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Light Rail Transit in Cambridge


Local History

  • First car to use Niagara Power, c1910, Preston & Berlin Railway car
    First car to use Niagara Power, c1910, Preston & Berlin Railway car. Image courtesy of Cambridge Archives

Linda, Queen's Square | November 1, 2016

Everyone can identify a steam locomotive and everyone knows what trolley cars and streetcars are: interurban or radial railways are a lesser known phenomenon.  In Waterloo Region, before there was the Light Rail Transit, there were the interurban railways.  The first local application of electricity as a source of power for trains was the Galt and Preston Street Railway, officially opened in 1894.  It was one of the earliest interurban electric trains in Canada and the first in America to provide both freight and passenger service.   Other electric lines were later connected to Hespeler, Berlin and became known as the Grand River Railway.  This line became linked to the Lake Erie and Northern line that ended at Port Dover.  The Preston Car and Coach Co. on Margaret Street in Preston built electric rail cars that were sold across Canada.

A symposium on this topic entitled “Tracks on the Grand: Interurban Railways of Cambridge” will be held on Saturday, October 29 at 8:15 am in the Bowman Room of City Hall.  There is no cost to attend, but anyone interested should register with the City of Cambridge Archives as space is limited (email archives [at] or phone 519-740-4680, Ext. 4621 or 4633).  Four speakers -- Rych Mills, Roger Chrysler, Matthew O'Neil, and Gerald Bloomfield -- will consider the past and future of electric railways.  A self-guided tour will be made available.