No, not an actual underground streetcar, but a system to power an above ground streetcar which would do away with overhead wires.
The underground trolley never made it past concept or idea and had Belleville been able to adopt the underground powered system, Lazier's Streetcars may still be running the streets of Belleville today. Instead, the street cars of Belleville ceased 10 years after their launch in August 1895, giving way to the motorized bus.
Thomas Cameron Lazier, the nephew of Samuel Shaw Lazier and part of the well known family of Laziers, ran the Street Cars in Belleville. The service carried passengers from the train station, down Station street, Mill Street, Front Street to the Government Docks and back again.
News Article from June 5, 1895
Mr.Thomas Cameron Lazier of Belleville, is at present in Montreal on his way back from Philadelphia, where he is securing the rights for Canada, for the propulsion of electric street cars by the underground system. This may be put down as the reversion of the trolley system; that is, it does away with the unsightly and dangerous wire overhead, and by placing a third rail between the running ones supplies both currents.. Considering that neither rails are raised there is no such danger attending the working of this system as is the case with cable cars or slot running methods.
Mr. Lazier, in speaking to a reporter, said it was quite likely that Belleville, in the immediate future, would have the best street car service in Canada.
James F McLaughlin, of Philadelphia, the man who first applied storage batteries to street car service in the Quaker City, which was eventually superseded by the trolley, has been studying a method of improvement which would embrace all the energy of that potent factor and minimize its dangers. The outcome of his work has been the introduction of the new underground system in which the trolley is replaced by a third rail. Another important point to be considered in this method is the fact that there is no actual live wires except immediately under the car in motion, the cut-offs being arranged at every eleven feet, so that electric shock from walking on the rails is an impossibility. Another point is that where ever trolleys are already in existence there would be no great expense transforming the old to the new system.
Had this system been developed and adopted, the landscape of Belleville would be much different today. Can you picture street cars running up and down North Front, Bridge, Victoria and Dundas Streets? A missed opportunity? or a blessing?