With all the recent talk about Ontario Place, and with Exhibition season almost upon us, I thought this would be a good excuse for photos of streetcar services to the Ex. Decades ago, the CNE raised much bigger crowds and there was a time it really was a showcase, an “exhibition”. I remember when the “Better Living Centre” was brand new, and its intent was to give fairgoers a look at all that was new and exciting in household goods. The Internet didn’t exist yet, and the phenomenon of the shopping mall full of goods manufactured anywhere but here was in its infancy.
The TTC ran many streetcar services into the Ex over the years, and parades of cars would leave the grounds following the evening fireworks. (Transit Toronto has a short history of the CNE services on its website.)
The photos here have been chosen not just for the fact that cars might be operating on Exhibition routes, but also for interesting details about what is, or is not, still in the city today.
Dundas Exhibition Cars
Ex Birmingham Alabama PCC 4706 eastbound leaving Runnymede Loop on Dundas Street in early September 1967. Exhibition services had special red destination signs for the west (Dufferin) and east entrance loops. There are no route numbers because the CLRVs and their unromantic “500-series” signs were not even dreamed of.
This would be the final year for Exhibition service to this part of Toronto as the streetcar service would be cut back to Dundas West the following May when the BD extension west from Keele opened. The new trolleybus overhead for the Junction bus is hanging just above the streetcar overhead.
4726 eastbound on Dundas at St. John’s Road. “Fina” is long gone as a corner gas station brand.
4725 eastbound at Dundas and Quebec. The hangers for trolleybus overhead are in place, but there is no contact wire yet. Corner grocery stores can still be found around Toronto, but not the ubiquitous and wide open newspaper boxes.
Toronto PCC 4381 southbound near West Toronto Station (the CPR station is visible in the background) at the Dupont underpass.
4708 southbound at Dundas and Chelsea (just north of Dundas West Station).
A Dundas Exhibition car northbound on Roncesvalles at Howard Park. The Revue Cinema still had its original marquee, and Roncesvalles would not begin to gentrify for a few decades.
Toronto PCC 4473 (one of the series with MU capabilities left over from the Bloor streetcar) eastbound at King & Spencer (west of Dufferin). There are not only two Globe & Mail newspaper boxes, but another of those once common IGA supermarkets.
This view looks east on Springhurst at Ft. Rouille, the entrance to Dufferin Loop. By 1972 when this was taken, the “Dundas” exhibition route name had vanished and the cars simply ran with the name “Exhibition”.
Dufferin Loop looking through the entrance gates.
The Labour Day parade blocked the Dufferin Gates, and Dundas Exhibition cars would divert east on King to Bathurst and then north back to Dundas. Here a Dundas car passes Massey and King (one block west of Strachan) when the area was still dominated by Massey-Ferguson’s plants. The area is now all built up with condos.
A Dundas Exhibition car on diversion turns east to north at King and Bathurst. There are no condos in sight, and the intersection is only 3/4 of a grand union because the southwest quadrant had not been installed yet. (It was added for access to and from Roncesvalles Carhouse after St. Clair closed.)
King Exhibition Cars
Northbound service on Bathurst (a mix of Bathurst and King Exhibition cars) in the afternoon rush hour, August 1968.
An ex-Louisville car on King waits to turn west to south onto Bathurst.
Although this is just a regular King car, not on Exhibition service, I could not resist including a photo at King and Spadina which has changed rather a lot since 1968. The abandoned tracks of the Spadina streetcar dead end at the south crosswalk.
Looking east on King at the Royal Alexandra Theatre then recently refurbished and reopened by the Mirvish family. Ed’s Warhouse Restaurant (with many plates in the windows) is just west of the theatre. Out of frame on the right is the CP Express building where Thomson Hall now stands. Notable by their absence are the office towers of King and Bay.
Looking east at King and York beside the Globe & Mail building. Parts of its facade were preserved in the “new” Globe building at Front & Spadina, a building from which the Globe is about to decamp once their new offices go up on the eastern part of their Front Street site. Much of what once stood on King Street (some already demolished in this photo) has vanished under gleaming new towers. The gleam on the BMO tower was not quite so bright as hoped, and its original stone cladding was replaced quite recently (final work at ground level is in progress).
A King Exhibition car turns off of Church onto King westbound. The Imperial Oil building on the northwest corner is being demolished (the company had already moved to its new office building on St. Clair at Deer Park, a building now in the throes of condo conversion). The Hallmark Cards building in the background is now part of George Brown College’s campus.
King Exhibition cars, for a time, operated east to Woodbine Loop. This car is westbound at Queen & Broadview, an area whose look has not changed much since 1968, although many of the buildings have new tenants. The TD Bank was for many years “The Real Jerk”, and it is about to reopen as a bar. Washington & Johnston’s funeral home is no more, although the facade is intact should you want to rent space in the building. The Bank of Montreal is still in business.
Exhibition Loop wasn’t always hidden away behind the Horse Palace and under the Gardiner Expressway. It was once a central transit hub for the CNE and the main gateway for people visiting the fair. Sadly, a new Trade Centre displaced this fine loop. Nobody wanted to put up the money to incorporate a transit station in the basement of the Trade Centre, and Ontario Place cared more about its parking lot than about transit access. (Robert McMann photo)
The loop included a dispatcher’s tower along with washroom facilities for the large number of operators who would be on duty here when the Ex was active.
The Directory is interesting because it is not digital, and it includes a pointer to an exhibit from The People’s Republic of China, something that would have been quite a rarity at the time.
Exhibition Loop looking southwest toward the Shell Oil (later Bulova) Tower and the brand new Ontario Place in 1971. The skeleton of The Flyer is visible just west of the tower. The tower was demolished in 1986 to make way for the Indy race course.
The car is anachronistically signed “Fort St. Clair”, a route and destination that went out of use in 1966. This shot is from a fantrip and, as you can see from the clock, it’s rather late at night.