II-111369 | Electric trams, Ste. Catherine St., Montreal, QC, 1895

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Electric trams, Ste. Catherine St., Montreal, QC, 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cityscape (3948) , Photograph (77678) , rail (370) , streetscape (1737) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

In 1882, in Berlin, the engineer Werner von Siemens unveils his invention: the trolley, a device that carries electric current from an overhead line to a carriage that runs on rails. Trolley systems, also called tramways, quickly catch on as a method of public transportation. When, later on, the trolley is attached to the roof of a bus, the vehicle is known as a trolleybus.

The first tramways in Montreal, in 1861, are horse drawn. In 1892, horse power is replaced by electrical power. For then on, the electric tramways play an important role in the hustle and bustle of daily life in Montreal; they ensure that people and goods can travel around the city rapidly and at low cost.

The tramways help Montrealers get to where they want to go. Just one more benefit of electricity!

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    The electric tramway on Notre-Dame Street followed the same route as the horse-powered tram opened in 1861 along a six mile (about 9.6 km) stretch. It travelled along Sainte Marie Street (today, Notre-Dame East), Craig Street (today, Saint-Antoine) and Saint Joseph Street (today, Notre-Dame West).

  • Where

    On May 4, 1905, strollers on Sainte Catherine Street are surprised to see an unusual-looking vehicle. It is the first vehicle in the world in which passengers pay for their ride upon entering it. It was conceived, designed and constructed in a factory in the Hochelga district of Montreal.

  • When

    In the summer, travelling in the tramway to the suburbs is very popular among Montrealers, who enjoy a trip out of town for a picnic, a stroll in the fresh air or a shopping spree. The tracks sometimes pass through private property; out the windows of the tramcar passengers might see fields in bloom and apple orchards.

  • Who

    In 1900, more than 40 million passengers use the tramway in Montreal - four times more than in 1894, the final year of the horse-drawn tramway.