Faithful Old No. 88 "Commits Suicide" On Britannia Line, Published 4 March 1954

Discarded Street Cars Find Final Resting Place at Britannia Graveyard
Photo by Newton

You may have heard of the Kilkenny Cats that ate each other up, but did you ever hear of the Ottawa street car which ate itself up?
Out on the Britannia line, stands old No. 88. Stifle a sigh and staunch that tear, as you contemplate No. 88. Last summer, Dave Gill, genial manager of the OTC, assigned ancient 88 to the weed killing job on the Britannia line. Now Mr. Gill has been obliged to retire ex-palace car 88 from the weed extermination job.
Weeds old Eighty Eight may have killed, but it was also slow death for the single trucker too. For, Dave Gill alleges that the accumulated weed poison caused the car to start to consume itself. The weed poison, insists Dave, obliged the car to eat itself up.
Sinister Thought
But behind this, there is a more sinister thought. This is no mere Kilkenny Cat operation. This is suicide.
The writer remembers 88 at the beginning of the century, all resplendent in green and red and yellow trim and inscribed In gold leaf. In those day, No. 88 ran the Britannia line. Life was young, the days were gay, and morning rode the sky.
But one day, when the new class beginning with 109 and running to 122 came out. No. 88 was demoted to the Bank Street line. There she served her cramped public well, Those were the days before pay-as-you-enter. when cocoa matting decorated the floor, and when each conductor was given a broom to keep the car clean. Ahearn and Soper spared no expense, and workmen's tickets were eight for a quarter.
On Bootleg Run
Then - it is sad to relate - but No. 88 was put on the bootlegging run. It was given two motors, and assigned to the Hull line. The liquor it brought back was of course inside the passengers. But for more than 10 years, Quebec was wet and Ontario dry. Night after night, thousands of Ottawans made a solemn pilgrimage to the taverns of Hull.
These happy minions of the hop came home breathing beer. This beer breath helped preserve the car. No. 88 started off with a lot of long-faced Ottawans and returned around midnight with its passenger gaily carrolllng through the night.
Then after 50 years, Boss Gill put old 88 on the Britannia weed-killing job. It was a comedown after its glorious days with the beer pilgrims, it was a demotion after free wheeling the Bank Street people home and it wa strictly slumming after the glorious day 1804-1910 with the high class Britannia trade.
No wonder then the poisonous weeds permeated the ancient tram. For if ever a street car committed suicide, it was this faithful old No. 88.
Two-Truck Job
Now about the car with falsies. The first trolley ever to be turned out with two truck (as have all Ottawa street car today) was No. 520. She came onto the run about the time George V ascended the throne of England. She was not only the first long street car, she boasted of air brake, and was a pay as you enter. Adorned In red and white and gold, as were all OER cars till before War I, old 520 pioneered the way in double trams.
Miraculously, ihe escaped the Rockcllffe car barn fire of 1927. By another amazing coincidence she escaped the second fire about 20 year later.
W hen the street car were concerted to one-man operation, all the cars were repainted red and given new number. But old 650 a she became, was rather a dejected-looking red wooden job. Anyway, the falsified 650 is the old 520 of the earliest year of George V. She served two wars, carried an estimated million passenger in her day. Now that the dull bius is replacing the tram, and in these days whan the Gladstone tracks are gone and the Sussex rails are going, 650 I not needed.
Old 520 is going to end her day at a Jewish Summer Camp up near Ouyon.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

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Updated 23 May 2019