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.