VIEW-2816 | Electric snowplough, Montreal, QC, about 1895

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

Streetcars equipped with snowploughs or detachable brooms appeared in 1892, at the time when the streetcar network in Montreal was being electrified.

These new streetcars turned out to be very effective for clearing the tracks, but it was also necessary to spread salt to completely clear the snow from the streets. Although the salt was effective, it had the disadvantage of hurting the hooves of the horses and damaging the floors in stores.

This innovation permitted vehicles on tracks to operate all year round, while roads and waterways could become impassable in the winter. As a result, the railway benefited from a certain monopoly for winter transportation.

  • What

    Since the streetcars could not operate on snow-covered tracks, solutions were quickly found to keep the tracks clear all year round.

  • Where

    In spite of the introduction of snowplough streetcars, snow clearance on most of the streets and sidewalks of Montreal remained the responsibility of Montrealers until 1905.

  • When

    The "sweeper cars" proved their effectiveness in the first winter following the electrification of the tramway (1892-1893).

  • Who

    The officers of the "Montreal Street Railway Company" hesitated before electrifying the streetcar system, to some extent because they were afraid of the risks of electrocution.