All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems
by David A. Wyatt
5.0 Index of Communities By Transit Modes
Sometime called “Regional Rail”. Commuter trains are passenger trains operating on the
general railway network, within an urban area or between an urban centre and it's outlying
suburban communities. Principal passenger community is persons making same-day return trips within an
urban metropolitan area.
- Montréal, Québec
- Toronto, Ontario
- Vancouver, British Columbia
The RegioSprinter-operated service in Calgary, Alberta during
the summer of 1996 could be considered “commuter rail” or “diesel light rail”. A technologically
similar diesel light rail service began operating in Ottawa, Ontario in October 2001.
The railbus operated at Lillooet might also be considered commuter rail.
The above list does not include commuter rail services operated directly by
railways prior to the period of Transit Agency involvement, which remains to be fully documented. Notes may
be found under
1. Elmira, Ontario,
2. Fort Erie, Ontario,
3. Halifax, Nova Scotia,
4. Kings County - Hants County,
5. Miramichi, New Brunswick,
6. Moncton, New Brunswick,
7. Montréal, Québec,
8. Pictou, Nova Scotia,
9. Portneuf - Québec, Québec,
10. Regina, Saskatchewan,
11. Renfrew, Ontario,
12. Saint John's, Newfoundland & Labrador,
13. Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec
14. Shawinigan, Québec,
15. Sydney, Nova Scotia,
16. Toronto, Ontario,
17. Transcona, Manitoba,
18. West Vancouver, British Columbia.
See also Storage battery cars.
Via Rail Canada, Inc., Canada's national passenger railway, offers commuter fares (monthly
and ten-round-trip passes) for many station pairs.
Via's list is available here (2009).
5.2 Interurban Electric Railways
3-4. Galt [Cambridge] – Kitchener,
5. Temiskaming Shores,
10. Hull [Gatineau],
14. New Glasgow,
15. Niagara Falls,
17. St. Catharines – Niagara Falls,
19. Thunder Bay‡,
26. Winnipeg, and
For a more detailed tabulation, see separate list.
This is based on the canonical list of Canadian interurban electric railways, as determined by John F. Due (see
References). Other authors (notably William D. Middleton) writing from a less
rigorous definition include a variety of suburban streetcar lines with interurban characteristics. Among these
are: Calgary [Ogden and Bowness Park lines], Winnipeg [St. Norbert and SRT lines],
Sudbury [Copper Cliff line],
Ottawa [Britannia line], Montréal [MP&I and MT lines],
and Québec [QC and Kent House lines].
‡ The Mount Mckay & Kakabeka Falls Railway was leased, electrified and operated by the Fort William city system 1923-1947 which it appears neither Due nor Middleton knew.
Also known as “subway”, “metro”, or “rapid transit”.
* Vancouver's SkyTrain rapid transit system and the Scarborough RT in Toronto are implementations of
a technology marketed initially as “ICTS” (Intermediate Capacity Transit System) and then later as
“ALRT” (Advanced Light Rapid Transit). The systems more closely resemble “small metros” than other
implementations of what has come to be called “light rail transit”.
- Montréal, Québec (1966 - present)
- Toronto, Ontario (1954 - present) *
- Vancouver, British Columbia (1986 - present) *
During Expo '67 (the 1967 World's Fair) in Montréal,
a separate heavy rail rapid transit system,
the Expo Express,
was operated to transport visitors to the fair site.
Technological modern descendant of the electric street railway,
often featuring very little mixed-traffic street running.
The surviving street railway (tramway) in Toronto, Ontario also qualifies as
“light rail transit” by most definitions. The railbus service between Lillooet and Seton Lake might also
be consider [internal combustion] light rail.
Some observers also classify the Vancouver SkyTrain and Toronto
Scarborough RT as light rail.
- Calgary, Alberta (1981 - present)
- Edmonton, Alberta (1978 - present)
- Ottawa, Ontario (2001 - present) [diesel]
Light rail transit projects are in advanced design or construction phases in Mississauga–Brampton, Ottawa, and Kitchener - Cambridge.
5.5 Electric Street Railways
7. Fort William,
8. Glace Bay,
12. Hull [Gatineau],
14. Kitchener – Waterloo,
20. Moose Jaw,
22. New Westminster,
23. Niagara Falls,
24. North Sydney – Sydney Mines,
25. North Vancouver,
29. Port Arthur,
32. St. Catharines,
33. Saint John,
34. St. John's,
35. St. Stephen,
36. St. Thomas,
39. Sault Ste. Marie,
49. Winnipeg, and
For a more detailed tabulation, see separate list.
5.6 Animal Street Railways
cases the use of animal power on street railways in Canada included the use
of sleighs in winter. In some cities omnibuses were routinely used to
provide service during the Spring thaw.
7. Kitchener – Waterloo,
10. Niagara Falls,
13. St. Catharines,
14. Saint John,
15. St. Thomas,
18. Windsor, and
For a more detailed tabulation, see separate list.
Common carrier public passenger transport in an urban area using replica or restored antique
street railway cars.
See also Street Railway Operating Museums.
Electric buses powered from overhead wires.
- Calgary, Alberta (summers 1975 - present)
- Edmonton, Alberta (summers 1997 - present)
- Nelson, British Columbia (summers 1992 - present)
- Vancouver, British Columbia (summers 1998 - present)
- Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (summers 15 July 2000 - present)
Trolley bus demonstration lines ran briefly in
Vancouver, British Columbia and
Victoria, British Columbia late in 1945.
- Calgary, Alberta (1947 - 1975)
- Cornwall, Ontario (1949 - 1970)
- Edmonton, Alberta (1939 - 2009)
- Halifax, Nova Scotia (1949 - 1969)
- Hamilton, Ontario (1950 - 1992)
- Kitchener – Waterloo, Ontario (1947 - 1973)
- Montréal, Québec (1937 - 1966)
- Ottawa, Ontario (1951 - 1959)
- Regina, Saskatchewan (1947 - 1966)
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1948 - 1974)
- Thunder Bay [Port Arthur – Fort William], Ontario (1947 - 1972)
- Toronto, Ontario (1922 - 1925 and 1947 - 1993)
- Vancouver, British Columbia (1948 - present)
- Windsor, Ontario (1922 - 1926)
- Winnipeg, Manitoba (1938 - 1970)
For a listing of electric trolleybus systems in Canada, the United States of America, and
Mexico, see All-Time List of North American Trolleybus Systems.
The universal technology of urban public transit in Canada in the 20th century. Every
community in the All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems with local transit
service has been served by buses, except perhaps St. Stephen, New
Brunswick, and sufficient research will probably uncover local bus service there too.
Early known examples of motor bus transit include
Montréal – Saint-Lambert in 1904,
Calgary in 1907, and
Leamington in 1910.
The earliest existing transit [streetcar] company to implement a bus service was
Brantford in 1916.
The first appearance of motorized road transit in many Canadian cities was jitneys. Beginning on the west coast
in late 1914, private automobile owners began using their cars to pick up fare-paying passengers. In some cities
hundreds of cars were engaged in the trade, jitney associations were formed, routes established, and service hours
Operators serious about profitability began modifying their cars to carry more passengers, and the motor bus was
Nearly everywhere the activity was eventually stamped out by municipal or provincial legislation.
1. Belleville, Ontario,
2. Brandon, Manitoba,
3. Centre Wellington, Ontario,
4. Corner Brook, Newfoundland & Labrador,
5. Hamilton, Ontario,
6. Lockport, Manitoba,
7. London, Ontario,
8. Owen Sound, Ontario,
9. Montréal, Québec,
10. Ottawa, Ontario,
11. Saguenay, Québec,
12. St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador,
13. St. Thomas, Ontario,
14. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
15. Toronto, Ontario,
16. Transcona, Manitoba,
17. Vancouver, British Columbia,
18. Vancouver – New Westminster, British Columbia,
19. Vernon, British Columbia,
20. Victoria, British Columbia,
21. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Several small communities, including a large number of rural localities
in some provinces, have in recent years implemented forms of public transit
service using techniques such as demand-responsive minibuses, shared-ride
taxis, and coordination of travellers with existing services (including
putting passengers on school buses and coordinating ride sharing, volunteer drivers, and carpooling).
Some of these approaches can also be found as part of services in larger communities where areas
or periods of low demand exist.
The All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems tries to list those systems
that are open to everyone, and operate at least some scheduled service (even if
advanced booking is required). A few transit services whose sole
function is to put riders into others' vehicles are listed under
Québec Rural Paratransit Services.
Application of private right-of-way using motor buses. The term “BRT” (Bus Rapid Transit) encompasses a wide range of technologies from conventional on-street/mixed traffic express bus service, to enhanced bus stops, bus-only lanes, signal pre-emptions, or
private road infrastructure with elaborate stations. In the context of the All-time List of Canadian Transit Systems
“motor bus busway” is intended to designate private right-of-way rapid bus service which includes stations.
The Toronto example listed below (and illustrated left) does not have stations, but is of substantial length.
- Bancroft, Ontario
- Brooks, Alberta
- Chapleau, Ontario
- Côte-de-Beaupré, Québec,
- D'Autray, Québec
- Deseronto, Ontario
- Devon, Alberta
- Fort Frances, Ontario
- Gaspésie, Québec
- rural Halifax
- Île d'Orleans, Québec
- Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec
- Laurentides - Pays-d'en-Haut, Québec
- Laurier-Station, Québec
- Madoc – Belleville, Ontario
- Northumberland [County], Ontario
- Nova Scotia Rural Paratransit Systems.
- Paris, Ontario
- Plessisville, Québec
- Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia
- Portneuf, Québec
- Rimouski, Québec,
- Saint-Pascal – La Pocatière, Québec
- Sainte-Marie / Saint-Isidore, Québec
- Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec
- Sept-Îles, Québec,
- Sorel-Tracy, Québec,
- Swift Current, Saskatchewan
- Thetford Mines, Québec
- Val-d'Or, Québec,
- Victoriaville, Québec,
- Wawa, Ontario
- Wetaskiwin, Alberta
- Yorkton, Saskatchewan
and more than a dozen small communities in
Animal drawn buses. (Commonly horses, possibly mules and probably not oxen in Canada.)
Since this transit technology was used in Canada almost
exclusively in the 19th Century, before the regulation or franchising of
over-the-road commerce, records of omnibus services are far from complete.
- Ottawa, Ontario Transitway (11 December 1983 - present)
- Toronto, Ontario York University busway (late 2009 - present)
- Winnipeg, Manitoba rt Southwest Transitway (08 April 2012 - present)
- York Region, Ontario VivaNext (18 August 2013 - present)
- Gatineau, Québec Rapibus (19 October 2013 - present)
- Mississauga, Ontario Transitway (17 November 2014 - present).
It was common practice in the animal street railway era to use omnibuses in spring after the snow melted
but before the ground was dry enough to operate the railway.
1. Beauport, Québec,
2. Boischâtel, Québec,
3. Calgary, Alberta,
4. Cap-Rouge, Québec,
5. Charlesbourg, Québec,
6. Edmonton, Alberta,
7. Fort William [Thunder Bay], Ontario,
8. Halifax, Nova Scotia,
9. Montmorency, Québec,
10. Montréal, Québec,
11. New Waterford, Nova Scotia,
12. Ottawa, Ontario,
13. Québec, Québec,
14. Sainte-Foy, Québec,
15. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
16. Sillery, Québec,
17. Toronto, Ontario,
18. Victoria, British Columbia,
19. Windsor, Ontario, and
20. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
It was also a common practice of hotel operation in the 19th Century to employ
omnibuses to meet trains and convey customers to the hotel. These
“in-house” or “charter”
operations fall outside the scope of the All-Time List.
Called “incline railways” almost everywhere in Canada.
- Bell Island, Newfoundland & Labrador (1913 - 1948)
- Edmonton, Alberta (1908 - circa 1913)
- Hamilton, Ontario (1892 - 1936)
- Port Stanley, Ontario (1870 - 1966)
- Lévis, Québec (1904 - 1910)
- Montréal, Québec (1884 - 1918)
- Niagara Falls, Ontario (several, 1869 - present)
- Québec, Québec (circa 1880 - present) *
- Montmorency Falls, Québec (1901 - ?)
* A British military incline railway at Québec (1823 - 1840s) reportedly also carried
Water barriers create a specific local transportation need, and ferries and
other marine transportation is the solution at places and times
where a bridge is not possible or practical. While a few services are obviously urban
transit (for example the seabus in Vancouver and the Dartmouth ferry), there
is a large grey area, especially historically, where boats play or played
a role in getting people from place to place in an urban area.
Also belonging to this category are a number small-craft passenger boat services operated in various urban waterways. These include
Vancouver (False Creek),
Winnipeg (Red and Assiniboine Rivers),
- Halifax – Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
- Québec – Lévis, Québec
- Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
- Sydney – North Sydney, Nova Scotia
- Toronto – Toronto Islands, Ontario
- Vancouver – North Vancouver, – West Vancouver, British Columbia
- Windsor, Ontario – Detroit, Michigan
Other ferry services are noted for
- Bell Island, Newfoundland and Labrador,
- L'Île-Dorval, Québec,
- between Sorel-Tracy and Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola, Québec,
- between Winnipeg and St. Boniface, Manitoba,
- between Edmonton and Strathcona, Alberta,
- at Saint-Augustin, Québec
- between Southport [Stratford] and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island,
- in the Saint John, New Brunswick area, and
- at Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Application of street railway-like technology to the transportation of passengers in
remote locations, most commonly horse-drawn portage railways.
- Asbestos & Danville Railway (electric freight railway)
- Edmonton Interurban Railway Company (suburban gascar railway)
- Expo Express (World's Fair heavy rail line)
- Hôpital Saint Jean de Dieu Railway (private electric freight railway)
- Lacombe and Blindman Valley Electric Railway Company (interurban gascar railway)
- Lake Louise Tramway (gascar tramway)
- Liverpool & Milton Tramway Company, Limited (steam dummy tramway)
- Mount McKay and Kakabeka Falls Railway Company (interurban gascar railway [eventually leased and electrified])
- Ontario Southern Railway (battery/electric monorail)
- Ontario West Shore (unopened interurban electric railway)
- Pacific Great Eastern Railway (suburban gascar railway)
- Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway Company (electric freight railway)
- Thurlow Railway Company (electric freight railway)
- Toronto Eastern Railway Company (unopened interurban electric railway)
- Train Léger de Charlevoix (local diesel passenger train)
- Western Power Company (BCER) (electric freight railway)
- Animal and gascar wilderness tramways
- Steam dummy railways operated at Windsor, Ontario,
Dundas, Ontario, and
Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
- Historically unproven information about street railway service exists for
East Broughton, Québec and
Fort Frances, Ontario.
See separate list.
In addition to the above listed heritage tramways
Whitehorse) there are street railway operating museums
A horse car line was operated at Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary, Alberta (?-circa 1998).
- Milton, Ontario (the
Halton County Radial Railway),
- Delson, Québec (the
Canadian Railway Museum operated by the
Canadian Railroad Historical Association),
- Fort Edmonton Park, Edmonton, Alberta (the
Edmonton Radial Railway Society), and
- Surrey, British Columbia (the
Fraser Valley Heritage Railway).
Cornwall Electric Railway Society (1949-1952) preserved one Cornwall
streetcar and operated it over the then freight-only trackage
of the Cornwall Street Railway, Light
and Power Company, Limited. The group disbanded in 1952 and the
car was transferred back to the CSRL&P (Clegg & Lavalée 2007 pp. 57-61).
In the 1920's and 1930's three Canadian mainline railways,
Canadian National Railways,
Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and
Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway
operated storage battery cars on several lines. In most of these
cases service never approached interurban levels, nor were they considered
separate from the railways' steam-hauled services. The largest user, the CNR,
had retired all its storage battery cars by 1942. (Photo: CN Images of Canada: Canada Science and Technology Museum)
Canadian National Railways (16 May 1921 - circa 1942)
- Trenton – Belleville, Ontario [22km/13.8mi] 16 May 1921 - 19 June 1921 (trial),
- Campbellton – Bathhurst, New Brunswick [100km/63mi] [101km/62.9mi] 1921 - 1922,
- Campbellton, New Brunswick – Matapedia, Québec [21km/13mi],
- Toronto – Beaverton, Ontario [103km/64.2mi] September 1922 - ?,
- Toronto – Weston, Ontario [13.4km/8.4mi] 1923 - ?,
- Toronto – Oakville, Ontario [34km/21.3mi] 1924 - ?,
- Montréal – Saint-Eustache, Québec [27km/17mi] 1924 - ?,
- Montréal – Rawdon, Québec [66km/41.4mi] 1924 - ?,
- Montréal – Waterloo, Québec [107.5km/67.2mi] 1924 - ?,
- Ottawa – Pembroke, Ontario [143km/89.5mi] 1924 - ?,
- Halifax – Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia [25.6km/16mi],
- Lunenburg – Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia [11.2km/7mi] 1937? - 1961?,
- Fredericton – Centreville, New Brunswick [141.6km/88.5mi],
- Sainte-Rosalie – Nicolet, Québec [96km/60mi],
- Fort Erie, Ontario – Black Rock, New York (over International Bridge),
- Winnipeg – Transcona, Manitoba [14.4km/9mi],
Canadian Pacific Railway Company (? - ?)
- Galt – Hamilton, Ontario [55km/34.4mi], and
Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (? - ?)
- Swastika – Kirkland Lake, Ontario [9km/5.6mi].
The Ontario Southern Railway was also operated by storage battery.
Martin also lists the Toronto – Guelph line of the interurban Toronto Suburban Railway as receiving battery cars in 1924, but
other traction historians disagree (Martin, RFC).
Copyright ©1989-2015 David A. Wyatt. All Rights Reserved.
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