Let's GO -- and TTC -- to the "Ex":
Canadian National Exhibition starts August 16



On September 9, 1881, two horses pulling a Toronto Street Railway car full of passengers arrived at Strachan Avenue and Wellington Street, the new end of the line for the TSR’s King route. The passengers stepped off the car and into the history books as they walked down Strachan to the entrance of the local fairgrounds and introduced Torontonians and visitors alike to the idea that traveling by transit was a safe, convenient — and, often, fun — way to get to the exhibition.

More than 130 years later, as the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) gets ready for its 134th season at Exhibition Place, transit still plays an important role in the success of the annual fair. This year, the “Ex” starts this Friday, August 16 and continues until Labour Day, Monday, September 2.

GO Transit and the TTC are revising and increasing their services to help fair-going crowds head to the “Ex”. And, due to the large number of construction projects blocking downtown streets and the low number of available buses, this year, for the first time in many years, the TTC is resuming service along one of its former Exhibition-only streetcar routes to and from downtown Toronto.


Service to the CNE affects these routes:

GO Transit01 Lakeshore West, 09 Lakeshore East, 12 Niagara Falls, 21 Milton, 31 Georgetown, 61 Richmond Hill, 65 Barrie, 71 Stouffville.

TTC29 Dufferin, 193 Exhibition rocket, 509 Harbourfront, 511 Bathurst, 521 Exhibition East.


GO Transit
65 Barrie

GO already operates summer weekend trains to and from Union Station — Labour Day, Monday, September 2 is the last day this year that GO provides weekend service.

Passengers riding most regular weekend Barrie trains must change trains at Union Station to reach Exhibition GO. Half-hourly westbound Lakeshore trains leave Union at 12 and 43 minutes past the hour.

Every weekend, hourly eastbound Lakeshore trains leave Exhibition GO for Union Station on the hour.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

31 Kitchener

From Saturday, August 31 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, GO operates two extra trains along the line, but, due to construction along the Georgetown South corridor, it’s only providing service at Georgetown, Mount Pleasant, Brampton, Bramalea, Union and Exhibition GO Stations.

Going to the CNE Saturday, August 31, a special eastbound train leaves Georgetown GO at 9:30 a.m., serves all stations along the line until Bramalea, then operates express — without stopping — to Union Station. It then continues westward to Exhibition GO, arriving at 10:41 a.m.

Going home, a special westbound train leaves Exhibition at 6:39 p.m., operates express from Union to Bramalea, then serves all stations along the line until Georgetown, ending its trip at 7:59 a.m.

Going to the CNE Sunday, September 1, a special eastbound train leaves Georgetown GO at 9:30 a.m., serves all stations along the line until Bramalea, then detours, operating express — without stopping — to Exhibition GO Station, bypassing Union Station. It ends its trip in Exhibition GO at 11:06 a.m.

Going home, a special westbound train leaves Exhibition at 6:39 p.m., detours by bypassing Union Station and operating express to Bramalea. It then serves all stations along the line until Georgetown, ending its trip at 8:23 p.m.

Going to the CNE Monday, September 2, a special eastbound train leaves Georgetown GO at 9:30 a.m., serves all stations along the line until Bramalea, then operates express — without stopping — to Union Station. It then continues westward to Exhibition GO, arriving at 10:41 a.m.

Going home, a special westbound train leaves Exhibition at 6:39 p.m., operates express from Union to Bramalea, then serves all stations along the line until Georgetown, ending its trip at 7:59 a.m.

GO does not operate extra buses to connect with these trains.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

09 Lakeshore East
01 Lakeshore West

From Friday, August 16 until Friday, August 30, GO increases service on both lines, with more trains stopping at the Exhibition Station. (GO interlines the trains on both lines.)

Trains operate along both lines every 30 minutes at most times of the week — and even more frequently Mondays to Fridays during rush hours.

Most eastbound GO trains stop at Exhibition GO Station at most times of the week, except during morning rush hours. Most westbound trains stop at Exhibition at most times of the week, except during afternoon rush hours. Even more trains stop at Exhibition GO station while the CNE is going on, with some trains that usually bypass Exhibition stopping there during the CNE.

Mondays to Fridays during the “Ex”, the eastbound trains leaving Aldershot GO Station at 6:03 a.m. and 8:38 a.m. stop at Exhibition GO Station at 6:56 and 9:22 a.m.

The eastbound trains that usually start their trips in Union Station at 4:25 and 5:05 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, instead start at Exhibition GO Station at 3:57 and 4:35 p.m. during the “Ex”. Both trains arrive in Pickering GO Station at 4:51 and 5:46 p.m. The first train continues to Oshawa GO Station, arriving at 5:12 p.m.

Mondays to Fridays during the “Ex”, the westbound trains that leave Oshawa Station at 8:25 and 8:38 a.m. continue to Exhibition Station, ending their trips at 9:29 and 9:56 a.m.

Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, all trains stop at Exhibition GO Station.

GO also operates an extra train over the long holiday weekend, from Saturday, August 31 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2.

The extra westbound train over the holiday weekend leaves Oshawa GO Station at 10:11 a.m. It arrives in Union Station at 11:10 a.m. and ends its trip in Exhibition GO Station, arriving at 11:20 a.m.

GO does not operate extra buses to connect with this train.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the lines here. (.pdf)

21 Milton

From Saturday, August 31 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, GO operates two extra trains along the line.

Going to the CNE, a special eastbound Milton train leaves Milton GO Station at 10:30 a.m., serves all stations along the line until Exhibition GO Station, arriving at 11:43 a.m.

Going home, a special train from Exhibition GO at 6:19 p.m. will make all stops to Milton GO Station, arriving at 7:28 p.m.

GO does not operate extra buses to connect with these trains.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

12 Niagara Falls

All trains operating along the line between Union Station and the Niagara Falls VIA Rail Station Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays stop at Exhibition GO Station.

You can view the regular schedule for the line here.

61 Richmond Hill

From Saturday, August 31 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, GO operates two extra trains along the line.

Going to the CNE, a special southbound train leaves Richmond Hill GO Station at 10 a.m. The train stops at all stations along the line until Union Station, then continues westward to Exhibition GO Station, arriving at 10:54 a.m.

Going home, a special *westbound train leaves Exhibition at 6:19 p.m., heads to Union, then stops at all stations along the line. It arrives in Richmond Hill GO Station at 7:13 p.m.

GO does not operate extra buses to connect with these trains.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

71 Stouffville

From Saturday, August 31 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, GO operates two extra trains along the line.

Going to the CNE, a special southbound train leaves Lincolnville GO Staton at 9:45 a.m. The train stops at all station along the line until Union Station, then continues westward to Exhibition GO Station, arriving at 11:02 a.m.

Going home, a special northbound train leaves Exhibition at 6:44 p.m.,heads to Union, then stops at all stations along the line. It ends its trip in Lincolnville, arriving at 8:06 p.m.

GO does not operate extra buses to connect with these trains.

You can view the special CNE schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

TTC
511 Bathurst

From Friday, August 16 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with streetcars operating every few minutes to and from Bathurst Station. It also usually assigns extra staff and sets up crash gates at the Exhibition (East) Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board streetcars through all doors.

29 Dufferin

From Friday, August 16 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, the TTC is increasing the frequency of service along the route, with buses operating every few minutes to and from Wilson and Dufferin Stations. It also usually assigns extra staff and sets up crash gates at Dufferin Gate Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses through both doors.

521 Exhibition

This year, the TTC is reintroducing service along this former streetcar route, with cars operating every 12 to 15 minutes from 9 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. between downtown Toronto and the Princes’ Gate to the “Ex”.

The cars operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. until Sunday, September 1. They also operate from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. Labour Day, Monday, September 2.

Starting 9 a.m. Tuesday, August 20, eastbound cars start their trips in Exhibition Loop, then proceed:

eastward along Manitoba Drive and Fleet Street;
northward along Bathurst Street; and then
eastward along King Streets West and East to Church Street,
ending their trips.

(Although the TTC has not confirmed the exact routing, eastbound cars likely continue:

(northward along Church;
(westward along Richmond Street East;
(southward along Victoria Street;
(eastward along Adelaide Street East; and then
(southward along Church Street to King East.)

Destination and route signs on westbound cars display: 521 King / Church.

Westbound cars start their trips on Church Street at King Street East, then proceed:

westward along King Streets East and West;
southward along Bathurst Street; and then
westward along Fleet Street and Manitoba Drive to Exhibition Loop,
ending their trips.

The TTC usually assigns extra staff and sets up crash gates at Exhibition (East) Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board streetcars by both doors.

193 Exhibition rocket

The TTC reintroduces service along this express route to and from the CNE’s Dufferin Gate and the Dundas West Station on the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway line.

Buses operate every 10 minutes seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. until Sunday, September 1. They also operate from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. Labour Day, Monday, September 2.

Starting Friday, August 16, southbound buses proceed from Dundas West Station without stopping:

south- and eastward along Dundas Street West;
southward along Dufferin Street;
westward along Springhurst Avenue; and then
southward along Fort Rouille Street into Dufferin Gate Loop.

Northbound buses proceed from Dufferin Gate Loop without stopping:

northward along Dufferin Street; and then
west- and northward along Dundas Street West to Dundas West Station.

Buses operate every 10 minutes seven days a week from about 9 a.m. until 1 a.m.

The TTC usually assigns extra staff and sets up crash gates at Dufferin Gate Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses through both doors.

509 Harbourfront

From Friday, August 16 until Labour Day, Monday, September 2, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with buses operating every few minutes. You can board the buses on the east side of Bay Street, just south of Front Street West, beside Union Station. Passengers riding the buses may also connect with the subway at St. Andrew Station when they return downtown.

The TTC usually assigns extra staff and sets up crash gates at Exhibition (East) Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses by both doors.


Since those first passengers in 1881, Toronto’s public transit vehicles — horse cars, streetcars, buses and trains — have been carrying passengers to and from the Canadian National Exhibition — and the various fairs that preceded it. From 1883 until 1885, Toronto’s and Canada’s first electric-powered streetcar carried passengers through the exhibition grounds from the end of the horse car line at Strachan Avenue and Wellington Street — then the main entrance to the fair — to the area of the current Dufferin Gate. The city as a whole had to wait until August 16, 1892 before an electric streetcar entered regular service along city streets.

All four of Toronto’s public transit agencies — the Toronto Street Railway, the Toronto Railway Company, the Toronto Transportation Commission and the Toronto Transit Commission — have traditionally dedicated extra human and equipment resources in making sure that everyone gets happily, safely and efficiently to and from the great fairs. And, Canada’s railways and interurban bus companies have also played their parts in the history of the Exhibition, especially the TTC’s former interurban subsidiary company, Gray Coach Lines, the forerunner of today’s GO Transit.

Starting in the 1930s, Gray Coach operated buses directly to a terminal on the Exhibition grounds — immediately west of the Automotive Building (today’s Allstream Centre) — from various cities and towns in Southern Ontario, including Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Galt (Cambridge), Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Preston (Cambridge) and St. Catharines. For those who lived in other towns, GCL operated special flag buses from the downtown bus terminal on Bay Street to the CNE. (They were “flag” buses, because you could wave at, or “flag”, the driver to stop and pick you up.) Your Gray Coach ticket from elsewhere in Ontario let you ride the flag bus from the downtown terminal for free. The downtown flag buses also served major downtown hotels, including the Royal York and the King Edward.

In the 1960s and 70s, the TTC also got into the flag bus business, operating express buses from suburban points to the same Exhibition bus terminal near the Automotive Building that you could also flag down. In 1961, buses operated from Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, Jane Street and Wilson Avenue, Royal York Road and Anglesey Boulevard, Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue East and Eglinton Avenue East and Pharmacy Avenue. In 1982, the last year of this service, the buses still operated from Jane and Wilson and Eglinton and Pharmacy, but also ran from Yonge and Steeles Avenue, Bloor Street West and the East Mall, Islington Avenue and Elmhurst Drive and Ellesmere and McCowan Roads.

The Transit Toronto archives contain several informative articles by James Bow describing the history of transit services to the Canadian National Exhibition.

You can read about:

  • the history of streetcars to the Exhibition here.
  • the history of the present 511 Bathurst and the former Fort streetcar routes here.
  • the history of the 509 Harbourfront streetcar route here.
  • the history of Exhibition East and Fleet loops here.
  • the “last stand” of the 521 King - Exhibition streetcar route (and, in passing, the history of the 522 Dundas - Exhibition car route, too) here.

Transit agencies interline one or more routes sharing a common terminal refers to reduce costs by sharing resources — drivers and vehicles — for two or more routes with a common terminal. In this case, a westbound train operating along the 09 Lakeshore East line arrives at Union Station, then continues westward along the 01 Lakeshore West line. Similarly, an eastbound train operating along the 01 Lakeshore West line arrives at Union Station, then continues eastward along the 09 Lakeshore East line.