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Calgary Municipal Railway

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1041

Streetcar with two conductors, ca. 1912-13

Postcards from the Past, PC 1041

It was almost exactly 100 years ago that Calgary's first rail transit system began running. "This is an epoch in the history of the remarkable progress in the growth of the city of Calgary" said Mayor Jamieson at the conclusion of the official inaugural run of the municipal street railway system at 8 am on Monday July 5, 1909. (The first run had actually been at 3:10 that morning.) The streetcars were rushed into service so that locals and visitors to the Provincial Fair, could take the streetcar to the Victoria Park fair grounds. At the close of that first day, $450 in fares had been collected, representing about 9000 passengers.

This was a very big deal. A municipal railway was seen to be an indicator of "municipal maturity" as noted by author Colin K. Hatcher in his book Stampede City Streetcars. People applauded the cars as they passed by. Reverend Kerby spoke of the streetcar system in his sermon at Central Methodist the Sunday prior to the launch, saying that Sunday service was not necessary as "people with two legs can walk out to the parks or the hills if they want fresh air, and the exercise would do them good." Two days later a massive storm hit which flooded the subway at Second Street East and partially suspended the brand new streetcar service.

The Calgary Municipal Railway is in the news again, nearly 60 years after regular service was discontinued. It seems that when 16th Avenue was first paved, the rails from the Crescent Heights line were simply paved over. This has resulted in cracking of the roadway so the rails are being pulled up and about 1.2 kilometres will be preserved and given to interested museums.

You can see photos of the streetcars in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (use the search "streetcar OR streetcars")

There is a very good history of Calgary Transit at this link:

You can also find Colin Hatcher's book Stampede City Streetcars: the story of the Calgary Municpal Railway in the library catalogue.


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