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Canadian Railroads > Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696


Date: 09/09/23 22:21
Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: moonliter

One would think this post belongs on the Nostalgia & History Form but sadly this is a present day story. 

The story started back in 1917 when Ottawa Electric Rly car No.633 glided out of the Ottawa Car Company’s facility.  This was a newly designed “composite” car which helped from the transition from an all wood car to the all steel car.  No.633 was about 5,000 lbs. lighter than earlier built models yet just as strong.  The lighter weight resulted in operational savings due to less wear and tear on the infrastructure as well as less power to move the car.  This was good news to transit companies who weren’t allowed to increase fares.

When built, 633 was a two man car.  A decade later the car was rebuilt into a one man car.  This 1927 rebuild included lengthening the car from 45.25 feet to 49.50 feet with the added footage added to the front vestibule. The rearmost door of the two back doors was made inoperable and the steps covered over by extending the floor.  The one remaining door and along with the uncovered steps now became the exit.  Up front a second door and fare box was added. Now it was the motorman's job to look after fare collection, give transfers and change.  It was at this time OER No.633 was renumbered to 696.
On August 13, 1948 the City of Ottawa acquired the Ottawa Electric and the former OER 696 became Ottawa Transportation Commission 696. In late 1958 OTC 696 was set aside to be donated to the CRHA in Delson, QC. (Today’s Exporail)  The “streetcars age" in Ottawa came to an end on April 30. The weather ravaged remains of OTC 696 returned to Ottawa from Exporail at the City of Ottawa request.  The car was stored at OC Transpo’s Eastend garage with the city hoping to restore 696 back to its 1959 glory.

The plan was to make this a public community project, a moral builder for the employees of OC Transpo who were recovering from the trauma of a tragic shooting at a bus garage.  The City & OC were partners while the work was to be performed by volunteer labour, material and services provided by local Ottawa businesses.  
The sad truth as I now realize; there was no plan.  OC Transpo provided the space, heat & power.  No one from the City of Ottawa management ever looked in on the project, just to keep up to date on the progress or offered any help to aid the project along.  The former mayor Jim Watson did honour however honoured the 696 Project group with the Mayor’s City Builder Award in 2022.

2023 brought Ottawa a new mayor, a new head of OC Transpo and a push to end the 696 project.  “Electric buses” was the excuse given by OC Transpo.  Ottawa has fewer buses now because of the LRT & the OTrain services. The need for buses will be lessening as the result of the LRT Phase 2 opening in the near future.   The volunteers were told we had to find a new place to work on the car (off city property) plus pay the cost of the move.  The city begrudgingly agreed to drop the “cost of the move” part when it was pointed out to them that the car was theirs.  The 696 Project Group has not been able to go on site, obtain an audience with the new mayor, the new Chairman of OC Transpo or deal with anyone in City management to work out a solution.  The City owned Cumberland Village (circa 1930s) would love to have the car but have no building to work out.  Of course they are staving for funds just to keep what they have going.

There weeks ago the OC Transpo/City of Ottawa loaded lock, stock & barrel and moved 696 and all the contents of the garage we were using, to a vacate city facility 30 miles away.  This included all our personal tool boxes, equipment, clothing & archival papers and plans for the car.  Lathes, milling machines, drill presses, roller cabinets, tool chest were loaded first with all the lighter items such as seats, window frames, pipe and lumber piled on top.  Work stations along with ongoing projects like a controller being rebuilt; brake stand, truck bearings and motor parts were added pile. The group was not allowed to take their personal property home or help pack and label items for safe travel.   

Last week we were allowed to rummage through the two 40’ containers & the one 20’container.  We got halfway through the 20 footer. This is the City’s “thank-you” for 150,000 volunteer hours and $200,000.00 worth of material & services provided free or at cost by local Ottawa companies.

Gerald E Gaugl
Ottawa ON
696 Project Volunteer

Photo 1:  OTC 696 Cobourg Street Barn, Ottawa 1959
Photo 2   OTC 696 after its return from Montreal.  30 years of outdoor storage has not been kind. In the foreground is the new body being built. The rub rail is original. 2009
Photo 3   OTC 696 nearing completion.  This is the last photo of 696 before its eviction.  June 2023
Photos 4, 5 & 6 next page.
 
 








Date: 09/09/23 22:38
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: moonliter

Photo 4: OTC 696 shop tools, car parts, archival material and supplies, moved 30 plus miles from our work site. This site has no washrooms, water or nearby convince stores.  The containers are on uneven ground making the doors extremely hard to close. Sept 8, 2023

Photo 5: Everything tossed in.  The container is a forty footer. Sept 8, 2023

Photo 6: The other forty foot container, we have to climb over the lathe and hope the milling machine sitting on a precarious angle will not fall and crush one of us 65+ year old volunteers. Sept 8, 2023

Gerry Gaugl
Ottawa ON








Date: 09/10/23 11:46
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: OnTime

That's outrageous! Maybe you could look into legal remedies. Also media coverage of this. It's a very sympathetic story and you could get a lot of public support and a lot of embarrassment to the city administration.



Date: 09/10/23 12:35
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: boejoe

Sad.  The idea of publicity has merit.  Some TV stations usually jump at an opportunity for material such as this.  Good luck and best wishes going foreward.  Keep T.O. members update with developments.
jb



Date: 09/10/23 12:56
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: DrawingroomA

This so disheartening for volunteers. It happens too often, and not just for rail-related matters. (It recently happened in Port McNicoll when the S.S. Keewatin had to find another home.)  Let's hope Ottawa will come up with a better solution - and show appreciation for those who value their heritage.



Date: 09/10/23 22:54
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: feclark

That's heartbreaking, Gerry. The idea of local media coverage, as a means of embarrassing politicians and bureaucrats, sounds good. Until you realize many of these people have no shame and aren't embarrassed by anything they do.
Fred



Date: 09/11/23 09:29
Re: Sad Streetcar Sunday-OTC 696
Author: jcaestecker

That is beyond despicable!  Media, media, media.

I'm so sorry.

-John



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