Diagram of Halifax Tram Routes (1927)

The Birneys travelled 16 kilometres on the Richmond-Gottingen line (Route 3). (Used with permission of authors of The Halifax Street Railway.)

HALIFAX — The Birney tram cars that first rode the North End Loop 90 years ago this month gave passengers a thrill at every corner.

“You could feel yourself, like, swinging, because they were quick little things,” says Don Cunningham, who used to ride the rail cars as a child until they were pulled off Halifax streets in 1949. “They always said they were like a teeter-totter. Because they had a single truck in the middle with four wheels and a lot of overhang.”

The above map shows the route the Birneys took up Agricola, Windsor, Gottingen and Barrington streets. The 1927 diagram was not to scale. An updated route map in 1928 shows a more accurate outline of the peninsula and new spur lines serving Point Pleasant Park and the Simpsons store on Chebucto Road.

Birney Safety Cars were introduced in Halifax in March 1920, replacing older electric trams that had been

A Birney in the late 1940s in front of the now-demolished Bloomfield School building. (Used with permission of authors of The Halifax Street Railway.)

around since 1896. Passengers in the Depression and during the Second World War flocked onto the Birneys. At times more than 100,000 passengers a day used the trams. They served the Halifax Forum, Naval dockyards, shipyards, what was then the Exhibition Grounds (where the post office now stands), and the newly-built Hydrostones.

Cunningham, who with Don Artz co-authored The Halifax Street Railway (Nimbus), last rode a Birney when he was seven. He mostly remembers the sounds.

“You had the air compressors, you had the sound of the steel wheels, and when you stopped you could hear the air brakes and then you hear that funny little chugging sounds that was the compressor.”

1 Response to “Diagram of Halifax Tram Routes (1927)”

  1. 1 Birney Route Map (1928) « North and Agricola Trackback on April 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

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