Saskatoon Public Library  
     
  Saskatoon Through the Ages:
selected photographs from Local History Gallery Shows
 
     
 

Photo 1 of 24 | | |

The electric streetcar was once the chief mode of public transit in Saskatoon. As early as 1911 the City had debated the need to have a public transit system. When the British company contracted to provide the City with a street railway was unable to exercise its franchise, Saskatoon undertook to build the street railway as a municipal enterprise.

January 1, 1913 was the first day of operation of the Saskatoon Municipal Railway. Snow that had fallen the evening before would delay the departure of six streetcars from the barns on Avenue C North. After the sweeper car had completed its work, the inaugural run proceeded without incident.

During the next four decades the streetcar service would face many challenges: floods and blizzards; power failures; lack of heat in the early streetcars; brakes that failed to hold; streetcars that jumped the track; thefts from the fare box and university student antics.

Change, however, was on the horizon. By the mid-twentieth century most municipalities were dismantling their streetcar systems. Saskatoon would follow the trend. The streetcar chapter of Saskatoon's transportation history would end on November 10, 1951 with the last run of Saskatoon's electric street railway.

Join Local History in remembering and celebrating Saskatoon's streetcars in the photographic exhibition Electric Transit

Streetcar City... was curated by Ron Jaremko with the assistance of Local History staff: Ann Findlay, Dorothea Funk, Elaine Kozakavich, Mary Ellen Schnitzler, Kathy Snider, Debora Verbonac, Barbara Wojnarowicz



2014 - Streetcar City

When the Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation of Boston, Massachusetts was awarded the contract to design and build the Saskatoon Municipal Railway, crews began laying track in June 1912. At the time, street railways were built largely with manual labour and animal power. Delays in securing shipments of material and the lack of good weather were chief factors in delaying progress. The construction crew is seen laying the curved track at the corner of 20th Street and Avenue A South.

Date: [ca. 1915]

Note: Original is sepia toned.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 2 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

Engineer Locke of the Stone and Webster Corporation reported on June 28, 1912 that laying the track at the 19th Street end of 2nd Avenue was to begin and that grading was in progress to get the road in readiness for the rails. Street railway track required exceptionally heavy construction to successfully withstand the rigour of both streetcar and street traffic. On 2nd Avenue, eight-pound seven-inch rails were laid to cope with the heavy traffic on Saskatoon’s major street and because the rails were to be embedded in concrete. The construction crew is working on 2nd Avenue and 21st Street.

Date: [ca. 1912]

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 3 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

December 30, 1912, two days before the start of regular service, the first streetcars made a trial run on the streets of Saskatoon. The first car left the car barn shortly after one o’clock, going up 20th St in the direction of St. Paul’s Hospital. A second car shown in this photograph was sent out at about two o’clock and went as far as 2nd Avenue, seen here at the King George Hotel and the underconstruction Cairns Department Store. In the morning, large groups of men were out clearing the tracks of the accumulation of snow and ensuring the system would be in smooth running order. Since practically all of the motormen and conductors were strangers to Saskatoon, it was important for the cars to be tried out and the men acquainted with the streets.

Date: December 30, 1912.

Note: Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 4 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

On July 16, 1912, work started on the excavation for the new car barns located on the west side of the 300 block of Avenue C North. City Council had earlier bought the Caswell lots at a cost of $31,000 for the Saskatoon Municipal Railway. When completed, the clay brick building housed the initial purchase of 12 streetcars although the capacity of the barns was 20 or more cars. In addition to the streetcars, the mechanics shop, car repair and woodworking divisions, storage and street railway offices were in the barn.

Date: [194-?]

Note: Original is sepia toned.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 5 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

To maintain its new fleet of streetcars, the Saskatoon Municipal Railway required an experienced team of employees. The original 1913 shop crew seen standing in the doorway of the car barns included, left to right, Olaf H. (Ole) Oleson, carpenter; Alexander (Sandy) Gardiner, storekeeper; James P. McKenzie, master mechanic; Jim Anderson; Thomas T. (Tom) Murray, clerk; David M. (Dave) Murray, foreman and John A. (Jack) Cameron, track foreman.

Date: [ca. 1913]

Note: Image has been cropped from original. Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 6 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

A 1913 group photograph of Saskatoon Municipal Railway workers. In January 1913, the motormen and conductors engaged included the following names. Hired as motormen were Albert Sanders, J.W. Carmichael, Frank Walsh, Angus McDonald, F. Marriott, Alfred Whitehouse, Charles Chase, Louis M. Bonser, William Porteous, S.E. MacVicar, George Dransfield, Joseph Garvey, George Morin, Joseph Messer, Thomas Collins, R. Verehaghe, C.J. Kavanaugh, Herbert Lawrence, William Low, Joseph H. Rushforth, John R. Brennan, John McGowan, Joseph F. Brott, George E. Smyth, John Boyd and Eldred Rees. Hired as conductors were Henry Swail, Henry Longworth, William Bangs, J. McCormick, Henry Halliwell, George Bush, Ben Herbert, John Mutch, P.G. Coates, Thomas Davis, John O'Grady, W.D. Whaler, John Craig, Paul Dillon, E.R. McLaren, Robert T. Henderson, James Brown, Peter Morrison, Joseph Reed, Harry Simpson, Ernest Crosby, Charles O'Harra, Richard Rumley, Claude McKim, W.E. Armaden and John Walter.

Date: 1913.

Note: Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 7 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

In July 1912 City Council authorized the purchase of 12 single-truck, 32-passenger streetcars from the St. Louis Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Purchased at a cost of $5,082 each, the streetcars were double-end cars with Westinghouse motors and controllers and St. Louis trucks. This interior view of a St. Louis-built car of the type purchased by the City is likely from a manufacturers’ prospectus. It was likely made available to Saskatoon to show details of the cars they would be receiving. When the cars arrived in Saskatoon late in 1912, they were assigned the numbers 1 to 12.

Date: [ca. 1912]

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 8 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

The instability of the riverbank at Eastlake Ave and the Long Hill would interrupt streetcar service in 1913. When cracks in the riverbank developed and undermined the roadway, streetcar patrons would transfer from one car on the Long Hill to an awaiting car at the top of the hill to complete their journey. The erection of a pile bridge would temporarily solve the problem while city engineers investigated the cause. Work on the Long Hill Bridge started in September 1913. The completion of the trestle bridge permitted the resumption of normal street railway service to the end of the rails.

Date: 1913.

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 9 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

A job with the Saskatoon Municipal Railway service was a highly-prized one. A handsome uniform with brass buttons and a cap with identifying badge gave a man an air of authority and the work was considered superior to occupations that required manual labour. On the first day of operations, the conductors and motormen did not have uniforms and so wore their regular clothing with ribbons on their caps that read "SMP motorman" or "SMP conductor."

Date: [ca. 1914]

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 10 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

The Saskatoon local of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electrical Railway Employees of America was chartered on February 3, 1913. Only some of the union members have been identified in this 1914 photograph. Front row (left to right): George Morin, __, Frederick O'Connor, __, Shannon, H. Longworth, __, R. Verhaghe, __, __. Middle row: Ernest Farrell, George Niven, __, Arthur King, Louis Bowser, __, Robert G. McDougall, George Johnston. Back row: Angus McDonald, Joseph S. Horan, __, __.

Date: 1914.

Note: Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 11 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

A conductor stands at the door of his streetcar near the Cairns Department Store. In November 1913, 11 streetcar men were tried for theft from the fare boxes of the street railway. Interest on the part of the public was great, with crowds queuing to get in the courthouse. Out of the 11 conductors and motormen originally placed under arrest, one was committed to prison for two months, another was placed on bail and a third was allowed to go on suspended sentence. The charge against six of the remaining seven was dismissed owing to the weakness of the evidence.

Date: [ca. 1914]

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 12 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

Streetcar No. 24 was one of the six double-truck, double-end streetcars purchased from the Preston Car and Coach Company Limited of Preston, Ontario, in late 1913. It was soon discovered that the Preston cars could not be used on the east side of the river because they were too heavy for the Traffic Bridge. The City Commissioner would point out to Council that four of these cars were always in the barn. A proposal to remodel the cars to reduce the weight was deemed impractical. The problem with the Preston cars was finally solved in 1919 when the City of Calgary offered to exchange seven single-truck, single-end cars for the six Saskatoon cars.

Date: [between 1914 and 1919]

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 13 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

The Saskatoon Municipal Railway took seriously its obligation to provide dependable public transportation and maintained snowplows, sweepers and other snow-fighting equipment in an effort to keep the streetcar lanes open. The sweeper could usually handle the downtown area but the challenge was to clear the drifts in the outlying district . In this blizzard shot on the Sutherland line, the plow is homemade and mounted on the front of the streetcar. The people have been identified, from left to right on the snowbank, as James P. McKenzie, assistant superintendant and Cyril Brown, streetcar repairman. Mechanic David Murray is standing in front of the snowplow, and Charles J. (Joe) Hanratty, carpenter, is on the plow. On the right snowbank are City Commissioner Christopher Yorath, Mayor Alexander MacGillivray Young and George Archibald, city engineer and street railway superintendent.

Date: [ca. 1916]

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 14 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

The blizzard of March 15, 1927 paralyzed Saskatoon. One of the worst storms in decades, it stopped streetcar traffic between Sutherland and the city for over 24 hours. Despite the efforts of the Street Railway's big plow and sweeper, the drifts on this line were exceptionally deep, requiring a good deal of hard work to clear. It took two days for service to resume.

Date: March 1927.

Note: Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 15 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

"Streetcar Plunges from the Bridge" read the headlines in the local newspapers. When streetcar No. 4 on the Exhibition route came down the Long Hill at about one o'clock on the afternoon of March 3, 1922, and neared the bottom of the hill, the brakes, according to its motorman Fred Chapman, refused to hold, sending the streetcar plunging down the riverbank. The streetcar turned completely over as it fell down the steep bank to the river's edge. Described as the worst accident in the history of the Saskatoon Municipal Railway, amazingly the 20 passengers escaped death. Only six passengers were injured seriously enough to require hospital treatment. Spectators on the bridge and riverbank became so numerous that the police chief was forced to move them on for fear their numbers and weight would cause a collapse of that structure.

Date: March 3, 1922.

Note: Image has been cropped from original. Image has been retouched for display.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 16 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

Bystanders survey the wreckage of Exhibition streetcar No. 4 as it appeared shortly after its 30-foot plunge off the end of the Traffic Bridge. A telephone guy wire at the top of the bridge had torn off the roof of the streetcar as it plummeted down the embankment to the ice below. Upon landing, both sides of the car collapsed, smashed to splinters. The fact that the heavy streetcar truck was projected over the heads of the passengers is likely the only reason no lives were lost. The accident made people wary of the bridge and of streetcars for sometime thereafter.

Date: March 3, 1922.

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 17 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

Saskatoon streetcars were fair game for university pranksters. In this 1928 photograph, Patrick O'Dwyer, an Arts and Science student shown with bottle in hand at far right, is among the university students proudly posing in front of streetcar No. 53, possibly a captured streetcar. The streetcar was one of the four new, double-truck, lightweight streetcars from the National Steel Car Corporation of Hamilton, Ontario. Whether stealing the destination signs off streetcars or jumping up and down and derailing the "toonerville" trolleys, bedevilling the streetcar conductor was the favourite pastime of university students.

Date: 1928.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 18 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

"Tram Boys Beat Police" as the Street Railway hockey team captured the championship of the Municipal Hockey League in February 1930. The City Police and the Street Railway teams had battled for the Samson trophy in a three-game series. The first game was a draw. In the second game, the Street Railway prevailed with a 2 - 1 victory. "Butch" Scharfe would score all the goals in the final when the Street Railway hockey team defeated the City Police 3 - 1. The players have been identified as, back row (left to right): Donald C. Samson, league president; Dave Murray, manager; Ed Crocker, defense; Charles McLaren, right wing; Jim Dibble, club president; Lorne Lynn, left wing; John Ivers, centre; Burt Scharfe, centre; Howard Robinson, left wing. Front row: William Fountain, goal; John (Jock) Murray, defense; O.C. (Jerry) Cravens, captain and right wing; Henry (Hank) Hilldrup, defense; William G. (George) Nesbitt, sub goal.

Date: 1930.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 19 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

Joseph S. Horan started as a conductor with the Saskatoon Municipal Railway in 1913. He would end his career on November 10, 1951, the date of the last streetcar run. In this 1939 photograph, motorman Joe Horan poses with Mayfair-University line streetcar No. 12 on Avenue C North near the car barns.

Date: [ca. 1946]

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice


Photo 20 of 24 | | |


2014 - Streetcar City

The Victory Loan Special was a streetcar provided by the City of Saskatoon as a contribution to the Fourth Victory Loan Campaign. The streetcar travelled daily on all streetcar lines for a minimum of two hours, encouraging local residents to contribute to the war effort through the purchase of Victory Bonds. On occasional evenings the streetcar would also carry bands during its trips around town. The official "money thermometer" charted Saskatoon residents' contributions. In 1943 the National War Finance Committee would present Saskatoon with a framed award of merit for its promotional success in the Fourth Victory Loan Campaign.

Date: May 1943.

Note: Image has been cropped from original.

Comment on this record: lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca

.

How to order photographs.

Copyright notice

 
 
Saskatoon Through the Ages Menu About Local History Ordering a Photograph
 
  Saskatoon Public Library