Railway Subsidiaries



Hamilton Terminal Company

The Terminal StationThe Hamilton Terminal Company (one of Dominion Power & Transmission's many subsidiaries) owned the Terminal Station (which opened for railway use on November 18, 1907) as well as many interurban cars. The four storey Terminal Station was located at King Street and Catherine Street Its first floor was an interurban waiting room and the top three floors made up D.P.&T.'s head office. Use of the station was spread among the four interurbans as well as the Hamilton Street Railway (which looked after car storage and maintenance) and the Hamilton Terminal Company itself.

Though cars were interchanged freely between the companies, for some reason D.P.&T. never simplified its railway operations. Instead they decided to employ a complex system of rental and service fees. Companies were charged: 25 cents per car for use of the Terminal Station, 7½ cents per mile for rental of cars, and $1.40 per year for each square foot of office space. This system, though complicated, seemed to benefit the Hamilton Terminal Company at least. In 1924, during a time when radials were beginning to show heavy losses, the Hamilton Terminal Company managed to make net earnings of $36,250 (including $27,200 in radial fees). In 1927, D.P.&T.'s buses began using the station, foreshadowing its eventual transformation into a union bus terminal. The new bus-only terminal remained in use until 1955. Four years later, what was once the Terminal Station was torn down to make way for a new apartment and commercial complex called Terminal Towers (now known as Effort Square). In 1966 a plaque was placed in the wall of the building commemorating the part of D.P.&T. in the industrial growth of Hamilton.

Hamilton and Dundas Street Railway

A Steam DummyThe Hamilton and Dundas Street Railway Company was incorporated in 1875 to build steam-operated light railways between Hamilton and Dundas. The train ran on public streets and therefore "steam dummies" (small locomotives encased in a body similar to a street car) were required so that townspeople and horses would not be frightened. The station, offices, engine house, and car shed were all located on Hatt Street in Dundas. The line itself began at Hatt Street and Foundry Street and ended at the Grand Trunk Railroad station on Ferguson Avenue in Hamilton. Connections could then be made with shuttle trains heading for the beach.

The construction of the line took longer to build than anticipated so in order to keep the franchise, a preliminary trip ran over the incomplete line on January 1, 1879. Regular service began in May and the railway had approximately 250,000 passengers annually during its first few years. The fare was 15 cents one-way, and 25 cents for a return trip. A Hamilton & Dundas TrainIn 1893 the franchise was extended for 20 years and was also given permission to convert to electricity. A new steam dummy was bought in 1896 which was more powerful than previous engines without increasing fuel consumption. Even so, shareholders approved electrification in July 1896. This project was carried out the following year and was accompanied by improvements to the line. Tracks were re-laid with heavier steel, sharp curves were eased to permit the operation of freight cars, and bridges were strengthened. Also in 1897, a connection in west Hamilton was built between the Hamilton and Dundas line and the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo line. The connection included an agreement for operation of carload freight service by the T.H.&B. to Dundas over H.&D. rails. 1898 marked the beginning of electric operation for the H.&D. with service being cut back from Ferguson Avenue to Catherine Street

In 1899 the electric railway was bought by the Cataract Power Company for $200,000, however, operations continued with little change. 20 years later, due to the rapid growth and development of the land adjoining west Hamilton, half-hour service commenced to that area. It was during this time that service peaked with 1,100,000 passengers annually. Unfortunately, the H.&D. would never see numbers that high again as a result of the commencement of bus service in the 1920's. In an effort to fight increasing bus competition, half-hour service was introduced over the whole line in 1922. However it was too little, too late for the radial. Due to deficits beginning as early as 1916, H.&D. service was terminated on September 5, 1923.

Hamilton, Grimsby and Beamsville Electric Railway

A Hamilton, Grimsby and Beamsville TrainLaunched in 1891, the Hamilton, Grimsby and Beamsville project was originally promoted to get produce delivered to the city of Hamilton quickly. Prompt transportation of perishables (especially milk) was of great importance before the advent of refrigeration. Tracks were built on a mixture of roadside public land and a narrow strip of railway-owned land beside the road. A steam power house was built in Stoney Creek along with a large pond for condensing water. The power house contained two 150 horse power engines which were belted to Westinghouse generators. Additionally, a carhouse with a machine shop was built in Grimsby. The line (which cost $120,000) officially opened on October 17, 1894. The H.G.&B. was the first interurban in Hamilton to open as an electric line. Furthermore, the H.G.&B. was the first electric railway in Canada whose fare collection was based on steam-railroad principles (with the rate depending on the distance traveled) as opposed to a zone system (where 5 cents was charged for every boundary passed).

Initially the line ran between Hamilton and Grimsby only, therefore connections by horse carriage to Beamsville were started in November. In 1895 the Hamilton terminal at Main Street and Catherine Street was completed. Before the terminal was built, cars terminated at Main Street and Emerald Street. In 1896 the Beamsville extension was completed and a small carhouse was built there. The number of passengers that year totaled 256,000. In 1898 a further extension to St. Catherines was contemplated but it was deemed too expensive. The seven mile extension would cost as much as the 23 miles already built due to steep grades and broad river valleys. In 1902, the Grand Trunk Railroad purchased 1,142 shares of H.G.&B. stock giving them controlling interest and causing C. J. Myles, the original promoter, to resign as president. With the expectation that St. Catherines would build a bridge over the Welland Canal, an extension to Vineland was built in 1904. However, the bridge and its connecting tracks weren't built until 1917 so the extension to Vineland produced very little traffic and became worthless. In 1905 the Grand Trunk Railroad lost interest in the line and ownership was subsequently transferred to the Cataract Power Company, which immediately closed the Vineland extension. The opening of the Terminal Station in 1907 caused the H.G.&B. station at Main Street and Catherine Street to become a freight station for all the interurbans. In 1912 the number of passengers annually was approximately 600,000, more than double the amount when the line opened. After World War I costs rose steadily due to inflation and the company saw its first loses in 1917. In 1921 competing bus service was introduced seriously affecting passenger loads. Similarly, the rise of trucks affected freight business. The competing bus service was bought by D.P.&T. in 1927 and passenger service along the H.G.&B. stopped as a consequence. In 1930 the sale of the D.P.&T. to Ontario Hydro caused the line to be abandoned.

Hamilton Radial Electric Railway

The Hamilton Radial Electric Railway was originally promoted on a small scale by John Patterson in 1893. Shortly afterwards, the project was taken over by a Mr. Forsyth from Boston. The project was expanded to a 227 mile-long line and it was thought that the Canadian Pacific Railway would use it as its route to the United States. Unfortunately, C.P.R. negotiated with the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railroad instead, causing the collapse of the project in 1895. The H.R.E.R. was down but not out. It was soon taken over by a new group headed by a man named Rev. Dr. Barnes. Construction commenced across the Hamilton/Burlington beach and a 300 horse power steam power house was built on its north end. The line started at James Street and ran via Gore Street and Wilson Street to Sherman Avenue where it turned east paralleling a Grand Trunk Railroad branch along the way to the beach. In 1896 service began from downtown Hamilton to the Canal on the beach. Two years later the line was extended through Burlington and the Sherman Avenue tracks were replaced with Birch Avenue tracks due to flooding close to the Sherman Inlet. Also in 1898, a small carhouse was built at the north end of the beach but it burned down the following year and was replaced with a larger one in Burlington.

In February 1901 control of the company was passed to Cataract Power. Not long afterwards rush-hour service was introduced to serve the industrial area developing on land reclaimed from the Bay and its inlets. In 1905 the line was extended to Oakville and a passenger station was built there. This move was initiated by a Toronto & York proposal to extend their line west from Port Credit to Oakville but they never came through. Also during 1905, a branch was opened on John Street in Burlington which served two industries on the lake. With the opening of the Terminal Station two years later, H.R.E.R.'s radial cars were diverted there and its extra line on Gore Street was used as a terminal point for H.S.R. cars. During this period of time the railway was at its busiest and thanks to the popularity of the beach it was the most traveled of the four lines with an astounding 2,273,000 passengers in 1913. In 1915 most of the Sherman Inlet was filled in and consequently the H.R.E.R. line in that area was straightened. Two years later the line began operating at a loss and in 1925 the Oakville line east of Port Nelson was abandoned to help compensate. Other restructuring that year included the merging of the H.R.E.R. and the Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway. The company was still losing money however, and further abandonments were therefore necessary. In 1927 the Burlington to Port Nelson section of the line was discarded and the Burlington station was remodeled as an appliance showroom. In 1929 the line east of Kenilworth Avenue was determined to be superfluous and was disposed of. In a similar manner, with the sale of D.P.&T. to Ontario Hydro, the H.R.E.R. was determined to be unnecessary and was abandoned.

Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway

A Brantford & Hamilton TrainThe Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway was incorporated in 1904 by the Von Echa Company of Pennsylvania which was attempting to put together a London to Hamilton interurban. However, the Von Echa Company was in competition with the Haines Brothers of New York who were putting together a Niagara, Hamilton and Brantford interurban. Both companies wanted to build their line but neither were able to make a commitment owing to financial difficulties. The Von Echa Company lost control of the B.&H., which eventually wound up as the property of the Cataract Power Company in 1906. Under new ownership, construction promptly began on the line. Substations were built at Langford (located east of Ancaster) and Brantford to power the line. The line opened to Ancaster in 1907 and the following year to Brantford. The total cost of the 22½ mile line was over $800,000 and the company's rolling stock consisted of the fastest cars of all the D.P.&T. interurbans.

Between 1911 and 1916, D.P.&T. made announcements that a branch would be built between Langford and Galt under the B.&H. charter. Nothing came of those announcements however. Surprisingly, at the same time John Patterson (of the "Five Johns") was promoting an independent Hamilton and Galt interurban.

In 1921 a freight station was built in Brantford around the body of an H.R.E.R. freight trailer, perhaps reflecting the economic difficulties of the company. Four years later the B.&H. and the H.R.E.R. integrated, and in another four years bus service replaced the railway.

Hamilton & Barton Incline Railway

A Sideview of the Hamilton & Barton Incline RailwayThe first of the incline railways in Hamilton, the Hamilton & Barton, was constructed in 1892 and was located on James Street. The H.&B. had two cars which ran opposite each other (i.e. when one was at the top, the other was at the bottom). Each 10 ton car contained an enclosure for passengers as well as a platform for wagons and horses. They climbed 195 feet along a 700 foot long track and each car was powered by a 125 horse power steam engine. The service opened to the public on June 11, but it only ran for two hours before shutting down due to a shortage of steam caused by boiler foaming. In spite of this, the incline railway was reopened the next day and continued to operate from then on with very little changes. The Bottom of the Hamilton & Barton Incline RailwayThe fare was two cents for adults and one cent for school children. The price was raised in 1919 to 50 rides for $1.25.

Despite fare increases, the company encountered deficits and offered to sell to the city of Hamilton for $50,000 (the original cost of the line). However, voters did not accept the proposal and the railway closed on December 26, 1931. The line reopened briefly in March 1932 when the city of Hamilton agreed to bear operating losses of up to $1,000 each year. This arrangement only lasted until May at which point increased deficits caused the railway to be permanently abandoned.

Hamilton Incline Railway

A View From the Top of the Hamilton Incline RailwayThe Hamilton Incline Railway, promoted by Rev. Samuel Lake, opened in 1900 near Wentworth Street. It was similar in construction to the line which preceded it but was 800 feet long and had a steeper grade. The fares were two cents for Mountain residents, and eight rides for 25 cents for downtown residents. In 1906 a new company owned by George F. Watt took over the railway. Improved cars were added four years later. In 1913 the track was badly damaged by a rock slide. Rebuilding the track included preparation for the conversion to electricity which occurred in 1914. Power was provided by batteries which were charged at night by the previously used steam engines. The greatest usage of this railway occurred between 1929 and 1930 when development on the Mountain was increasing and before roads were fully extended. Unfortunately, the line suffered losses and was closed on August 15, 1936.

Home List E-mail