Another Interurban Railway
You have probably heard of the Edmonton Interurban Railway, which operated from Edmonton to St. Albert for only a single year (granted, it began with much greater ambitions than that!).
This is not that railway. Tramways Limited was organized in 1913, and had a charter to go from Edmonton to such suburban locations as Namao, Bon Accord, and Fort Saskatchewan. There is no physical evidence remaining of this railway on our landscape, and I would have to guess that, although Tramways limited had shovels in the ground in October of 1914, this interurban railway was never completed.
Newspaper articles below were taken from the Peel Prairie Provinces website.
January 1913: The Beginning
February-March 1913: A Company is Created
Act to Incorporate Tramways, Limited (assented to in March 1913) provides many of the details we know about this interurban railway. As seen below, the railway could not use steam and was permitted to generate electric power. It is likely that this railway would have followed the same plan as the Edmonton Interurban Railway, using Gasoline powered interurban cars (with a mix of space for passengers and freight) initially and then eventually erecting overhead lines to utilize electric power. It was also possible that Tramways, Limited would have used gasoline power outside of Edmonton and then electric once their interurban streetcars entered the City and came under the control and operation of the City of Edmonton (as per the agreement later made with the City of Edmonton).
“7. The company may lay out, construct and operate a line of railway to be operated by any motive power other than steam with a gauge of four feet eight and one-half inches from a point as follows:
(a) From a point at or near the boundary of the City of Edmonton northerly to or near Bon Accord;
(b) From a point upon the last mentioned line easterly to a point in the Fort Saskatchewan Settlement;
(c) From a point at or at the boundary of the City of Edmonton or from a point on the firstly mentioned line northerly to a point in the Fort Saskatchewan Settlement;
(d) From a point on the boundary of the City of Edmonton easterly and northerly on the south bank of the Saskatchewan River to a point in the Fort Saskatchewan settlement;
together with such branches as may be convenient not extending more than six miles in length.”
“12. The company may generate or acquire electric or other power or energy and may transmit, sell and dispose of the same.”
One particularly curious part of the Act, for an interurban tramway at least, is the requirement that they accept and transport farmers’ grains, as outlined below:
“15. The company shall at all stations upon their railway always permit the loading of grain into cars from farmers’ vehicles or flat warehouses, subject to reasonable regulations to be made by the said company, and shall at all reasonable times afford roper facilities therefor.”
This makes me wonder if the interurban railway would have ended up being more like an electric railway, with electric locomotives pulling passenger and freight cars. The limited size (6 miles) and the name of this railway (Tramways, Limited) seem to indicate this is not the case though. Furthermore, the agreement later made between Tramways Limited and the City of Edmonton stipulated that the interurban streetcars operated by Tramways Limited be of the same general design as the City’s streetcars.
June 1914: Survey Map
On June 29, 1914, Tramways Limited submitted a survey map to the Government of Alberta This fascinating map — available via SPIN2 (Survey Map 6222AZ) — shows the interurban tramway traveling a different route than the one laid out in the legislation above. It runs north from Edmonton to (just east of ) Namao, then through Duagh, northeast (almost) to New Lunnen, and east to almost reach the North Saskatchewan River.
Tramways Limited is looking for a way to enter Edmonton.
Below, you will find the most thorough overview of this railway that I have found. Begin at “Public Notice”…
The best known overview of Tramways Limited and their agreement with the City of Edmonton. – The Edmonton Bulletin, December 12, 1914 (MORNING EDITION), Page 15, Item Ad01502. (Courtesy of the Peel’s Prairie Provinces Collection).
And this is the last I have found in the news on Tramways Limited. It just seems to have faded away…
Edmonton’s McKeen Motor Cars: Interurban Railway Service to Lac La Biche via the Alberta & Great Waterways Railway
McKeen Motor Cars and Edmonton Interurban Service to Lac La Biche
Near The End
The McKeen Motor Car Company
Dunvegan Rail Yard & Area
Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway Yard
Karl Clark’s Oil Sands Separation Plant (1924-1925)
North West Lumber Company Limited Mill
Advertising: June 1912
Failing: October 1919
Canadian Northern Western Railway Station (Southside – 80th Avenue)
Edmonton once boasted many beautiful railway stations–the last preserved one is the Canadian Pacific Railway Station near Whyte Ave, and there were three large stations downtown. But did you know that there was once another station in Edmonton’s core, only a block away from the preserved Canadian Pacific Railway station?
This station was operated under the Canadian Northern Western Railway charter by the Canadian Northern Railway (which built stations near 104 avenue and 101 street downtown).
Have a look on this 1917 map hosted by the University of Alberta and see images of the station below.
1914 (Looking North)
EdHGIS: 1914 & 2016 Imagery
As of the 2010s, a strip mall stands in the space once occupied by the railway station.