STREETCARS and TRAMS

Quick facts

Story kiosk location

  • Small park at the intersection of Sussex, Murray, Mackenzie, and Alexandra Bridge

Important dates

  • (1870s – 1880s) During this time, horse-drawn trams operated by the Ottawa City Passenger Railway Company were the major mode of public transport in the nation’s capital.

     

Audiofile

  • No

What happened here?

  • Horse drawn streetcars ran up and down Sussex taking passengers to and from the Rideau Falls in the east and the Chaudière Falls in the west.

As you stand here, imagine yourself looking down Sussex Street. Peel away the U.S. embassy and other government buildings on your right...

…replacing them with a jumble of  shops and businesses. This is what it would have been like as the 19th century turned into the 20th, with horses and streetcars moving in both directions, a thriving commercial hub.

 

 


Ottawa City Passenger Railway Company Horse Street Car, City of Ottawa Archives CA001505

In the 1870s and 1880s horse-drawn trams operated by the Ottawa City Passenger Railway Company were the major mode of public transport in the nation’s capital. Founded largely by Thomas McKay, the horse car service transported 273,000 passengers in its first year of operation. It travelled from New Edinburgh to the Chaudière Bridge, weaving through the downtown core and along Sussex Drive.

 


Ottawa Electric Railway Company, Bank St Streetcar, William James Topley, Library                                                      and Archives Canada C-002460

In 1891 the Ottawa Electric Railway Company (OER) began operations with routes running north and south along Bank Street and Elgin Street and east and west between Britannia and New Edinburgh. The façade of the company’s headquarters can still be seen on Sparks Street.

 


Interior of Street Car 203, Duchess of Cornwall and York, City of Ottawa Archives CA001518

In 1901 the future King George V and Queen Mary visited Ottawa and the OER refitted a streetcar from the Britannia Line. Boasting the “Pullman Standard” dark green exterior and a luxurious interior with plush olive-green seats and blue carpets, the former streetcar was soon dubbed “The Duchess.”

 

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