Before We All Say “Presto!”

Over at, there’s a post about the difference between Montreal and Toronto transfers, and comments arguing whether Toronto is hopelessly archaic, merely quaint, or actually a system that encourages friendly contact with the operators.

In the midst of this, I thought it would be worth looking back at older forms of transfers in Toronto, and this post links to two of them.

Toronto Railway Company September 1892

Souvenir Toronto Transit Commission 1953

The TRC transfers (shown slightly larger than actual size) are printed on very flimsy paper, and were intended to be given out by a conductor.  Note that the corner fold/cut indicates the direction of travel, and there is provision for the conductor to write in the time after which the holder had ten minutes to make their connection.  Obviously, these were intended to be issued as someone left the car.  This format didn’t last long.  (Note also the evolution of the printing of the date with the larger numerals for September 14.)

The souvenir transfers are from the display of the first two subway cars at the CNE in 1953.  I have shown both the back (left) and front (right) here.  The two that I have are printed on different coloured stock, but I don’t know if a wider selection was used.  At the top, you can see the area reserved for a station and time imprint from a machine.  Passengers picked up a blank transfer (yes, there were new ones printed for each date) and they manually validated it .

These transfers include one howler of an error:  one station is missing from the map!  This missing station almost had a different name from the one by which we know it today.  Rosedale is called “Crescent” on many early maps of the Yonge line.

5 thoughts on “Before We All Say “Presto!”

  1. When the weight of the first two Gloucester cars was known after their arrival in July, 1953, attention was given to boosting the subway power supply. At Rosedale Station a very loose “quicksand like” soil caused the foundation of the station to be poured 3 times, with each pouring washed away. The Commission finally bought huge slabs of concrete which the station sits on today. Until the first two subway cars made it down through Rosedale Station in September, 1953, it was unknown if the station would hold under the weight of the cars. At the time of the 1953 CNE the station stop had not been confirmed. Even today stresses from the settling of the station on the slabs causes some of the base wall tiles to pop off.


  2. Another interesting point about the 1953 transfer: use of the TTC Gothic font in lowercase.

    It’s a typographer’s treasure, since no one really knows where that typeface came from.

    There’s bold and light styles of the typeface too.


  3. If “TTC Gothic” is the typeface used in stations until the Spadina line, the only example on the transfer I see is the “YONGE SUBWAY”. The rest of the transfer is in some Futura-type thing.

    One of the most distinctive letters in “TTC Gothic” is the “R”. None of the Rs on the transfer are the correct TTC version.


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