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 The James Street Route

The James Street Route

Start of service: June 3, 1878
End of service: February 1, 1886
Route: From James & Guise to James & Stuart. Later extended along James to Herkimer, and then later along Herkimer to Queen.

Construction began on April 26, 1878 on a single track on James north of Stuart. By May 13 the tracks had reached the steamboat (MacKay's) wharf at James & Guise.

June 3, 1878
New service begins on James street from the steamboat wharf at James & Guise to James & Stuart.

Service was so popular on the route that in 1879 the HSR decided to expand and upgrade the route. The track on James north of Stuart was twinned, while the existing tracks on James between Stuart and King were rebuilt due to increased ridership and greater than expected track wear starting on April 7. As well new track construction began on James between King and Herkimer on May 1, 1879 using rails salvaged from track rebuilding on King and James streets. HSR #17 & #18 were the first HSR horsecars designed to be pulled by two horses, and were specifically built for service on James street, and arrived on May 29. They were painted in the tartan of the Scotish clan of Maclean and/or Macduff, and as a result the James street route was informally called the Plaid or Check route.

May 30, 1879
Service is extended south on James to Herkimer.

Construction of new tracks along Herkimer Street between James and Queen began on May 9, 1883 and was completed by June 11.

June 11, 1883
Service is extended west on Herkimer to Queen

February 1, 1886
A reorganization of the HSR's routes splits the James Street Route. Service on James south of King and on Herkimer is handled by the new GTR Station, James and Herkimer route, while service on James north of Stuart becomes part of the James North and King West route. Both of these routes ran on James street between King and Stuart.


Hamilton Spectator
“Local Items” April 26, 1878, pg 4
“Local Items” May 13, 1878, pg 4
"Local Briefs" June 3, 1878, pg 3
"Street Railway Extension" March 11, 1879, pg 4
“Local Items” April 8, 1879, pg 4
“Local Items” April 12, 1879, pg 4
"Local Briefs" May 1, 1879, pg 4
“Local Items” May 29, 1879, pg 4
“Local Items” May 30, 1879, pg 4
"Traveller's Guide" November 18, 1879, pg 3
“The Diurnal Epitome” May 3, 1883, pg 4
“The Diurnal Epitome” May 9, 1883, pg 4
“The Diurnal Epitome” June 11, 1883, pg 4
"Traveller's Guide" February 1, 1886, pg 3

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