In this Calgary Transit then and now, we see two vintage scenes showing trolley buses near 17th Avenue and 8th St SW and we visit those locations to see how things looks today. For both dates, a prominent brick building can be seen in behind, which helps establish a connection between the two eras. Luckily, we were also able to catch some buses in our now images, which helped round things out.
In 1969, when the “then” images were taken, Calgary Transit had an extensive trolley bus system. The network was put in place in the late 1940s, using a much of infrastructure from the old tracked trolley system (electrical lines, power poles, etc, and even route numbers were retained). By the time our before pictures were taken, the system was in decline and it would be shut down completely in early 1975.
Seen in the first image is bus #450 which dates from 1948. It was built by Canadian Car and Foundry (aka CC&F) of Fort William, now Thunder Bay Ontario, under licensed from the JG Brill division of American Car and Foundry (AC&F). The order comprised 30 buses and was the second Calgary Transit placed with this company.,The first trolley buses, also thirty is number, arrived one year earlier in 1947. The tracked trolley system shut down in 1950, by the way.
It’s not known when this bus was retired – it may have been when the system closed or perhaps sometime earlier. Calgary Transit once owned just over a eighty of these CC&F trolleys (along with twenty AC&F ones bought second hand from the US) which were built in the period 1947-1954. Records show that that not all buses lasted until the end. Many were retired when a major failure occurred while others became parts supplies for buses still in service.
The location here is 8th St SW and the bus will soon turn westbound on 17th Avenue. The destination sign can not be seen but it’s likely the #2 route which did and still does turn here.
Seen beside the bus is a real beauty, a 1966 Plymouth Fury. Also notice the old advertisement on the side of the bus – Campbell’s is now open on MacLeod Trail! Woohoo, I’ll rush on down. That company, who ever they were, must no longer be with us. A search turns up nothing, not even from the past, about who they were.
In our “now” image, we see a modern bus passing the very same spot. This is a New Flyer, of Winnipeg Manitoba, model D40LF (Diesel – 40 foot – Low Floor). It is from a 2001 order of 81 buses and is one of hundreds and hundred of this model on the roster, acquired in the years 1993-2008. It is by far the most commonly seen bus in the Calgary Transit fleet.
The destination sign was not visible from our position so we don’t know what route it was on. It could be one of many.
Seen in behind in both images is the Devenish Building. When the 1969 picture was taken, it was an apartment building and had been since the early 1910s. When built it offered luxury suites, but by the late 1960s it had clearly lost some of its prestige. It looks rough and not terribly well taken care of. Sometime in the late 1970s and early 1980s it was converted to business use and today it houses boutiques and restaurants and the like.
Notice how the balcony railings have been changed since the old image was taken. Otherwise, it looks much as it did. It sure is a nice old building with pleasing architecture.
In the next set of images, we first see bus #438. This one was also built in 1948 and was from the same order as #450 mentioned above. Also like the other, it’s not known if it lasted to the end or if it was retried sometime before. Certainly attrition took its toll and not all made it to 1975 when the system closed and I believe by then only half the fleet or thereabouts was serviceable and in operation. Clearly by 1969, both old buses seen here appeared worn out and in need to of some attention.
The destination sign reads Mt Pleasant. This is an eastbound #2 bus, which travelled down 17th Avenue SW before tuning left just past where the picture was taken. From there it passed through downtown before crossing the river and heading north.
In our picture, we see bus #7780, another New Flyer from that 2001 order mentioned earlier. It’s on the #6 route, which travelled along 26th Avenue SW before finding its way here. It will head into downtown before turning around and retracing its steps. Seen behind is yet another New Flyer headed west.
Notice how busy traffic is in our shot and it was hard to get things lined up because of that.
In behind both images is the same Devenish Building seen and spoken of earlier. Outside of the balcony railings, which were changed at some unknown point, and the sign and some other small and miscellaneous details, it otherwise appears much as it did. It’s a huge building and as you can see it monopolizes the scene.
The older images are from scanned slides courtesy of the Stephen Scalzo Collection and are used with permission. They are a bit scratched up and such, not surprising given their age.
Update: February 2014. Both of the old CC&F buses seen in this report lasted until the end of trolley service in 1975.
To see an article we did on the Devenish Apartments seen in behind the buses, go here…
Calgary then and now – Devenish Apartments.
To see another Calgary Transit then and now report, go here…
Calgary Transit then and now – 14th St trolley bus.
If you like buses, be sure and check out this report…
More GMC Fishbowls.
If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: January, 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.