Seeking the Upper Hand, 1892-93

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
contentious a nd protracted bid process was William Tyndale
Jennings, the City engi neer. He left the City’s employ in late September and
became a consultant Whet her he grew tired of the secondguessing a nd
suggestionsthat histenderproces shadbeen awedorhewas pushedout
by the mayor and the other opponents of the private sector franchise e is
unc lear.
Hewasreplaced byfort yfouryearoldGranvilleCarlyleCunn ingham
who was appointed as acting City engineer at a specia l meeting of city council
onOctober  Cunningham was an exceptionally bright assi stant engineer
with t he City.Hehad earl ier worked fort heC an adia nPac icR ai lwayCP R
andhadauthoredanimpressivereportonsnowslidesintheSelki rkMoun
tains.Oneof hisrst tasksas Cityengi neerwasto investigatehowbestto
electrify t he street railwayFor two weeks in late he toured various
locations in the United States where electric cars were in operation, i nclud
ing Bualo Cleveland Pisburgh Allegheny Washington DC Newark
Albany and Boston He also visited New Yorkand Orange New Jersey
hometo Edisonslaboratories On his return he presented the mayorand
citycounci lwith athorough wellconsideredreport Heevaluatedtheuse
of cable propulsion as well as three forms of electr ic propulsion — storage
baer yunderg roun dorsu rfac econdu ita ndoverheadw ireH equi ckly dis
missed the use of cable cars. For about a decade the cable car system had
been widely used with instal lations in two dozen cities in the United States
includingCh icagobutby itwas in declineIts instal lationcal linga s
it did for a system of buried cable with pulleys, sheaves, and drive wheels,
was much more expensive than an electrica l system. Its maintenance and
operation was also more costly. It was best suited for a city with a much lar
ger population than Toronto or a city with steep hills, like San Franci sco. He
had found that the most widely used and the most practical system was the
overhead wire system of the kind that had been tested and proven at the To
rontoExhibitionin thesThe overheadwiresystemwas alsofavoured
by the new franchisee. Any hopes, however, that Engineer Cunni ngham’s
report would result in the adoption of the franchi see’s proposed solution
Aboutthet imethat Cunningham wasissuinghis reportMayorClarke
madeitk nownt hathewo uldnotseeka fth term becaus ehewa ntedto focu s
on provincial politics. Four candidates put their names forward to replace
Clarke John McMilla nJames BeatyRJ Fleming and Edmond B Osler
Flemingand Oslerwerethe leadingcontendersa ndtheywere aninterest
ing contrast. Fleming was a reformer and supporter of organized labou r
in the tradition of Mayor Howlandwit h extensivec ivic experience hav
ings ervedas an alderman for three years Fleming had decided
to seek the mayoralty in the hope of introducing a number of cha nges to
City Hall, including a businessl ike approach to council.Osler also wanted a
businesslikeapproachbuthehadadierent ideaofwhatthatentailed He
was a Conservative nancier and businessma n with extensive experience
with railways. A member of Toronto’s moneyed elite and of one of the city’s
most prominent families, he had helped fund the Win nipeg Street Railway,
The support for these two leading candidates split along management/
winSmithandWRBrock while t he Knights of Labour supported Fleming.
While Fleming was praised by organized labour for his evenhandedness
andsupport for the publicgood Osler wasthought to havemore in com
mon with the owners of the new franch ise than with its r iders. Known as
thePeoplesBobFlemingwasseenasa moreeectivespokesmanforthe
transit users who were largely made up of working men and women who
werenotable toaordt heirown horsea ndbuggyThe Knightsof Labour
alsopointedoutthatOslerh adseveralconictsofi nterestTheOntar ioand
Quebec Railway that he was funding was being sued by t he City over its re

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