Tom Schwarzkopf 272 pages softcover
At the end of the 19th century, fast, electric streetcars replaced
horse-drawn transit vehicles, revolutionizing how people moved through
rapidly-growing cities. Except for a few early dabblings in the
embryonic technology of a rubber-tired electric bus, the streetcar
dominated through the early 1900s, and during both world wars, provided
the majority of public transit.
However, following WWII, the rise of the personal automobile, a boom in
the economy and the associated affluence of the population, coupled
with ageing, worn-out tram systems, demanded a modern, transit vehicle
to replace the streetcar and retain transit riders.
Enter the trolley coach – fast, clean, quiet, and maneuverable through
streets that were crowded with automobile traffic. By the late 1940s,
every major city in Canada had added fleets of the new electric coaches,
which, thanks to their quiet, powerful, electric motors, could climb
hills and accelerate much faster than the less powerful gasoline and
diesel motor buses of the day. Tires and Wires tells you all about how that happened.
These efficient trolley coach lines ran in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa,
Cornwall, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Windsor, Port Arthur-Fort
William, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and are still
operating in Vancouver. Several other cities contemplated or trialed
them, and all are featured in this omnibus volume. However, a variety of
factors doomed the electric coach, just ahead of the green revolution.
The reasons are varied, and covered in each city’s story.
Fascinating photos of each city’s system show the coaches,
passengers, and in-street running, with the surroundings providing
historical reference points for those interested in transportation,
Canadiana, and nostalgic home-town views. For equipment and transit
enthusiasts, the author has compiled complete system equipment rosters,
with vehicle specifications and illustrations, along with a listing of
There’s a chapter for each city’s system, plus a history of the
trolley coach in Canada, and of all nine coach manufacturers. Wire maps
(to show the streets on which they ran) are included for every city.
Hundreds of excellent photographs and illustrations, along with
high-quality colour photos are included in the book. In addition, a
unique compilation of late 1940s and early 1950s colour postcards
featuring trolley coaches appears in Tires and Wires.