By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
A story appeared here earlier in the month about the last trip of the N. S. and T. (Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway) trolley, back on Saturday, March 28, 1959. It was a first-person account by Bob Chambers, a renowned Tribune photographer, who was aboard with two other Tribune staffers for the Thorold-to-Welland leg of the historic trolley ride.
The two others were Managing Editor T. N. Morrison and reporter Ken Martin. In its Monday, March 30, 1959 edition, the newspaper ran five photos by Chambers including one on Page 1, reporting by Martin and an editorial by the managing editor.
Aboard one of the two cars was Welland’s Centennial Queen, Laurie Muise, who was returning home for the weekend, which happened to be Easter weekend. One of the photos by Chambers shows Miss Muise and N.S.&T. motorman Russ Cudney. She passed March 30, 2015, at 76. This was reported in the first piece, headlined Last Ride With A Queen.
What’s interesting for the purpose of this follow-up story is the newspaper’s editorial and the scolding given Welland, which went unrepresented at the historic occasion even though the city had been invited to send representatives. Mr. Morrison was clearly taken aback by the city’s rebuff and didn’t mince words when it came to giving it a dressing down.
I’m providing the editorial in its entirety for your reading enjoyment. I also asked photographer Chambers if he would be interested in providing a picture from that “last ride” as we have come to call it. He responded by sending two.
One is the photo that ran in the newspaper just prior to the day of the event; the other shows a trolley car stopped at a station waiting for passengers to get on board. Both are eye catching and delightful, so characteristic of the photographer’s work during his 13 years at the newspaper. The captions were written by photographer Chambers.
As a footnote, The N.S.&T. provided interurban transportation for years, being incorporated under that name in 1899. It operated previously as the St. Catharines Street Railway Company and was one of the first urban transportation systems in North America to be electrified, according to Welland historian and author William H. Lewis, who wrote at length about it in Volume 2 of his Welland history trilogy. Here’s an excerpt:
“The last official passenger run left Thorold at 6:15 p.m. on March 28, 1959 and attracted much attention,” Lewis wrote. “Because of the large demand for seats two extra cars were added to this final train. One of the passengers on the last trip was a lady who had ridden the first trolley 52 years before.”
The editoral follows:
A Doubtful Distinction
For more than 40 years, the N.S. and T. electric cars rattled over the route between Thorold and Port Colborne. Before the automobile became so commonplace, it was the main transportation link between the communities along the route. Welland and Crowland industries depended on it to get many of their employees to work. It carried heavy quotas of shoppers into Welland from the outlying points. On Saturday night, the last run over the line was made by the electric car. It was a sentimental occasion and all of the communities on the line were asked to send official representatives to be in on the wind-up. St. Catharines, Grantham, Port Dalhousie, Merritton, Thorold, Fonthill, Thorold Township, Crowland, Humberstone Township and Port Colborne all had at least two representatives on the run from St. Catharines to Port Colborne. The N. S. and T. had most of their officials on hand. The Canadian National Railways provided several of the top executives of the Central region. Port Colborne and Thorold were joint hosts at a delightful reception and buffet for the party at the Port Colborne Club. The municipal representatives present showed regard for the historic occasion. The city of Welland, which, as most everyone knows, seeks to absorb slices of neighbouring communities in the friendliest fashion, had been invited to have three representatives on the trip. One of the main topics at the reception was the cold shoulder given the affair by Welland. Not one of the nine elected council representatives in Welland put in an appearance. Not even a delegated city official.