Photo Source: Woodstock Museum NHS
Photos from the museum collection can be purchased from the museum upon request.
Yes Woodstock, you once had a trolley system in place running from Woodstock to Ingersoll during the years of 1900-1925. Its name was “Estelle”. The Estelle was the vision of S. Ritter Ickes and J. H. Armstrong and Ickes, fondly named the Estelle after his daughter.
For those of you, like me, who were at first not sure of the difference between an electric trolley and say, a traditional train, picture this: an electric trolley was simply a small train car that was attached to hydro wires.
In Woodstock, the Estelle travelled down the middle of the street, from Dundas to Mill, then to Park Row, west to Ingersoll Road, then to Beachville and Ingersoll. While outside of Woodstock, the Estelle conveniently travelled on the shoulder of the road. “It was small, a mere 30 feet in length, accommodating 24 passengers on benches along either side…The controls could be operated from either end, allowing the trolley to begin its return trip without turning around.”(Retrospect, 18). It was, apparently, a disappointment to Woodstock residents who wanted something on a more grand scale.
Its sister trolley, “The City of Woodstock”, was introduced later as manner to carry passengers specifically to a newly created park called “The Fairmont”, near Beachville. This park was designed specifically to encourage travel along the line.
Estelle’s first day of operation was November 8th, 1900, with a formal opening that day attended by Woodstock notables – Mayor Scariff, J.H. Nellis, and trolley founders Ickes and Armstrong. Estelle left Vansittart Ave at 10:30 am and reached Beachville 20 minutes later. (Sentinel-Review, Nov 9, 1900)
There was one known accident – a Mrs. Thorton was killed in January, 1901 when her buggy collided with the trolley. (Daily Sentinel-Review, Jan 4, 1901).
Despite this tragedy, the Estelle gained in popularity in 1907, boasting ridership of 97,000 (Symons, 132). However, it declined in the 1920’s when the popular Fairmont Park was closed, with the trolley eventually ceasing operation in 1925. (Symons, 132)
Retrospect: Official Bulletin of the Ingersoll & District Historical Society. Vol 3 (1), 1996, 17-22.
Symons, Doug. M. The Village That Straddled a Swamp: An Informal History of Woodstock. Woodstock: The Oxford Historical Society, 1997, 132-133.
The Daily Sentinel-Review, November 9th, 1900.
The Daily Sentinel-Review, January 4th, 1901.