History InSite: Merritt Street at Bessey Street, S1939.5.2.1

A group of people stand around an overturned oil truck. The top of a streetcar can be seen behind it. Above are electrical wires. Below are street car tracks.
Curious residents and school kids look at the overturned oil truck. | STCM S1939.5.2.1

Just like any small town, when something big happens the locals turn out to take a look!

This group of onlookers is gathered around an overturned oil truck. The 2600 gallon / ~9000 litre truck was struck at the level railway crossing in Merritton on the morning of December 9, 1939.

The truck was likely leaving the nearby Aldo & Murators coal and fuel yard on Merritt Street when a South bound NS&T (Niagara, St. Catharines, and Toronto Street Railway) car collided with it and tipped it over.

No one was injured and the truck was righted with minor damage.

Images like this one from the St. Catharines Standard remind us how busy streets could be, even in the 1930s.

Check out another incident involving a motorist along Hartzel Road in 1940.

This photograph is one of many featuring cars and car accidents. Today, car accidents are just another part of life and the traffic report. But before everyone had a car, car accidents were covered religiously by the St. Catharines Standard and the many photographs of the accidents fill the Museum’s photograph collection. You can explore more of these photos through the online portal EMuseum.

There’s More to the Story

Check out the entire History InSite installation across Merritton, downtown St. Catharines and in Port Dalhousie.

About History InSite

A permanent, site specific installation, History InSite juxtaposes historical photographs with modern streetscapes by presenting the photo in, or close to, the place which it was taken.

St. Catharines has a rich photographic history and when compared to the changing streetscapes around the City, that history becomes much more meaningful, poignant, and relevant to our modern eyes.

The Downtown series was installed in July 2021. The Port Dalhousie series was installed in May 2022. The Merritton series was installed in May 2023.

History InSite is presented by the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre.

Graffiti Report

If you spot any graffiti on our purple History InSite signs, please send us a message and photo via email museum@stcatharines.ca.