All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems

Notes Towards a Street Railway History of Chatham, Ontario

by David A Wyatt
[revision=18 January 2010]

There is probably no question more obscure within the history of Canada's street railways than the beginning, operation and abandonment of the horse car street railway in Chatham, Ontario.

J.R. Reid of the Chatham Street Railway In every other Canadian community where horse cars operated, an electric street railway eventually operated. In every case except Belleville, Ontario, the electric operation was a conversion or a competitor/successor to animal power. In Belleville a fire destroyed the horse car system in November 1891, and electric operation wasn't begun until nearly four years later, in August 1895. Transit enthusiasts' and historians' interest in the electric street railway have usually led to some kind of documentation of the antecedent horse car systems. Chatham's horse car-only history has exempted it from even this cursory notice.

Indications from research show that the company was incorporated under Ontario law, by Letters Patent, likely in late 1884 or 1885, by a group of local businessmen headed by Chatham merchant tailor J.R. Reid. The few sources that mention the operation usually suggest it began operation in 1885 but an article in an August 1887 newspaper identifies the company as 18 months old (a reference to February 1886). Whether this specifically refers to incorporation or start of service is unclear. (February in Canada wouldn't be the most convenient time of the year to start an outdoor service.)

From On a Streak of Lightning: Electric Railways in Canada by J. Edward Martin, Martin's table entitled “Animal-Powered Street Railways in Canada” (p. 10) includes Chatham, Ontario, 1885-1890.

These newspaper notes from the Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet cover the period from 03 November 1884 to 23 May 1885 and 25 May 1887 to 14 August 1889. The microfilm supplied by the University of Western Ontario contains no newspapers for the critical period of 25 May 1885 to 25 May 1887. In the custom of the day, there were two rival newspapers in Chatham, the Tory Planet and the Grit Banner. The Union List of Canadian Newspapers seems to suggest that no issues of the Banner from the period survive.

Two steam railways are often mentioned in these newspaper clippings, the Erie & Huron Railway, and the Grand Trunk Railway. The Grand Trunk line through Chatham was built by the predecessor Great Western Railway between Niagara Falls and Windsor via Hamilton. Today it forms part of CN Rail and hosts Via Rail Canada trains between Toronto and Windsor. The north-south Erie & Huron was built between Rondeau on Lake Erie and Sarnia via Chatham, Dresden and Wallaceburg. The E. & H., later the Pere Marquette subsidiary Lake Erie & Detroit River Railway, passed with its American parent into Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad hands and is today operated by successor CSX Transportation.

The Grand Trunk Railway station in Chatham was located southeast of the centre of town west of Queen street. The Erie & Huron station was east of the town centre in the southwest quadrant of the diamond intersection between the E. & H. and the G.T.R. (Information from Ray F. Corley, November 1995.)

The town's main business street, King Street, winds east and west southwest roughly parallel to the south shore of the Thames River and McGregor Creek.

The street railway idea is first introduced in the Planet late in 1884, with the announcement that a company has been formed.
Street Railway
For some years the necessity of a street railway has been discussed by many of our business men, and an effort towards that end was attempted a few years ago, but terminated unsuccessfully. To-day we are pleased to announce that a company has been formed, composed of some of our business men, with a few outsiders for the prosecution of this work with a capital of $25,000, and at the next meeting of the council applicatian [sic] will be made for the right-of-way down some of the principal streets. The early construction of such a line leading to the two stations would prove of great value to our business men and citizens generally, and be a further inducement to outsiders to do their purchasing here. As an investment it is generally supposed i[t] will be a profitable one and should effect a saving of hundreds of dollars to the public every year. We trust no impediment will be placed in the company's way to prosecute the work which they hope to have in running order at an early date. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 03 December 1884, p. 4.)

Two weeks later, the Planet devotes much of its report on the town council meeting of Monday evening 16 December 1884 to the street railway project.
Short and Sweet!
Monday Night's Session of the Town Council
Present—The Mayor in the Chair, Councillors Holmes, Lambert, Stephenson, Atkinson, Scott, Carpenter and Young.
The special committee on the Street Railway reported in favor of a by-law being passed giving the conditions to be observed : Track to be laid and cars running to the Erie & Huron and Grand Trunk Railway stations within one year ; only one switch on King between corners of Fourth and William streets, and that opposite the Market Square ; track to be 4 feet 8 inches, well kept ; Company to build and keep road between rails ; on other streets Company to have cars running inside of five years.

Mr. Holmes moved, seconded by Mr. Carpenter, that the report be adopted.

Mr. Stevens said it was an important matter to grant the right of way over all the streets named. He would have liked to have seen a petition from people on the business street. King street was narrow, and it was a question whether it would be a benefit or not.

Mr. Young did'nt [sic] object to the report or to the by-law, but he did to the time. It looked like rushing the matter too much.

Mr. Atkinson said the cause of being in a hurry was the necessity of saving the money sent down for the charter. As to King street being narrow, it was, but no more so than main streets in Toronto and London.

Mr. Scott was highly favorable to having it laid over for another week. With the experience of other towns in our eyes, they should not shove it through in a hurry and afterwards repent it.

Mr. Lambert said the money had to be sent away to-morrow, and hence if anything was to be done next year it must be done at once. So far as the business men were concerned, he said none were opposed to it, and it was well known, having been published in both papers. He saw no particular objection to it running on King street, while, as a matter of fact, it would help business there.

Mr. Young was sorry that the time was so limited, and particularly that the promoters had not given longer notice. There were valuable privileges to be given away, and hence should be considered well.

Mr. Stevens was glad of the discussion. He believed that the railway would be a great advantage. He thought if a portion of the road were allowed, it might be satisfactory.

Mr. Stephenson said the best evidence that the people were not opposed to it was the fact that there was no petition against it, as it was quite well known.

Mr. Holmes saw no objection, and if any mistakes were made it could be rectified in the by-law. He was sorry no longer time was given.

Mr. Stevens asked what obligations the Company were willing to assume.

Mr. Lambert said the Company would bind themselves to put down the track to the two railway stations inside of a year, and expend about $20,000. It was bona fide.

Mr. Scott did not want to be considered an obstructionist, and depending upon the representations of other Councillors, would support the motion.

Mr. Stevens said he thought the other parts except the main thoroughfares could be left out, as it was evident they wished to hold these streets against rival companies.

Mr. Lambert said he was willing to say three years instead of five for other streets besides the main ones.

Mr. Young would not support it.

Report carried by a large majority. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 17 December 1884, p. 4.)

It becomes clear that merchant tailor J.R. Reid is heading the company planning the street railway.
Local Brevities
We see by Mr. Reid's announcement that he is giving some splendid bargains, as he is retiring from business. We happen to know that this is a square notice, as Mr. Reid is about to put some of his capital in an enterprise that will be a great benefit, not only to himself, but to Chatham. Go to 95 King street, and see what he has got to sell. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 22 December 1884, p. 4.)

Friday 27 February 1885, fourth page, under “Local Brevities”. Reid's [clothing] business to continue a few more months.

Three month after the December 1884 announcement the public (or perhaps just the owners of the Planet) were beginning to wonder if anything concrete was ever going to happen.
Local Brevities
Chathamites are wondering why of late, nothing has been said about the street railway. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 13 March 1885, p. 4.)

Related or not to Chathamites' wonderings, shortly afterwards town council began to act on the matter at their meeting of Monday 30 March 1885.
Street Railway
It was moved by H.A. Patterson, seconded by Jno. Carpenter, That the town Solicitor be instructed to prepare a by-law to allow the putting down of a Street Railway in Chatham.—Carried. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 01 April 1885, p. 4.)

Wednesday 29 April 1885. company awaiting bylaw.

The bylaw finally arrives at council for the Monday night meeting of 11 May 1885.
Letters and Petitions
On the table was lying a very ponderous looking by-law empowering the Street Railway to lay their track on certain streets. Alongside of it were the letters patent of incorporation.
The Street Railway By-Law
Next, the street railway by-law was introduced and read the first time, defining the streets to be run upon and providing that the cars shall be run regularly within five years, the limit of time granted, to which the by-law shall apply being fifty years. The by-law only occupied twenty pages of legal cap, and it took the Clerk just twenty-five minutes to read it.

Mr. Young—I would like to know if that is all the agreement to exist between the Company and town.

Mr. Reid—There is an agreement besides the by-law.

The by-law was read a second time, and the Council adjourned—eleven p. m. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 13 May 1885, p. 4.)

A major complication in the research of Chatham's street railway is the complete absence from the microfilm record of the Tri-Weekly Planet for two years, covering the entire construction period and the first year or year and a half of operation. [Microfilm contains no newspapers 25 May 1885 - 25 May 1887]

In 1886 a directory and gazetteer of Chatham was published, and it makes a couple of small references to the street railway. (Soutar, James, The Chatham Directory and County Gazetteer for 1885/86, Chatham, 1886. CIHM/ICMH no. 00016-1885-86) In the chapter “Descriptive and Municipal: Chatham” beginning on page 97, the street railway is mentioned: “A street railway about 2 miles in length traverses the business streets between the two railway stations.” (ibid., p. 98.)

The chapter titled “Industrial Establishments.” beginning on page 117 contains sketch descriptions of many of the town's industries. The last description is of the street railway.
The Chatham Street Railway, (Limited,) — was established in 1885. Capital, $25,000, in shares of $100 each. President, J.R. Reid ; Secretary Treasurer, S.H. West. (ibid., p. 123.)

The “Alphabetical List of Names (at close of the year 1885.)” in the directory contains two identifiable street railway employees: “Robert Coyle — Street Railway Co., res[ides] Witherspoon st[reet] e[ast] s[ide]” (ibid., p. 152) and “Walter Huson — street railway conductor, b[oar]ds at Mrs. [Hannah] Huson, n[orth] side Colborne st[reet]” (ibid., p. 172.). James R. Reid is listed as a partner in Reid Brothers merchant tailors. “West, Salem — book-keeper Marx's office, res[ides] Queen st[reet] s[outh] of G.T. Ry.” is the only individual who might match the “S.H. West” mentioned elsewhere as the company secretary treasurer. [“Marx, Frederick — broker, King st., b[oar]ds Mrs. Moor's St. Clair st. N[orth]. C[hatham].”]  
Chatham Street Railway horsecars
Three Chatham Street Railway horsecars. (Romantic Kent, by Victor Lauriston, p. 545).

When the newspaper record of events can be picked up, in the late spring of 1887, there are already problems. Although the reference doesn't explain the nature of the problem, it seems a remedy was unlikely owing to the financial situation of the company.

Town Business
John Carpenter wanted to know what could be done with the street railway.

The mayor said that nothing could be done as he understood that even the rails were mortgaged.

Mr. Carpenter thought there was some way to mend the matter. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 08 June 1887, p. 4.)

The tone of the news at the end of June 1887 is upbeat for the street railway. The emergence of a service timetable could almost be taken as a resumption of service after a prolonged closure, but there is no direct evidence of this.
Street Railway

A very neatly got up time table of the Street Railway, has been widely distributed in Chatham. The card is headed by a time table of the E. & H., and G.T.R., trains which is so abridged as to save the Chathamite the labor of wading through a long time table. A street car connecting with all trains on the E. & H., passes post office corner 18 minutes before departure of all trains North and South. One car will leave the market, passing down King St., 15 minutes before the due time of all G.T. trains. A car will pass up and down King St., every 15 minutes between train times. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 29 June 1887, p. 4.)

The condition of the trackwork and surrounding paving was raised at a meeting of council in August 1887. Was this the unnamed problem raised the previous June?
Midsummer Meeting
Light bill of fare at the Council Board Monday
Mr. Bogart enquired what the railway committee intended to do in reference to the street railway. He said it was a very great nuisance, and breaking wagons all over the town, and the town would be mulcted* for costs if it were not attended to.

Mr. Malcomson said a good deal of improvement had been made to the track, but he agreed with Mr. Bogart that it was still in a very unsatisfactory condition, Mr. Reid had promised to fix it soon. He thought it would pay the town to make the improvement itself rather than be subject to the inconvenience. Of course, an injunction could be issued, but he doubted there would be much gained by that. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 03 August 1887, p. 4.)
* Literally “fined” but in this context it could probably be read as “held liable.”

The history of an unsuccessful commercial transit enterprise in a small town is almost always predicated on insufficient ridership and corresponding financial distress. In Chatham that becomes plainly obvious in the news reported by the Planet in August of 1887.
Street Railway
The Street Railway Company, only eighteen months old, has more than doubled its original record* This enterprise if not more liberally patronised by the townspeople must in future contract its operations, and the directors will merely run cars in connexion with the various trains on the Erie & Huron and the G.T.R. ([Chatham] Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 10 August 1887, p. 4.)
* more than doubled its original debt?

Financially troubled or not, Reid seemed interested in technological advancement. A few days later he was contemplating battery-electric cars.
A New Street Car Motor.

Mr. J.R. Reid, President of the Chatham Street Railway, is in communication with the Mead Electric Light Co., of Toronto, in regard to their new system of electric lighting and motive power, whereby a dynamo is absolutely dispensed with and a simple chemical battery substituted therefore. It is said that it is the best and cheapest system of propelling street cars, and if it can be proved satisfactory it will in all probability be introduced as a motive power in Chatham. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 19 August 1887, p. 4.)

Had the company bought one at this point (fall of 1887) Chatham's street railway might be remembered as the third electric operation in Canadian history, and the only one to operate battery cars. Instead, it would has all but been forgotten, as the only horsecar street railway to never operate by electric power.

Not all the news was about the financial woes of a small town company. Accidents and big city crime were also in store.
Stepping Off the Street Car
Mrs. Francis, Wallaceburg, was one of the witnesses required in a Police Court case Thursday morning, and coming off the Erie & Huron morning train she took the street car. While about opposite Burt's drug store she stepped off while the car was in motion. Result—compound fracture of the right ankle, with all the painful consequences which that implies. She was carried into the drug store, when medical aid was called. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 26 August 1887, p. 4.)

Burt's drug store was located at 18 King Street, near William. (Soutar, op. cit.)

The Planet it seems couldn't resist a jibe at the financial fortunes of the company while reporting another story at the end of August 1887.
Police Court
Before M. Houston, Esq., P.M.

Sam Scripps was arraigned by the President of the Street Car Company, on the charge of breaking open the street car fare box and extracting there-from the sum of $2.50. The case was postponed for one week. Street car stock, in the meantime, is going up. Mr. O'Neill appeared for the defence. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 29 August 1887, p. 4.)

Mr. O'Neill must have been a good lawyer, since Scripps' prosecution didn't get very far.
Police Court
Before M. Houston, Esq., P.M.
The case of Queen vs. Scripps, in which Scripps was prosecuted for alleged pilfering of the street car fare box, was heard, but the evidence being circumstantial was not sufficient to convict, and the magistrate dismissed the charge against [the] defendant. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 05 September 1887, p. 4.)

Perhaps, as Mr. Scripps discovered, the company's fortunes were getting slightly better since the company apparently found resources to address one of the concerns previously expressed in town council.
Local Brevities
The Street Car Railway Co. are having their roadway levelled up with gravel. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 16 September 1887, p. 4.)
It was usual practice for horsecar street railways to switch to sleighs when the snow fell, creating too much trouble for track clearing. The Chatham Street Railway seems to have followed this industry practice.
Local Brevities
Some sleighing Saturday, we noticed the street cars on runners, and comfortably curtained in for the comfort of passengers. Might we suggest, in the most profoundly deferential tone, to the President of the Street Car Co., the propriety of painting the curtains some other color except black.

How would vermilion and pea green do! At present, a short sighted stranger, not seeing the inscription “street car,” might avoid the vehicle, fearing that he was getting into the Black Maria. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 04 January 1888, p. 4.)

There might be hope for the financial health of the company after all. Carrying the mail saved many a railway from insolvency.
Local Brevities
The Street Car Railway Company has secured the contract for carrying the mail between the Erie & Huron Railway and the Grand Trunk. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 01 February 1888, p. 4.)

Still, the condition of the trackwork and paving continued to cause problems.
Timely Topics
Matters of General Local Interest Tersely Treated
A runaway yesterday morning on Fifth street succeeded in demolishing two other buggies besides his own, before he was caught. Another belonging to Chrysler's livery stable, and driven by a young colored man, was turning off Queen street when the wheel caught in the street car rail and tipped the buggy over, throwing out the driver. The horse started up King street at a good gait dragging the harness behind him, he was finally brought up in front of his own stable. The buggy was much damaged. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 04 May 1888, p. 4.)

A few days later the street railway was involved in another accident, though this time it would appear the company wasn't at fault.
Local Brevities
Billy Gee, having only one eye, living at Darell, Chatham township, came on crutches on the street cars, for treatment. An ox struck him with his foot, crowded on him[,] put his foot on Gee's ankle and dislocated it, besides breaking the small bone of his leg. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 07 May 1888, p. 4.)

The Wednesday paper reported on events of the town council meeting of the previous Monday 07 May 1888. The track condition problem couldn't be overlooked.
Chatham's Wise Ones
Minutes of their deliberations Monday night
A Lively Time over a Variety of Matters
Regular meeting of the council Monday night
Present — The Mayor, Messrs. Carpenter, Walker, Craddock, Bogart, Campbell, Bedford, Northwood, Piggott and Christie.
Mr. Craddock reported on Street Railway, read a number of communications on street car track. Committee had examined the track, and found it to be in the worst possible condition, especially on Queen street, where deep holes had been worn. He recommended the filling up of these cavities with some substance that would resist the action of horses' feet, and that the company be ordered to do the necessary repairs. The Queen street track ought to be filled in with proper crossings. The town to furnish cedar blocks to pave that section between King and Adelaide streets, but no more than that, the company to furnish the labor.

It was stated in favor of the company, that when the line was laid, the pavement was old and in bad repair, and that was the reason why the company asked the town for blocks. The company was really insolvent and could not meet its creditors to-morrow, if called upon to do so. The legal position of the town with the company was very good, and could legally prevent company running at all, but in consideration of the service rendered the public by the company, they would not do this just now. The town stood in constant danger of liability for accidents occurring through the bad condition of the street car track.

The railway can be indicted as a nuisance if not giving satisfaction. The town has this remedy, if it can be clearly shown that the company has not complied with by-laws.

Mr. Walker thought some action should be taken immediately, as the condition of the street railway was a disgrace to the town and laid [the] town open to heavy liabilities from accidents, etc.

Mr. Piggott said that Mr. Reid had admitted to him at a committee meeting that he had not a dollar to spare on the road. Mr. Piggott also said, that while riding about the town with a gentleman from Albany, the latter said that he did not think any other place would put up with such a street railway service for one day, it was a danger to people on the street, pedestrians as well as vehicles.

The motion to provide blocks was carried. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 09 May 1888, p. 1.)

Council followed up on the matter two weeks later.
When the Clock Struck the Hour for Retiring.
The chairman of the railway committee reported that the proposition of the council had been communicated to the president of the street railway, granting him five days for a reply and ten days in which to begin work. No reply had been received, and the committee saw no evidence of their requests being complied with. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 23 May 1888, p. 1.)

While the concerns of the town council remained outstanding, the company was working out ways to attract new customers.
Local Brevities
Chatham Street Railway has made advantageous arrangements with the Erie & Huron railway, by which passengers will be conveyed to the cemetery and return for the small sum of fifteen cents, commencing Tuesday next. Passengers will catch the street cars in time to catch the Erie & Huron train leaving at 2:30, and returning at 6:35. This will be continued every Tuesday and Friday afternoons of each week, if the company find the runs are sufficiently patronized to meet the additional outlay. The above includes street car and railway fare. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 01 June 1888, p. 4.)

The cemetery was south of the E & N station about a mile (1½ km). This cooperative arrangement must have proved successful, since a week later the Erie & Huron had an announcement.
Local Brevities
Trains will run every ten minutes on the 14th inst.[*], from the Erie & Huron station to the cemetery, with street cars in connection. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 08 June 1888, p. 4)
* “of this month.”

It would be interesting to know what kind of equipment the E & H used to conduct such a short-distance high frequency service.

Meanwhile, back at the town council...

A Warm Evening
The Little Pleasantries of the Council Room
Council meeting Monday night. All members present and a small, but appreciative audience.
Mr. Craddock reported verbally for railway committee, that a writ had been issued against the street railway company, immediately after last meeting, but Mr. Reid had asked for blocks promised and action had been suspended until these could be provided by the town. He [Craddock] thought this necessary, although he had not much faith in Mr. Reid's putting them down. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 06 June 1888, p. 1)

Craddock's lack of faith in the Chatham Street Railway company might have been well founded, but Reid appeared to be up to making an effort. Two weeks later, as a summer heatwave hit its second week, there was news.
A Sultry Evening
For the Aldermanic Body of Chatham Town
Mr. Craddock reported for Railway committee that the Street Railway Co. had undertaken repairs of the track on King St. What had been done was not quite satisfactory, but instructions had been given. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 20 June 1888, p. 1)

A month later the patience of town council was near an end. The lawyers had been called...
Council Column
The Matters Before the Fathers Monday Night
Council Monday night. Present — The Mayor and Messrs. Piggott, Northwood, Bedford, Campbell, Bogart, Craddock and Carpenter.
Mr. Craddock, for railways [committee], reported that the committee had exhausted all resources towards getting the work done on street railway, and had instructed solicitor to proceed. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 18 July 1888, p. 1)

The attentions of the council railways committee, and Chathamites generally, was redirected through much of August to whether or not the Town would subsidize Canadian Pacific to build it's London - Windsor line through Chatham. Little more on the street railway's problems would make it into the Planet's pages, but one tiny note late in the month suggested progress was being made towards resolving Council — Company friction.
The Street Railway Co. has ordered five carloads of gravel for the purpose of filling up the track. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 20 August 1888, p. 4)

On the other hand, perhaps not.

Council Galore
The Many Mixed Matters to be Considered
Council Monday night. All the members present, the Mayor in the chair.
Mr. Craddock reported that a suit had been entered against the Street Railway Co., and the matter would come up for trial in due time. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 12 September 1888, p. 1)

Town council was apparently not the only party suing the street railway company.

The Fall Assizes[*]
France vs. Chatham St. Railway Co., dismissed. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 01 October 1888, p. 1)
* Fall Superior Court.

The suit between the Town and the Company was heard beginning on Friday, 19 October 1888 and reported in the paper the following Monday.

The Street Railway
The Case Tried in the Court of Chancery

The Plaintiff's Plea Upheld and an Order issued to Have Proper Repairs Proceeded With next May. Question of Costs Reserved.

The case of the town of Chatham vs the Chatham Street Railway company began in the Court of Chancery on Friday afternoon. The counsel for the plaintiff, were Messrs. Wilson, Rankin & McKeough; for defence, W. Douglas, Q.C. The action was taken to compel defendants to repair the track and the pavements between and for fifteen inches [38 cm] outside the rails on either side. According to the evidence of Mr. Alfred Craddock, chairman of the railway committee of the town council, complaints had been received as far back as April, of dangerous ruts beside the rails, inadequate crossings, etc. The council had used every means in their power to get the company to attend to the necessary repairs, but without avail. The railway committee, Mr. Reid, president and manager of the street railway, went over the road together. On Queen street there was a deep gutter between the tracks and the crossings were either too narrow or missing altogether. On King street the general complaint was that the rails were not level with the pavement and that ruts were allowed to exist endangering the wheels of vehicles.

J.C. McNabb, civil engineer, corroborated Mr. Craddock's statements regarding the condition of the track, and His Lordship said there was no need of further witness for the plaintiffs, unless unless the defendants brought in something to upset what had already been sworn to.

A. McDonald, for the defence, admitted the road was practically as the previous witness had said.

The defence claimed that owing to the fact that the town had allowed the roadway to get into a dilapidated condition it was impossible, or at least extremely difficult to re-pave their portion, also alleging that the contract obliged the town to do all the re-paving, but this His Lordship said was not borne out by a reading of the contract. A conference to settle on some agreement was proposed, and the railway committee with the defendants and their respective counsel, spent several hours endeavoring to come to some amicable arrangement.

For three hours the matter was discussed but without arriving at any satisfactory solution to the difficulty. The company offered to put that portion of the track in repair from William street to the Erie & Huron station. The town asked to have the ruts temporarily filled with broken stone or plank, and the track put in thorough repair next summer. But neither proposal was accepted.

On Saturday morning, when the court re-assembled, His Lordship delivered judgement as follows: “I find upon the evidence that the defendant's road is seriously out of repair, and not in the condition in which it should be, looking at the agreement and charter. I think that under all the circumstances appearing, the defendants should be allowed a reasonable time to put their road in proper condition. I do not think this can in reason be expected to be done at the present time, or during the approaching winter. I am informed by the civil engineer called, and I believe that the period at which such works as to repairing the road may reasonably be expected to be commenced will be about the first of May next, but that the material for the work can be placed on the ground, or in a convenient position for use prior to that date, and that two months after that period will be a reasonable time for doing the repairs to the roadway. The parties agree that Mr. McGregor is an engineer who is indifferent between them. The order will, therefore, be that the defendants do the necessary repairs and put the roadway in proper condition, according to the agreement and the charter, by the first of July, 1889; the work of repairs to be commenced by the first of July, [May?] 1889, and earnestly prosecuted, and to be done and completed to the satisfaction of Mr. McGregor, C.E., and that in default of the defendants so doing, that is to say, commencing and presenting and completing, as aforesaid, the plaintiffs to be at liberty to apply on this action for such relief as they may be entitled to. The costs of this action will be reserved, to be applied for at any time after the first day of July 1889, or upon any application that may be made pursuant to the leave aforesaid. Judgement accordingly.”

Note. — This order seems to be satisfactory to both counsel, neither of them desiring that the defendant's work be now declared, or be not declared, to be a nuisance.
(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday, 22 October 1888, p. 1)

The Town council was formally advised of the outcome of the suit at its regular Monday evening meeting.

The Town Council
Transact Another Installment of Public Business
Councillor Craddock read a report re the suit against the street railway. Report adopted. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 24 October 1888, p. 1)
The bylaw and agreement respecting the Town's $40,000 subsidization of the CPR line through Chatham was brought to Town Council at the meeting of Monday 05 November 1888. Provisions in the agreement protected the street railway's interests.
This Agreement
Made and entered into this 31st day of October, A.D. 1888
The Ontario and Quebec Railway Company (hereinafter called the Company)
The Corporation of the Town of Chatham (hereinafter called the Town)
7. The said Company will and does hereby grant permission to the said Town and to the Chatham Street Railway Company, and to such other Companies or Corporations as the said Town may from time to time authorize, permit or empower to construct or run street railways in Chatham, to lay the rails and make the road and run the street railway cars and vehicles of such Companies or Corporations across and over the railway tracks and rails and way of the said Company thereto, but such permission shall not extend (notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein contained) to more than four streets in all in said Town; and the said Company hereto will make, arrange and keep their rails and tracks so as to make convenient crossings for the present Street Railway, on King and Queen Streets. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 07 November 1888, p. 1)

Town council accepted a variety of ammendments to the agreement, including one affecting street railways.

Council Meeting

Mr. Craddock moved the reconsideration of the bonus by-law and read the first clause in the preamble and change proposed in the agreement that had been intimated to the company.
Clause 7 was changed to provide that future street car crossings shall be made without expense to the company.
Mr. Craddock read the proposed changes which were adopted. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 07 November 1888, p. 1)

The Planet republished the text of the CPR subsidy bylaw and the proposed agreement (including the street railway clause 7) on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of November. The ratification vote by the ratepayers of Chatham was held Thursday 29 November 1888. It was passed.

The hazards of operating horsedrawn transportation were amply illustrated in Chatham on the same day as the vote.

Timely Topics
Matters of General Local Interest Tersley Treated
A Street Car Episode
While the fire was in progress yesterday a street car came down Queen street, and, of course, had to stop. When the hose was removed, the car proceeded, but the horse did not like the looks of the engine, and ran away with the car down the middle of the street, and in trying to get the car back on the track, the driver managed to get the animal fairly on his back in the mud with his feet in the air. It took some time to readjust matters. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 30 November 1888, p. 4)

Two more unfortunate events involving the railway were noted in the newspaper during the fall of 1888.

Chas. Reid, eldest son of Mr. J.R. Reid, was crushed between a street car and an electric light post about three o'clock this afternoon. The extent of his injuries were not learned, but appear to be of a serious nature. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 03 December 1888, p. 4)
Police Court
Before M. Houston, Esq., P.M.
Thursday, Dec 13
John Kelly, while trying to keep the street car tract [sic] clear of mud yesterday, was annoyed by the drays driving on the trask [sic] and assaulted Henry Diemer, a driver. He was fined $1 and costs. A second charge was withdrawn on payment of costs. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 14 December 1888, p. 4)

At the very least it shows that as late as mid December the street railway had not switched over to sleighs. Charles Reid apparently recovered from his injuries, since he was noted again in the paper eight months later.

Local and Otherwise
Charles Reid on the night of August 1st, sprained his right ankle very badly by inadvertently stepping off the sidewalk. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 05 August 1889, p. 4)

Another weather related accident finished out 1888.

Local and Otherwise
On Thursday afternoon one of the street car horses slipped and fell, and the heavily laden car ran on to it, cutting a frightful gash in its shoulder. Mr. Bogart, V.S., put several stitches. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 28 December 1888, p. 4)

The municipal elections of January 1889 unseated councillor Craddock, and at his last council meeting 14 January 1889 he delivered a lengthly year-end summary report of the railway committee's activities.

Clearing the Slate
Last Meeting of the Old Town Council
Mr. Craddock read the following interesting report:

To the Mayor and Municipal Council of the town of Chatham,

Gentlemen, — Your Committee on Railways in accordance with the rules and regulations governing the proceedings of council, now beg to submit their report on the several matters entrusted to their charge during the year:

1st Your committee has had the satisfaction, by means of the recent action against the Street Railway Company, of placing matters in question between the Company and Corporation in such shape that there will be no difficulty in enforcing the proper repair of the Street Railway tracks before the first day of July next in accordance with the terms of the judgement as stated in the report of the committee dated 22nd October last and your committee would recommend that the company be induced to proceed with such repairs concurrently with any reparations to King street pavement that may be undertaken by the town in the course of the coming year.
(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 16 January 1889, p. 1)

The railway committee of council had been busy through 1888. Craddock's report enumerated a total of 17 items!

It is well into 1889 before the street railway appears again in the newspaper.

The Town Fathers
Meet and Get Through a Lot of Business
A communication from the solicitor, asking for instructions in the matter of the Street railway and Erie & Huron suits, was referred to the Railway committee. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 13 February 1889, p. 1)

There were probably no instructions to give to the lawyers, since the court decision didn't require the company to act until May, as would be pointed out two months later.

The Town Council
The postponed meeting of the Town Council was held on Thursday night.
Coun. Flock said there was nothing to report on the street railway paving. Mr. Reid had until the first of May to begin and until July to finish. It was pointed out that he was to have the material on hand by the first of May. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday, 26 April 1889, p. 1)

Among the stories of the disputes between the company the newspaper managed to run another view of life on the Chatham Street Railway.

Local and Otherwise
It was on a street car going east yesterday afternoon. A woman dressed in black was chatting gaily, and the male passengers on the other side of the car could not but observe the beauty of her regular, gleaming white teeth. All at once her little boy who had evidently been admiring the teeth with the other males, spoke up: — “Mamma, I think your new teeth are so much prettier than your old ones.” The deep and awful silence that settled down after that remark was broken only by the hoarse chuckle of the driver on the platform who heard the the remark. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 01 May 1889, p. 4)

The deadline for the company to repair it's road right-of-way had come.

Local and Otherwise
[A Q]uantity of rubble stone and gravel for paving the street car track is piled up near the G.T.R. depot.
The Chatham Street Car Company is mending its ways by paving inside the tracks and gravelling. This will be a great improvement. Now it is in order for the town corporation to do its share. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 08 May 1889, p. 4)

The town council meeting of 17 July 1889 received and noted two items pertaining to the street railway.

The Town Council
Coun. Northwood read a communication from J.R. Reid re the street railway repairs. — Referred to the railway committee.
Coun. Northwood produced a diagram of the crossing of the street car track on Queen street by the C.P.R. Mr. Reid wanted permission to remove his switch [passing track?] a block north or south. Referred to railway committee. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 19 June 1889, p. 1)

Accounts of council decisions don't contain the resulting decisions from these two communications but apparently the go-ahead to move the street railway siding was forthcoming.

Local and Otherwise
Mr. Reid, president off [sic] the Chatham Street R'y Company, had a large force of men at work moving the siding on Queen street, yesterday and today, and it did not take long to successfully place it in position. Mr. Reid is displaying considerable activity in placing the road bed in good condition, and the town will, doubtless, place no obstacle in the way of furthering his effort to change the present condition of the road and make it a profitable investment. Much has been said, and there has been plenty of reason for it, but it now looks as if a different state of affairs was going to exist. The president has certainly undertaken a great deal of work, without so far, we imagine, getting any return. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 12 July 1889, p. 4)

While Reid worked to improve his company's public image (and fulfill a court order), he found himself taking on one of the largest companies in Canada.

Local and Otherwise
On Friday, Mr. J.R. Reid, who was dissatisfied with the way in which the O. & Q crossing over his street car track on King Street, was fixed, stationed a car with men at the point where Queen Street crossing was to be made and refused to allow it to be done, unless the crossings were fixed so that his cars would not continually jump the track. A compromise was quickly effected, and everything was lovely. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 15 July 1889, p. 4)

With Canadian Pacific suitable tamed, Reid next tackled an extension of his street railway across the Grand Trunk on Queen street, south of the C.P.R.

It is expected that the street railway will soon be allowed to cross the G.T.R. track and run to the depot and the Fair Grounds. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 17 July 1889, p. 4)

All the changes had inconvenienced some, and the town council received a complaint.

The Town Council
The regular meeting of the Town Council was held on Monday evening.
Mr. Flock wanted to know if Mr. Reid was to be allowed to go on tearing up the street railway track. People could not drive into Harvey street from Queen St. It appeared from the explanations that were given that if people would only wait and be patient both the C.S.C.Co, and the C.P.R. would put things into proper shape. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 31 July 1889, p. 1)

The street railway extension was major news, and a short note in the Friday edition of the paper was followed by a long story on Monday.

Local and Otherwise
The G.T.R.R. and the street car line have practically arranged for a crossing of the former track by the latter, and a spur to the G.T.R. platform. The former track will run to the fair ground, and a regular daily service will serve south Queen St. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 02 August 1889, p. 4)

and then

To Cross the Grand Trunk

The Street Cars to Run to the Station and Fair Ground.

A Conference with Mr. Stiff and a General Agreement as to the Proposed Extension — The Spur and the Electric Light.

On Friday a Conference was held between Mr. Chas. Stiff, Superintendent of the G.T.R., and Mr. J.R. Reid, President of the Chatham Street Railway Company. Mr. Stiff showed a very accommodating disposition, and the substantial result was the following agreement: The G.T. will give permission to the street car line to cross their track on the south side, and run a spur to strike the platform about 61 feet [18½ m] east of the east end of the depot. Signals will be provided at the expense of the Street Car Co. to avoid accident, and the street cars will come to a dead stop either way before crossing. Two horses are to be employed, and the between-rail track cobble stone paved. Cars will be run to Fall and Spring Fairs, and on south Queen St. regularly every day. At the conference there were also Mr. C.E. Pegley, representing the Street Car Co., Mr. Marx, Mr. McLerie and a Planet reporter. President Reid is to be congratulated on the success of his patient exertions in this matter.

Mr. Stiff said at the Conference, that he at first opposed the project in toto, but that the large and influential petition of citizens had altered his mind. He read a letter from Mr. Joseph Hickson, General Manager, and gave a general idea of the conditions which must be embodied in the agreement. For instance, the G.T. will not be responsible for any damage which may accrue from crossing the track. This, as Mr. Pegley remarked, would cover the case of damage by collision. The privilege to use the G.T. yard to gain access to the platform is during the pleasure of the G.T. Another clause to be embodied in the agreement provides that the arrangements are to be subject to augmentation by the Railway Committee of the Privy Council, should they for instance, at the request of Chathamites, make additional regulations as to crossing.

Mr. Marx threw out some valuable suggestions at the interview, and did a little interviewing on his own hook relative to the spur.

Mr. Stiff was very frank in his replies, and said that his Company would make it just as soon as they got permission from the Government, but that he thought that the matter, owing to certain changes, would have to be gone into to a certain extent de novo and that (very properly) everything should be advertised anew. After the inside confab, an al fresco supplementary Conference was held. Mr. Stiff stepped off the distance to the end of the proposed street car spur, and “woodman spare that tree” was murmured, in reference to some of Mr. McLerie's arboreal pets which were standing like military sentinels, west of the G.T. Queen st. gate. However, Mr. Reid re-assured the worthy station agent and told him that only two would perish. A discussion followed as to the starting of the work, and Mr. Reid explained that it was necessary to continue the line south of the track, in a straight line so far at least as the line of the sidewalk went. Then the electric light post came in for review. Mr. McLerie said that the E.L. people had not consulted him as to its location, which was generally condemned. It would have to be moved. Mr. Stiff was induced to enter the President's car, followed by the rest, and with the wily object on the part of Mr. Reid of inducing the G.T. to allow a cut to be made in their rails at the crossing to admit the flanges of the street cars. He showed Mr. Stiff the adoption of this plan on the C.P.R. crossing and explained that though it was true on principle of a wire breaking at a file cut that such a cut would weaken the rail to a certain extent at that point, yet by the strengthening by an additional fish plate, all could be secured. However, Mr. Stiff would not [??] ten to the voice of the charmer, but conceded that if the absence of such a groove proved insuperable damage, it could be added subsequently. He said that in London, Brantford and St. Thomas no such cut was made in the R.R. rails, and that by elevating the street car rails the latter cars could cross the R.R. rails with an almost imperceptible jolt. Mr. Reid said that he intended running back the grade sufficiently far back to elevate the rails at the crossing and that the between-rail track was to be put in thorough order there with cobble stones. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 05 August 1889, p. 4)

Another complaint came to council's attention later in August.

The Town Council
A special meeting of the town Council was held on Monday evening.
Also letter from J.L. Heath, complaining of the way the street railway was left opposite his property on Queen street. Referred to Railway committee. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 15 August 1887, p. 1)

Reid was still making offers to the town council in September, but the complaints were still coming in.

The Town Council
A regular meeting of the town Council was held on Tuesday night.
Bills, Communications, Etc.
Coun. Campbell— ... J.R. Reid's offer to cobble pave street corner track. Referred to railway committee.
The Mayor — A communication from Messrs. T. Stone and E.W. Scane, complaining of the condition of the street car track on Queen street, and threatening proceedings at law. Railway committee. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 11 September 1889, p. 1)

In the midst of the legal wrangling, a modest extension of the street railway system was completed.

Local and Otherwise
The street railway to the G.T.R. station will be finished by the last of the week. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 16 September 1889, p. 4)

Council met Monday 23 September 1889 to reject Reid's offer.

The Town Council
Deliberate on the Street Railway Dilemma
And give Warning that they mean to proceed to Extremities; ...
Railway [Committee Report]. — Coun. Campbell read the following report:

[`]We, your railway committee, to whom was referred the Street Railway communication from J.R. Reid, beg leave to report as follows: On Sept. 10th we received a letter from Mr. Reid as follows: “I will guarantee to furnish the stone and gravel to pave between the two tracks of the Street Railway, from the post office to Wellington street. This is the only offer I am in a position to make.” On Sept. 23rd we received another letter as follows: “I hereby agree to furnish stone and gravel for the paving in between the rails of the Street Railway from the post office to William street, and also to furnish new timbers to replace any decayed and unfit for use. Said material to be furnished as required. The above is in conformity with a proposition made by me on Sept. 10th. Signed J.R. Reid.” At the bottom was the following: “I hereby agree to have the above contract carried out to the satisfaction of council. Signed, S.H. West. Witness, Wm. R. Baxter.”

[`]We, your committee, advise that the above proposition be not accepted by the council, and the committee wish to state that they have done all in their power to induce Mr. Reid to go on and put the railway in a proper state of repair, or to give ample security for the town to do the work, and the answer was always given by Reid that he had not the money to do the work and could not give security, and we ask that council instruct us to have the Solicitor proceed to enforce the judgement already received by the town.[']

A long discussion took place on this. Mr. Reid was heard, and nearly every member spoke several times. At length the report was adopted, with the understanding that the committee give Mr. Reid a little more time before instructing the Solicitor to take action under the award.
(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 25 September 1889, p. 1)

On the afternoon before the next council meeting, Planet proprietor S. Stephenson chose the Street Railway as the subject of his editorial.

An Important Question

The question of having a street railway or not having one is an important question to the town, and should be fully considered before the last measure is resorted to as it is presently proposed. The people should fully consider if the Street Railway is a benefit to the town or not. If a benefit, the town should share in its promotion, as cities do in other and similar enterprises. Now that the town is about constructing a new pavement along King street, should it not pave the street, and then compel the company to keep that portion between their rails and the usual amount on the outside in thorough repair. Any ratepayer knows well that King street required paving long before the railway was put there; then give the company a good pavement, and as we said before, compel them to keep it in repair afterwards. If the railway is moved, it will be a detriment to our town, and be the means of removing an enterprise that should deserve the patronage and goodwill of every townsman. It is a direct benefit to our town, not only to the travelling public, but to the business men and town generally, and from a financial standpoint. Every market day it is largely patronized by farmers and their wives who bring butter and eggs, and for five cents are landed at the market, who would never drive into town in the spring and fall when the roads are often almost impassable, and the Council should seriously consider the question before depriving the travelling public of a cheap rate of reaching the railway stations and coming into our town. Again, the street railway project is only in its infancy, yet already it is paying out over four thousand dollars per annum for labor, horse feed, etc., and if the track is taken up on King street it will mean the abandonment of the whole line, and it would be folly to try and make it pay if the main line was placed in any other part of the town.

Mr. Reid has struggled heroically to keep the road running, and he certainly deserves credit for making a substantial improvement on at least Queen street from the post office to the Grand Trunk station. This is nearly completed by the laying of a good cobblestone pavement, and the widening of the street nearly five feet [1.5 m]. This work should not [be] lost sight of by the Council. Again, the street railway, according to the Court, was ordered to repair King street, and had done a considerable portion when they were advised that a new pavement would be put down, and that to continue the work would only be a useless expenditure, when they directed their whole energies to pave their Queen street track, an undertaking they have efficiently performed to the satisfaction of the ratepayers, and but for the delay which was no fault of theirs, in getting stone and gravel, the entire work into the yard of the Grand Trunk Railway Company would have been performed. The town will save in the end by making such an arrangement as is suggested and we will not make a retrograde movement by going back to the old-time way of having to pass through muddy crossings from station to station, or pay twenty-five or fifty cents for a conveyance. Mr. Reid informs us that with the cooperation of the people of the town, he can bring outside capital for the purpose of extending the road and giving better facilities than at present. One of these proposed extensions is across the river, and up Victoria Avenue, and south, if necessary, to the fair grounds. The Council will meet with the views of the people we feel sure, if they can arrive at an amicable settlement for the continuance of an enterprise that has in many ways been a boon to the town, and which promises greater usefulness in the future.

At the last Council meeting Mr. Reid made a proposition to the town to supply the material if the town will pay for the paving. This proposition was rejected, and another one made, that for two hundred dollars he will do the whole work— a most liberal offer, and one the town should accept without hesitation.
(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 07 October 1889, p. 2)

Even with the weight of the Planet's editorial opinion on it side, the next headline left no doubt of the outcome of the council meeting.


The Council will Proceed to Extremities with the Street Railway.

They don't want to fight, but by Jingo, if they do— it must be with a little fellow; ...

The regular meeting of the Town Council took place on Monday evening: all the members being present.
Coun. Campbell, for the Railway Committee, reported that Mr. Reid had been given time to make some arrangement about putting the street railway in a proper state of repair, but nothing had been done, so, acting on the instructions of the Council, they had placed the matter in the hands of the Solicitor, with instructions to push it to a conclusion.

Moved by Coun. Northwood and Atkinson, that $200 be granted Mr. Reid to assist in paving the track on King st. from the Post Office to William st.

An animated discussion here took place, Couns. Northwood, Atkinson and others favoring aid to the railway instead of crushing it out. The Mayor said they had to look to the town's interest. By giving the $200 they would simply lose the judgement in the town's favor. Coun. Campbell said that aid to the railway would only make it a better asset when it fell into the hands of the mortgagees, who would foreclose and sell. Mr. Rankin said that Mr. Reid had signed a hard contract without reading it. Several of the members said that it was hardly fair to ask Mr. Reid to do more than keep the pavement in repair, and considered the improvements on Queen st. well done. The report of the Committee was finally adopted.
(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 09 October 1889, p. 1)

The next mention in the Planet, sounding more like editorial than news, seemed to contain a veiled threat.

Timely Topics
Matters of General Local Interest Tersely Treated

The Street Railway

One phase of the street railway embroglio might with profit be considered. Supposing that the town has the right, and exercises it, of tearing up the track on King St., they cannot prevent Mr. Reid from removing his track and the material he has built it up with from Queen St. In that case it would cost the town a very large sum to put Queen St. in a proper condition for travel. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 11 October 1889, p. 1)

A few days later the newspaper reported that the legal case was proceeding.

Local and Otherwise
Several affidavits have been filed on behalf of the town in regard to the street railway dispute, which would be of great weight had they adhered strictly to statements of fact. In some particulars, to put it mildly, the assertions are romances. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 16 October 1889, p. 4)

Two letters of support for the street railway appeared in the paper in the next few days.

Letters From the People

Another of Chatham's Industries to be Strangled.

Dear Planet,— I ask you in all fairness, will it cost our town one cent more to pave King street from side to side with the street car track there than it will if the street car track is removed? I admit that it will look nicer and prettier, but if this is what our town is after, why pay $40,000 to Canadian Pacific to cut up and disfigure our streets? Do we build towns for appearance or business? Will Chatham be richer when she has driven out the families that now subsist by the Street Railway and paid over to the Town solicitor and Toronto lawyers the money that would pave the street inside the rails? True, Mr. McGeorge says the work on that portion of street car track from Grand Trunk to Post office corner is not perfect, but is it not very much better than the street along side of it, I admit that our street car track is not what it should be and that the charter calls upon the company to pave the street, and the company ought to do it but if they cannot, is it better to destroy or build up? Is it better for our town to pave King St. with the street car track there, or to pave it without the street car track? Surely every right-thinking citizen will say, foster our industries, attract and furnish employment for as man[y] families as possible that the burden of taxation now heavy, shall be born by as many people as possible by this very process. Brantford has very nearly doubled Chatham in population and Woodstock is doing the same, and if we continued as in the past soon the fair place Chatham held, would be a thing of the past and we would drop into the quiet country town, fair to look upon, but behold it was dead.


(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Friday 18 October 1889, p. 1)


Wake Up! Chatham Wake Up!

“Ratepayer's” sound of alarm— see last Friday's Planet— is so full, so timely, and so patriotic, I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration, and adding a few lines in rectification of an error which I noticed in that correspondence.

“Ratepayer” says: “I admit that the track is not what it should be, and that the charter calls upon the company to pave the streets, etc. etcThe charter does nothing of the kind; it (the charter) binds the Street Railway Company to keep that part of the street in repair which lies between the rails, but not to pave. Now, in all fairness, to borrow a sentence from “Ratepayer,” how can the Company do it? If the town itself neglects to keep their part of the pavement even in decent repair, would it not be wiser, more patriotic and even more economical on the part of Council to make an amicable and equitable arrangement with the Company than rushing into litigation? Verily, the experience of the town in its diverse lawsuits was not very profitable! Must I remind you, Mr. Editor, of the Bickford vs. Chatham, and other lawsuits? Have we not lost thousands of dollars in costs alone? To crush a financially weak but otherwise vigorously conducted institution like the Chatham Street Railway Company is not very difficult, but is it creditable? Is it advisable? Would it not be more productive of good results if the town Council would pave King street, under the condition that the Company shall extend their line to Victoria Avenue, and keep the pavement in good repair? This would be a great improvement, and very desirable. To destroy it is cowardly, in opposition to public opinion and the public good. The Council of '89 has done fairly well during this year; but if it persists in this suicidal policy, the constituency man be under the necessity of selecting other statesmen for 1890, and holding the retiring Council responsible for its misdeeds.

Yours etc,
Another Ratepayer.

(Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 21 October 1889, p. 1)

It would be the last word on the lawsuit to appear in the Planet in 1889, except for one cryptic quip on page four of the same issue, in the usual “Local and Otherwise” column: “Before a tailor can collect his bills, he has to sew for them.” (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 21 October 1889, p. 4) Someone had a sense of humour.

As winter descended on Chatham, the street railway proved once more its usefulness.

Local and Otherwise
During the past week or two the street cars have been extensively used. On Saturday, the grocers found that King St. East was so bad that they could not get their orders delivered, and so they actually loaded the street cars with the purchases of their customers. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 23 December 1889, p. 4)

As the new town council took office after the annual January elections, a member asked for and received an update.

The Town Council
The adjourned meeting of the Town Council was held on Friday evening ...

Coun. Craddock wanted to know the present position of the street railway difficulty.

Coun. Christie— In the “Toronto Tunnel[”] (before the courts). The town solicitor has received instructions to press the matter to the bitter end. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 03 February 1890, p. 1)

The legal wheels continued to turn.

The Town Council
The regular meeting of the town council was held on Monday evening ...
Railways— Coun. Christie reported ...

The reprot also stated that affidavits had been fyled [sic] at Toronto by A. McDonell, J.R. Reid, and others, as to the state of the street railway. The town would present counter evidence on Wednesday.

The report was adopted. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 12 February 1890, p. 1)

The court's decision was reported in the paper the following Monday.

Timely Topics
Matters of General Local Interest Tersely Treated
Chatham Street Railway

In the case of the town against the Chatham Street Railway, which came up in Toronto on Friday before Justice Ferguson, M. Wilson, Q.C., for the plaintiffs, moved for judgement pursuant to leave reserved at the trial in an action to compel the removal of the defendant's tramway. At the trial it was directed that the tramway should be repaired by the defendants within a certain time and to the satisfaction of the engineer and the plaintiffs, alledging that the defendants have not complied with this direction, now move for judgement. Judgement, declaring that the defendant's tramway is a public nuisance, and ordering the defendant to remove the same within a month, and in default of their so removing it, that the plaintiffs be at liberty to remove it as the defendant's expense. The defendants to pay the general costs of the action. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Monday 17 February 1890, p. 1)

The next issue the Planet devoted two front page columns to reaction to the judgement. Many of the King Street business operators were interviewed, and nearly everyone supported continuing the street railway.

The court judgement was reported to Council the following Monday.

The Town Council
The regular meeting of the town council took place om Monday evening.
A letter from Wilson, Rankin, McKeough & Kerr, relative to the Street Railway suit was read, which after reciting what has already been published, said that the Judge declined to give an order declaring that the Street Railway Company had forfeited their charter, and declared that he would not give permission to have the track torn up, if he could have done otherwise. As the Company had appealed they [the lawyers] wished for further instructions. Referred to Railway committee, with power. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 26 February 1890, p. 1)

The judgement was served on Reid and the company on Saturday 29 March 1890, and Reid responded by suspending operations. A public meeting to discuss the developments was called for Thursday 03 April.

Local and Otherwise
Go to the Citizen's Mass meeting in Northwoods Hall, to-morrow night.
The policy that choked off the street cars has not found many admirers among the travellers, who have come in by the Erie & Huron in the past day or two.
The Council has been asked to attend the mass meeting to-morrow night, and a lively discussion will in all probability take place.
It is in the interest of the town that the running of the street cars should continue, and in response to a largely signed petition a mass meeting will be held in Norwood's Hall to-morrow night. (Chatham Tri-Weekly Planet, Wednesday 02 April 1890, p. 4)

The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Essex and Kent (reprinted in 1973, containing Atlas content for Kent from 1880) describes, under “Biographical Directory of Kent County Subscribers.”, “Chatham ... Reid, J.R., merchant tailor. Has lived here since 1865.”

From 30 May to 04 June 1904 an “Old Boys' Re-Union” was held at Chatham, and The Planet published a souvenir for the event. While the late street railway goes unmentioned there is, among thirteen pictures of individuals under the title “Some Old Boys Gone Before,” a photograph of J.R. Reid. (Chatham Planet Souvenir Edition, 1904, p. 12. OLU [University of Western Ontario] call number F1059-5-C5 P6)

Chatham Street Railway car 39 in front of Rankin House Rankin House, Chatham, Ont. (hotel stationery)
Chatham Street Railway car number 39 in front of Rankin House. It's hard to imagine how a three or four car system had a car numbered 39. The hotel's stationery (second image) seems to confirm 39's location. (Image courtesy David O'Reilly 2010).


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