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International Transit Company

Algoma Central Railway

Algoma Commercial Company Limited

The International Transit Company

Ontario, Hudson Bay and Western Railway

When Francis H. Clergue and Edward Douglas purchased the Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie Water, Light and Power Company in 1894, they also purchased a subsidiary of this Company, the Sault Ste. Marie Electric light and Transit Company. This Company sat dormant until 1901 when Clergue revived it and changed the name of the company to the International Transit Company.

The International Transit Company, which was operated by the Consolidated Lake Superior Company, secured a franchise from the Town of Sault Ste. Marie granting it exclusive right to operate street railways for a period of twenty-five (25) years beginning 1 July 1901. Once the franchise and the necessary financing were in place, the contract was let to J.H. Mcknight for the construction of the street railway. Construction began at the intersection of Gore and Queen Streets. Construction traveled westward on what is now Queen Street to Huron Street and eastward along Queen Street to Upton Road. The street railway was operational by the end of 1902. Pursuant to municipal by-law, the Transit Company was required to run at least one car per hour between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 pm Monday through Saturday (cars were not allowed to operate on Sunday) at a speed not to exceed 10 miles per hour. The fare was set at five cents per one way trip.

In typical Clergue fashion, the need to empire build became manifest when the street railway was nearing completion. The most obvious direction to turn was toward a ferry service between the two Saults. It did not faze Clergue that there was already a ferry service in operation. He attempted to purchase this existing company and when his attempt was rebuffed, he purchased his own ferry and operated it in competition with the American owned company. Clergue ultimately succeeded in forcing his competition out of business by setting his fare at five cents, half that of his competitor. The American Company sold its operation to the Transit Company in May, 1903.

Although neither the street railway nor the ferry service were profitable operations, they did break even. They were among the only companies to continue operating throughout the turbulent period following the collapse of the Allied Companies.

Clergue was responsible for the construction of a street railway in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan as well. The Trans St. Mary’s Traction Company as the American counterpart to the international Transit Company was called, was incorporated pursuant to the laws of Michigan in October, 1901. The American street railway was a much more extensive undertaking than the Canadian was. It included more miles of track and covered a broader cross-section of the community. The Traction Company was originally owned by the Consolidated but the bulk of its stock was transferred to the Michigan Lake Superior Power Company in January of 1903 in return for a preferential power contract. Coincidentally, as part of this transaction some $25,000 worth of stock was transferred to Clergue personally for promotional services. Unfortunately for the Traction Company, the International Transit Company also owned a significant number of shares. As a result, the Traction Company was forced to close when the Clergue industries collapsed in September of 1903.