Electric Power Replaces Horse Power
A Most Progressive System
Major Streetcar Purchases
Peak and Decline
After the major acquisitions of streetcars between 1911 and 1930, the onslaught of the depression necessitated implementation of stringent economic measures. No more large acquisitions would occur. It was at the height of the depression when the MTC system reached its peak of almost 320 track miles with approximately 1,000 passenger cars on the roster. During the period of 1917-1918 the system had reached its peak in passenger cars with over 1,200 on the roster.
Because of war restrictions, only 100 of the St. Louis Car Company's PCC production was alloted to Canada. Of this allotment, 25 PCCs were to be purchased by Montreal. This was subsequently reduced to 18 and in March 1944 cars 3500-3517 were introduced on the Outremont #29 line. The purchase of these cars was to be the last order for streetcars for Montreal. Within 15 years of the arrival of the PCCs, the public transportation system in Montreal would be totally operated by buses.
Ah - winter in Montreal! A 2100-series car pauses on Windsor Street at St Antoine, beside Canadian Pacific's Windsor Station, on February 1, 1951. (Montreal Gazette photo, author's collection).
The City Takes Over
Because of the rapidly expanding suburbs and the need to serve these areas, coupled with the requirement to overhaul existing equipment, the city of Montreal created the Montreal Transportation Commission. On June 16, 1951, the Commission assumed responsibility for public transportation. At the time Montreal had some 260 miles of track and over 900 active streetcars. The Commission's main mandate was to develop a master plan for rapid transit in the city. By 1953, the Commission submitted a plan to the city which consisted of a proposal for a subway system. Initially it was viewed that an all-bus system in Montreal would suffice for the short term. The objective was to replace streetcars with buses as soon as possible. Rather than completing the task in ten years as originally envisaged the work was completed in under seven years.
Two major parades marked the end of streetcar service in Montreal. The first occured on Labour Day, September 3, 1956, to mark the introduction of bus service on Ste. Catherine Street the previous day. A parade of historical trolleys (most now reside at the Canadian Railway Museum) proceeded from Harbour Street in the east to Atwater in the west. The parade was viewed by an estimated 200,000 people.