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Canadian Car and Foundry

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Canadian Car And Foundry
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryRail transport
Founded1826; 198 years ago (1826)
SuccessorBombardier Transportation (before 2021)
Alstom (after 2021)
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Area served
High-speed trains
Intercity and commuter trains
People movers
Signalling systems

Canadian Car and Foundry (CC&F), also variously known as "Canadian Car & Foundry" or more familiarly as "Can Car", was a manufacturer of buses, railway rolling stock, forestry equipment, and later aircraft for the Canadian market. CC&F history goes back to 1897, but the main company was established in 1909 from an amalgamation of several companies and later became part of Hawker Siddeley Canada through the purchase by A.V. Roe Canada in 1957. Today the remaining factories are part of Alstom after its acquisition of Bombardier Transportation completed in 2021.[1]


Portable power plant built by Canadian Car and Foundry[2]

Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F) was established in 1909 in Montreal as the result of an amalgamation of three companies:

In 1911 the CC&F Board of Directors recognized that the company could improve its efficiency if they were able to produce their own steel castings, a component that was becoming common to all their products. They purchased Montreal Steel Works Limited at Longue-Pointe, the largest producer of steel castings in Canada, and the Ontario Iron & Steel Company, Ltd. at Welland, ON, which included both a steel foundry and a rolling mill.

Buses and Forestry Equipment were produced at Fort William, Ontario and railcars in Montreal and Amherst. Streetcars were manufactured between 1897 and 1913, however the company focused exclusively on rebuilding existing streetcars after 1913.

A few years later, CC&F acquired the assets of Pratt & Letchworth, a Brantford, ON, rail car manufacturer. In the latter part of World War I, the expanding company opened a new plant in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) to manufacture rail cars and ships which included the French minesweepers Inkerman and Cerisoles which were both lost in Lake Superior; the Amherst plant started by Rhodes & Curry in Amherst was closed in 1931. In an attempt to enter the aviation market, CC&F produced a small series of Grumman G.23 Goblin aircraft under licence and developed an unsuccessful, indigenous-designed fighter biplane, the Gregor FDB-1.

Canada Car Company[edit]

Canada Car Company was a railcar manufacturer based in Turcot, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal), which later merged with several other companies to form Canadian Car and Foundry in 1909.[3] Canada Car Company was incorporated January 1905 with W.P. Coleman as president and Sir Hugh Allan as vice-president. The company's plant began operations in 1905 and manufactured freight and passenger cars.

Clients included:

Their products were:

  • wood freight and passenger cars
  • box cars
  • streetcars
  • flat cars
  • parlor cafe cars
  • dining cars

First World War[edit]

Navarin-class minesweepers

During World War I, CC&F had signed large contracts with Russia and Britain for delivery of ammunition. An enormous factory was constructed in the Kingsland to assemble, package, and prepare artillery shells for shipment to foreign ports. No shells were manufactured there. On 11 January 1917, a fire started in one of the buildings. In four hours, the fire spread to the approximately 500,000 pieces of 3-inch (76 mm) explosive shells stored there, causing several explosions, destroying the entire plant. The explosion launched artillery shells and building debris across the area, destroying several homes and businesses in the nearby town of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and was visible from New York City. The total loss, including the ordnance, was estimated at $16,750,000 (equivalent to $404 million in 2023).[4][5][6]

Canadian Car and Foundry had a contract to build 12 Navarin-class minesweepers for the French Navy.[7][8] The vessels were completed in the fall of 1918—before the war ended, but too late to see operational service. Two of the vessels, the Inkerman and Cerisoles, were lost in a November gale, on Lake Superior, on their maiden voyage. Other vessels were sold into civilian service.

The government of the Russian Soviet Republic ordered 500 bogie tank cars. They were shipped from Montreal to Novorossiysk on Canadian Merchant Navy steamships at the end of 1921.[9]

Second World War[edit]

CC&F Hawker Hurricane X on a test flight over Fort William, Ontario
CC&F-built Harvard Mk.4

By 1939, with war on the horizon, Canadian Car & Foundry and its Chief Engineer, Elsie MacGill, were contracted by the Royal Air Force to produce the Hawker Hurricane (Marks X, XI and XII). Refinements introduced by MacGill on the Hurricane included skis and de-icing gear. When the production of the Hurricane was complete in 1943, CC&F's workforce of 4,500 (half of them women) had built over 1,400 aircraft, about 10% of all Hurricanes built.[10][11]

Following the success of the Hurricane contract, CC&F sought out and received a production order for the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. Eventually, 834 Helldivers were produced by CC&F in various versions from SBW-1, SBW-1B, SBW-3,SBW-4E and SBW-5. Some of the Curtiss divebombers were sent directly to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease arrangements. CC&F also built the North American Harvard under licence, many of the aircraft being supplied to European air forces to train post war military pilots.

In 1944, the Canadian Car & Foundry built a revolutionary new aircraft in its Montreal shops - the Burnelli CBY-3, also called the Loadmaster. There were two examples built of an aerofoil-fuselage design originally developed by Vincent J. Burnelli. The CBY-3 was never to enter full-scale production and was cancelled less than one year later.

The work of Canadian women building fighter and bomber aircraft at the plant during the Second World War is documented in the 1999 National Film Board of Canada documentary film Rosies of the North.[10]

Postwar developments[edit]

After the Second World War, the CC&F returned to its roots as a rail car manufacturer. They also made a successful leap into the streetcar business, supplying Montreal, Toronto, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with various types of streetcars. The company concluded a licensing agreement with ACF-Brill (the successor to J. G. Brill) in 1944 to manufacture and sell throughout Canada buses and trolley coaches of ACF-Brill design as Canadian Car-Brill, in later years often written "CCF-Brill", for short. CC&F built 1,114 trolley buses[12] and a few thousand buses under the name. Trolleybus production ended in 1954; Edmonton Transit System's No. 202, a 1954 CCF-Brill T48A, was the last Brill trolleybus built for any city.[13]

Production of the Brill diesel bus continued through the 1950s. In 1960, CC&F launched an entirely new TD bus design under the Canadian Car name to compete with the General Motors New Look model, but it was not successful and production was discontinued in 1962.

In 1957, wishing to diversify, the British Hawker Siddeley Group acquired CC&F through its Canadian subsidiary, A.V. Roe Canada Ltd. In 1962, A.V. Roe Canada was dissolved when the Avro Arrow program was suddenly terminated, and its assets became part of Hawker Siddeley Canada. During the 1970s they introduced the BiLevel Coach heavy railway passenger car, which would go on to great success.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the plant built 190 Canadian Light Rail Vehicles, for the Toronto Transit Commission, to replace its aging PCC streetcars.[14]

CCF re-emerged as Can-Car Rail in 1983 as a joint division between Hawker Siddeley Canada and UTDC. The Can-Car Rail operations were based in Thunder Bay. Sold to SNC-Lavalin in 1986, a financial shakeup led to the firm being returned to the Government of Ontario, and then quickly re-sold to Bombardier Transportation. Through a series of further acquisitions, mergers and rationalisations, CC&F faded from the annals of significant Canadian manufacturers, although the company still exists today as the Alstom railcar facility in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


Railway carriages[edit]

Buses, trolleys and streetcars[edit]


Other vehicles and equipment[edit]

  • Tanks for World War II[citation needed]
  • Bobcat (armoured personnel carrier) - 1 prototype built and project terminated; originally developed by Leyland (Canada) which was bought out by Canadian Car and Foundry (itself acquired by Avro Canada) and terminated under Hawker Siddeley Canada
  • TreeFarmer Forestry Heavy Equipment (under license from Garrett Enumclaw Co.)
  • Canada Diesel and Canada Diesel WT highway tractors.[15]



Many CC&F-built buses have been preserved as historic vehicles, some in operating condition. For example, the Transit Museum Society, in Vancouver, has at least seven CC&F buses in its collection, including two CC&F-Brill trolleybuses.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A transformational step for Alstom: completion of the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation". 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2022 – via Alstom. Press release from Alstom on the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation
  2. ^ "Sask Power Car". Saskrailmuseum.org. 11 September 2008. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Canada Car Company". Archived from the original on 20 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Kingsland N.J. Fire Loss is $16,750,000". The Sun. New York City. 13 January 1917. p. 4. Retrieved 12 January 2017 – via Library of Congress.
  5. ^ "The Kingsland Explosion". Lyndhurst Historical Society. Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Kingsland and Haskell Disasters". Safety Engineering. 33 (1): 28–32. January 1917 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Krueger, Andrew (20 August 2017). "99 years after two French minesweepers vanished in a Lake Superior storm, a new search aims to solve the mystery". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  8. ^ Trunrud, Tory (16 October 2016). "Blueberry Boat made here". Chronicle Journal. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  9. ^ Railway Rolling Stock Orders and Deliveries. Canadian Railway and Marine World. December 1921. p. 635.
  10. ^ a b Saxberg, Kelly (director) (1999). Rosies of the North. Retrieved 23 July 2012 – via National Film Board of Canada. Documentary film on the wartime role of women workers at Fort William.
  11. ^ Pigott, Peter (2002). Wings across Canada an illustrated history of Canadian aviation. Toronto, Ontario: Dundurn Press. p. 81. ISBN 9781554883790 – via Archive.org.
  12. ^ a b c Porter, Harry; Worris, Stanley F.X. (1979). Trolleybus Bulletin No. 109: Databook II. Louisville, Kentucky: North American Trackless Trolley Association (defunct). pp. 63–64.
  13. ^ Isgar, Carl F. (January–February 2009). "Preservation Update". Trolleybus Magazine. No. 283. National Trolleybus Association (UK). p. 11. ISSN 0266-7452.
  14. ^ Thompson, John (5 January 2018). "The car that saved Toronto's streetcars". Railway Age.
  15. ^ A.V. Roe Corporate Annual Report for the year ended July 31, 1957, page 15. Copy held by Rare Books and Special Collections Unit, McGill University Library
  16. ^ "The Historic Bus Fleet". Transit Museum Society. 2009. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2010.


External links[edit]