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 The Cars of the HRER

The Cars of the HRER

Between the start of operations in 1896 and its closure in 1929, the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway used a number of interurban cars built by several different manufacturers.

When the HRER began operations, it numbered its cars starting at #10, in increments of 5. In order to eliminate confusion with HSR streetcars with the same numbers, in 1901 the cars were renumbered by adding a one to the existing number (HRER #25 became #125), although there were exceptions. This was followed by a system wide renumbering of all Cataract company streetcars and radials around 1910, in which HRER freight cars were numbered into the 120s and 390s, and passenger cars into the 300s, again with exceptions.

The Patterson & Corbin Cars

The passenger cars will be something big, from the shops of Patterson & Corbin, St. Catharines. Each car is 51 ft long, double trucked, fitted with Westinghouse air brakes, and has a seating capacity of 60. the seats are placed on each side of an aisle, as in a railway coach, and are of rattan. There are smoking compartments in them. The cars are finished in cherry, and cost nearly $4,000 each. There are four here ready for use. A combination car, with a baggage department in front and a trailer will be run together in each trip. Each car is equipped with two 50 horse-power motors.-Hamilton Spectator, September 1, 1896, pg 5

The first four HRER cars were single ended. HRER #20 was the first car to see service on the HRER, used for the ceremonial first run on September 7, 1896, and was described by the Hamilton Spectator as being "finished in mahogany on the exterior, with a silver strip along the top and bottom." HRER #10 was lost on March 13 1899 when the HRER's Beach carhouse burned down. After the fire, the surviving trailer was rebuilt and motorized.

Original number Type & Dimensions 2nd number (1901) 3rd number (1910) Notes
10
Trailer, 51'6" x 9'6" x 13'0" -
-
burned 13 Mar 1899
15
Trailer, 42'10.5" x 9'7.5" x 11'11" (after rebuilding, originally the same as the others) 15
15
Rebuilt into freight car 1904, rebuilt into line car 1915, transferred to HSR 1929, scrapped 1951.
20
Combine, 51'6" x 9'6" x 13'0" 120
120
Rebuilt into freight car circa 1905, wrecked 1912
25
Combine, 51'6" x 9'6" x 13'0" 125
307
Scrapped 1921, roof salvaged, used to build B&H 240

HRER #15 on the Birch St ROW near Wilson & Stinton

HSR (ex-HRER) #15 on the Birch St ROW near Wilson & Stinton after the end of streetcar service in 1951. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HRER 125 at the Queen's Hotel in Burlington, circa 1905

HRER #125 at the Queen's Hotel in Burlington, circa 1905. The Queen's Hotel still stands today, at the corner of Elgin & Brant St. (Photo courtesy of the Burlington Historical Society, used with permission)

The Crossen Cars

In 1897 the HRER received four combine cars (delivered in May) and a rotary snowplow (delivered January 6) from the Crossen Car Company of Cobourg, Ontario. "They are beautifully finished and are a great improvement over the old cars. There are eighteen double seats, upholstered in matting, with a smoking compartment in the rear. The cars each have four 40-horsepower motors, and are guaranteed to run 40 miles an hour. The coaches are painted an olive green and will be put into service at once"-Hamilton Spectator, May 21, 1897, pg 1. The snowplow was never numbered, but was named 'Ruggles' after the American company that designed it (the Crossen company was one of the Canadian companies that held manufacturing rights). HRER #304 (formerly #140, formerly #40) was lost on December 20, 1924 when a fire broke out at the HSR's East Barn.

Original number Type & Dimensions 2nd number (1901) 3rd number (1910) Notes
30
Combine, 50'11" x 8'11" x 12'9" 130
302
Scrapped 1932
35
Combine, 50'11" x 8'11" x 12'9" 135
303
Scrapped 1932
40
Combine, 50'11" x 8'11" x 12'9" 140
304
Burned 20 Dec 1924
45
Combine, 50'11" x 8'11" x 12'9" 145
306
Scrapped 1932
Ruggles
Rotary plow, 18'0" x 8'0" x 12'0" -
-
Never numbered, scrapped 1933

HRER 302 at West Hamilton Station in 1920

HRER #302 at West Hamilton station on the H&D in 1920. From left to right, either Jim Jardine or Mr. Jennings coming down the steps, Stan Jones, unknown, David Searles, George Searles, Lizzie Prescott (Haye), three unknown, Flora Duffus (Huckstep), Mrs. Coope, unknown and Harry Filer. (Photo from West Hamilton, a Village and a Church.)

HRER 303 at the H&D Dundas station

HRER #303 at the H&D Dundas station, from a postcard postmarked August 18, 1910. (From Vintage Postcards of Hamilton, used with permission)

HRER 303, at the Hamilton Terminal Station circa 1920.

HRER #303, at the Hamilton Terminal Station circa 1920. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

The 1899 Ottawa Cars

The first cars that the HRER received after being bought by the Cataract Company in 1899 were two cars from the Ottawa Car Company in 1899, an interurban car and a trailer. The interurban was numbered 10, the second HRER car with that number, to replace the car destroyed in the March 13 1899 carhouse fire. The Hamilton Spectator described it as "finished in oak and upholstered in red plush. The car is equipped with a swing bolster truck, which makes traveling over sharp curves very easy." -August 3, 1899, pg 8

Original number Type, Dimensions 2nd number (1901) 3rd number (1910) Notes
10:2
Interurban, 48'10" x 9'2" x 13'3" 210
301
renumbered 160 in 1920, scrapped 1927
50
Trailer, 31'2" x 8'6" x 13'2.5" 50
50
Rebuilt to Milk Car in 1912, renumbered 399:2, scrapped 1928

HRER 399 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in January 1920

HRER #399 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in January 1920. (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, used with permission)

The 1906 Ottawa Cars

The HRER received two more interurban cars from the Ottawa Car Company on August 1 1906. The finished car bodies were delivered without trucks or motors, and they had been originally intended to arrive in June. The Hamilton Spectator stated that "These new cars will be closed, and a trifle longer than those now used. There is no baggage compartment. The seats are of rattan, and the cars will be finished simply, but comfortably."-August 3, 1906, pg 1. Numbered 300 and 305, they were not renumbered in 1910, instead most other HRER cars were renumbered to match these two.

Number Type, Dimensions Notes
300
Interurban, 57'0" x 8'11" x 13'0" Burned Beamsville 29 Dec 1919
305
Interurban, 57'0" x 8'11" x 13'0" Scrapped 1932

HRER 300 stuck in a snow bank on the H&D near Main St W and Leland in Hamilton, Feb 13, 1911

HRER #300 stuck in a snow bank on the H&D near Main St W and Leland in Hamilton, Feb 13, 1911.(Photographer unknown)

HRER 305 at the B&H Ancaster stop in 1908.

HRER #305 at the B&H Ancaster stop in 1908. (From the Ross Gray collection, used with permission)

HRER 305 at Appleby Road in Burlington in the summer of 1909

HRER #305 at Appleby Road in Burlington in the summer of 1909. The couple in the foreground are the motorman, John Dudley Williamson, and his wife Eleanor. (Photo courtesy of the Burlington Public Library, used with permission)

HRER 305 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in January 1920

HRER #305 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in January 1920. (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, used with permission)

The Preston Cars

The last cars that the HRER received were two interurban cars built by the Preston Car Company in 1910. These cars were both originally numbered Hamilton Terminal Company (HTC) #600 and #601, and were transferred to the HRER and renumbered 308 and 309 sometime in the mid 1920s.

Number Type, Dimensions Notes
308
Interurban, 55'8" x 8'10.5" x 13'0" Scrapped 1933
309
Interurban, 55'8" x 8'10.5" x 13'0" Scrapped 1933

HRER 309 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in the summer of 1928.

HRER #309 at the Hamilton Terminal Station in the summer of 1928. (Photographer unknown)

The HRER Freight Cars

The HRER had a number of freight cars. The first were 3 36 ft boxcars built by the HRER around 1896, and numbered 121-123. One of these cars eventually became part of the Brantford Freight shed in 1921, while another was possibly rebuilt into a flatcar numbered 141. These were followed by five fruit trailers numbered 393-398, built in 1906 possibly by the Ottawa car Company, and a flat car of unknown origins numbered 399.

Number Type, Dimensions Notes
121-123
boxcar, 36'0" x 9'6" x 13'3" one rebuilt Brantford Freight Shed 1921, one rebuilt 141?
141
flatcar, ? former boxcar?
393-398
fruit car, 34'9" x 9'3" scrapped 1934
399
flatcar, 41'8" x 8'4" scrapped 1914

HRER 123 at the E. D. Smith plant west of Winona, March 1911

HRER #123 at the E. D. Smith plant west of Winona, March 1911. Note the unusual doors at the end of each car. (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, used with permission)

A clip of one of the fruit cars (HRER #393-398) has been found online, inside a short 1920 film on fruit picking in the Niagara Peninsula called 'Where Nature Smiles.' It can't be linked to directly, but here's how to find it:

Visit the National Film Board of Canada Images Search page

  • on the NFB page, click 'More Options' below the search bar

  • in the field 'Shot ID', type 27708.

  • The full documentary is 9 minutes, 15 seconds. The car is being towed by HTC #675, and appears at about 12:05:31:00 (for some reason this clip starts at 12:00:00:00)

Summary

Builder and year Original HRER number Number after 1901 Number after 1910 Other number (if any) Notes
Patterson & Corbin, 1896
10
-
-
-
burned 13 Mar 1899
Patterson & Corbin, 1896
15
15
15
-
Rebuilt into freight car 1904, rebuilt into line car 1915, transferred to HSR 1929, scrapped 1951.
Patterson & Corbin, 1896
20
120
120
-
Rebuilt into freight car circa 1905, wrecked 1912
Patterson & Corbin, 1896
25
125
307
-
Scrapped 1921, roof salvaged, used to build B&H 240
Crossen, 1897
30
130
302
-
Scrapped 1932
Crossen, 1897
35
135
303
-
Scrapped 1932
Crossen, 1897
40
140
304
-
Burned 20 Dec 1924
Crossen, 1897
45
145
306
-
Scrapped 1932
Crossen, 1897
Ruggles
-
-
-
Never numbered, scrapped 1933
Ottawa, 1899
10:2
210
301
160
scrapped 1927
Ottawa, 1899
50
50
50
399:2
Rebuilt to Milk Car in 1912, scrapped 1928
Ottawa, 1906
-
-
300
-
Burned Beamsville 29 Dec 1919
Ottawa, 1906
-
-
305
-
Scrapped 1932
Preston, 1910
-
-
308
-
Ex HTC 600, transferred 1920s, scrapped 1933
Preston, 1910
-
-
309
-
Ex HTC 601, transferred 1920s, scrapped 1933

Sources

Hamilton Herald

"Nine Street Cars Burned in Barn Fire" Dec 20, 1924, Section 2, pg 1

Hamilton Spectator

“Second Of The Radials - Something about the Electric Railway to the Beach” Sep 1, 1896, pg 5
“First Trip On The Road - A Car Ran Over the Beach Electric Line Yesterday” Sep 8, 1896, pg 5
"Handsome Cars - New Coaches for the Hamilton Radial Railway" May 21, 1897, pg 1
"Local News Items" August 3, 1899, pg 8
"New Cars for the Radial - They Were Ordered For the Oakville Extension and Have Been a Long Time Coming" Aug 2, 1906, pg 1
"They Are Costly - Though Radial's New Cars Will Not Be Exceptionally Fine" Aug 3, 1906, pg 1

Mills, John M. Cataract Traction; The Railways of Hamilton. Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society/Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, 1971