Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/8/2010 (2496 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Streetcar 356 was to have its grand reintroduction to the city last fall following a six-figure restoration, just in time for a centennial celebration.
But the last remaining wooden streetcar in the city still sits idle and unrestored in a shed at the Winnipeg Railway Museum.
The restoration isn't expected to be completed for another three years.
"It has been very disappointing," said Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg. "But it has been a much more difficult process logistically than I thought it would be."
Adverse storage conditions have quickly worsened the car's deteriorated state -- wood has become even more rotten, paint continues to chip away and the vehicle's frame is bent even further.
The restoration process has been derailed, boosting the $100,000 price tag by at least 10 per cent and making a delicate process more complicated.
Heritage Winnipeg is still organizing the highly specialized experts who are coming in to do the restoration and trying to figure out where to do the work and if the car can handle another move. It cost $8,500 just to move the car from the Winnipeg Transit station on Osborne Street to its current home in 1996.
"You can appreciate the uniqueness of it," Tugwell said. "We have to bring experts in who work on streetcars, it's not the kind of work anyone can do. We're working with a lot of intangibles.
"Until you get in there working, you don't know how bad it is," she said.
Tugwell anticipates work will fully kick into gear this fall. Tec Voc High School students have already pitched in to refurbish the car's windows. More experts are on the way.
Built in 1909, Streetcar 356 was in operation until 1955. When the streetcar era ended 55 years ago, the city sold most streetcars' metal parts for scrap.
People bought the wooden bodies and turned them into summer cabins or chicken coops. Streetcar 356 was sold for $100 and later found in a farmer's field in Manitoba in 1980.
The project has already secured a $35,000 provincial grant, as well as some money from the Winnipeg Foundation.
To keep the donations chugging in, a 30-minute documentary on Winnipeg streetcars will be screened next month at Cinematheque. Backtracks: The Story of Winnipeg's Streetcars plays Sept. 19, the 55th anniversary of the last running of streetcars here.
"It's important to raise awareness to Winnipeggers about streetcars and the role they played in Winnipeg's history and how it was pivotal to growth in the city," Tugwell said.
Single tickets cost just 10 cents -- the same as streetcar fare.