Lost in Downsview (Updated)

In case you have nothing else to worry about in this election season, the TTC unleashed one of the less helpful bits of debate a few weeks ago with a proposal to change the names of some of the stations on the Spadina Extension.

The staff proposed that:

  • Finch West, York University, Steeles West, Highway 407 and Vaughan Centre retain their original names
  • Sheppard West be renamed as Downsview Park
  • The existing Downsview Station be renamed Sheppard West

Metrolinx wrote asking that Highway 407 be named something else, but with no suggestions, as this could be too generic a name as other major transit nodes will eventually exist along this highway.

Vaughan Council wrote and appeared by deputation asking that their station be named Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in keeping with the name of their new development district.

Commissioner Perruzza weighed in with a proposal that Finch West be renamed University City Heights.

Update:  This name was actually applied with some objections by residents to the Jane-Finch location, two kilometers to the west, by Councillor Perruzza.  See the Toronto Star from January 2009 for more info.

After a great deal of rather pointless discussion, given the much weightier items on the agenda, the whole matter was referred to the new, post-election Commission.  The approved motion reads:



The motion makes no reference to what we now think of as Sheppard West Station, but I’m sure that will be in the hopper too as it is an essential part of the discussion about which station gets to keep the “Downsview” name.

I am looking forward to the scrolling station name for Vaughan on those undersized destination signs fitted on the TR cars.

As for “University City”, this appears to be a last-ditch move by a soon-to-be-ex Commissioner to impose his idea of what Finch and Keele should be called on the City.  It remains to be seen whether this has general support in the neighbourhood.

50 thoughts on “Lost in Downsview (Updated)

  1. Karl said …

    “Norman Wilson was pretty blunt by diplomatic standards, and basically said the inputs Metro used for their modeling of the Flying U were rigged to support the political agenda of the City of Toronto, and Norman wouldn’t be swayed by such garbage.”

    Wilson’s numbers were just as wrong. He predicted that the University line would be max’d out as soon as the Bloor line opened. His ridership estimates for Bloor were also much higher than they turned out to be. The TTC’s ridership projections were actually quite accurate.


  2. “It’d be a bit like calling St. Clair West station “Lyndhurst”. Nice sounding name for a station, but it deviates from the pattern in a way that would just end up being confusing.”

    Not quite. If St. Clair West was going to be named anything different, it might be named “Bathurst North” (bit of trivia: I believe early plans for the Spadina called for a stop at Bathurst where the line crossed beneath the street. It would have been called “Bathurst North”. An alternate alignment for the subway under Vaughan Road might have produced a similar station called “Vaughan”. Now imagine heads exploding in the city above Toronto.)

    In the case of St. Clair West, the TTC is naming the station after the major arterial it’s that’s running perpendicular to it, yes. But “Bathurst North” is marginally plausible because the Spadina subway isn’t exactly running under anything specific at this point. You don’t name any stops on the Yonge subway Yonge, and you wouldn’t name any stops on a St. Clair subway just “St. Clair”. If the subway was running under St. Clair, the station would be called “Bathurst North”, and if the station was running under Bathurst, it would be called “St. Clair West.”

    I think the point is that the station is named after the street that’s perpendicular to the direction that the line is running at that stop, and not to the general direction of the subway line.

    Between Downsview and Sheppard West (or Sheppard West and Downsview Park), the line is following Sheppard Avenue — an east-west arterial which, incidentally, has taken a goodly jog north to get around the old CFB Downsview base. Chesswood is perpendicular to that. Better yet, it’s unlikely to appear again as a name on any other subway line, so it strikes me as a possible appropriate name.

    The TTC doesn’t think so, though, because the street is too far away and not prominent enough (and yet they once during the planning stages for the Bloor-Danforth subway they considered naming Dundas West station “Vincent” and Spadina station as “Walmer”, so go figure). They do make a good argument that the nearest attraction to the station is Downsview Park, though, so I can’t really argue with that logic.

    Steve: I have the original painting of Willowvale Station. My favourite unused station name is “Hogg’s Hollow”.


  3. Brendan H said: “The problem with Chesswood is that it’s a North-South street and the Spadina Extension is generally a North-South line. Every other station in the system that’s named after a street is named after one which runs perpendicular to the direction of travel.”

    But the same line already has one station named after a North-South street: Spadina. I think that one more exception to the general rule is acceptable in case of Chesswood, if it helps to avoid confusion with the renaming of Downsview station.

    St. Clair West is unambiguous and causes no confusion, hence a deviation from the general rule would not be warranted in that case.

    Steve: Spadina station on the BD line existed first, and the one on the Spadina line inherited its name as they are considered one station complex.


  4. To Richard White:

    “Sheppard West” can technically speaking apply to the current station at W.R. Allen Road and Sheppard West and on top of the “curve” of Sheppard West that has a GO Transit rail line passing through it.

    The community chose Downsview station to be named Downsview.

    Also Downsview would apply to both since technically speaking both are in Downsview.

    Changing Downsview and Sheppard West would mean that the TTC would have to update their ride guides, every subway train map (if they exist) and all the maps at all subway stations.

    Steve, what do you think of the confusion of having similar named stations? Lawrence West, Lawrence, Lawrence East. It can be confusing for tourists. Why not name stations after the community they are in?

    Steve: I can see an argument for community-based names, although some of the “communities” are rather antique (for example the ward/parish names of St. Andrew and St. Patrick). However, these names change or lose their relevance over time (although something like a subway station might nail them down). I don’t see any problem with having a station called “Finch/Keele” or some such considering that it will exist on two separate lines. Sheppard and Yonge is an obvious precedent. Where a station is by itself on a site, as in York University, the name is obvious.

    As to Downsview, moving names between stations is really not a good idea. We can live with the confusion of Downsview and Downsview Park if need be.


  5. If the TTC only names stations after streets that run perpendicular….. why is St. George named St. George. Isn’t St. George on a North/South alignment with St. George street being North/South as well.

    Steve: St. George runs north-south crossing the BD line perpendicularly, and the University line on sort of a diagonal as it makes its way from Museum to Spadina (I am speaking at a broad scale, not the physical station layout). Given that it’s a double-deck station (like Bay), there is no reason to have two separate station names.

    A stronger argument could be made for “Spadina North” previously discussed in this thread.


  6. I find it interesting that the TTC wants to change Downsview to Sheppard West rather than something like Sheppard West-Downsview. I say that because with the Sheppard line eventually reaching Downsview, the TTC is probably going to change Downsview’s name again when that happens. As a result, they should be picking a name which would be immune to that regardless of the transit layout of the area.

    As for 407 station, did they reject Black Creek as a possible name due to perceived confusion with Black Creek Pioneer Village?

    Steve: There was a proposal to call Steeles West “Black Creek” as if somehow that would encourage more tourists to visit. That’s the sort of small town mindset that takes over at places like the TTC during election periods.


  7. Given all the interest in the details of naming stations, I have to wonder if the TTC has lost interest in the actual details of operating the subway system.

    Frankly, as much as I might be concerned about the name of the station being “exactly right” (according to one of the various er…patterns used in various ways throughout Toronto) I’m going to be much more concerned with freezing weather, late / delayed / cancelled trains, shutdowns etc.

    So Vaughan Metropolitan Centre can be called “Vaughan Met”, Downsview can be called Downsview (or Sheppard/Allen) or whatever people like.

    My real preference for areas of possible confusion is to move from the “Station West” and “Station East” naming to more detailed cross-street naming … and I prefer the “slash” (or its slightly more pc name, “stroke”) rather than the “hyphen”

    So Dundas West becomes Dundas/Vincent (or Dundas/Bloor), Bloor-Yonge becomes Bloor/Yonge (or Yonge/Bloor), Downsview becomes Sheppard/Allen etc.

    While we are at it, how about:

    Museum to become Museum / University of Toronto (or perhaps Museum with “University of Toronto” in smaller letters underneath much like Bay Yorkville) since the station is in the “middle” of the U of T downtown campus …

    and more importantly, if York is getting a station name, U of T deserves one too!

    Main Street – how about adding an “e” at the end of “Main” to avoid the confusion?

    Royal York – I often hear of tourists getting of at Royal York Station looking for the hotel but I wonder how likely this is now, given that the hotel is now the Fairmont Royal York (once they changed the sign it was pretty much clear – and one has to wonder how long they will keep the sign now that it cannot be seen in skyline photos)

    Cheers, Moaz


  8. Moaz says, “So Dundas West becomes Dundas/Vincent (or Dundas/Bloor), Bloor-Yonge becomes Bloor/Yonge (or Yonge/Bloor), Downsview becomes Sheppard/Allen etc.”

    So the other Dundas/Bloor becomes Dundas/Bloor/Kipling? So then the former becomes Dundas/Bloor/close-to-Roncesvalles? (I think Vincent St. is long gone, buried under the Crossways redevelopment.) Or possibly Bloor/Dundas/Edna, the latter after all having streetcar service?


  9. Either one of them?

    I think at least seven people will use the subway extension to get home on Friday night after partying downtown…..

    It would be much better to finish the Sheppard stubway (no spelling mistake there) build the DRL and work on the Eglinton West line before we start helping people in the 905 and spending money on naming stations and worrying about the world North of Steeles, besides people north of Steeles do not pay into our Toronto taxes…


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