Canada (er … Dominion) Day 1967

Fifty years ago, Canada celebrated its centennial, and is usual for our national holiday, festivities at City Hall triggered streetcar diversions.

In those days, the standard bypass for Queen cars was eastbound via Adelaide and westbound via Richmond. Adelaide has long been out of service except for a short stretch of track between Victoria and Church, and although Richmond has been rebuilt, there is no overhead yet between Victoria and York Streets. The abandoned track on Adelaide will be removed in 2021 according to current plans, but this is likely co-ordinated with whenever the City gets around to repaving the street after the many, many condo and office construction projects that have left it a pothole filled ruin.

Adelaide closed “temporarily” to permit the construction of the Bay-Adelaide centre, a project that itself sat incomplete for years thanks to a downturn in demand for office space. Over the years, with the track inactive, more construction blockages and related track cuts occurred, and any thought of reactivation vanished.

As a look back, here are photos of the diversion from July 1, 1967. Many of the buildings in these pictures no longer exist, a few have been cleaned off, and several vacant lots are no more.

[Updated July 1, 2017 at 7:55 pm: For those who don’t know, it was still called “Dominion Day” in 1967.]

Looking even further back, here is a gallery of photos from the City of Toronto Archives showing construction of the track along Adelaide in 1911. Among these photos, two at Church are particularly intriguing because they show a full diamond as if the TRC intended to extend track further east some day. This never happened.

9 thoughts on “Canada (er … Dominion) Day 1967

  1. I’m surprised no attempt is being made to keep Adelaide trackage between York and Victoria. What’s the point of leaving what’s left, including Richmond, then?

    Steve: I have raised this issue repeatedly with the TTC over past years, and it’s like talking to a very solid brick wall. I really think that they don’t understand the issue of how track on Richmond and Adelaide can help out with downtown diversions.

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  2. Great photos! I’m curious was there a track rebuild between 1911 and 1958 (when the street became one-way)? I’m assuming there was, but if not, that would mean the unused track on Adelaide would be over a century old. I’m surprised that the track is still there since 1958. Is there a reason it’s survived so long?

    Steve: After Adelaide was converted to one-way operation in the 50s (part of the downtown reconfiguration to support the opening of the Gardiner Expressway), the Bathurst car’s route changed from both ways on Adelaide to one-way eastbound returning via King. This lasted until early 1966 when the BD subway opening killed off the direct to downtown service on Bathurst. The track remained in use from time to time for diversions around events, mainly those at Nathan Phillips Square, until 1989 when some track was removed for the Bay-Adelaide office tower construction project staging area. That was the end of operation on Adelaide west of Victoria, except for the Spadina car’s loop at Charlotte Street which was created in 1998.

    The track survives because the street has only been repaved in short sections likely awaiting the end of construction of many, many towers along this section (planned for 2021).

    As to the age of track on Adelaide, I had to comb through the info in “The Toronto Trolley Car Story” (Pursley, 1961). Here is what I found:

    • 1922: Intersections at Yonge and at York replaced.
    • 1923: Tangent track Simcoe to Spadina — relay T rail on old foundation.
    • 1923: Intersection at Spadina renewed to widen the devilstrip and replace some TRC parts.
    • 1930: Intersection at Church replaced.
    • 1936: Tangent track from Spadina to John replaced.
    • 1939: Tangent track from Simcoe to Church replaced.
    • 1942: Tangent track from Simcoe to John, and from Spadina to Bathurst.
    • 1954: Special work removed at Yonge due to subway opening.
    • 1958: Eastbound tangent track from Victoria to Church (original 1911 TRC track replaced).

    I cannot find a specific reference to replacement of the TRC special work at Bay Street, but it must have been replaced sometime in the 1920s as part of the overall system reconstruction.

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  3. 1) Why did the track on Richmond recently get rebuilt, even though there’s no wires ovehead?

    Steve: The wires are coming back, but have not been installed. It appears there is a problem somewhere along the way with installation of foundations for new poles.

    2) If/when the DRL gets built under Queen, re-activiating Adelaide/Richmond might be a good plan…

    Steve: Although the track on Richmond does not go far enough west to clear construction at Osgoode Station.


  4. The OTHER DavidC said “What’s the point of leaving what’s left, including Richmond, then?”

    Well, as noted above they have STILL not strung the overhead, though the track was finished last fall so they clearly don’t see Richmond west of Victoria as very useful. (Despite Steve’s comment, they have installed new poles all along the street so I am not sure that a pole problem is to blame, With Queen closed there is certainly no rush now but ….)

    Their planning seems quite odd (as usual?), they have 4 functioning westbound tracks between Church and York (King, Queen, Richmond and Wellington) and only 2 eastbound (King and Queen). If Adelaide were rebuilt to York and a curve added at King they really would have more flexibility. (They actually rebuilt the track on Adelaide from Yonge to Victoria, plus the curve north on Victoria, when they rebuilt the section of Adelaide from Church to Victoria – about 8 years ago as far as I remember.

    Steve: I am not sure that “planning” is the operative word here.


  5. The reason why they want to remove the tracks from Richmond and Adelaide is because of the suburban non-transit users on the commission board. They see no need for them, while the transit users understand the need.

    Steve: I don’t think the members of the TTC Board even know that there are tracks on these streets. I suspect management is saving money in the capital budget.


  6. I would suggest that your title should be “Dominion Day 1967”, as this was before the historical revisionists got to work.

    Steve: Point taken.


  7. Interesting, the TRC building Adelaide/Church with a full set of diamonds for eastward extension and never being utilised. Perhaps to link-up with Sherbourne?

    The photo looking east at Adelaide/Church, the N-W corner, two blokes wearing the straw boaters, may actually be TRC supervisory types overseeing construction.

    The rare use of steel sleepers on tangent track on Adelaide, instead of wood.


  8. I was raised by an advocate for Dominion Day who was also very proud of the fact that portions of our family were United Empire Loyalists that had fled to the “Dominion”. However, I must say that “Canada Day” is an entirely different event from “Dominion Day” (which I can remember). I think it is time for us “old folks” to surrender the field to today’s youth who in uncharacteristic Canadian fervour wave the flag for “Canada Day.” I am an “old guy” who likes to wave the flag too. Canada Day makes me happy. I love Canada.


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