Windsor

$750K-restoration of a streetcar named 351 almost complete

The streetcar that once ran on Windsor's streets will be soon restored to its full glory.

Work on renewing the vehicle started in October 2017

Restoring streetcar 351 is about 70 per cent complete, says mayor Drew Dilkens. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Streetcar 351, which used to carry passengers on Windsor's streets, has almost returned to its former glory.

The renewal project, slated to cost $750,000, is almost complete.

"We built all the windows out of cherry wood, ash is used on the floor," said Mario Van Raay, restoration shop manager in Chatham-Kent.

"And now we're in the stages of building the vestibules, which are the ends of the cars, where the motorman would stand."

The restoration shop manager explains the process of bringing the streetcar back to its former self. 1:42

The seats will be installed as row seating on one side and bench seating on the other. While the streetcar will look like it once did, it won't be operational.

Van Raay told mayor Drew Dilkens the staff used as much of the original wood as they possibly could.

"It's amazing for me to see, and I'm so proud of this project and I can't wait for the citizens of Windsor to see it for themselves," said Dilkens.

The city has plans to put the streetcar on the riverfront with an enclosure. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Dilkens said there are plans to place the streetcar on the city's waterfront, so the public can appreciate it.

The city is raising funds to help pay for the cost of the enclosure that will house the streetcar.

Dilkens said the campaign — rolling out in the near future — has a goal of $100,000 and the city has already raised $20,000 so far.

Parts for the streetcar were difficult to find, says restoration shop manager. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

According to Dilkens, this restoration work isn't just some "willy-nilly type project," but part of the Central Riverfront Implementation Plan which also includes The Bistro At the River.

"It will really help tell the history of the story of Windsor. Of course we were the first city in Canada to have an electric streetcar back in 1886, before Toronto, before Vancouver, before any other city," said Dilkens.

The project is expected to finish in the summer or early fall this year.

With files from Dale Molnar

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