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GRR 826
[GRR 826]

The Canadian Pacific Electric Lines embarked on a modernization program after the end of the first World War. Included in the plans were a switch from 600 to 1500 volt operation on the Grand River Railway. The Lake Erie & Northern had been built in 1915 for 1500 volt DC operation. With a common voltage, equipment of either railway could be operated over the entire CPEL system. Ten new all-steel cars were also delivered by Preston Car & Coach in 1921 as part of this modernization.

Three of the former 600 volt wood passenger cars were felt worthy of conversion to 1500 volt operation. Taken into the Preston Shops of the railway in 1923 for rebuilding were GRR 81, ex Galt, Preston & Hespeler Street Railway 81, built by Ottawa in 1910, as well as ex Preston & Berlin Railway 205 and 215, built by Preston in 1912. When rebuilt, they became 824, 826 and 828 respectively. The most noticeable change was the rebuilding of the end vestibules similar to those on the LE&N 933 series cars. The rebuilt cars spent most of their lives on the short Hespeler branch, since they lacked drinking water and washroom facilities required by Ontario law for passenger cars travelling 20 miles or more.

Car 826 was withdrawn from passenger service in late 1946 as the result of a weakening frame. In December 1946, it made a trip, mu'd with an LE&N steel car, to Port Dover. There it was used as a temporary station while a new one was being built.

Returning to Preston in late March 1947, 826 saw use as a service car until September 1948. It was then converted to a Service (Dining) trailer and renumbered 26. The end came at Preston on March 20, 1953 when the car was scrapped.

On July 1, 1944, my father took the above view of 826 sitting at the Grand River Railway Preston Shops. It is a beautiful shot of a beautiful car. As a result, it is my favourite GRR car.

Two houses were built on King Street in Preston, using beautiful curved windows, similar to those seen on 826.

Al Howlett of London, ON, had the opportunity (c.1960) to talk to Alf Rahn, the chap who built both houses. Mr. Rahn purchased the cherry wood framed windows from Preston Car & Coach for 25 cents each. It is believed that the windows were stock left over when the plant closed in 1923. Both houses retain the windows to this day. Mr. Rahn stands in front of one of these houses.