Winnipeg, Selkirk Railway
|The 'street car' as it was commonly referred to, with its shelters every mile, was a benefit not only to the Town of Selkirk but also to the Municipality of St. Andrews residents, particularly those who lived in Wards currently numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Here is its story. |
In 1892 a group of Selkirk business people were anxious for a Winnipeg to Selkirk means of passenger transportation, as they considered the CPR Riverton line not a frequent enough service. Although the organized name was "Selkirk Electric Street Railway Company", this name soon disappeared and was replaced by the "Winnipeg, Selkirk and Lake Winnipeg Railway". The people of Winnipeg and Selkirk areas developed it from there. In 1903, the Selkirk Town Council awarded the W.S. and L.W. Railway an exclusive eighty-five year franchise with some tax exemptions over twenty years, for daily service between Selkirk and Winnipeg. The track followed the west side of what is now highway #9 (Winnipeg to Selkirk) to the then outskirts of Selkirk. From there it went easterly in the vicinity of Heap Avenue, then north along the east side of Eveline Street to the north end of town, to the car barns (now the New Life Community Church) with a wye into Selkirk Park, a popular Sunday ride for Winnipeg residents.
The tracks were heavy gauge so that a steam train from the CPR could be switched in Selkirk where the two lines crossed. The first trip on August 26, 1904 was by a train. Because the power plant was not strong enough for difficult travelling conditions, a small steam locomotive replaced it in 1905 referred to as the "Dinky". It carried freight and passengers including milk in five and eight gallon cans from the dairy farmers in this area including Edward Chamberlain, John Gessner, Charles Gessner and William Scott, who had milk contracts with the Winnipeg creameries.
In 1904 and 1905, having no turn around track in Selkirk, the cars went in reverse going back to Winnipeg. The southern limit of service was Main Street and Luxton in Winnipeg. The W.S. and L.W. Railway could go no further as Winnipeg street car tracks were of lighter gauge. Electrification of this twenty-two-mile line took place in 1906. A brick station for passengers and freight was built on Eveline Street and Eaton Avenue (immediately north of the present Selkirk bridge).
Comfort improvements included panelling of cars, heating and cooling according to the season. Five round trips were made each day. The rides were inclined to be rough, but in 1906 this was acceptable when one could get to Winnipeg within one hour and back the same day for an 80 cent fare.
Just before World War I a branch line to Stonewall was constructed. It branched off in Middlechurch north of West St. Paul School, went under the CPR tracks and then on to Stonewall. The under track opening was filled in recent years but the spot is still recognizable.
In 1937 service on the Winnipeg to Selkirk line was reduced. Both lines continued until 1939 when service was replaced with buses and the lines later dismantled.
With thanks to Mr. Frank Hooker of Selkirk, Manitoba for some of the details.