Toronto's Forgotten Bus Networks
(A Brief History of the non-TTC Bus Operations Within the City of Toronto)

Text by James Bow

See Also

When the City of Toronto was established on March 6, 1834, it was officially "incorporated". Like a business, it was established with a board of directors (city council) and legally required to hold meetings and be accountable to its shareholders (taxpayers). The move also separated what had been the Town of York from the governmental authority of York County, which had been established in 1792 and encompassed most of the territory now occupied by the City of Toronto and York Region.

Toronto's independence from York County gave it a number of additional powers and responsibilities. Starting in 1861, Toronto city council exercised some of its control to establish a franchise for the Toronto Street Railway, giving the company exclusive right to use Toronto's city streets to operate streetcar services for the next thirty years. After briefly flirting with direct municipal control over city streetcars in 1891, a new thirty-year franchise was set up for the Toronto Railway Company. In September 1921, the City of Toronto established the Toronto Transportation Commission, a city-owned corporation whose mandate was to operate and maintain all street railway and public transit operations within the boundaries of the City of Toronto.

However, the city's control over public transit extended only to Toronto's boundaries alone. Although the TTC could operate outside Toronto's boundaries, it was only with the agreement of the local governing authorities. This increasingly became an issue as, starting in 1914, Toronto had a self-imposed moratorium on annexation. After taking in a number of nearly-bankrupt towns and villages on its borders, it had found the task of expanding Toronto-quality services to these new residents costly, so the lands around Toronto were allowed to build up, with the villages of Leaside, Forest Hill and Swansea incorporating in the years that followed. Urban development also occurred in parts of the unincorporated townships of York, North York and East York.

Outside the City Limits

The best example of the TTC's out-of-city operations was probably the Township of York Railways, whose history is discussed here. In this case, the Township of York saw the need for improved public transit within its communities, but it did not have the resources to set up operations itself. It made sense to negotiate a contract with the TTC to build, operate and maintain new routes within the townships. Typically, the deal was that the TTC would receive sufficient fares to cover the cost of operation and that, after a small percentage of the profits was given to the TTC to cover administration costs, the remaining profits would go back to the township. The township was also responsible for covering any and all deficits through their taxes.

This arrangement extended beyond the TTC's streetcar operations. The newly formed township of East York (split off from the Township of York in 1923), as well as the village of Leaside, contracted with the TTC to establish the EAST YORK, LEASIDE and SOUTH LEASIDE bus routes. The Township of York had its own TTC bus routes, including EGLINTON WEST, VAUGHAN, GILBERT and LAMBTON.

However, whereas the TTC was a Toronto-owned corporation whose mandate was to provide transit for the City of Toronto, the TTC was not the only option for the townships and villages surrounding Toronto. These towns and villages were independent of Toronto, and were under no obligation to work exclusively with the TTC to provide public transportation to their citizens. Often , on the initiative of an enterprising businessperson, or at the behest of the local council, independent public transit agencies were launched. Some of these grew to considerable size before being absorbed -- along with the villages and townships that spawned them -- by the newly created municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and the expanded Toronto Transit Commission in 1954.

Four significant operations were established in the towns, townships and villages surrounding Toronto in the early-to-mid 1920s. These agencies were: West York Coach Lines (which served central Etobicoke Township and parts of York Township), Hollinger Bus Lines (which primarily served East York), Danforth Bus Lines (which operated separate networks in Scarborough and North York), and the Roselands Bus Lines, which operated two routes in York Township, Etobicoke and Weston). The oldest of these independent operations is Hollinger, although the Danforth Bus Lines has roots dating back to 1920.

Hollinger Bus Lines

Hollinger Bus Lines was founded by John Hollinger in June 1921 when he established a private bus route named WOODBINE, which operated from the intersection of Woodbine and Danforth Avenue north to O'Connor Drive, serving the developing neighbourhoods within the Township of East York.

John Hollinger wasn't just the owner of Hollinger Bus Lines. He was also its sole driver, at least at first. He also delivered eggs and butter to houses on his route, and he ate his meals on his bus.

The operation was popular (and profitable) enough for extensions to be added. A rush hour branch opened in August 1928, following the first route to Woodbine and Lumsden before turning east and heading to Main Street. On December 16, 1931, a new COXWELL-MAIN line opened running from Danforth and Coxwell Avenue via north on Coxwell, east on Sammon, north on Woodbine and east on Lumsden to Main. BROADVIEW service started on the same day, operating from Danforth Avenue via Broadview, Mortimer and Donlands to O'Connor. These were the beginnings of the 8 BROADVIEW, 62 MORTIMER, 70 O'CONNOR and 91 WOODBINE routes that continue to operate under the TTC to this day.

Hollinger also acquired other small bus operations to grow its business. An Alex Hamilton launched the DAWES ROAD bus operating from Danforth Avenue via Dawes to Pearl Road near the Victoria Park/St. Clair intersection (a precursor to today's 23 DAWES operation). After being bought out by a Mr. A. Sefton and operated as Del-Ray Coach Lines, Hollinger bought the operation and rolled it into his network on July 6, 1936. Just as with Hollinger's other services, it offered connections to the TTC's BLOOR streetcar.

Danforth Heads North

The earliest service offered by the Danforth Bus Lines began as an intercity bus owned by a Mr. A Ireland connecting Toronto with King City north of Vaughan Township in the Spring of 1920. Another bus route, owned by a Mr. C.F. Ramsell, was launched in the spring of 1926, serving the Birchcliff community in southern Scarborough Township and connecting with BLOOR streecars at Luttrell loop.

A T.J. Shoniker comes into this story in June of 1926, buying out the Birchcliff service and establishing the Danforth Bus Lines, adding rush hour service as far east as Birchmount. Mr. Shoniker then bought out the Toronto-King bus service on May 14, 1931 and operated that as Toronto Coach Lines Ltd.

Mr. Shoniker had no problem operating two separate networks. The Toronto-King service was soon extended into downtown Toronto (opening in October 1932), and service to the town of Alliston followed two years later. However, here, Shoniker ran into difficulties with the TTC. By charging fares for trips between downtown Toronto and the corner of Eglinton Avenue and Dufferin Street, Danforth Bus Lines violated the exclusive franchise offered to the TTC by both the City of Toronto and the Township of York (primarily competing with the TTC's contracted VAUGHAN bus service). The Department of Highways agreed and, effective January 4, 1937, ruled that Toronto Coach Lines could only pick up outbound passengers or discharge inbound passengers on Vaughan Road. Anything else was the TTC's responsibility.

West York Coach Lines

While Danforth Bus Lines may have run into difficulty with the Township of York, this didn't stop a Mr. J.J. Heath from the Mount Dennis community. On June 13, 1932, he set up the West York and District Bus Service and secured permission to operate the EILEEN bus route, connecting West Toronto Junction to the neighbourhoods north of St. Clair and west of Runnymede. Buses operated from Keele and Vine (one block north of Dundas) via north on Keele, west on St. Clair, north on Runnymede, west on Henrietta, north on Castleton, west on Pritchard, north on Jane, west on Florence and west on Eileen avenue to Scarlett Road.

From these humble beginnings, service gradually expanded. School service started operating north from Eileen Avenue via Scarlett and Lawrence to serve Weston Collegiate on April 15, 1937. This was followed on December 14, 1937 by the new WESTMOUNT route, which followed EILEEN to Scarlett Road and then followed Scarlett Road to Airport Road (today's Dixon Road) and west from there to Royal York Road. In November 1, 1938, service to the Malton airport began with the MALTON-WESTON route operating between the village of Weston via Malton Road (just renamed from Airport Road, and again known today as Dixon Road). These would prove the beginnings of today's 79 SCARLETT ROAD and 58 MALTON services.

The West York operation was eventually operated out of West York Motors at 1785 St. Clair Avenue West. This was also a Ford dealership, which meant that West York Coach Lines ended up buying a lot of Ford buses for its operations.

Roselands Bus Lines

The Roselands Bus Lines was not a network but a modest operation of two separate lines operated around the Weston Road corridor. In 1925, as the Toronto Suburban Railway started to wind down operations on its WOODBRIDGE radial streetcar between the villages of Weston and Woodbridge, David R. Murray decided he could make some money by running a bus between the two villages. Nobody complained, and enough people paid his fare (especially after May 10, 1926, when WOODBRIDGE streetcar service ended), and the service continued into the Great Depression.

Unlike John Hollinger or T.J. Shoniker, David Murray didn't seem to have big ambitions, as the Roselands Bus Lines service only operated two lines in its thirty-year history. Details of the early history of Roselands Bus Lines is hard to come by, as it doesn't appear as though the company ever incorporated. It was an informal operation, and not much was written down.

Details start to appear in the 1940s when Roselands launched its second route -- and the one that gave it its name. The Roselands service operated from the Keele/Dundas intersection in the Junction via north on Keele Street, northwest on Weston and then west on Lambton to Jane Street - in the "Roselands" community. The first bus ran on June 13, 1942. The Roselands Bus Lines' main office was the owner's own home at 6 St. Marks Road near the Jane/Annette intersection. In addition to the owner-manager, it employed 16 others, including 9 drivers and 7 maintenance workers, 4 of whom also drove. One of the drivers had 24 years of service as of February 1, 1954, suggesting that it was a very close-knit and intimate operation.

War Traffic

The Second World War dramatically affected transit service for the citizens of Toronto, and the patrons and operators of the independent bus lines surrounding Toronto were no different. Ridership increased as people started to head out to factory jobs helping out the war effort, and found their automobile use curtailed due to gasoline and rubber rationing. The independent bus companies had to deal with this rationing far more than the TTC, which could rely on its steel-wheeled electric streetcars, but bus services continued to operate through the war without significant restrictions.

The first expansion of wartime bus service came from an initiative started by the Danforth Bus Lines to service the DeHavilland plant near todays old Downsview Airport site. On July 10, 1940, a local bus route started at St. Clair and Vaughan and operated via Vaughan, Dufferin, Wilson Heights and Sheppard to the DeHavilland plant. This service launched on July 10, 1940, but was cancelled the next day by order of the Department of Highways, after a formal protest by the TTC. To get around the TTC's monopoly of transit service within the City of Toronto and the Township of York, Danforth Bus Lines convinced DeHavilland to charter buses instead, and the service resumed on September 1941.

GECO Service

During the early days of the war, the General Engineering Company of Ontario built a massive munitions plant stretching northwest from the intersection of Eglinton and Warden. It produced 256,567,485 munitions over the course of the war and, at its peak, employed over 5,300 workers. With that many employees, transit service inevitably followed and, on March 1941, Hollinger Bus Lines partnered with Danforth Bus lines to launch a new service along Dawes Road and Eglinton Avenue, connecting passengers from the BLOOR streetcar to the GECO plant, looping around the Eglinton/Birchmount intersection to turn back. Other GECO services followed, including a runs from Eglinton and Yonge (August 1941), St. Clair and Yonge (May 1, 1942), and a second joint Hollinger-Danforth service starting from the terminal at Strathmore and Coxwell (October 1941). The Yonge Street services likely did not last much longer than the war, but the original service remained. On September 1950, the service was extended to operate from Luttrell loop via Danforth, Pharmacy, Eglinton and Kingston Road to Scarboro Golf Club Road (Stop 27) and formally renamed EGLINTON.

There were other service expansions elsewhere. On May 22, 1941, Hollinger expanded its WOODBINE PARK route from O'Connor and Woodbine, across the Woodbine bridge to O'Connor and Glenwood. On January 5, 1942, the BROADVIEW-COXWELL service was operating 9 hours a day, running from Strathmore via Coxwell and Mortimer, looping via Jackman, Nealon and Broadview to Mortimer. On December 20, 1943, a new O'CONNOR route was inaugurated, operating 9 hours a day, running from the Strathmore terminal via north on Coxwell and east on O'Connor to Woodbine. In September 1945, the WOODBINE PARK route was extended along O'Connor from Glenwood to Tiago.

As for the West York and District Bus Lines, wartime traffic meant more passengers commuting to and from Malton and the newly built airport there that would become Pearson Airport (note that the present airport terminals are on a slightly different site than before the 1960s. "Old" Malton airport was off Derry Road.). On April 6, 1942, a new MALTON-BLOOR &JANE route started, connecting with the BLOOR streetcar at Jane and operating via west on Bloor and Highway 5, north on Highway 27 and west on Malton Road (today's Dixon and Airport Roads). No local passengers were served on Bloor until January 9, 1945, when arrangements were made to pick up and drop off passengers on Bloor between Kipling and Highway 27. Finally, on October 25, 1945, after the Second World War was over, MALTON-WESTON service was extended south on Weston Road to Dundas and Keele. Other changes included minor changes to the EILEEN and WESTMOUNT routes operating on Runnymede and Maria instead of Dundas at the request of the wartime government between June 21, 1942 and November 1, 1944. On May 24, 1945, West York and District purchased the SWANSEA bus service from the Danforth Bus lines and, in early 1946, renamed itself West York Coach Lines. The SWANSEA service did not last long, however, and was discontinued on October 21, 1946.

Roselands Bus Lines was told to alter its ROSELANDS route to operate from Northland Avenue and Weston Road instead of Vine and Keele on June 21, 1942, just days after its introduction, as a gasoline saving measure imposed by the wartime government (ST. CLAIR and BATHURST streetcars would take up the slack). The service was extended back to Vine and Keele on November 1, 1944. After the war, the WOODBRIDGE service was extended to Pine Grove on certain trips on September 11, 1946, and with service extended to Lawrence Avenue and Weston instead of Humber Street at the north end of the TTC's WESTON streetcar line, at some point during that year.

New Interurban Services

Following the war, a number of the bus companies added to their interurban offerings, augmenting or, in some cases, competing with Gray Coach. Hollinger Bus Lines started up a service to Mount Albert on October 29, 1945, operating from the Gray Coach terminal on Bay Street via north on Bay, east on Wellesley, north on Parliament, east on the Prince Edward Viaduct, north on Broadview, east on O'Connor and north on Dawes (now Victoria Park), west on Lansing (now Sheppard) and north on Don Mills Road (including today's Don Mills south of Steeles and Leslie north of Steeles), along Vivian Road through Cedar Valley and Vivian to Mount Albert. West York Coach Lines inaugurated the Malton-Brampton service on June 22, 1948, only to sell it to Parkinson Coach Lines in Snelgrove a year later.

Danforth Bus Lines' Toronto Coach Lines subsidiary launched a Toronto-Claremont bus in early 1946, operating from its own downtown terminal on the east side of Bay Street, just south of Gerrard. Buses operated via north on Bay, east on Bloor, east on Danforth Avenue, northeast on Danforth Road, east on Eglinton, and north on Markham Road to Highway 7. After following Highway 7 to Brougham, it then took the side road to Claremont. In June 1946, the company modified its Bolton route to operate weekend service to Caledon East. Buses operated over its regular route from Toronto to Bolton and then branched off via Sand Hill and Mono Road to Caledon East. Then, on June 30, 1951, Toronto Coach Lines took over operation of a Guelphto-Hanover service from Western Ontario Motorways.

Post-War Expansion

There was also expansion to the local services as well. In June 1945, Danforth Bus Lines launched the new REGENTS PARK service operating from Luttrell via east on Danforth and north on Pharmacy to St. Clair. On November 19, 1945, the company also launched the WILSON-WESTON route, operating during rush hours from St. Clair and Vaughan via Vaughan, Dufferin, Wilson and Weston to Humber Street in Weston.

In September 1945, the STOP 14 service was inaugurated from Luttrell via Danforth Avenue and Kingston Road to Midland Avenue (known as "Stop 14" on the Scarborough radial railway). This service replaced an earlier service to STOP 12. In early 1946, a rush hours BIRCHCLIFF HEIGHTS service launched, operating from Luttrell via Danforth, Birchmount, Aylesworth and Kennedy to Highview, returning via Highview, Birchmount and Danforth.

On September 5, 1950, services were reorganized around Danforth Bus Lines' Luttrell Avenue terminal. In addition to the renaming of the GECO service to EGLINTON and its extension to Scarborough Golf Club Road, an EGLINTON & MIDLAND route began, operating via Danforth Avenue and Danforth Road before looping via north on Kennedy, east on Eglinton and south on Midland to Danforth Road.

Danforth Bus Lines also started to serve the developing communities in North York around the old village of North Toronto, a separate system operating under the umbrella of North York Bus Lines. On April 1, 1947, a YONGE BLVD service began, operating from Yonge Street via Yonge Boulevard and Wilson, looping via Avenue Road, Melrose and Bathurst to Wilson. On November 10, 1947, rush hour buses started serving Otter Loop, operating from Otter via Avenue Road, Lawrence, Grey, Glengarry, Ledbury and Melrose to Avenue Road. This service would be amalgamated into the YONGE BLVD service on January 2, 1948. A new St. Clair & Old Weston Road to Wilson & Jane service was established on November 26, 1947, followed by services from St. Clair & Vaughan to Sheppard via Vaughan and Dufferin in October 1948. New services on Bathurst Street between St. Clair and Sheppard followed in August 1951.

Preparing for the End

In spite of these expansions, the independent suburban bus lines were entering their final days. Following the Second World War, Toronto's urban growth, which had been stifled by fifteen years of depression and war, exploded in a mass of urban sprawl. While this meant more development for the townships of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, it was a two-edged sword. With the end of gasoline and rubber rationing, automobile use dramatically increased, and this started to eat into the ridership of both the TTC and the independent bus lines. The TTC was a municipally-owned crown corporation that could be protected from these conditions, but the independent bus lines weren't. When some services started to lose money, they had no choice but to cut them, or sell them off.

Moreover, the pace of development soon overwhelmed the suburban municipalities surrounding Toronto with development, and Toronto itself with traffic. To better manage regional growth, the City of Toronto pursued full annexation of the thirteen townships and villages surrounding the city. The province of Ontario intervened with a compromise that, on January 1, 1954, established a unique arrangement: The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto as an urban two-tier county-style government where representatives from the City of Toronto and the thirteen townships and villages surrounding Toronto would sit together on a regional council. Under this arrangement, the Toronto Transportation Commission was tasked with providing all public transportation service within the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto, and that sealed the fate for the independent bus lines.

It seems clear that plans for such a take-over were laid years before the creation of Metropolitan Toronto. In 1952, civil engineer Norman D. Wilson was commissioned by the TTC to examine the four suburban bus companies in detail. A series of reports were released on November 1, 1952, detailing each company's history, current fleet, financial figures and operations. The reports were done to assess what would be a fair price to give each owner once the TTC took over operations.

In Wilson's reports, the value of each company was assessed based on a 5% return and on a 10% return. Wilson did this, stating, "preceding estimate is on generous side, including the value that the present owner might place upon goodwill. The following estimate is one which would seem more reasonable from a purchaser's viewpoint). The "goodwill" gesture was compensation to the owners for foregoing profits in subsequent years after giving up their bus operations. This gesture did not apply to services where buses were being operated at a loss. In that case, having the TTC take the service off the owner's hands was goodwill enough.

The '52 Snapshot

The reports were the starting point for negotiations between the TTC and the private bus operators ahead of a possible buy-out. It assessed the value of the assets of each of the bus companies to establish a fair price for compensation. They provide a detailed snapshot of each operation.

Danforth Bus Lines had three properties listed as part of its financial assessment in 1952. The first was a garage and terminal at 2881 Danforth Avenue, on the south side of Danforth, roughly 80 feet west of the TTC's Luttrell loop. The company's Scarborough buses terminated there, and passengers walked over to streetcars departing at Luttrell. The property beside the garage and terminal at 2875 Danforth was also owned by Danforth Bus lines but was rented out as stores. There was also a garage at 3325 Danforth Avenue, at the southeast corner of Danforth and Elward, with an accompanying parking area at the southwest corner of the same intersection. More of the Danforth Bus Lines' Scarboro fleet was stored there. Finally, for the North York fleet, the company used space at a garage owned by Toronto Coach Lines Ltd (a subsidiary of Danforth Bus Lines), at 3631 Dufferin Street, around 350 feet north of Wilson. The three properties (not including the stores) were given an estimated market value of $105,000 ($41,000 for the Luttrell terminal, $34,000 for the Elward garage and lot and $30,000 for the Dufferin garage).

Hollinger Bus Lines had a garage at the southeast corner of O'Connor and Woodbine, with land and a building for storage, and a bus terminal at the corner of Danforth and Coxwell Avenue. The Coxwell terminal was described as an "irregular lot commencing at (the) north street line of Danforth, covering most of the west side of the block bounded by Danforth, Coxwell and Strathmore. Buses entered and exited the bus loop at Strathmore, and the property included a terminal building and a restaurant operated by Terminal Grills Ltd. The assessment value of the garage (including land and building) was set at $24,220, while the terminal was assessed at $41,135.

Hollinger also had a more modest terminal at the corner of Strathmore and Woodbine, split into two parts at 995 Woodbine Avenue (within the City of Toronto) and 997 Woodbine Avenue (within the Township of East York). The East York building was used as a waiting room and included a lunch counter operated by a W. Corcoran, while the remainder of the building was rented out as an apartment. The assessed value of the two properties was set at $5,850. Hollinger also owned a loop at Danforth and Dawes Road, assessed at $2,181, a loop at Amsterdam and Victoria Park Avenue, assessed at $900, and a loop at O'Connor north on Holland at the township line between East York and North York, assessed at $875.

Roselands Bus Lines and West York Coach Lines' properties were even more modest. Roselands' portfolio consisted of a single garage at 980 Weston Road, north of Lambton Avenue, assessed at $5,175. West York had a garage at 444 Pacific Avenue, assessed at $22,915, and a bus parking area at 2987 Dundas Street West rented from Power Food Markets. As the latter was rented rather than owned, it was not counted as an asset in Norman Wilson's assessment. After the assessment, West York also purchased additional land on Vine Avenue, including a six-room brick house which it rented out for $100 per month, and two more homes in 1953 which it demolished to create a bus parking lot to replace its rented lot at 2987 Dundas Street West.

Norman Wilson further made an estimate on the value of the contents of each garage, noting that only "light maintenance work" was done in the garages themselves, and the company shipped its vehicles away when heavier maintenance needed to be done. Based on the Danforth Bus Lines fleet of 34 "suburban" buses and 11 "interurban" buses (four buses held out of service at the North York garage weren't included in the count), the value of the spare parts and equipment was estimated at $27,000 or $600 per bus. Hollinger Bus Lines equipment was valued at $1,000 per bus or $64,000, while Roselands was valued at $700 per bus or $11,000 in total. West York Coach Lines was valued at $900 per bus, or $25,000 in total.

Negotiations between the Toronto Transportation Commission and the independent bus lines successfully concluded soon after and, on July 1, 1954, the TTC took over all operations of the West York Coach Lines, Roselands Bus Lines, Danforth Bus Lines and Hollinger Bus Lines.

The End of the Line and Legacy

The transfer of ownership was mostly amicable. Like the TTC, and transit agencies across North America, the bus operators were finding that the private automobile was cutting into their business, and the need for subsidized operation of its local routes was increasing. When the TTC took over the assets of the four independent bus companies, many of the buses that came under their responsibility where in too poor of a condition to operate, and were soon consigned to the scrap heap.

In total, Hollinger handed over its properties, 8 routes and 56 buses with compensation assessed at between $1.095 and $1.194 million. Roselands submitted its properties, 9 buses and 6 coaches (1 other bus was scrapped) and received $600,000 in compensation. Both Danforth Bus Lines and West York Coach Lines received compensation for buses and properties acquired.

Residents of the suburbs of Metropolitan Toronto saw immediate changes on July 1, 1954, as routes were revised. In some cases, especially for former Hollinger and Danforth Bus Lines passengers in East York Township, their travel costs dropped as free transfers were established between the old East York routes and TTC services along Danforth Avenue. For residents in North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke and parts of York, the TTC maintained a zone fare system, requiring an additional fare to be paid as passengers connected with "city" services at Luttrell loop, Glen Echo, Runnymede and Dundas and at Jane Loop. However, services were being increased throughout the city as the TTC expanded to meet the needs of the new sprawling suburban neighbourhoods.

And yet these unique operations are largely forgotten. None of their equipment has been preserved, and the only record of their existence has been in photographs and reports stored at the Toronto Archives. The TTC used Hollinger's Woodbine garage for about a year until Birchmount garage opened. Some remnants of that garage can still be found on the property of the high-rise apartment building that replaced it on the southeast corner of Woodbine and O'Connor.

Some of the independent bus operations, however, continued long after the 1954 takeover. Hollinger's Terminal Grill on Danforth Avenue, just east of Coxwell, continued to serve customers for decades afterward. The "Bus Terminal Restaurant" was a local institution, featuring decor that hadn't changed much since the 1950s, until it closed its doors late in 2015. It was possibly the last remaining structure that these companies used.

Toronto Coach Lines continued to operate interurban service out of its terminal at Bay and Gerrard Street, well into the 1970s. At the time, the bus company operating there was offering service to Lindsay and Haliburton in the east and to Hanover and Port Elgin in the west. This company is today known as Can Ar Coach Lines. Service to Claremont and Mount Albert faded as passenger use dropped in the wake of competition from the automobile. Claremont's bus service eventually fell into the hands of GO Transit, which maintained a single daily bus, until the 1980s when the service was cut. Claremont only recently saw public transit return in the form of a Fridays-only Durham Region Transit service connecting it with the Pickering Town Centre. Similarly, Mount Albert lost service for a long while before seeing its return thanks to York Region Transit providing a weekday link to Newmarket.

The independent bus lines' biggest legacy, however, lives on in the form of a number of TTC routes operating today as descendants of the independent forerunners, including 79 SCARLETT ROAD (West York's EILEEN and WESTMOUNT), 20 CLIFFSIDE (Danforth Bus Lines' STOP 14 and BIRCHCLIFFE HEIGHTS), 62 MORTIMER (Danforth Bus Lines MORTIMER services) and 96 WILSON (Danforth Bus Lines' North York Bus services), to name a few. The 91A "Parkview Hills" branch of the WOODBINE bus is a direct decendant of Hollinger's operations, and transit historians speculate that it may have continued in deference to the fact that Hollinger and his relatives lived in the area. Transit service on Eglinton Avenue east of Victoria Park was prepped not by the TTC but by private operators Hollinger and Danforth serving the GECO munitions plant.

The importance of these independent bus operations to the public transportation history of suburban Toronto cannot be overstated. They are the work of dedicated and enterprising individuals that prepared the way for Toronto's suburban public transit network.

Independent Bus Lines Image Archive


  • Kennedy, Raymond L. "Danforth Bus Lines Ltd." Old Time Trains. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
  • Kennedy, Raymond L. "Hollinger Bus Lines Ltd." Old Time Trains. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
  • Kennedy, Raymond L. "Roselands Bus Lines." Old Time Trains. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
  • Kennedy, Raymond L. "West York Coach Lines." Old Time Trains. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
  • Wilson, Norman. Report on Danforth Bus Lines Limited. Toronto: n.p., 1952.
  • Wilson, Norman. Report on Hollinger Bus Lines. Toronto: n.p., 1952.
  • Wilson, Norman. Report on Roselands Bus Lines. Toronto: n.p., 1952.
  • Wilson, Norman. Report on West York Coach Lines Limited. Toronto: n.p., 1952.

With thanks to Robert Mackenzie and Pete Coulman for their invaluable assistance in crafting this article.