TTC Service in 1928

A recent comment sent me looking for service levels early in the TTC’s existence (post 1921), and I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover that this information is in a book, now long out-of-print, by John F. Bromley called TTC ’28. This book provides a view of the system when the electric street railway in Toronto was at its height.

In a recent presentation to the TTC Board, staff argued that the streetcars were an integral part of the growth of Toronto, but their viewpoint was comparatively recent, from the 1950s onward, and even that did not fully show the former extent of the transit network which was once almost entirely operated with streetcars.

I often get questions about the streetcar system as it was, and this article is intended to consolidate the bits and pieces in one place. The route histories will give some indication of why there is so much streetcar track in apparently odd places today. Remember also that the downtown one-way streets date from the 1950s when the DVP/Gardiner recruited several streets as on/off ramps to the expressway network and “optimised” them for use by motorists.

Information for 1928 is taken mainly from Bromley’s book. Other sources are Rails From The Junction by James V. Salmon, Riding the Radials by Robert M. Stamp, and The Toronto Trolley Car Story by Louis H. Pursley.

The following map shows TTC routes in August 1928. It was scanned by Pete Coulman from a guidebook, and the original scan lives on the TransitToronto website’s maps page.

ttc-map-1928-08-22

Only a few routes on this map are bus operations, generally small lines on the periphery of the system.

Serving Downtown

Anyone born in the past half-century is used to the idea that the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth subways (now known as Lines 1 and 2 respectively) provide the lion’s share of transit capacity into the core area, supplemented by the streetcar network and GO Transit. However, before the subways opened, their role was provided not just by streetcars on their namesake streets, but on parallel routes that fed into a common area. This was an essential part of service design not simply to spread out the network through many neighbourhoods, but because all of the streetcars needed to serve the core could not fit onto one street.

“Downtown” was quite different from the area we think of today, and much of the development was concentrated south of Dundas with areas to the north more residential than commercial. Construction of Eaton’s College Street store began in 1928, and it was thought to be a huge risk building so far away from downtown. The building is much smaller than original plans because of the combined effect of its location and the recession.

The land around the port and the railway corridor was used mainly for industrial purposes, and the large workforce in these areas required a lot of transit service. This land is now home to tens of thousands as the condo boom recycles the old city and changes travel demands.

Services to downtown in 1928:

  • Bathurst cars ran south from Vaughan Loop at St. Clair to Front, then east to Frederick Loop at Sherbourne Street. (Although there was track linking Bathurst to the Exhibition ground, it was used only during special events such as the CNE or Royal Winter Fair.)
  • Bathurst trippers (peak period cars) ran from Caledonia Loop on St. Clair east to Vaughan/Bathurst, south to Adelaide and then east to Church.
  • Bay cars ran from Caledonia Loop on St. Clair east to Avenue Road, then south to Bloor, east to Bay and south to Ferry Loop (York & Queens Quay where the circular ramp from the Gardiner is today).
  • Beach cars ran between Neville Loop on Queen to Sunnyside Loop west of Roncesvalles. Today the route is 501 Queen.
  • Beach trippers ran from Neville Loop to King & Bay looping via Bay, Wellington and Sherbourne. Today’s 503 Kingston Road Tripper is a descendant of this route.
  • Queen cars ran initially from Bingham Loop on Kingston Road (still in use by routes 502, 503 and 12) looping downtown via Victoria, Richmond and York. During 1928, service was extended east to Birchmount Loop, but streetcar service was cut back to the City of Toronto boundary in 1954 with the creation of “Metro Toronto”. Today’s 502 Downtowner is a descendent of this route.
  • Bloor cars ran between Luttrell Loop (between Dawes Road and Victoria Park on Danforth) and Jane Loop (south side of Bloor opposite the foot of Jane Street).
  • Danforth trippers ran from Luttrell Loop west to Church & Bloor, then south to Queen looping via Queen, York and Richmond.
  • Carlton cars ran between Luttrell Loop and High Park over almost the same route as today’s 506 Carlton. College Street ended at Lansdowne, and so streetcars jogged south to Dundas to continue their trip west.
  • Carlton tripper cars followed the east end route to Parliament, then jogged south to Dundas and west to loop via Victoria, Adelaide and Church.
  • Church cars began at Christie Loop (corner of Dupont & Christie) and ran east via Dupont, Avenue Road and Bloor to Church, then south to loop via Front, Yonge and Wellington.
  • College cars took a rather scenic route from Royce Loop (southeast corner of what is now Lansdowne & Dupont, formerly Royce Street) via Lansdowne, College, Bay, Dundas, Broadview, Gerrard, Carlaw, Riverdale and Pape to Lipton Loop (current site of Pape Station).
  • Harbord cars also originated at Royce Loop, but took a different route into downtown via Lansdowne, Lappin, Dufferin, Hallam, Ossington, Harbord, Spadina and Adelaide to Church looping via Richmond and Victoria. Sunday service followed much of the College route from downtown to Lipton Loop. This evolved eventually into a consolidated Harbord route which was its form until 1966 when the BD subway opened.
  • College trippers ran from Royce Loop to College and McCaul where they turned south and then east to York looping via Richmond, Bay and Adelaide.
  • Dovercourt cars ran from Townsley Loop at St. Clair & Old Weston Road (the loop still exists as the western terminus of 127 Davenport) then later in 1928 from Prescott Loop (a small parkette west of the railway at Caledonia). They operated via Old Weston, Davenport, Dovercourt, College, Ossington, Queen, Shaw to loop via Adelaide, Crawford and King. This route served the Massey-Ferguson industrial district which is now the eastern part of Liberty Village. Peak period service extended via King looping via Church, Front and George Streets. The most substantial remnant of the Dovercourt car is the 63 Ossington bus which was once operated with trolley coaches taking advantage of the electrical system already in place.
  • Dovercourt Trippers originated at Davenport & Dovercourt (reversing using the wye at that location as there was no loop) and followed the main route to King & Church.
  • Dundas cars operated between Runnymede Loop (now the western terminus of 40 Junction) and City Hall Loop (from Bay via Louisa, James and Albert Streets). This route has operated through to Broadview Station (now as the 505) ever since part of City Hall Loop disappeared under the Eaton Centre development.
  • King cars operated over essentially the same route as they do today between Vincent Loop (across the street from Dundas West Station) and Erindale Loop (one block north of Broadview Station). Peak service was extended in the west to Jane Loop and in the east to Danforth & Coxwell with some trippers looping downtown via Sherbourne, Front and Bay.
  • Parliament cars ran from Viaduct Loop (now a parkette at Bloor & Parliament) south to Queen then west to loop via Church, Richmond and Victoria.
  • Sherbourne cars ran from Rosedale Loop (at Rachael Street) south to King and then west to York and Front to Station Loop (Simcoe, Station and York Streets). Peak service operated east to Danforth & Coxwell rather than to Rosedale Loop.
  • Spadina operated with double-end cars between crossovers at Bloor and Front.
  • Yonge cars operated between Glen Echo Loop (east side of Yonge, just before the hill down to Hogg’s Hollow, the originally proposed name for York Mills Station) and Station Loop. Short turn services operated as far north as Lawton Loop (now a parkette on the west side of Yonge north of Heath Street) and AM peak trippers originated at Eglinton Carhouse (of which parts remain in the bus garage now recycled into a “temporary” bus terminal).

This is a huge number of routes that collectively linked the commercial and industrial core of Toronto to the residential neighbourhoods, some of which were comparatively recent “suburbs”.

The level of service was equally impressive. In the table below, numbers under “Two-Car Trains” give the number of trains (a motor car plus a trailer) operated followed by the total number of runs so that, for example, the Beach car has 44 runs of which 37 operated with trailers.

Route                 PM Peak      Two-Car
                      Headway      Trains

Bathurst                2'00"        3/30
Bathurst Tripper        5'00"        9/14
Bay                     1'15"
Beach                   2'30"        37/44
Beach Tripper           3'00"
Bloor                   3'00"        All 41
Carlton                 3'00"
Carlton Tripper         4'00"        14/17
Church                  4'00"
College                 4'00"        2/23
College Tripper         7'00"
Danforth Tripper        7'30"        7/10
Dovercourt              2'45"
Dovercourt Tripper      4'00"
Dundas                  2'00"
Harbord                 2'30"
King                    2'00"        31/54
King Rush               4'00"
Parliament              3'00"
Queen                   5'00"        16/17
Queen Tripper           5'00"
Sherbourne Tripper      2'45"        10/26
Spadina                 2'45"
Yonge                   1'45"        All 42

The West End and Suburbs

In addition to many routes listed above, a few were entirely “local” to their areas, and others were part of separate suburban network, the lines called “radials” that had been built separately from the “city” system.

  • The Davenport route was a remnant of a longer route on the Toronto Suburban Railway, but by 1928 was reduced to operating a shuttle service from Bathurst to Dovercourt. It survived until 1940 when it was replaced by a bus.
  • Lansdowne operated as two separate routes because of the railway level crossing (now an underpass) north of Dupont (Royce). The Lansdowne North route operated as a shuttle from St. Clair to the north side of the railway. Service from Royce Loop southward was provided by the College car weekdays and Saturdays, but there was a Lansdowne South Sunday service from Royce Loop to Dundas.

The TTC operated routes for York Township under contract.

  • Oakwood cars operated from Oakwood Loop at St. Clair (still existing) north to Eglinton and west to Gilbert Loop (west of Caledonia Road).
  • Rogers Road cars also operated from Oakwood Loop north to Rogers and west to Bicknell Loop (east of Weston Road).
  • Lambton cars, a remnant of the Toronto Suburban Railway, operated from Runnymede Loop west to Lambton Park. The line did not carry well, and it was converted to a bus route in August 1928.
  • Weston Road cars operated from Keele & Dundas north to Humber Street in Weston. This was another TSR line that originally had operated to Woodbridge (1914-1926). The line was converted to TTC gauge in stages, and for a time ended at a loop at Northland Avenue (at the City limits).

The Oakwood and Rogers routes eventually became trolley coach lines as part of what is now 63 Ossington, although Rogers Road has been extended and split off from Ossington for many years. The Weston Road route also became a trolley coach, although streetcar service remained as a peak-only extension of St. Clair until 1966. That extension was not possible until the opening of the “St. Clair Subway” under the Weston rail corridor in 1932, and the streetcars originally operated to Northland Loop. That is the reason why St. Clair cars were signed “Northland” even after they were extended to Avon Loop at Rogers Road.

Another leftover from the radial system was the line on Lake Shore Boulevard West.

  • Mimico cars operated from Roncesvalles Carhouse via the old trackage on Lake Shore (pre-Gardiner Expressway) west to Stavebank Road, just east of the Credit River in Port Credit. In the fall of 1928, the city trackage was extended to Long Branch, and the “Mimico” route disappeared. “Port Credit” cars ran on the remaining “radial” line until February 1935.

Updated: I have been remiss when listing routes operating in 1928 by omitting the Toronto Suburban’s line to Guelph. This was not a TTC operation, but remained part of CN’s electric operations to the end.

The line began at Keele & St. Clair, but was abandoned in 1931. This electric railway was never extended into downtown and suffered from its “suburban” nature even though its terminus was on the CN corridor now used by GO’s Kitchener-Waterloo service. The small station building remained for decades after. A fragment of the line still sees streetcar operation as the Halton County Radial Railway museum.

The East End and Suburbs

Most of the services in the east end ran to the downtown area and they are included in the main list above.

  • Coxwell cars shuttled between Danforth and Queen with Sunday/Holiday service extended via Queen and Kingston Road to Bingham Loop. This route exists almost unchanged today.

Service on Kingston Road east of Victoria Park was provided by the Scarboro radial car to a point east of Morningside Avenue where Kingston Road and Old Kingston Road diverge today. In late 1928, the line was double-tracked to Birchmount, the city routes were extended into Scarborough and the radial service operated from there east. Rail service ended in two stages: east of Scarborough Post Office in 1930, and the rest of the line in 1936 to allow highway widening.

The North End and Suburbs

The northernmost of the remaining streetcar lines is on St. Clair. In 1928, it operated from Caledonia Loop to Mt. Pleasant Loop at Eglinton, although service on St. Clair was also provided by the Bay and Bathurst cars west to Caledonia (see above). Eventually, the line was extended west to Keele Loop (replaced now by Gunn’s Loop) when the underpasses at Caledonia (1931) and at Weston Road (1932) opened. Caledonia and Prescott Loops were no longer needed.

By far the most extensive of the radial lines was the Metropolitan Division of the Toronto & York Radial Railway. This was not taken over by the TTC until 1927. Cars ran from Glen Echo Terminal north to Richmond Hill and Lake Simcoe with the line ending in Sutton. Service operated every 15-20 minutes during peak periods to/from Richmond Hill with some cars running through to Newmarket every 45-60 minutes all day. Cars to and from Sutton operated every two hours or so leaving from Sutton between 5:50 am and 10:25 pm with a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes. The Lake Simcoe route was cut back to Richmond Hill in 1930.

There’s A New Subway On The Way (7)

February 25, 1966, saw the ceremonial first train operate over the Bloor-Danforth line, but it was also the last day of service on many streetcar routes.

The fans, of which I was a very junior member in those days, were out in force trying to ride as many “last cars” as possible. This took some careful planning, and it was not physically possible to be everywhere.

The Bathurst service to Adelaide and the St. Clair service to Weston Road were rush-hours only, and so these were the first to be visited. It was a very dim late February afternoon as people photographed the last car to Avon Loop at Rogers Road. The destination signs said “Northland”, the name of a loop further south that had been replaced by Avon years earlier (before I was born), but the roll signs were never changed.

Next to go was the Parliament car, a route that operated until just after midnight. It was a short shuttle from Bloor at Viaduct Loop to King at Parliament Loop, but it was an important line it its day. The trackage was also used at times to route some King cars to Broadview & Danforth avoiding the congestion of streetcars at eastbound Queen & Broadview that could back up from the intersection to the Don Bridge on a bad day.

That Parliament car on its trip in to Danforth Carhouse conveniently crossed Pape & Danforth just before the last westbound Harbord car whose operator faced an unexpected surprise waiting at his first stop. Harbord wandered through the city in a vaguely U-shaped route from Pape & Danforth (see description below) to Davenport & Lansdowne. The running in trip down Lansdowne to the carhouse brought us to Bloor Street where it was time for a 3 am snack and a wait for what would be one of the two “last” Bloor cars.

The Bloor trip took us to both Jane and Luttrell Loops, and the car became so crowded as the night wore on that we started to leave passengers at stops. It was not quite dawn when the car pulled in to Lansdowne Carhouse, and everyone walked down the street to the brand new subway entrance where the Bloor night car transfer got us on to complete the night’s entertainment.

Many routes were affected by the subway’s opening.

The Bloor and Danforth routes vanished except for shuttles on the outer ends that would operate until the first of the BD extensions opened in 1968.

Jane Loop has been replaced by a new office building and parking lot, although the TTC history is still visible from the old traction pole sporting a Canadian flag on Google Street View. Bedford Loop, a terminus for peak-only services on Bloor-Danforth has vanished under the OISE building and a parkette. Hillingdon Loop (a peak-only short turn at Danforth Carhouse) now hosts a branch of the Toronto Public Library. Luttrell Loop is now occupied by housing that is newer than its surroundings, but the role as a TTC loop is clear from the road layout and the still-present traction pole.

The Parliament car was replaced by the 65 Parliament bus operating to Castle Frank Station at its north end. Viaduct Loop was abandoned and is now a parkette. Parliament Loop at King was for many years the terminus of the bus until it was extended south and west to serve the St. Lawrence district. The loop is now a parking lot for a Porsche dealership.

This was part of a complicated land swap some years ago between the TTC, the dealership and the Toronto Parking Authority. The TTC had plans to build a new streetcar loop on Broadview north of Queen where there is now a parking lot, the City wanted the land south of Front once occupied by the dealership as part of the “First Parliament” site, and the TPA wanted replacement parking if the TTC built on its lot. The dealership moved to the TTC lands, the City got the land south of Front, and the TTC bought a vacant lot on Broadview for a new TPA lot to replace the capacity that would be lost when the loop went in. The loop has never been built.

Much of the track used by the Coxwell car (daytime route, just like 22 Coxwell today) and Kingston Road-Coxwell (weekends and evenings, again just like the bus) remains in place from Coxwell & Gerrard south, east via Queen, and northeast via Kingston Road to Bingham Loop. Coxwell cars used a very small loop on the southeast corner at Danforth now occupied by a commercial building, and Coxwell-Queen Loop which still exists. The track north of Gerrard remained operational for some months after the subway opening and Carlton cars preferentially used it to loop at Danforth Carhouse rather than Coxwell-Queen when short-turning. Eventually, the power was cut and overhead removed. The carhouse remained active as a storage site for PCCs that were rotated into the pool used by Russell Carhouse, but the link was via Danforth, not Coxwell.

The Harbord car, whose route I described earlier, ran from Pape and Danforth at Lipton Loop (replaced during station construction by Gertrude Loop) to St. Clarens Loop at Lansdowne and Davenport. The route meandered a lot running south to Riverdale & Pape, a block west to Carlaw (jogging around the railway), then south to Gerrard (at the corner now home to the “Real Jerk” restaurant), west along Gerrard to Broadview, south to Dundas, west to Spadina, north to Harbord (finally on the street from which the route took its name), west on Harbord to Ossington, north to Bloor, west to Dovercourt, north to Davenport and west to Lansdowne. There had been track on Pape north of Lipton Loop for a proposed extension into the Leaside industrial district south of Eglinton, but this was never built due to the recession.

The Dundas car operated from Runnymede Loop to City Hall and service further east was handled by Harbord. With the subway opening, the routes were consolidated, and Dundas was extended east to Broadview Station. Various chunks of Harbord became other routes including the 72 Pape bus, 94 Wellesley, 77 Spadina (now 510 Spadina). Service on Dovercourt and Davenport was abandoned not to be replaced by bus routes until decades later.

The Carlton car, the only “zone 1” streetcar route in 1966 to retain the red ink from the days of multicoloured transfers, still operates over its old route much as the King car does although loops at Vincent and Erindale were replaced by Dundas West and Broadview Stations respectively.

The St. Clair and Earlscourt services were reorganized (this would happen a few times over the years until the “Earlscourt” route simply became a short-turn variant of St. Clair), and service to Weston Road was dropped. The 89 Weston trolley coach extension south from Annette to Keele Station provided a direct subway link for riders on Weston.

Bathurst and Fort were consolidated into a single route from Bathurst Station to Exhibition Loop which, in those days, was located where the Trade Centre (whose name changes with its sponsorship) is today. Service between St. Clair and Bloor was taken over by 7 Bathurst and 90 Vaughan which formerly shared Vaughan Loop at St. Clair with the streetcars. Service on Adelaide to Church (returning westbound via King to Bathurst) was abandoned. Active track remains on Adelaide today only from Spadina to Charlotte, and from Victoria to Church.

There’s A New Subway On The Way (6)

From time to time, the question of just what constitutes “subway demand” comes up in various threads on this site. As a matter of comparison, here is the TTC Scheduled Service Summary for April 7, 1964.

Headways on the Bloor-Danforth service itself were quite impressive. Two-car trains of PCCs, roughly the equivalent of the new Flexity cars, ran throughout the day until mid-evening, and the peak headways shown below are for trains.

                          AM Peak         PM Peak
                          Hdwy   Veh      Hdwy   Veh
Bloor route                      100             110
  Jane to Luttrell        2'30"           2'30"
  Jane to Bedford                         4'00"
Danforth route                    30              48
  Bedford to Hillingdon   3'20"
  Bedford to Luttrell                     3'00"
Combined                         130             158
  Bedford to Hillingdon   1'26"
  Jane to Bedford                         1'32"
  Bedford to Luttrell                     1'22"

Jane Loop was at Bloor & Jane.
Luttrell Loop was on Danforth between Main and Victoria Park at the old city boundary.
Bedford Loop was at St. George Station.
Hillingdon Loop was at the east side of Danforth Carhouse east of Coxwell.

The Bloor-Danforth streetcars could not carry all of the demand into downtown, and that work was shared with many parallel routes.

  • 2’00” Bathurst car from Vaughan Loop (at St. Clair) to Church & Adelaide
  • 1’30” Carlton car
  • 1’40” Dundas car from Runnymede & Dundas to City Hall
  • 2’30” Harbord car from Lansdowne & Davenport to Pape & Danforth via Dundas & Yonge
  • 1’20” King car
  • 2’00” Kingston Road car (now “Downtowner”)
  • 5’00” Kingston Road Tripper car (Victoria Park to Roncesvalles & Queen)

The streetcar system required 640 cars in the am peak, 684 in the pm peak.

There’s A New Subway On The Way (5)

The new subway would bring major changes in travel throughout the transit network.  The TTC produced a large poster, the size of a two-page foldout in newspapers of the day explaining many features of the line and its operation.

BDNews1

Probably the largest reorganization of routes in the TTC’s history accompanied the opening of the new subway including the change or removal of several streetcar lines. This was to be the beginning of a gradual dismantling of streetcar operation leading to the opening of a Queen Street subway in 1980.

BDNewsRoutesw

Lest passengers be confused about the destination of their trains with the integrated subway service, platform signs would indicate where the next train was headed. The signs remain on many platforms with their displays fixed to the now-standard destinations.

BDNewsDestSignsw

The two-zone fare system still existed, although its boundary would not be punctured by the subway until the extensions beyond the old City of Toronto opened. The fine boundary line is visible in the route map below.

BDNews2

Adult tickets were still a common method of fare payment, and the TTC exhorted travellers to switch to the mode used by “seasoned subway riders”, tokens, at the princely price of 6 for $1 in handy cardboard holders.

TokenHolder6

For the opening, a special commemorative token holder was issued.

TokenHolders1

The subway had its own pocket route map.

BDMap660226B

BDMap660226A

Six months later, this would change to the routes we know today.

BDMap660904B

BDMap660904A

There’s A New Subway On The Way (4)

February 1966 saw the opening of the Bloor-Danforth’s Keele-to-Woodbine stretch, and an extension to North York was already in the cards, albeit only to Sheppard Avenue. Like the BD extensions to Scarborough and Etobicoke, this segment would itself grow another two kilometres. The original plans called for the line to be built parallel to and west of Yonge Street just as the route south from Eglinton had been, but demolition of a swath of homes through North Toronto was not in the cards. The alignment eventually chosen lay directly under Yonge with a bored tunnel north to Sheppard. (The Finch extension would later be built cut-and-cover through the then much less-developed Willowdale.)

Progress Report 6 includes a few choice items including the coin changer at an automatic entrance (fares were 6/$1.00), the speed ramp linking the temporary Bloor streetcar shuttle platform at Keele Station to the eastbound platform, and a reference to Metro Toronto’s “balanced transportation system”. That was the standard buzzphrase used to sanitize a combination of subway and highway building in the 60s, and the Spadina Expressway project was very much in the foreground at the time.

The integrated service with trains running through the wye between the BD and YUS routes was now described as a six-month trial to be followed by a similar test period for separate routes.

The extensions were well underway, and the original balance of lengths east and west had been abandoned in favour of a more sensible Etobicoke terminal at Islington.

There’s A New Subway On The Way (3)

By mid 1964, the University subway had been running for over a year, and the Bloor-Danforth line’s opening was set for early 1966. Extensions to the east and west were already approved, although the Etobicoke segment ended at Montgomery Road on the east side of Mimico Creek. This would later be changed to Islington, and the stations at Prince Edward and at Montgomery were consolidated into a single stop at Royal York.

With most of the line built by cut-and-cover, work was underway in many locations simultaneously, aided by the final added funding contribution from the Metro Toronto government. Unlike more recent projects, where political wrangling and tax saving measures dictated that construction run as slowly as possible, the BD line’s construction was a high priority in its day.

Yorkville became the centre of Toronto’s 60’s culture, complete with an endless stream of tourists driving through to gawk at the hippies through closed windows. The name had such an unsavoury reputation for up-tight pols that in time the station would be renamed “Bay” with “Yorkville” as a subheading. Now it is one of the poshest areas in the city.

A fleet of 164 subway cars was on order. These were the “H-1” trains as they would be known after their manufacturer, Hawker-Siddeley, at what is now the Thunder Bay plant of Bombardier.

There’s A New Subway On The Way (2)

As construction progressed on the Bloor-Danforth-University subway, the TTC issued progress reports from time to time.

Progress Report 3 predates the opening of the University leg of the project. By this time, a funding contribution from Queen’s Park brought the then estimated completion date back from 1969 to 1967.

The first batch of aluminum 75-foot cars, a form that would become standard for Toronto, came from Montreal Locomotive Works. All subsequent orders went to the plant in Thunder Bay now owned by Bombardier.

There’s A New Subway On The Way

With all the hoopla about yet another new transit plan for Toronto, it’s time to remember that the 50th birthday of the Bloor-Danforth subway is coming up in a week’s time. Depending on which event you consider the “real” birthday, it will either be Thursday, February 25 (the anniversary of the ceremonial opening) or Friday, February 26 (the first day of revenue service).

Over the next week I will post some ephemera from that era when Toronto launched on a major subway building project.

The handout below was a publicity piece for the Bloor-Danforth-University subway project. Among items of interest are:

  • The expected construction time was 9 years broken down as the University Line (3.5), Greenwood to University including Greenwood Yard (4), and the remaining pieces east from Greenwood to Woodbine, and West from St. George to Keele (2.5). Almost all of the line was built cut-and-cover , and the city expropriated a swath of houses along most of the route to the north of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. This strip is now home to parking lots, a few parks, subway entrances, and the occasional new building sitting right on top of the subway.
  • The original completion date to the terminals at Woodbine and Keele was planned to be 1969, but work was accelerated thanks to additional funding from the Metropolitan Toronto government and Queen’s Park.
  • The paintings showing what the new stations would look like date from 1956 and 1957, before the project had been approved by Metro Council.
  • The map of the route includes the original names for most of the stations including Vincent, Walmer and Yorkville. By the time this was printed, “Willowvale” Station had already changed to “Christie”, but the park to the west retained its original name.

The station illustrations are by Sigmund Serafin whose work also shows up in samples of the original Yonge line station designs. Of the four stations shown here, none was built exactly as shown. You can see the full set on Transit Toronto. The eight water colours were rescued from a housecleaning binge at the TTC in the late 1960s when much material went into various private collections lest it simply disappear. These paintings are now back with the TTC who plan to issue them as posters later this year, and the originals will go to the City Archives.

Here is Bloor-Yonge Station in all its mid-50s glory, with Gloucester trains, no Hudson’s Bay building and a lot of Bloor-Yonge streetscape that has vanished over the years.

Yonge_Station_Serafin_1957w

For a detailed history of the Bloor subway, visit Transit Toronto.