Streetcars on the Waterfront (1968)

With all the discussion of waterfront transit, many people may forget (or never have seen) a previous visit of streetcars to the water’s edge.  Back in 1968, the TTC sold many of the PCC cars retired after the Bloor-Danforth Subway opened, and a batch of these went to Egypt.  On July 20, 1968, a much younger version of your faithful scribe was there along with many others to record the event.

All photos here were taken by me and I reserve copyright in them.


Sitting on the dock, here are two ex-Cincinnati PCCs including TTC 4575, a 1939-built  demonstration car for Cincinnati.  This car had many oddities including windows, marker lights and some interior features as befits a one-of vehicle.

Cars were loaded from both sides of the ship, the Mare Tranquillo.

Here, 4217 joins its mate 4222 on deck. A short turn destination right to the end!

A group of cars begins their sea voyage from a lighter. The railfans have obviously been busy with destination and route combinations that were already obsolete when these photos were taken. Parliament and Harbord vanished with the opening of the BD subway in 1966, and Dupont was a casualty of the University line in 1963.

A quartet of cars sits on deck seen from the dock.

The view from the bridge.

Looking out from the bridge to the Toronto Islands.

4007, one of Toronto’s first PCCs, meets the Island Ferry for the last time.

22 thoughts on “Streetcars on the Waterfront (1968)

  1. For some reason, every time I see these (and similar) photos of these air-PCCs, I feel a tad maudlin. I always thought the back profile, with the maroon stripe over the back windows, was way cooler than the all-electric paint scheme. But the thought of losing PCCs … or maybe it’s because I knew some of them would meet a violent death during an Arab-Israeli confilct … Hmmm … Is there a chance we could sell the CLRVs to anyone in the Mid-East?


  2. I am surprised you do not have pictures of the witt cars being destroyed over at the lakefront. I believe they were set ablaze in an attempt to destroy them once they were retired.

    Steve: That happened when I was not yet taking photos — mid 50s when I was a wee kiddie. My dad and I (along with many railfans) removed things like roll sign boxes from the cars before they were burned.


  3. I notice that the streetcar numbers from 4000-4200 such as 4007 in the last photo & 4222 in the quartet of streetcars picture are the same numbers currently in use for the existing CLRV’s & ALRV Streetcars.

    Steve: Just like the T1 cars recycle the Gloucester car fleet numbers on the subway.


  4. Hey Steve

    Thanks for sharing the photos/memories. Shots like yours continually remind of how much 5 years makes a difference. If I was born five or six years earlier, I too would have been with you guys shooting this. I was just too late to enjoy riding the BLOOR / HARBORD etc cars Pete


  5. To see pictures like these makes me brings back memories of being a child in Toronto and riding on the Queen and Carlton routes from Greenwood Avenue to the downtown core. I often enjoyed heading to the Russell streetcar yards after school to see what different streetcars I could reconize in the yard and on Queen Street.

    I’m looking forward to see the next generation of streetcars riding on the streets of Toronto. No matter what people say, the PCC streetcars will always the backbone of the city but were in my fact the muscle of metal in moving people around the City of Tornto


  6. One thing I’ve wondered: how come the TTC never kept an Air-electric PCC on the fleet. After all, they kept Witt 2766, or was THAT just a fluke?

    Steve: Two different eras. The Air Electric cars were not the last of the “PCCs”, and they made no distinction between different flavours. Thus we have the two “4500” series cars (although not in their original body numbers) as representatives of the PCC era.


  7. Seeing as this article is titled “Streetcars on the Waterfront”, you should have included a link to the Leonard Bernstein score. 😉


  8. “Thus we have the two “4500″ series cars (although not in their original body numbers)”

    Really?!?! I thought they WERE the original 4500 and 4549. That’s disappointing. Well, at least they didn’t go through with their idea of “rebuilding” a Witt using a PCC truck.

    And to really give credit, at least the TTC (as opposed to private tour companies) is not operating a fleet of faux-trolley lookalikes. I understand a couple of cities in North America (small touristy ones) have converted their bus fleet into these tacky toonerville trolley rip-offs. What a way to discredit public transit!


  9. 4500 and 4549 are indeed the original cars, same bodies, just rebuilt and reclassified A-15(H), although now that the other A-15s are gone I doubt anyone in TTC gives a toss about the (H) for “historic”. When Ray Corley was alive he referred to the (H) as “hilarious” for the sloppy job of “restoration”.

    Steve: I stand corrected. I had thought they just picked the two best cars and restored them with fleet numbers for the start and end of that series.


  10. The salvation of the 2 PCC cars must largely be credited to Councillor Joe Mihevc’s efforts. This transit enthusiast and advocate was also the quarterback in staging the 75th anniversary of the TTC complete with a wide range of rolling historical vehicles. Mr. Mihevc, despite the lengthy construction period, is the major player in the rebuilding of the St.Clair Avenue streetcar right-of-way.


  11. I believe Joe Mihevc’s father worked for the TTC. It’s too bad, however, the TTC didn’t keep a fleet of historic buses. Ottawa did (though some are from other fleets, including Grey Coach(!), painted in older Ottawa colours). It’s nice to see, and hear, GM Old Looks and New Looks in tourist service. The OTC/OC Transpo old look is the equivalent of the TTC old-looks in the 1540-1550 series (again, similar to the 2100 series, but with single exit doors).


  12. Has anyone come across pictures of these vehicles in service in Egypt?

    Steve: There are a few if you hunt around on the web.


  13. “Has anyone come across pictures of these vehicles in service in Egypt?”

    There are a few around, but from my understanding most of the cars didn’t get into service. I’ve also heard the yards got hit pretty heavily during the Yom Kippur War, which left the fleet more or less out of service by the mid 70s.


  14. There are pictures, both on the web and even in books, of these cars in service in Egypt. It’s not a pretty sight. There also exist pictures of the cars after getting hit during the Yom Kippur War. Again I ask, maybe we can “donate” the CLRV’s to DND for use as target practice.


  15. OK, here’s what is known on Alexandria’s Toronto PCC cars (I’ll not append the car numbers shipped here but that data is available). I’m doing this to stop further speculation, much of which is just that.

    The only confirmed renumbering between the TTC fleet and the cars as operated in Alexandria involved demonstrator car 4114 which became Alexandria 901. It was intended, as additional cars were placed in service, to renumber the cars upwards from 902 through 1040, although the highest number ever both seen and reported in the enthusiast press is 1027. Cars were renumbered in a completely random fashion, ignoring ex-TTC class and style.

    However, not all cars were used in Alexandria. Some cars suffering bomb damage in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and there are also confirmed reports of several ex-TTC car bodies dumped on the sand at Alexandria, still with TTC paint and numbers. After an unknown period, track brakes were removed from the majority of the cars. Some PCC trucks and motors were used under older Alexandria cars, including at least one double-deck unit. Known Alexandria car numbers having PCC trucks are 515, 703 and 709, all equipped by 1973. Soon after delivery, some Alexandria 1000-series cars are said to have been de-motored and operated as trailers behind 900 series cars (one report says ‘by 1977’). Others were scrapped for parts, which were then reused on cars of any of the former TTC classes.

    Between 1971 and 1975, 28 miscellaneous cars were formed into 14 two-car multiple-unit sets and renumbered 600-627, coupled consecutively with the even-numbered car leading. The conversions included 920, 921, 967 and 968. Some reports have these cars operating as a motored unit hauling a trailer unit. Neither can be confirmed, but it is likely the latter that is correct, probably involving the trailered ex-1000 series cars. That operation was no doubt found to be a strain on the lead motor car, as between 1972-1978, 57 further cars were converted for multiple-unit operation in double-ended 3-car sets, with one car coupled backwards and left-side doors cut into all units. These cars were renumbered 301-357 and were coupled in 3-car groups of sequential numbers, e.g. 301-302-303 (formerly 932, 933 and 973, the only known renumbering). Other known cars modified for use in 3-car trains included 925, 927, 960, 962-964, 971, 974, 981, 982, 990, 994, 996 and 997. Yet another report had the center car de-motored and operated as a trailer. Whether any of the 600-series was used in the 300-series is unknown (confirming trailer status). As far as can be determined, none of the 600 and 300 series sets involved the use of former TTC Class A-10 cars, all of which appear to have operated only as single units, mostly in the 1000 series although at least one was renumbered as a higher-numbered 900-series car.

    At various dates in later years, many cars received conventional controllers with hand-operated mechanisms, including 918 (by 1976). In addition, some PCC cars actually received old trucks from non-PCC Alexandria cars. Most PCCs that retaining their own trucks had the track brakes removed. Cars converted for operation on the Ramleh routes had spindly-appearing pantograph towers added on the front ends of the first and third units (confirming trailer status for the center cars). Presumably these were used, although the only films and photos seen by me were of cars using trolley poles with the pantographs locked down. Some of the cars operated mid-train had windshields or rear windows removed and replaced with metal or wood inserts. At least one car had its windshield replaced by the rear-end window assembly from (presumably) a scrapped car.

    All ex-TTC cars in Alexandria are said to have been withdrawn by 1984, when new equipment was received for the interurban lines to Ramleh, although one or two may have continued to operate on the city routes beyond that date. One report indicates all cars withdrawn by ‘1981-82’ although that is in error, based on known video and photographic material. The same report shows 950, 952, 957, 959, 964, 972, 973, 975, 978-980, 985, 988, 989, 991, 997 and 1020 withdrawn by 1975. Left unsaid is whether they were withdrawn for scrapping or for conversion into multiple-unit trains. At least 973 was so converted.
    One final note to further confuse the topic of car numbers is that apparently there was some renumbering to fill gaps. It is not known if this referred to the original series of 901-up or to later blocks of train-operated cars in the 300 and 600 series


  16. “…to further confuse the topic of car numbers is that apparently there was some renumbering to fill gaps…”

    ….my brain hurts….

    I’m amazed John Bromley could make sense of all this. Well, if it worked for them, then that’s all that matters. I wonder if Alexandria kept a PCC or two for tourist purposes. If they want, I know a fleet of CLRVs they could have.


  17. “I wonder if Alexandria kept a PCC or two for tourist purposes.”

    No, they ran them into the ground. Even when running they were scrap on wheels.


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