The TTC's Christmas-Painted Buses (1955-1960)

Compiled by Pete Coulman
Additional Text by James Bow

In the autumn of 1955, to celebrate the Christmas season, the Toronto Transit Commission decided that a bus should be painted in festive colours. In the days long before plastic wraps were common (or, even, invented), this meant taking the candidate buses into their shops and painting them by hand. This required a fair amount of time from maintenance staff, both to paint the vehicles festively at the start of the season, and paint it back to their normal colours afterward, but the venture was popular enough that the TTC decided to continue and even expand the program for the next five years.

Pete Coulman has gathered a chronology of these special buses in operation below:


November 28, 1955

Operation begins on single decorated Christmas bus (GM #1196) to operate in suburban areas. On this day, the Christmas bus was put into operation on the ANGLESEY route, run #2.

November 28, 1956

Program begins again, this time with three decorated buses made available for operation both in the suburbs and downtown. The first bus in operation runs along AVENUE ROAD as Run #1.

December 1, 1956

The second of three decorated buses starts operation on CLIFFSIDE as Run #1.

December 6, 1956

The third decorated bus, actually a trolley coach, is put into operation on the ANNETTE route as run #3. It alternates with the WESTON route as run #2.

December 2, 1957

The program begins again with three buses and one trolley coach decorated in Christmas colours.

November 29, 1958

The program begins again with three buses and one trolley coach decorated in Christmas colours.

November 28, 1959

The program begins again with three buses and one trolley coach decorated in Christmas colours.

November 19 to December 31, 1960

Budget cuts force the TTC to not fully paint candidate buses and trolley coaches for the season. Instead, ten buses and two trolley coaches are affixed with festive signs. This would be the last year the TTC maintained this program of decorating vehicles for the season.


Christmas Buses Image Archive

34-eglinton-east-01.jpg

An unknown TTC GM Old Look bus painted in Christmas colours in December 1958 heads west on Eglinton past Eglinton Square in service on 34 EGLINTON EAST. This image is courtesy the Toronto Archives.

christmas-buses-01.jpg

A line-up of TTC buses painted in Christmas colours, outside the Princes' Gates on December 15, 1956. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives, donated by Pete Coulman.

christmas-buses-02.jpg

In 1957, painted bus 1599 operates on 7 BATHURST. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives, donated by Pete Coulman.

christmas-buses-03.jpg

A Christmas bus operating on 5 AVENUE ROAD swings around Queen's Park Circle in December 1956. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives and donated by Pete Coulman.

christmas-buses-04.jpg

An unknown bus painted in Christmas colours heads northbound on Queen's Park Circle past Wellesley in service on 5 AVENUE ROAD on December 3, 1957. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives and donated by Pete Coulman.

christmas-bus-1956.jpg

On December 5, 1956, the TTC posted a GM "Old Look" bus, freshly repainted for the Christmas season, at the old 24 DAVENPORT bus loop near the corner of Davenport Road and Bathurst Street. The photographer, tired of seeing the word "GARAGE" on TTC publicity shots, had supervisors roll up something more colourful up front. This photograph is a scan from an old TTC postcard, and is donated from the collection of Pete Coulman.

25-don-mills-02.jpg

A TTC bus painted for Christmas in 1958 passes Eglinton Avenue in service on the 25A branch of 25 DON MILLS. Photo courtesy the Toronto Archives.

89-weston-christmas-bus-1959.jpg

An unknown TTC CC&F trolley coach, in service on 89 WESTON southbound on Keele at St. Clair in December 1959, bears festive colours for the Christmas season. Photo by Wally Young.

13-berry-rd-01.jpg

TTC bus 1594, painted up for Christmas, operates at Prince Edward and Bloor in this December 1956 shot. Photo donated by Peter Coulman.

15-brimley-03.jpg

An unknown TTC bus decked out in Christmas livery, operates in service on 15 BRIMLEY, southbound on Brimley Road at Eglinton, in December 1959. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.

15-brimley-02.jpg

An unknown TTC bus decked out in Christmas livery operates southbound on Brimley at Eglinton, in service on the 15 BRIMLEY route, in December 1959. Photo donated by Pete Coulman.

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