The Last Night of the Mt. Pleasant Car

Streetcar service on Mt. Pleasant Road ended at dawn on Sunday, July 25, 1976. To mark the occasion, a group of transit enthusiasts (or railfans if you prefer) chartered Peter Witt 2766 for an overnight tour around the city. We stopped at many places for photos, something that is only possible in the middle of the night, and then finished up with two round trips on the Mt. Pleasant line before calling it a night.

Here is a gallery of photos from that journey. I have published some of these before, but here is the full set.

Some of what we photographed remains, other views have disappeared or changed substantially.

There are more buildings in the way of the CN Tower than in 1976 and getting a clean shot top-to-bottom is much harder now than it was when the tower was new.

The buildings on Spadina have not changed too much, but it would take almost two decades from the photo here before we would see streetcar service return in 1997.

Bay Street is utterly transformed, now a condo canyon, including the stripped and repurposed Sutton Place Hotel.

The tail track at Bingham Loop that allowed a brief excursion into Scarborough was removed years ago as were spurs and tail tracks almost everywhere else.

The variety store beside Coxwell-Queen Loop disappeared under a condo in the past few years.

Now it was time to venture up to St. Clair for the last runs on Mt. Pleasant. Our first pass took us along St.Clair past the subway station over track used only by the night cars. Up at Eglinton, it was still quite dark although the deep blue of the dawn sky had begun to show. We returned south and west to St. Clair Station and then looped back east to Moore Park Loop where we met the first bus on the new Mt. Pleasant route. Another trip through St. Clair Station brought a meet with the last night car, and then we headed off for the final trip with the line all to ourselves.

As we were posing in front of the coal silos at Merton, a TTC Supervisor came by to chase us off of the line as they wanted to cut off the power. Our operator, Charlie Price, a veteran of many charters, was not too worried about getting back to the carhouse on time.

At Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant, nothing that was on the four corners remains today. A bus loop, currently unused, sits inside a seniors’ building on the northeast corner that once held a gas station and the streetcar loop. The bank on the northwest will return some day as the shell of the main entrance to Mt. Pleasant Station on Line 5 Crosstown. Eglinton Public School on the southwest was replaced with an ugly building whose architects assure me was the product of cost cutting by the Board of Education. The south east corner, formerly a typical 1920s-era row of stores with apartments above, now has a midrise commercial building that, like other developments along Eglinton, added nothing to the local character. It is sad to think that the bank, when it returns, will probably be the most distinguished building there.

At St. Clair and Yonge, even the “modern” towers don’t last forever. Updates and replacements are already in the pipeline.

The subway station had the distinction of being the first to have a restaurant inside of the paid area, a counter-example to the “though shalt not eat in the subway” bylaw that was never implemented. It eventually became a McDonalds.

Moore Park Loop is now a local parkette little changed except for the removal of the streetcar tracks.

Dominion Coal is long gone, and the area between Mt. Pleasant and Yonge along Merton is almost all condos in what was once an industrial area.

The cemetery, founded in 1873 when it was out in the countryside among farms, goes on, an oasis with the city’s best collection of trees.

Updated July 27, 2020: Service east of St. Clair Station to Moore Park Loop continued until October 2, 1976 but only for the St. Clair night car (and occasional daytime cars killing time because they were off schedule). Thanks to Philip Webb for sending me a copy of an article by Mike Roschlau in Rail+Transit, January 1977, with this info.

14 thoughts on “The Last Night of the Mt. Pleasant Car

  1. I love this stuff!

    What’s remarkable is not so much the impression of how far back this is, but how *fresh* it still is in the memory. I could step into those pictures, and continue life just as easily as walking out of today’s front door.

    I guess I’ve caught myself being my age. And it’s comfortable.

    Treasures! Many thanks for that Steve!

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  2. I commuted by bike down MT Pleasant in the early 2000s – you could use the remains of track under broken pavement – especially at St Clair – assume they are still there … Dominion Coal was still standing when I moved here in 1985.

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  3. If I am not mistaken, for some reason the night cars continued to operate to Moore Park Loop past July 25, 1976, for a little while longer. I don’t recall for how long, or even why for that matter.

    Steve: I vaguely remember that too (as well as a few daytime cars killing time), but don’t have any physical record of it.

    Updated: Yes, the night cars ran to Moore Park until October 2 according to a contemporary article by Mike Roschlau. Thanks to Philip Webb for digging that out.

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  4. Wow! Beautiful pictures, thanks for this “blast from the past”! I really enjoy when you do these historical photo posts, hopefully we’ll see more of them.

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  5. Re Moore Park loop still being used after July 25, 1976.

    I might still have a copy of those Rider News flyers you used to see in the subway cars that you could tear off and keep that had that info. Not counting on it, but I’ll take a look. I’m thinking that once the City gave up the ruse that they were planning to return streetcars to Mt. Pleasant was when service was finally cut east of St. Clair Stn.

    Steve: From another source, an old article by Mike Roschlau, it is confirmed that the night car ran to Moore Park Loop until October 2, 1976.

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  6. I remember that night well. I was on the last regular service car and we went back and forth throughout the night from Weston Rd. to the Eglinton loop. There was a rather unusual young man on board, quite the character, who was equipped with posters and black streamers for the last run. He would have loved to be on the charter with you folks but he couldn’t afford it. At the Weston Rd. loop before the final run right over the entire line all of us on the car got off and plastered the car with the streamers (we had a great driver) then we flew virtually non-stop the full length of the line through the loop at St. Clair Station and onto the Mount Pleasant portion. We knew that you guys on the Witt charter wouldn’t be that far behind us. Sure enough as we headed back down Mt. Pleasant we passed you guys coming up for the last run but at St. Clair Station we persuaded the driver to loop around and go back up. I can only imagine what a hoot it was for you guys coming down Mt. Pleasant when you saw us going back up. That meant, of course, that you would have to retrace your steps. Eventually we all met at St. Clair Station where you guys were good enough to let our character board your car for the FINAL run.

    Ah those were the days!

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  7. The lousy excuse they gave for removing the streetcars on Mt. Pleasant was that they had to reconstruct the bridge going over Belt Line Railway, in 1976. Sounds familiar to why they didn’t build a bridge over Allen Road because the Belt Line Railway wasn’t in need of a bridge there. It was “more important” for automobiles than streetcars, pedestrians, or bicycles.

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  8. Man, i just missed it. I discovered George’s Trains in 1976. Musta been the new school year then.

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  9. Not that it is likely to happen, but probably a fairly easy route for streetcar service restoration?

    Steve: It wouldn’t make much sense now. The demand has been driven away by the infrequent bus service, and people going to the subway travel on the E-W bus routes which are now more frequent than in the 70s. Also, I suspect that the new bridge at Merton was not built to carry streetcars.

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  10. As a kid, I had music lessons in a (now demolished) building on the north side of Eglinton, just east of Mt. Pleasant. I travelled there by myself (as was the thing those days).

    To get there, I would take the Nortown trolley coach from Eglinton station, on the theory that it would drop me off on the west side of Mt. Pleasant and I would not have to cross any part of the Eglinton/Mt. Pleasant intersection.

    Going back, I would often catch the streetcar from the loop. I think the westbound Eglinton stop was nearside, so that was simply a preference for taking a different route.

    Later on, the lessons migrated to St. Clair and Deer Park. St. Clair station, with through running St. Clair cars, and Earlscourt and Rogers cars, was a busy place in those days. I remember the destination board that lit up which route was coming next. I have no idea how that worked.

    I wonder if the stairwell down to the bus level, at the east end of the platform, is still open. It was a few years ago, but evidently quite unused.

    Steve: The lights showing the destination of cars were operated from a manual control panel at the west end of the platform.

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  11. It’s too bad the line was ever abandoned. Kind of ironic since the prime mover of Streetcars for Toronto was a regular rider in those days.

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  12. If I remember correctly the TTC announced that there would be no more streetcar line abandonments and that they would be in the market for new streetcars. The Save Our Streetcars SOS campaign was in full vigor at the time and Toronto became acquainted with a certain Steve Munro.

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