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Kitchener-Waterloo Street Railway
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KITCHENER
&
WATERLOO
STREET RAILWAY

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Revised February 4, 2007
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A HISTORY OF THE STREET RAILWAYS OF KITCHENER & WATERLOO

Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway Company (1889 - c.1919)
Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway (xxxx - xxxx)
Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway (c.1919 - c.1927)
Kitchener Public Utilities Commission (c.1927 - 1973)

Berlin & Bridgeport Electric Street Railway Company (1902 - 1912)
Berlin & Northern Railway Company (1912 - 1919)
Waterloo Wellington Railway Company (1919 - 1923)

The Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway Company was incorporated in 1886, securing a twenty-five year charter and franchise. The charter allowed the company to operate for twelve hours daily except Sunday. Principal owners of the company lived in New York City and sent as their representative, Colonial Thomas M. Burt to build and manage the line.

Construction of a horse car railway was commenced almost immediately with the line opening for service in 1888. Regular service was given with a horse car leaving each end of the line every half hour, when the weather was good, and less frequent in the bad weather. Within a year, the company owned eight open and eight closed cars, three large covered sleighs which were employed in the winter when the weather was at its worst, and seventeen horses.

The car barns and stables were located at the end of the line, just above Cedar Street (later renamed Bridgeport Road) on the east side of King Street, in Waterloo. In Berlin (renamed Kitchener in 1916), the line ended at Scott Street. A branch line also extended from King Street to the Grand Trunk Railway station (later Canadian National Railways), near the intersection of Victoria and Weber Streets, Berlin. Originally the track for the horse car line was located along the north side of King Street.

In 1895, service was greatly improved when the line was electrified. The tracks were also relocated to the centre of the street. Three former closed horse cars were modified for electric operation by having vestibules added and the necessary electrical equipment installed. The first electric car ran on May 18, 1895.

The converted horse cars proved unsuitable as electric cars and the condition of the trackage was becoming critical. The management, however, was un-willing to spend the monies necessary to upgrade the system. As a result, the company was sold in 1896 to a new group headed by E. C. Breithaupt. This new management immediately purchased two open and two closed car bodies from the General Electric Company of Peterborough, Ontario, along with two Peckham trucks. The trucks were placed under the open cars for summer operation, being switched to the closed bodied cars each winter.

Power for the electric cars was supplied by the electric plant of the Berlin Gas Company which was located at Charles and Gaukel Streets. This plant remained in operation until May 28, 1958.

Early in 1905, power for the street railway no longer came from the Berlin Gas Company, but from a new steam power house that was built at the corner of King Street and Albert Street (later renamed Madison Avenue) in Berlin. A new carbarn was also built at this same location, replacing the original Waterloo carbarn, as the line had been extended from Scott to Albert Street the previous year.

In 1906, the Berlin Town Council instituted a move to take over the street railway. After a session of hearings that lasted most of the summer, Berlin was given permission December 29, 1906 to purchase the street railway. However, it was not until May 1, 1907 that the town actually acquired the railway, at a cost of $83,200.00, after voters approved the purchase.

Four cars were added to the fleet the following year, one new and three second-hand. The new car, #10, was assigned to carry mail from the post office on King Street, Berlin, to the railway station. There the mail was transferred to the steam railway.

During 1910, the line was double tracked from Water Street to Albert Street. More double tracking was done in later years. 1910 also saw hydroelectric power come to Berlin, thanks to Sir Adam Beck. The street railway began using power supplied by the Ontario Hydro Electric Power System in October of that same year. By June 1913, the Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway had 5.09 miles of track and a fleet of 19 cars.

The Preston & Berlin Street Railway (renamed the Grand River Railway in 1914) began operating into Berlin on October 6, 1904. The P&B had its trackage on a marginal right-of-way along the south side of King Street to a point just east of Stirling Avenue where the freight line split off in a south-west direction on a private right-of-way. The passenger line swung to the centre of King Street and continued west to Albert Street, and from there through downtown Berlin to Water Street sharing trackage with the street railway. This practice was discontinued in 1921 when the Grand River Railway put larger cars into service with the conversion from 600 to 1500 volt operation. The Grand River Railway constructed a new cut-off line from Kitchener Junction to Courtland Avenue where it rejoined the freight line.

This change resulted in the street railway taking over the trackage of the Grand River Railway from Albert Street to Kitchener Junction. A new waiting room was built at this point for the convenience of passengers transferring between the street railway and the Grand River Railway cars. Use of the Albert Street carbarn was discontinued when a new carbarn was built in 1923, directly across the road from the Kitchener Junction loop. This carbarn remained in use after the streetcar system was converted to trolley coach, and was also used for motor bus service and storage until replaced in November 1976 by a new operations and maintenance facility on Strasburg Road in Kitchener.

In 1912, two double truck cars, 22 and 24, were purchased from Preston Car & Coach to handle the increasing traffic. In 1919, three Kuhlman built double truck cars, 26, 28 and 30, were purchased used from the Cleveland Railway Company. Five Peter Witt cars were obtained from Cleveland in 1922, these becoming 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40 in Kitchener. The Witt cars continued in base service until streetcar service ended.

The Berlin & Bridgeport Electric Street Railway Company operated five miles of line. It was incorporated on January 7, 1901 and opened July 14, 1902 for regular traffic as far as a new sugar beet plant then being built. On August 1 of that same year, service was extended to Bridgeport following completion of construction. The Berlin & Bridgeport rostered only one car, #11, and used other cars from the Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway as required. The Berlin & Bridgeport service operated from the Berlin Town Hall, at Scott Street, over Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway trackage on King and Water Streets as far as Weber Street, from which point they proceeded over their own trackage to Bridgeport.

In 1912, the name of the Berlin & Bridgeport was changed to the Berlin & Northern Railway Company and was granted powers to build an extension to Elora and Fergus. The extension was never built. In 1919, the name was again changed, this time to the Waterloo Wellington Railway Company. Partial grading of a right-of-way was done from the Bridgeport terminus with plans to extend to Guelph. It is unknown whether any track was ever layed. A new two stall carbarn was built at Bridgeport in 1923. It is believed that this line was leased to and operated by the Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway until it was taken over by the City of Kitchener in 1923. The line then lost its identity becoming just another route of the Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway.

Two steel single truck Birney safety cars were purchased by the Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway in 1923 from the Ottawa Car Manufacturing Company. These were numbered 62 and 64. They were regularly assigned to the Bridgeport line after its acquisition.

Eventually, the operation the Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway became the responsibility of the Kitchener Public Utilities Commission - Street Railway Department.

In 1939, the P.U.C. took over a private cross-town bus line then operated by Sanford Fisher and Mr. H. Appell. The City of Kitchener first began bus operation on May 1 with a fleet of five G. M. Yellow Coach buses. Three Ford Transit buses were purchased in 1940 permitting the abandonment of streetcar service on the Bridgeport line June 1, replaced by buses the following morning. The former Berlin & Bridgeport trackage was then pulled up as far as Weber Street. Service to the C.N.R. station was discontinued in 1941 with those rails being lifted the same year. By 1942, track mileage had shrunk from a system total of 10.35 to 6.82 miles. This mileage remained for the duration of streetcar service.

Streetcar operations in Kitchener came to an abrupt end on December 27, 1946, 59 years after service first began. Abandonment had been scheduled for December 31, however a severe sleet storm hit Southern Ontario on the evening of December 27 causing the old streetcar overhead wire to snap in three places. As well, the rails filled with ice and snow completely shutting down the service. The cost of repairs could not be justified when only four days remained until trolley coaches were to go into operation replacing the streetcars.

ALL-TIME STREETCAR ROSTER
No.TypeBuilderBuiltRemarks
1 - 2
ST SE
Open
Canadian
General Electric
1896
The Peckham trucks used under these cars were switched to
closed cars 3 & 4 and back twice a year. Last used in 1922.
Scrapped in 1938.
3 - 4
ST SE
Closed
Canadian
General Electric
1896
Two-man rear-entrance.
The Peckham trucks used under these cars were switched to open cars 1 & 2 and back twice a year. Disposed of by 1932.
5
ST DE
Closed
 
 
Two-man rear-entrance.
Second hand converted horse car, ex Buffalo soon after electrification.
6 - 8
ST Open
Trailer
 
 
Second hand converted horse cars. Disposed of after 1907.
9
DT DE
Closed
Ottawa Car Mfg.
1901
Two-man rear-entrance. Disposed of by 1932.
10
DT DE
Closed
Ottawa Car Mfg.
1908
Two-man rear-entrance. Dismantled in April 1938.
Body moved to location on Kitchener-Guelph highway.
11
DT DE
Closed
N. & A.C. Lariviere
1902
Orig. Berlin & Bridgeport Electric St. Ry. 11, later lettered for
Berlin & Northern Ry. 11. Dismantled in 1935.
Body used as a lunch stand in Bridgeport.
12
ST DE
Closed
 
 
Ex Buffalo in 1902-3. Later used as a scraper car.
Dismantled in April 1938. Body sold.
14(1)
ST Open
 
 
Ex Buffalo in 1902-3. Retired c.1907 due to poor condition.
14(2)
ST DE
Sweeper
J.G. Brill Co.
 
Ex Cleveland Railway Co. in 1910.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.
16
18(1)
20
DT SE
Closed
Montreal Street Railway
1900
Two-man rear-entrance.
Ex Saint John Railway Co. 50-52 in 1908,
originally Montreal Park & Island Railway 200-202.
16 scrapped about 1922.
18 converted to flat motor with hoist.
20 scrapped in 1938.
Note 1.
18(2)
ST DE
Sweeper
J.G. Brill Co.
 
Ex Cleveland Railway Co. about 1924.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.
22
24
DT SE
Closed
Preston Car & Coach
1912
Two-man rear-entrance.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.
26
28
30
DT SE
Closed
G.C. Kuhlman Car
c.1905
Two-man rear-entrance.
Ex Cleveland Railway Co. in 1919.
26 scrapped in 1947. 28 & 30 scrapped in 1941.
32
34
36
DT SE
Peter Witt
Cincinnati Car
1918
Two-man front-entrance.
Ex Cleveland Railway Co. 1090, 1086 & 1092 in May 1922.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.
38
40
DT SE
Peter Witt
Cincinnati Car
1918
Two-man front-entrance.
Ex Cleveland Railway Co. 1085 & 1077 in July 1922.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.
58
ST DE
Closed
Trailer
J.M. Jones' Sons
1918
Ex Toronto Railway 58 c.1904, former Toronto horse car.
Originally used as trailer for cars 3 & 4.
Decorated as "Toonerville Trolley" parade car for Kitchener
Old Boy's celebration in 1925.
Sold for use as dwelling on highway 8, east of Kitchener.
62
64
ST DE
Birney
Safety
Ottawa Car Mfg.
1923
One-man Safety Car. Originally used mainly on the Bridgeport
line, then as trippers to Waterloo, 1939-46.
Scrapped in May 1947.
66
ST DE
Birney
Safety
Cincinnati Car
1920
One-man Safety Car. Ex Peterborough Radial Rly. 35 in 1928.
The Peterborough destination sign was never replaced in this
car and "CNR Depot" was the only sign appropriate to
Kitchener, so this car was regularly assigned to carrying mail to
and from the CNR train station.
Body sold in April 1946.
80
DT DE
Sprinkler
Car
J.G. Brill Co.
 
Acquired from Providence, RI in 1923.
Scrapped about 1944.
--
DT SE
Flat
Motor
 
1923
Originally passenger car 18(1).
Rebuilt to flat motor with hoist in 1923.
Scrapped by M. Brown & Sons in May 1947.

NOTES====
ST = Single Truck
SE = Single End (operates in one direction. Car must turn around at the end of the line)
DT = Double Truck
DE = Double End (operates in either direction without turning)

Note 1: Picture of Saint John Railway Co. 51 (later Kitchener 18 1st) can be found in 'Loyalist City Streetcars: The
======Story of Street Railway Transit in Saint John, New Brunswick' by Fred Angus, ISBN 0-919130-29-1.

Note 2: There were three double truck steel dump trailers and five single truck wood dump trailers for hauling sand
======from Breithaupt's pit beyond Bridgeport to building construction jobs on King Street, Kitchener. Usually
======hauled by passenger car 11, the materials were dumped at the side of the road on King Street. Two push
======type, four wheel trailers were also owned by the street railway.


PHOTO GALLERY====

  B&W Open Car B&W 10 Double tracking BW 22 or 24
  B&W
1 or 2
B&W 10 King St. B&W
22 or 24
KWSR 24 KWSR 26 KWSR 32 Toonerville Trolley KWSR 62 KWSR 64 Kit. Junction
24 26 32 Toonerville
Trolley
62 64 Junction
(click on thumbnails for larger view)

For more Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway images, go to
DAVE'S RAILPIX - ONTARIO LISTING
and scroll down to Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway

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REFERENCE MATERIAL

BOOKS

  • Adam Beck - James Sturgis - Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Don Mills ON, 1982, ISBN 0-88902-246-1
  • Kitchener Yesterday Revisited: An Illustrated History
    - Bill Moyer - Windsor Publications (Canada) Ltd., 1979, ISBN 0-89781-004-X
  • On a Streak of Lightning: Electric Railways in Canada
    - J. Edward Martin - Studio E, Delta BC, 1994, ISBN 0-920716-03-2
  • Streetcar Builders of Canada - Volume One
    - William Bailey and Douglas Parker, CRHA, Montreal QC, 2002, ISBN: 0-9730219-0-X
            - The Ontario Car and Foundry Company
            - The Preston Car & Coach Company
            - The Tillsonburg Electric Car Company
  • The Birney Car - Harold E. Cox, no date, no ISBN

    View a full copy of The Birney Car on-line,
    or the page listing the Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway cars.

    (Please note that each page is its own GIF file which may take a while
    to download depending on the type of internet connection you have.)

  • Traction On The Grand - John Mills - Railfare Enterprises Limited, Montreal QC, 1977, ISBN 0-919130-27-5
VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS====

  • Development of Public Transit In Kitchener-Waterloo
    - (study paper) Wayne Kirk - University of Waterloo, 1964, p. 1-22, Kitchener Public Library archives
  • The Kitchener-Waterloo Street Railway - Upper Canada Railway Society - Bulletin 22
  • Berliner Journal, Daily Record, Daily Telegraph and The Record
    - various issues of the Kitchener newspaper under different names
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KITCHENER PUC TROLLEY COACH OPERATION

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VISIT THE KITCHENER AND WATERLOO WEB SITES

City of Kitchener
City of Waterloo

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