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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Before the change to automobiles, expressways and smog there were other ways to get around in Montreal.

    Before air conditioning, Montrealers would have gotten out and about in the search for cooler and greener locations, Mount Royal being a favorite destination.

    Here we have a Remembrance Route streetcar leaving the Terminus at Cote de Neiges and Remembrance Rd. for Beaver Lake atop the mountain.

    The streetcar is a Double End version, with a Motorman’s position, trolley pole, and, in this case, a headlight on both ends.

    The reason for this can be seen in the street looking at the ‘point’ on the right rail in the track switch in the foreground.

    When arriving at Cote de Neiges coming down from the summit, the car would be on the track to the left, with the Motorman at the controls on the downhill end.

    To return uphill to the summit, the Motorman would arrange the controls to operate from the far/uphill end of the car, then descend to the roadway and raise the trolley pole to the wire on the downhill end of the car facing the camera.

    He then would walk to the far/uphill end of the car, lower that end’s trolley to the hook on the roof, climb aboard, set the controls at that end for uphill end operation, board the passengers, ring the bell, and move the car slowly FROM the left track to the RIGHT track over the crossover, proceeding to the summit and the loop there found.

    ( The Dynamic Brake Mountain cars from the far side at Park Avenue and Mount Royal Blvd., coming up thru the tunnel, would turn at the summit loop also. )

    The reason for the crossover on Remembrance Rd was, without the crossovers, a car wanting to turn back to the summit would have to pull out turning right onto BUSY Cote de Neiges, BACK UP against the current of road traffic on C de N, then turn right back onto Remembrance to head up on right hand track, using the Wye with the main Cote de Neiges Route cars.

    This move was fraught with danger, so a crossover was installed on calmer Remembrance Rd. instead.

    These Double End cars were found on other routes, such as Dixie in Lachine, Millen and Long Sault, Davidson etc over the years. They were painted Creme with Red trim to advise patrons to board at the front, and were operated solely by a Motorman.

    Two-man cars with a Conductor were Green/Creme and boarded patrons at the rear.

    On the corner to the left of the interesection was an ugly dark-red, sinister, mansard-roofed structure ( It’s shadow appears on the road ) with a large ventilator on the roof, which had something to do with the Cemetery beyond, and it was a spooky place to wonder about as you awaited the Remembrance car to descend to pick you up.

    Different view today as in following at Bing maps.

    The building and the intersection would have been where the left underpass is on the turning loop.

    The last streetcars operated in Montreal on August 30, 1959.

  2. For those interested in Montreal Minutiae, in the days of Montreal Tramways, Chemin McDougall off of Cote de Neiges, was once used for streetcars ONLY between Trafalgar Ave and just West of Cedar Ave, cars travelling on their own double-track private right of way on this segment South of the large apartment complex.

    Streetcars used to stop just East of The Boulevard, the Motorman applied the hand brake, and disappeared inside the appartment at the SW corner.

    I suspect they went in there to wash their hands, etc., an arrangement made with the building’s owners.

    After streetcars came off the Cote de Neiges route, the abandoned track bed sat there until 1961 or so when the present road was built.

  3. Thanks, Cdnlococo! Hope we get back to trains and trams very soon!

    Chris, where exactly is that spot? I seem to remember it, or is it merely generic?

  4. Thank You Maria!

    Every month, it seems, there is yet another funeral for people my age, ( and, all too many for those so much younger than I, ) that can remember these items first-hand.

    Some of the data might well now be quite obscure, and, this might be a place to air it for others to learn and follow up on if they so desire?

    To others it might be just garbage.

    The last streetcar operated in Montreal on Aug 30, 1959, as mentioned B4.

    Yes, my father and I were there in the rain as they closed the temporary gates behind the last car at the Mount Royal car barns in 1959.

    When he passed away last year I took his ashes for a ride on a streetcar at Delson/St Constant, myself as Motorman.

    For a few years I operated a steam locomotive on a historic passenger train and there were those patrons in their forties that had NEVER been on a train before.

    How things change.

  5. Not always for the better, alas.

    I love trains (and trams). Cdnlococo, have you managed to get across the pond to European cities with modern, state-of-the-art tram networks? I’m most familiar with the network in Amsterdam.

    Paris is bringing trams back, first in the nearby suburbs, but now they have begun a ring tram in the city proper. (The m├ętro is wonderful, but very overcrowded).

  6. I was not going to say anything more about streetcars, but, then I found these lovely views!

    Here is a picture postcard of one of four Tramways observation cars exiting the private right of way behind the apartment complex where present day Chemin McDougall now runs, heading down the steep grade on Cote de Neiges to Sherbrooke.

    The then-new concrete retaining wall on the ‘Cedar Connector’ is visible beyond.

    Here is a photo taken at the corner of Old Decarie and St Jacques in 1954. The CPR Glen Yard is beyond the closer streetcar, with Turcot Roundhouse and yard out of sight down below to the right.

    The Sun Life building is visible in the distance between the two streetcars. The BTCo building to right.

    This next view is unique for at least two reasons!

    It is a COLOUR photo of one of Tramways’s two Tower Cars which had a raising tower and were used to maintain the trolley wires and supports. Note air whistle between windows, the bell is below the floor, actuated by the Motorman’s foot.

    Also visible is a Steinberg’s truck in the-then classic red-gold paint scheme.

    Now! The tower car and the truck are at the once-corner of St Jacques and Prud Homme looking West to Girouard!!

    The Decarie expressway now runs North/South through this location! and Prud Homme is no more.

  7. It’s a little bit west of the Cirque du Soleil campus but this picture could easily be taken anywhere where there is not a bend in the highway.

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