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Ottawa, Canada 1942 – Winter Ice Storm Street Scenes

Today’s feature is a video of a shortened and edited version of a silent film with sound dubbed in made in Ottawa, Canada, in December of 1942 after a crippling ice storm. The freezing rain storm literally stopped streetcar traffic “in their tracks” after ice build-up on the rails made it impossible for the cars to continue moving.

It took workers five days to clear the ice so that streetcar traffic could resume. In the video, you will see work crews chopping and shoveling ice off of the tracks while interesting vehicular travel passes by.

After viewing this edited version of the film highlighting automobile and truck traffic (above) you can watch the original 8:53 minute long movie courtesy of the Library and Archives Canada.

29 responses to “Ottawa, Canada 1942 – Winter Ice Storm Street Scenes

    • Watching the video, the ’41 DODGE is a four-door vehicle, and a Canadian model as Pat W noted below.

      Also watching the video, it appears the film is slightly speeded up. Knowing how to drive on snow & ice, the vehicles all seem to be driving a bit too fast on untreated streets, especially with pedestrians walking in the roadway !!

  1. Amazing! Makes me glad I live in the South, although 1/2 inch of snow causes a panic and stops everything! Funny to see the crawler tractors pushing the track clearing equipment – and, yeah, I know it’s not really funny! Great video.

      • Will, no, apparently the ‘39 was the last one. As much as we admire them now, their popularity had faded somewhat. Possibly Ford felt the Convertible Coupe was seen as a young person’s more sporty car and the Convertible Sedan was regarded as appealing more to an older person…and that was the direction Ford preferred. I propose this because in 1940, without the Convertible Sedan in the lineup, the Convertible Coupe’s sales increased by a factor of 2-1/2 times greater than in ’39.

    • Nope, there was a ’40 Mercury, no Ford conv.sedan in ’40.

      I drove a ’39 Conv Sedan (with no heater!) to high school in Northern NJ in the early sixties and it did handle quite well in the snow.

  2. Wonderful video!

    In Item 1 of 3, a Canadian Dodge Deluxe sedan (“wings” on the top of the bumper vs US models and no lights outboard of the headlights).

    In Item 2 of 3, a ’40 Chevrolet Special Deluxe Sedan and likely a ’40 Pontiac Touring Sedan…I imagine there were few Canadian Chevys and Pontiacs built after war was declared in September of ’39.

    • I should have said a ’41 Dodge. Since there are ’41 Dodge brochures, evidently Canadian car production continued, at least Dodges. I understand they continued to make a number of different Dodge trucks throughout the war…so maybe some passenger cars too?

  3. Love the 1939 Ford Deluxe four door convertible.
    At one of our car shows a few years ago was a badly worn and battered identical car that came over by ferry from British Columbia, Canada. Given the rareness of the car even when new, this might be the same vehicle.

  4. We love old cars, but seeing the cars in such conditions “back in the day” makes me thankful for modern tires, heaters (the one in my Excursion could make jerky), FWD/AWD, modern anti-freeze and oils.

  5. Very interesting video. The traffic doesn’t appear to be slowed down by the ice and snow. I like the 40 Chevy with the “hillbilly thermostat” Have had to do that myself a time or two. The traffic light appears to be with out power but the streetcars seem to have it. must be on a different system. Although a life long midwest resident I can identify with most of this . Great job David, keep up the good work.

    • Never heard that term for “winter fronts” that were pretty common back in the day and still used on large diesel trucks today.

    • Until production ceased in 1990, the Citroen 2CV used an easily attachable “mask” on the grille opening to keep things warm in cold temps.

    • We have 504 and 505 Peugeots, they came with factory radiator screens. They are made of plastic, are installed in front of the grille, and have sliding louvers to be adjusted per temperature. Some people make their own. My father used to put an asphalt shingle in front of the grille on his 1978 Chevy pickup to help the truck warm up. Now that might be called “hillbilly”or “redneck.

  6. Wow, that’s doing it the hard way. You’d think a place like Canada would be better equipped for ice and snow. I read, in the late 1800’s, the Denver, South Park, and Pacific, ran a line over the mountains in Colorado. Naturally, winter was the biggest challenge. Ice buildup on the rails was a constant problem and they had these scrapers in front of the wheels to peel away the ice. Problem was, by the time they turned around, the rails were froze shut again. I guess it was easier here to pay 50 men fifty cents an hour to chip away at it.

  7. In spite of the partial snow covering on the passing vehicles and blurry stop action, looks like some of the traffic includes: ’38 Chrysler Royal 4dr, ’41 Chrysler Windsor sedan, ’42 Dodge sedan, ’41 Dodge Heavy Duty Panel Delivery, ’40 Dodge sedan, ’39 Buick series “40” convertible coupe. And, to take the chill off the cold weather with some hot swing music , Duke Ellington and His Orchestra are scheduled to play at the Auditorium , as evidenced by the poster on one of the trolley cars.

  8. I’m reasonably sure a guy named John Najjar had a hand in designing late 40s Ford products. The story goes that he was a machinist at Ford, and the old man stopped to speak with him one day while on a plant tour. Henry asked John how he liked his job, to which Najjar said he would rather be drawing cars. Ford arranged it. John apparently had a long career in design at Ford, eventually co-designing a Mustang prototype. Early Mustang interiors are also on his resume.

  9. Car 801 of the Ottawa Electric Railway was one of forty-six Ottawa Car Company 800-series acquired in the mid-1920s. Both the OER and OCC were owned by Ahearn & Soper. Two 800-series cars survive, #854 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa and #859 at the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint-Constant. Vimy House is the old trolley garage.

    The city bought the OER in 1950 for $6.3 million and shut down trolley services on 1 May 1959 with a final run between Ottawa and Britannia. In addition to the trolley lines, the city acquired OER’s Mack, Ford, and CC&F buses.

    The OCC went through a few name changes, eventually becoming Ottawa Car & Aircraft Corporation before being sold to Mailman Corporation in 1948. During WW2, they license-built Armstrong and Avro aircraft, as well as Armstrong Siddeley engines and parts for other aircraft.

  10. My dad used to call the grill coverings in the winter truckers’ thermostats. As others have said I am glad we are in eastern North Carolina.

    • Hi Joe, in trucking, we called them “winter fronts”, which, I’ve seen, could have been anything from a pizza box to a road map. Diesels run inherently cold, especially at idle, and a radiator covering was essential to get any heat in the cab.

  11. A friend in high school back in 1960 had a ’39 Ford convertible sedan ( First photo ) . Highly altered with a chopped Carson top and a 1955 Buick nailhead V/8 engine. I’ve always wondered if it survived to this day.

  12. Fascinating look at a small slice of daily life in a long-gone era. For as cold as it appeared to be, the men working at digging out the trolley car tracks don’t look very heavily dressed. Maybe they were more rugged then.

    The ’41 Canadian-produced Dodge has a tell-tale that its more Plymouth than Dodge: the single-tooth front bumper guard same as the American ’41 Plymouth. Also the ’41 Plymouth headlight rims with the parking lights at the top.

  13. If there were an ACCCA (Almost Classic Car Club of America), a ’39 Ford Phaeton, along with cars like some ’32 Olds and ’34 Dodges

    mecum.com/lots/HA0419-373021/1932-oldsmobile-sport-coupe/

    owlshead.org/auctions/detail/1932-oldsmobile-series-f32-convertible

    goodingco.com/vehicle/1934-dodge-dr-coupe/

    silverstoneauctions.com/events/2016-auctions/the-classic-race-aarhus-auction/the-classic-race-aarhus-auction-sale/the-classic-race-aarhus-auction/1934-dodge-convertible-coupe

    and many more would be on its approved list.

    For earlier Fords, a winter front, side curtains, and an accessory heater made Fording better

    theoldmotor.com/?p=13490

    modeltfordfix.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Kunkel-Heater.jpg

    modeltfordfix.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Kunkel-Heater-2.jpg

    …and where winter was a little less Canadian (or Minnesotan or Vermontian or wherever it was as cold as it looked in the photo, “Henry’s Chest Protector” might have helped you go.

    theoldmotor.com/?p=151944

    mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/214826.html?1307044618

    An adjustable louver cover was also available.

    Search “Pines Winterfront” to learn more on.

    theoldmotor.com/?p=6185

    Everything old is new again.

    ford.co.uk/content/overlays/mondeo/active-grille-shutter

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