1. As usual, another set of fascinating photos comparing then and now in Montreal from Mr. G. St-Jean.

    Also, as usual, the older photo is full of many interesting details now long-lost to the past.

    The far streetcar track has an electric switch in the street, it’s control box on the pole next to the lady with the coat over her arm.

    The switch is next to the left road divider with the half-moon concrete base, these dividers once everywhere in Montreal, usually at streetcar stops.

    A white line outline for a streetcar stop is on the pavement, the pole next to the lady also has a white band on it to signify ‘streetcar stop’.

    The Motorman on the streetcar used his controller entering the trolley wire section to draw power thru the switch, throwing switch point for opposite track if track not set in the direction he wished the car to go.

    Less-used switches were thrown by hand with a long special rod carried inside the car by the front door. there was a round hole in the floor at the corner of the car with a swivelling metal cover which the Motorman could put the rod thru.

    But, if the car was not stopped just so, he had to move the car back and forth, wasting time, let alone scaring motorists behind.

    It was quicker if he just got off and threw the switch from the street.

    The man in uniform might well be a MTC Inspecteur, checking on streetcars keeping to schedule, and, if there was a tie up, he could divert streetcars to meet needs of the moment.

    The curved sidewalk portion to the left looks as if it is faced in steel plate, a common sight back then.

    In the newer photo there is a manhole cover in the street and a hydrant not in the older view.

    Early version of a TV antenna on the chimney in the 1953 photo, old 6-digit telephone number WA 2701 which would be, WAlnut 2701, an NDG number at the later-HUnter, now 48 exchange on Monkland.

    Lovely old signs in abundance!

  2. I wonder if there is any explanation to the fact that people in the old photo always appear smaller than one would expect them to be in the new one. Or is it just me?

  3. How come there are no more steel faced sidewalks these-a-days? You still see them in New York, and wouldn’t it slow down the deterioration of the sidewalk by snowplows?

  4. Dear Kyle,

    Thank You for the links to the other interesting sites!

    Montreal also had men who looked after the streetcar rails and switches, and they were called ‘Hillmen’. As in the link you sent, they walked and rode streetcars to various locations with a lantern, broom and a bucket.

    They took special care on routes having steep hills, as a certain low temperatures, moisture frozen on the rail heads and made them as slick as glass no matter how much care was used by Motormen.

    Streetcars had ‘sanders’ which applied sand to the rails ahead of the wheels thru hoses. The sand kept in bins beneath selected hinged seats within the car, where it was kept warm and dry.

    ( Some Can Car autobusses also had sanders. See note 6.


    In the Fifties MTC Can/Car Autobusses were hired to move school children, and, as these buses did not always operate on city streets that had regular bus or streetcar service, they were often the sander-equipped 2500 series buses generally also equipped with tire chains.

    If you awoke on a winter morning to the sound of busses with chains on going by, you just KNEW the weather was BAD.

    Fire trucks had chains on always come winter to access back alleys and other areas in snow conditions.

    MTC school buses had a yellow placard on the right rear with the word ‘Ecoliers’ on it in black. )

    During the Forties, a streetcar did get out of control on Black Rail descending out of Westmount, derailed at the corner or Sherbrooke? and killed a pedestrian against a pole.

    Having been in Winnipeg, and Montreal in winter, both are COLD! Winnipeg has the wind, Montreal has the dampness, sometimes with the wind, too.

    Winnipeg, even with the winter and the wind, may well have been Heaven after Poland, and Messrs. Stalin, and Hitler.

    The fellow with the sling shots is phenomenal, and, a sling shot was a huge No No in Montreal when I was young.

    There was another old Montreal law about adult men going around shirtless in the summer.

    There was always a Decal sign on a window in a streetcar in Blue and White in both languages saying ‘No spitting/Defense de Cracher $40 fine’ account Tuberculosis fears.

    To answer another question. Yes, people were generally shorter in the Fifties, as many were born in more difficult years when nourishment may not have been as good as it was after the Depression and the Second War.

    I am not 6 feet tall, yet, as a teenager I was taller than many adults.

    My Grandmother from the 1880s was just 5 feet tall.

    Many changes.

    Thank You!

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