Two photos shot at almost the exact same location but some sixty five years apart, each showing a passing Calgary Transit vehicle. The location here is the community of Ogden, along Ogden Road to be exact, the background showing a railway bridge and in the older photo, bits from a refinery that today is no longer there. This is a BIGDoer.com then and now where we take an old image, try and duplicate as best we can (and usually do pretty good) and then write about it all.
The original photo comes in from a collector of streetcar and transit memorabilia, Harold Rowe, Moncton NB. Thanks a million for sharing it with us Harold! Readers should know, many of the “then” photos used on this website are sent in by people just like him. If you have an old picture showing a street scene similar to the one used here (need not be transit specific) and it’s your copyright (contact us if unsure) or in the public domain, why not send it our way. We’ll put it to good use here.
The old photo dates from 1950 and shows a Calgary Transit System streetcar heading north up the centre of the road, soon after passing under a train bridge, on its way to downtown, It had minutes earlier just left the southern terminus located at the CPR’s expansive Ogden Shops and is seen passing Imperial Oil’s huge Ogden refinery. Much of the area it would pass through is industrial so this sort of scene would be pretty typical for that run.
The car seen, #42, dates from 1912 and was built by Preston Car and Coach in Ontario. This firm supplied a fair number of streetcars to Calgary in the 1910s. It would be retired the same year of the photo, concurrent with the complete closing of the streetcar system at that time. Not long after the first photo was captured, motor buses would take over the “Ogden” run.
The modern bus seen in our photo, #7775, dates from 2001 and is a New Flyer, Winnipeg Manitoba, model DLF40, by far the most common bus on the Calgary Transit roster. They have hundreds and hundreds of them built in the years 1993-2008. This model was quite popular with transit systems all over Canada and even the US. New Flyer is a huge producer of transit buses.
The now bus is on the #24 Ogden run which follows much the same route as the streetcar in years past. Only it continues on further south today. The Ogden run dates back to 1912 and was put in place to shuttle employees back and forth to the CPR Shops and other industrial concerns in the area.
The Imperial Oil Refinery seen on the old photos, a massive sprawling complex, dated from the mid-1920s and closed some fifty years later. No doubt many employees there also arrived by streetcar. Note: Ogden for a time was its own town but was sparsely populated. In 1950 the community was out in the sticks. Most workers at the various industries there commuted in from Calgary.
Today the land the refinery once sat upon is devoid of any buildings and is too contaminated to do much with. In the 1970s one neighbourhood, Lynnview Ridge, was built atop part of the refinery lands only to be abandoned a decade and half ago, the houses demolished and people moved out amid fears of health problems from all that nasty stuff in the soil.
The railway bridge seen in back belongs to the CNR. Built around a century ago, by predecessor firm Canadian Northern Railway, the line it supports once went all the way to downtown Calgary. The track has since been cut back to an industrial park a couple clicks west of the bridge and trains here are sporadic at best. And short.
In the old photo, one could have fully expect to see numerous passing freights and passenger runs crossing the span, no doubt many of them steam powered. Business on the line was brisk back then. No so today. The CNR used to have a spur into the Imperial Oil plant. Not seen but just to the left of the shooting position, is the CPR’s busy east/west mainline. Lots of train stuff in the area.
The only visual element connecting the two eras is that same train bridge. Railway infrastructure almost always seems sort of timeless and the structure looks today much as it did. It almost appears the alignment of the road differs somewhat from them to now.
Calgary Transit, originally the Calgary Electric Railway, late the Calgary Municipal Railway, later still the Calgary Transit System dates back to 1909. Beside the streetcars back when, and modern diesel buses today, the company used to have a network of trolley buses. They serve a population of over a million, using over a thousand vehicles of various types (road and rail), covering about a hundred and fifty different routes. It’s a big system, although compared to many other cities, is rather underutilized overall (Calgary is rather car-centric).
One last reminder, if you have an old picture showing a street scene (and not just in Calgary either), send it our way so we can use it in one of our trademark then and now series. Reach out to us via our contact page.
More BIGDoer.com then and nows, transit themed of course…
Calgary Transit then and now – MacDonald Bridge.
Calgary Transit then and now – #7 South Calgary run.
Edmonton Transit then and now – 115th Ave.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: April, 2016.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Article references: City of Calgary Transit, Book: Stampede City Streetcars, Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board Calgary Roster wiki page.
All shots were taken from public property.