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By Invitation Only - The May 31, 1999 Charter

Photos and Text by: James Bow

Brad O'Brien told me about a charter being organized for the end of May by a group from Philadelphia. Attendance was by invitation only, and Brad wanted to know if I'd be interested in using some of his pictures for this site. I said that I was interested, but that I also wanted to be on the charter. If Brad had been able to use his 'contacts' to get an invitation, might he try to get me an invitation as well?

Brad didn't have to try very hard. The group's representative, Bill Keigher, was very welcoming, and invited me on board. So, I showed up at Russell Carhouse on Sunday, May 30 and hopped on board PCC 4549 with the rest of the group for a six hour tour of Toronto. Below you shall find some of the photos I took...


York Street

Our first photo stop was at Church and Dundas, to pick up passengers from the alternate departure point. From there, we travelled down Church, along Wellington and up York. Unfortunately, most of these shots were lost due to an accident with the camera, but I did get this shot of PCC 4549 at York Street just north of King. The ALRV behind it just happened to get into my shot. Thanks to a number of parades and events, our route had to be altered on the fly, and we weren't the only ones. This chance encounter with an ALRV off of Queen or Bathurst really caught the railfans' attention.

Queen and University

Thanks to a parade at University Avenue, we thought we were going to have to skip Queen Street altogether. However, the police let us on the street and told us to wait a few minutes for a break in the parade to appear. This allowed us to take an impromptu photo shoot at Queen and University. The Trentway-Wager bus is a representative of the traffic chaos around us.

Queen and Spadina

At Queen and Spadina, the PCC turned north. Just before that, a group of us got off to catch the car turning. I turned my attention to this picture before me: an ALRV on Spadina. It was another of the Queen diversions.

Spadina Circle

Coming up Spadina, we were startled to encounter this lady on the tracks as we rounded Spadina Circle. That's more than a big no-no. Here's this shot, out of the back window of PCC 4549, as she continues, ready to give the CLRV driver behind us the fright of his life.

Spadina Station

Our next stop was Spadina Station, where we got off and the PCC used the loop-the-loop track to allow us to capture a run-through. Again, we had to contend with people thinking our car was a service car and attempting to board. They couldn't quite believe that people would actually *want* to take it out for a ride. Along the way, we also got plenty of gawkers -- probably startled to see a PCC after so long and wondering where this car has been these many years.

Spadina and College

After Spadina Station, our next stop was the newly opened Charlotte Loop. Along the way, we were delayed by yet another parade, and I was able to catch this shot of the Spadina tracks looking north of College towards Knox College.

Charlotte Loop

I was told that we were the first PCC to enter Charlotte Loop. Here, you see our car posed behind CLRV 4077 on a King run. Due to track maintenance on King, all westbound King cars were being turned back here.

Spadina Loop

After a quick trip to Union Station, we pulled into Spadina Loop at Queens Quay (where most of the Spadina short-turn cars were turning, thanks to a Blue Jays game and the use of Charlotte Loop by King cars). We took a number of run-past pictures. I caught CLRV 4138 making the turn here.

Exhibition Loop

After a photo shoot at Fleet Loop, our next stop was Exhibition Loop, and here we were in for a treat. We stopped on a siding at the north part of the loop and had a photo-shoot there. Unauthorized personnel are generally not allowed on this part of the loop, but we were careful not to make a nuisance of ourselves. We were rewarded with some excellent shots of our PCC being passed not only by service cars, but by trains as well. Here, a rare freight train diverted onto the Lakeshore line (by a parade, probably, if our day was any indication) makes a surprise visit.

Exhibition Loop

The freight train was an unexpected bonus. We arrived, hoping to see a service GO train. We only had to wait ten minutes for this one, and at the same time a service ALRV decided to show up.

Bathurst Station

Due to the parades, we were late for our lunch appointment, so we scooted up Bathurst Street towards St. Clair. But not before a brief photo shoot at Bathurst Station...

Mechanical problems

On our way up to St. Clair, we encountered a driver with mechanical problems stopped on the tracks. Fortunately, the driver suddenly found three or four railfans eager to help him push his car into a nearby parking lot. The delay was minimal.

Oakwood Loop

Our lunch stop was the Pizza Pizza outlet near Oakwood Loop. Here, we see PCC 4549 pulling into Oakwood Loop via Robina Avenue. You can see the cobblestone insets within the tracks -- the days of this rare sight may be numbered... Incidentally, lunch was covered by the organizers of the charter, and I'd like to thank the group for the free pizza.

Townsley Loop

Townsley Loop was our next stop, made all the more interesting by the traffic we had to negotiate to get to this odd little remainder of the Dovercourt Streetcar.

Lansdowne Loop

Lansdowne Loop was our next stop. In honour of this loop's history with the Earlscourt Streetcar, I was able to pull up a '512L' rollsign on the side of the car. Unfortunately, the group wasn't able to use the front rollsigns on this car.

St. Clair West Station

St. Clair West Station was our next stop. Thanks to my mother's borrowed manual Pentax camera, I was able to take this flash-less shot of our PCC beside this service car.

Vaughan Road

This reflection shot catches our PCC in the store window on Vaughan Road. This was the best of a number of reflection shot experiments. I guess I need the practise.

Ossington Avenue

This shot is on Ossington Avenue (on another remnant of the Dovercourt Streetcar). This charter took place on a Sunday, so we didn't have too much traffic to contend with.

High Park Loop

High Park Loop became the highlight of our trip. This loop is always a crowd favourite, for its wonderful scenery, and the amount of time service layovers allow us to take shots. One of the new additions, is a washroom and a passenger shelter, which many attendees appreciated. CLRV 4003 even showed up to provide additional action for our cameras.

High Park Loop

Another thing liked about High Park loop is the varied topology, offering plenty of opportunities for shots of the streetcars from below, or even from above. Because I forgot to advance the film, I wasn't able to take this streetcar shot from an even greater height, but I was able to achieve this shot...

McCaul Loop

After moving along Dundas, Bathurst and Queen, we arrived at McCaul Loop. McCaul Loop features a structure built from two old streetcars placed in the middle of the loop. This shot here is taken from inside one of those two streetcars. Used as a restaurant for a number of years, the streetcars now house a condominium sales office.

Passing CLRV

This shot out of the front window (we're passing a service CLRV on Dundas Street) is more indicative of how we spent most of our time in the charter. The photo shoots provide us with the lasting record of where we visited, but I think the reason why we always come out comes to us in the times between the photo shoots. In my opinion, there are few things better than riding a chartered streetcar on a sunny day with the windows open.

I would like to thank Bill Keigher and the New Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society for organizing this PCC charter. I am now looking all the more forward to Jack Doyle's PCC charter on Saturday, August 15, 1999...