Following the acquisition of the Hamilton Street Railway by Canada Coach Lines in 1946, an assessment of the street car lines showed the tracks to be in a very poor condition. Derailments were becoming rather common, the roadbed unsightly and uneven in many areas, as were the roads the streetcars shared with motor cars.
Canada Coach soon announced a five-year plan to get rid of the streetcars and replace them with trolley coaches, diesel and gasoline buses, however, much work would be needed before these changes could be made. This involved the removal of tracks and the repaving of streets for the smoother passage of buses.
A decision was made to equip the busy Cannon bus route with trolley coaches. Hamilton was the second to last Canadian city to adopt the trolley coach as part of its operating fleet. Ottawa was the last when they began trolley coach service on December 15, 1951. Ottawa also holds the title of having operated its trolley coach system for the shortest period of time, less than eight years.
In 1950, the Cannon route was carrying four and one-half million passengers annually. The new Cannon trolley coach route one-way mileage was 4.1 miles. The route commenced at King and Hughson, running north on Hughson to Gore, east on Gore to Wilson, east on Wilson to Wellington, north on Wellington to Cannon, east on Cannon to Kenilworth, north on Kenilworth to Britannia, east on Britannia to Strathearn, south on Srathearn to loop at Roxborough and Strathearn, return travelling north on Strathearn to Britannia, west on Brittania to Kenilworth, south on Kenilworth to Cannon, west on Cannon to Wellington, south on Wellington to King William, west on King William to John, south on John to King, west on King to Hughson. This route was placed in operation December 10, 1950. In less than one year, ridership on the Cannon route rose 4.3%.
Short Turn Loop - Kenilworth and Cannon - north on Robbins to Britannia, east on Britannia to Kenilworth, south on Kenilworth to Cannon.
Following the abandonment of streetcar operations, diesel buses were used during road re-construction, and while new trolley wires were being put up. The route was converted to trolley coach operation in October 1951. By March 1952, ridership on this route rose by 8.2%.
The original King-Barton trolley route one way mileage was 8.6 miles. The route commenced at the Strathearn loop at Strathearn and Main, west on Main to Sherman, north on Sherman to King, west on King to James, north on James to Barton, east on Barton to Walter, south on Walter to Melvin, east on Melvin to Parkdale, north on Parkdale to Barton, west on Barton following the reverse routing back to Strathearn and Main. The route was later extended east beyond Parkdale on Melvin to Osborne, then north on Osborne, west on Barton, south on Talbot to Melvin, west on Melvin to Parkdale, north on Parkdale to Barton, west on Barton following the reverse routing back to Strathearn and Main.
Short Turn Loop - (1) Kenilworth and Barton - north on Kenilworth to Harrison, east on Harrison to Harmony, south on Harmony to Barton, west on Barton to Kenilworth. (2) Delta - east on King to Rosslyn, north on Rosslyn to Main, west on Main to King.
Power for the trolley coaches was supplied from the main transformer station located at the main shops on Wentworth Street at 600 volts DC. One automatic substation was also employed. This was located on Kenilworth Avenue, just south of Cannon Street in the southwest portion of the city.
End of Trolley Coach Operations
The last day of trolley coach operation for the King route is believed to have been Sunday, June 28, 1987.
Trolley coach service on the Cannon route lasted until the end of December 1989 when HSR operations were moved to the new bus garage at 330 Wentworth Street North. Because Hamilton intended to get rid of the trolley coach system, trolley overhead was not installed at the new garage.
The Barton route retained its trolley coaches until Tuesday, December 29, 1992. This was possible because the 7800 series trolleys were equipped with off-wire capability using a four cylinder diesel engine that allowed them to reach the new garage, a short distance from existing overhead wires.
In addition to issuing periodic 'Bulletins', the Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, also produced their monthly 'Newsletter'. This first appeared in 1945 and contained news of railway and public transit, primarily in and around the Toronto and Southern Ontario area. Numerous issues included items pertaining to the Hamilton Street Railway. Early in 1973, it became a bi-monthly. Beginning with the January-February 1976 issue, the name was changed to 'Rail and Transit'. Copies of the 'Newsletter', and 'Rail and Transit', are on file at the Metro Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8.
The Hamilton Street Railway and is in no way connected with the HSR.
For information about the HSR, or to contact them, please visit the official HSR web site.