James’ Brand New Blog

More traction on the South-West Line

- May 18th, 2012

traction bridge abutment

The abutment of the old Traction Line bridge stands like a sentinel on the Thames bank, not far from Labatt’s. View is from Richmond St. bridge via my BlackBerry.

The LPL board’s historic sites committee has honoured the South-West Traction Line with a plaque … hooray.

Still trying to track down the Twitter photos of that event, but wanted to add some background to the earlier JBNBlog post.

Thanks to Jennifer Grainger and Stephen Harding & all who help out with coverage.

Here are more details from London history heroes, first class, Jennifer & Stephen:

Don’t forget our two-volume history of Westminster Township, Honouring Our Roots. It had a small section on the traction line.
Jennifer (Grainger)

Q: What’s the date (approx) of the beautiful shot of the train on the bridge? 1908, is that right? (Alice and Stephen may know this)

A: The picture comes from a 64 page booklet called: London Ontario, The Forest City: Resources and Advantages published by the City of London. It does not give a publication date! The book includes statistics from 1911. Therefore ca 1911 or 1912 would be an accurate publication date. Each page has; They all say London across the top. Arthur (McClelland) or Alice (Gibb) probably could tell you more about this book as it is a frequently used reference.

This book documented London’s many social and economic advantages. The picture of the Traction Line car on the bridge was but one of several illustrations highlighting London’s excellent railway connections. At this time London probably had the best rail service of any city in Canada. Passenger service was excellent. Connections could be made with steamships at Port Stanley, Sarnia and Windsor. The Traction Line contributed to the excellent rail service.

Q: What’s Old Boys reunion is the target of that smooth advertisement luring old boys and old girls?
A: They all say London is a slogan associated with the Old Boys reunions, and that made me assume the book with the picture was an old Boy’s program . . .

Q: What’s Old Boys reunion is the target of that smooth advertisement luring old boys and old girls?
A: The Traction Line advertisement featured on your blog (sans illustration) was from an Old Boys reunion program ca 1906 or 1908.

Q: What is the most surprising thing you discovered about Traction line?
A: The Traction Line was one of many inter-urban light rail lines that existed in SW Ontario.
When you tell people that 100 years ago Londoners could ride a train or a streetcar to Port Stanley they are totally incredulous. Well, that’s progress for you.

Q: Any famous riders? Anybody still looking for the track — or is it all gone now?

A: The concrete abutment for the bridge across the Thames still stands on the north side of the river near Richmond St.
I am not sure if any features are left outside of London.
Mike Baker has gone over the route and would know better than I.

When the line went bankrupt in 1918 they began pulling up the rails from Port Stanley to London.
The steel had considerable value while the war was on.
As they were de-commissioning the line peace was declared and suddenly the steel was no longer of value.
I assume that the company (which was in dire financial straits) probably left some of the tracks in situ.
I seem to recall some of the tracks were discovered in London when Wharncliffe Road was re-paved a few years ago.

Raymond Crinklaw published a Westminster Township book that includes the rise and fall of the Traction Line as documented from newspaper articles.
I believe Jennifer Grainger also included the Traction Line in her recently published book: Vanished Villages of Elgin.

Yours Sincerely, Stephen Harding

 

Categories: Entertainment

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11 comments

  1. IN THE PIANO BENCH says:

    re OBR’s songs – “They all Say London” was used in a specific year
    wasn’t it? Can’t locate online image of that sheet music which surely
    is in a collection at LPL WU local history or Music library, or even
    catalogued nationally.. This sheet was meant for home entertainment not
    for just paid performance.

    Online reference UK site-

    “They all say London” is the Place called Home, sweet Home.
    [Song.] Words and music by W. C. Traher
    Wilfred Charles Traher 1908

    W.C. Traher did another OBR theme song
    “The Jolly London Old Boys” [Song]
    Words and music by Wilfred Charles Traher 1905

    “They All Say London” reappears in 1911 as a municipal
    booster book, Title on cover displayed at UK Amazon.
    Perhaps the volume cited re unsung hero Gibb.

  2. IN THE PIANO BENCH says:

    Re ‘people Incredulous about L&PS .. Some viewers will have been
    passengers on it themselves, going to their family cottages at Port.
    Certainly weren’t driving down there in wartime if one’s parents,
    grandparents etc even owned a car. And transportation.
    Wonder if anyone can come up with a snapshot ..

  3. LOBA Reunion - McMaster online catalogue says:

    -Come On Home Composer: Traher, Wilfred Author:
    -Traher, Wilfred Medium: Vocal solo, piano accomp. Place: London,
    Ont.
    -Publisher: W.C. Traher Date: 1926 Pages: 3 Language: English
    Subject: London, Ont. – Centennial 1926
    Format: Original Performers: Mr. Eric Chapman of London accomp.
    by Mr. Russell Patten and his orchestra over Radio Station C.J.G.C.
    “His Worship the Mayor John M. Moore, Aldermen and Old Boys of
    the City of London … Request You to ‘Come On Home’ for the Grand
    Centennial Celebration … and Home Coming of Former Londoners
    To Be Held In London, Canada July 31st to August 7th 1926″.

    - They All Say London (Is The Place: Called Home Sweet Home)
    -Composer: Traher, Wilfred Charles Author: Traher, Wilfred Charles
    Medium: Vocal solo, piano accomp. Place: London, Ont.
    Publisher: Wilfred Charles Traher Date: 1908 Pages: 2
    Language: English Subject: London, Ont. Dedication:
    London Old Boys and Girls
    Format: Original

    - Old Home Town, The Composer: Traher, Wilfred Charles
    -Author: Traher, Wilfred Charles Medium: Vocal solo, piano accomp.
    Place: London, Ont. Publisher: Wilfred Charles Traher Date: 1923
    Pages: 2 Language: English Subject: London, Ont.
    Dedication: Mr. Wm. D. Eckert, former Principal of the Anderson
    (Lorne Ave.) and Rectory St. Schools (“my old school-master”).
    Adopted “as the Official Song for the year 1923, for the
    London Old Boys’ Association Reunion and Summer Carnival”.
    Format: Original

  4. james.reaney says:

    Yes, yes . . . the L&PS as the Frank Ridsdale song would have it.
    As for those who have connections (& that’s much less likely given the passage of time) to the South-West Traction Line, apparently there were many good souls who came to the plaque ceremony with memorabilia, stories, etc. Wow. There may be more stories to come.

  5. james.reaney says:

    There were three Wilfred Traher pieces in the Great London Songbook, Vol. I performance on Jan. 17, 2007 . . . The Old Home Town (which mentions “the ‘Tiser” if memory serves), Come On Home and as our finale, London, which has the memorable chorus:

    “For 50 years fair London’s fame has spread o’er land and sea, a noble city with a name that’s ever dear to me.”

    JBNBlog can still hear Mary Lou Fallis lead us in the stirring song . . . what an evening. Tyrone Traher, who organized the Royal Canadian big band music fests, is a relative & was in the audience that night, helping with the pronunciation of the family name (roughly “trer” rhymes with “brer”) & providing remarkable details.

  6. Railways and Songs. says:

    Guy must be a daytripper. Cottagers say Port no The. Can’t find lyrics
    on line,
    Thellenpess provincially Recognized, plaqued in Min Cult/Tour/REd
    era. source: Ontarioplaques – Alan Brown’s website -
    “The London and Port Stanley Railway”
    Location: West end oft King George VI Lift Bridge, Bridge St.
    Highway 4, Port Stanley County of Elgin
    ["After the Great Western Railway reached London in 1853, local
    businessmen and politicians began promoting a competitive line
    south to Lake Erie. The London and Port Stanley Railway began
    operations in 1856. Like most early Canadian railways, it was
    expensive to build & difficult to pay off but it contributed enormously
    to the local economy. Its main business was shipping coal from
    Pennsylvania and carrying tourists to and from the lakeshore.
    The City of London gained control of the L. & P.S.R. in 1894 and
    converted it to electricity in 1913. The line prospered, carrying
    more freight and over a million passengers in some years before
    the Depression. The increased use of the automobile in the 1950s
    brought about its decline.]
    - L&PS packed up when you were about five years old, and people
    are living into their 90s hwew regularly so many locals may may recall
    riding on it. Need to check with the Homes, The McCormick had a Port
    Day some years ago with great success a Mr. Prothero coming up
    to share in the recollections.
    – Would be nice to have the names of these early entrepreneurs
    who got us City folk on the rails to the beach, L&&PS and SW Traction..
    Remember those early songs were meant for people playing and singing
    themselves, not just passsively listening to professionals perform as
    nowadays.
    What we need is a jolly mass public outdoors sing-in of old favourites,
    maybe outside City Hall.

  7. IMPORTANT GUYS WHO DID THINGS says:

    For those wishing to track Port cottagers names and railway
    entrepreneur connections etc, a Great War era publication is
    readable online, even images printable of its pages. (Robarts
    Library Toronto.) “London and its Men of Affairs” TH Purdom
    et al. -Advertiser.
    .Sure need a master list of what is online now, and what stll
    requires being in London, and making a trip to the library ,or
    an old book purchase.

  8. a says:

    If I recall correctly my Dad often told stories of riding the railroad London to Port Stanley in the 1950′s. Wish I had more details and more of the memories.

    Question to “LOBA Reunion” above: You mentioned the Rectory Street School…could that be where the Roger’s TV currently stands between King and York on the west side of Rectory? When was the school closed? When did Roger’s acquire the property…and more importantly, why did they decide to plunck a ground-to-satellite transmission works there in the first place?

  9. james.reaney says:

    JBNB wonders about Rectory Street school’s location, too. The school It has been mentioned in past posts, but the actual address eludes me . . . anyone out there able to help?

  10. Cindy Hartman says:

    So little information about the location of Rectory Street School. On the Insurance Plan of the City of London, 1912, revised 1922, It shows the location of London East Central Public School at the Northwest corner of Rectory and York Streets…on the current property of Rogers Cable. Could this be the Rectory Street School??? These maps are great for locating buildings in the City of London and can be viewed online through Western Libraries. It would be great to see an old photograph of this school…worth a thousand words ! The Rectory Street School is briefly mentioned in the ‘Old East Conservation District Study, Section 2: Historical Context, page 11 &12. It mentions that the house at 630 Queens Ave was built about 1880 for William D Eckert, Head Master of the Rectory Street School.

  11. Dan Brock says:

    The 1905 City of London Directory, p. 118, puts the Rectory Street Public School on the northwest corner of Rectory and York streets. You’re correct Cindy.

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