Restoring tram number 696. from Ottawa

Ottawa’s history with streetcars may soon come to life.

A group of volunteers is repairing tram number ‘696’, and you might be able to take it for a ride someday.

The tram that carried passengers to work and pleasure in Britannia Park is part of the city’s history.

“It’s made in Ottawa,” says Rhéaume Laplante, who has been working to help restore it since 2003.

Piece by piece it’s getting closer to hitting the rails and it’s being restored in Ottawa,

“Eighty-five to 90 percent of the parts are manufactured; everything is new on it, because everything was rotten,” he says.

From body panels to every piece of wood molded and shaped to match the original.

As Ottawa looks to a future with light rail transit.

“No, it’s not new; and in 1905 or 1907 they were talking about the tunnel that was supposed to go under the city of Ottawa,” says Laplante.

The city has an electric rail vehicle past, including tram 696 which ran from 1917 to 1959.

“It was the last streetcar from Ottawa that was in service,” Laplante says.

A group of volunteers started the restoration in 2000. Laplante says it’s about 80 to 85 percent complete, with about 125,000 work hours in it. He estimates it will take another three to five years to complete.

He hopes for a plan to one day run the tram in Lansdowne Park to commute visitors.

“Definitely, the plan would be to run it here at Lansdowne Park,” Coun told me. Jean Cloutier to CTV News Ottawa. “One of the elements of Lansdowne Park is the connection of the canal to the center of the park, and the tram would be something that could be used for that.”

The restoration came to a halt at the start of COVID-19, but Laplante is hopeful to be able to return soon to an OC Transpo garage, where the tram is stored.

For more information, visit the OC Transpo website.

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