ladder track beside Canadian Car & Foundry cousins. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 3501, by P. Lambert

Two PCCs on 25th Avenue in the Rosemont district of Montreal. This was the eastern loop of the 54-Rosemont line which saw cars turn off of Rosemont Boulevard north on to 26th Avenue, west on Bellechasse, and then south on 25th Avenue. The street is now one way north. Route 54 was one of the last surviving tram lines within the limits of the City of Montreal (closed at the same time as the closure of the streetcar system as a whole: August 30, 1959) as evidanced by the use of PCCs. The development of this now heavily populated neighbourhood is due in part, no doubt, to the original expansion of the tramway system outside of the downtown core. The loop was opened in 1933. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 3501, by P. Lambert

Another shot of PCC 3501. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 3510, by P. Lambert

A route 54-Rosemont car, PCC 3510, departs it's 25th Avenue terminus and moves westbound onto Rosemont Boulevard for service. As was the case with many Montreal street car routes, service was provided directly to the city centre: cars on this line originally operated to Place D'Armes. With the demise of street car service in the 1950s, service was prgressively cut back and unltimately replaced by buses. Route 197-Rosemont now replaces the number 54. Service ended on routes 54-Rosemont and 45-Papineau on August 30th, 1959, the last day of street car service in Montreal and suburbs. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 3511, by P. Lambert

Two PCCs on McGill Street at Youville Street in the old Montreal Financial District. The streetcar in the forefront is heading south on McGill street to it's terminal at the Port of Montreal and Place Youville. The foot of McGill Street was the interchange point with inter-urbans of the Montreal and Southern Counties Railway. The PCC in the background is heading north on McGill Street to Victoria Square and it's trip through mid-town Montreal and Mount Royal.

PCCs were a familiar site on the 29 Outremont-Youville line and often were referred to as the "Outremont Cars". The line operated on McGill Street at the Port of Montreal and headed north on McGill through Victoria Square, east on St. Antoine (Craig), north on Bleury Street and Park Avenue, west on Laurier, west on Cote Ste. Catherine Road, south on Vincent d'Indy (Bellingham Road), west on Edouard Montpetit Boulevard (Maplewood Avenue), south on Decelles, west on Queen Mary Road to Decarie Boulevard and Snowdon Junction. Cars turned at Victoria Square instead of Youville Square after 1.10 a.m. Note that former street names are shown in (brackets).

Sections of the 29 Outremont line are currently operated by bus routes 129 Cote Ste. Catherine and 51 Edouard Montpetit. Joseph Testagrose caught this shot during the last days of streetcar operation in Montreal.

MTC 3517, by P. Lambert

PCC 3517 was the last streetcar to be purchased by Montreal. As a result, it was used as the ceremonial Last Car when streetcar operations came to an end on August 31, 1959. Here, PCC 3517 waits at a carhouse beside an older Canadian Car & Foundary model. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC 3517, by P. Lambert

Here's a shot of MTC PCC 3517 in service on the streets of Montreal. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

Montreal trolley coaches, by P. Lambert

Montreal also operated a good fleet of trolley coaches. Here, a number of trolley coaches appear to lock trolleys as they share a single set of wires. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC coach 4058 in service, by P. Lambert

Montreal trolley coach 4058 in service. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

MTC coach 4103, by P. Lambert

Montreal trolley coach 4103 in service. Photo by P. Lambert, donated by Curt Frey.

montreal-streetcar-map-1948.gif

A track plan and map showing the extent of Montreal's streetcar system, effective 1948.


References

  • Binns, Richard M., Montreal's Electric Streetcars: An Illustrated History of the Tramway Era: 1892 to 1959, Railfare Enterprises Limited, Montreal (Québec), 1973.

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