Nova Scotia

Piece of rail from Halifax construction project given to streetcar buff

A section of rail uncovered during the construction project to replace the CN Rail bridge on Quinpool Road has been given to a local author and researcher.

'It was very cool to be a part of this and to give him a special piece of Halifax history'

This segment of rail had been buried beneath Quinpool Road for at least 70 years. (Brett Ruskin / CBC News)

Don Artz wrote the book on Halifax's old street railway system — literally.

The writer and researcher co-authored two books on the topic. He also once worked as an inspector for the Halifax Transit Corporation, which was the predecessor to Metro Transit and now Halifax Transit.

Three decades after his retirement, the city is rewarding him for his efforts.

A piece of rail pulled from a construction project has been presented to Artz.

"This worked out so nicely," said Brynn Langille, spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"We were able to grab a piece from the construction site and gift it to someone who has a vested interest in the history of the tram lines in the city and the municipality."

Trains once ran Quinpool to downtown

Last month, a construction project began on Quinpool Road to replace the bridge over the CN Rail tracks. But that project uncovered other tracks.

The tracks were from a decades-old tram line that connected the Armdale area to downtown, along with many other routes on the Halifax peninsula.

Langille said the timing was perfect to rescue the segment of rail before it was discarded.

Don Artz's son, Graeme, reached out on social media when he saw the construction project had revealed rails.

Don Artz and his son, Graeme, hold the segment of rail that was recovered from the construction project along Quinpool Road. (Brett Ruskin / CBC News)

The city noticed and set the segment aside.

"It was very cool to be a part of this and to give him a special piece of Halifax history," said Langille.

Artz once rode those rails

The section of rail was revealed to Artz and he immediately recognized it.

He explained there were two kinds of rail used. One was for curved sections of track and one for straight sections.

"So, that'd be a straight road rail, right there," Artz said.

He added that when he was eight or nine years old, he used to ride along the section of rail he can now hold in his hands.

"So they [the streetcars] used to fly through Quinpool Road," he said. "The operators would just open those cars up, going down the street, bouncing around. They would bounce and you'd think you were on a real carnival ride."

Artz said he first gained an interest in writing about the streetcars when he started working for the city's transit system, and he stumbled upon old documents.

"I got into some of their logbooks and it just created the inspiration for writing a couple books," he said.

City officials say this small segment is the only section recovered from the project, which has shut down traffic along Quinpool Road.

"Certainly, with projects like this, we all know that they can cause inconveniences for people. So it is certainly cool to be able to open the ground up and see part of history and the way things used to be," Langille said.

About the Author

Brett Ruskin

Reporter/Videojournalist

Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.

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