The Transfer Gallery: (1944-1955)

By James Bow

Toronto Subway Transfer

When the TTC changed its transfer design to an obviously computer generated version, I'm afraid that something special was abandoned. Up until the early 1990s, the TTC printed its transfers in-house. It probably lost a fair amount of money by doing so, what with all of the transfers it had to throw out at the end of every operating day (printed, as they were, for specific days), but still, the transfer used to look really good; so good, in fact, that I as a young child used to delight in collecting them. That urge never really went away.

A few years ago, I happened to meet a fellow enthusiast, who had a collection of transfers dating back to the 1940s. He was kind enough to sell me a few batches, and they have been one of my most prized possessions ever since. It is interesting how different, and yet how similar, the transfers of back then looked to the transfers of now. With that in mind, I hope you will enjoy this gallery of Toronto streetcar transfers, as they were in the 1940s and 1950s.

Right, is our own version of a transfer that we will use some time in the future to promote this site. Click on it to see the full size version.

Those Colourful Transfers

Kingston Road

This transfer (as with most others, dates from 1953. The Kingston Road car had several branches, one of which is shown here. Operating downtown during rush hours along the present 503 Kingston Road Tripper route, this car would, during evenings and weekends, run along Kingston Road and Coxwell, to Danforth Avenue. The 22 Coxwell Bus serves this function today.

Kingston Road

This is the previous transfer's brother, so to speak, operating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, along the current 502 Downtowner route, looping at McCaul.


These two transfers date within one year of each other. The left transfer is from 1953, and shows how complicated a route that Bathurst used to be. Although the main portion of the route stretched from St Clair and Bathurst to Adelaide and Church via Adelaide Street, various branches took the streetcar to St. Clair and Keele, and to Front and Sherbourne (Scott) via Front.

The second transfer, dating from 1954, shows the route after the subway opened. The Front Street branch has been abandoned, and the line cut back to St. Clair only. After 6:30 p.m., this route stops operating on Adelaide, and follows (mostly) today's route to the Exhibition, incidentally replacing the next route...


This route operated alongside Bathurst until 1966, when the Bloor-Danforth Subway opened. At times it only went from Queen Street (Wolesley Loop) to the Exhibition; at other times, it went all the way to St. Clair. It stopped operating after 6:30 p.m. each day when the Bathurst car took over the Exhibition run...


The transfers of the era were quite colourful. Ironic that, after standardizing to a rather bland red and black selection, the TTC would return to colour printing in order to try and fool counterfeiters. I wonder if coloured paper, as seen left, would have been as effective.

Danforth was a tripper (rush hour) route supplementing service on the eastern half of the Bloor line. After 1963, it operated into St. George Station, and it continued until 1967 as a shuttle east from Woodbine Station until the Warden extension of the subway opened.

The Fallen Flags North of Bloor, and the one survivor (circa 1955)

St. Clair

St. Clair is the last of seven routes to have operated north of Bloor since 1955, to survive today. This row contains a list of fallen flags. Even St. Clair has been changed, however. The extension to Eglinton was broken off to form the Mt. Pleasant route in the mid 1970s, before being converted to trolley buses. The 'Avon' listed on the transfer is Avon Loop, still existing today at Weston Road and Rogers, used until 1992 as a trolley bus short turn. In the 1950s, St. Clair streetcars served it during rush hours. (Mt. Pleasant isn't shown above because it didn't exist in the 1950s)


This was the first route to go, dispatched in 1961. Built in the early 1920s, it was an odd appendage, starting from Oakwood and St Clair (the loop still exists today) and heading north on Oakwood to Eglinton. There, it turned west to a loop at Gilbert (where there were transfers to some suburban buses). The need for through service on Eglinton and Oakwood/ Ossington probably doomed the route. It fell to an extension of the Ossington trolley bus.


Dupont was next. It began as a shorter route operating between Dupont and Christie to Bay and Dundas; in 1954, it replaced the Bay route, got extended south to the Ferry Docks and was not renamed, thus 'Dupont' was the route that served Bay Street more than it served Dupont. Then again, 'Bay' ran up Avenue Road, and along St Clair Avenue past Lansdowne. No use looking for logic when it comes to the TTC's route name conventions. Dupont fell in 1963 to bus conversion, concurrent with the opening of the University subway.


Harbord was a weird route. Beginning at Townsley Loop (which still exists today for St. Clair Cars), this route followed Old Weston Road, Davenport, Dovercourt, Bloor, Ossington, Harbord, Spadina, Dundas, Broadview, Gerrard, Carlaw, Riverside and Pape to loop where Pape Station is today. My father has many memories of this route; he took it to Harbord C.I. I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to ride it. Before the 50s were over, it was cut back to Lansdowne, and disappeared entirely when the Bloor-Danforth subway opened in 1966

Roger's Road

Abandoned in 1974 (falling to an extension of the Ossington trolley bus), this route was the last route to be abandoned under the TTC's streetcar abandonment policy. The TTC agreed to stop abandoning streetcar routes in 1972, but the Rogers Road abandonment proceeded in order to free up enough PCCs to maintain the fleet, while the TTC embarked on a rebuilding program, and a search for a new generation of streetcars.


Earlscourt wasn't really abandoned. It exists today as a rush hour branch of the St. Clair route operating between St. Clair Station and Lansdowne loop. Since it operated on exactly the same tracks as St. Clair, there seemed no point in giving it a separate route number, particularly when the new CLRV rollsigns eliminated route names from public display. Still, how the mighty have fallen. St. Clair and Earlscourt used to share portions of each others' routes as equal partners.

We're Still Standing (Sort of)


King Cars haven't changed their route to a great degree for the past forty years. Vincent Loop was abandoned in favour of a loop across the street in Dundas West Station, while Erindale Loop was changed very easily into Broadview Station Loop.


Dundas cars have changed, significantly. Before 1966, this line didn't operate east of Bay Street (the Harbord cars did that). On the west, Dundas cars continued along Dundas Street to Runnymede Road. This portion north of Bloor continued until 1967, AFTER the opening of the Bloor Subway. It fell to the 40 Junction trolley bus route.


The Queen route hasn't been changed much since 1955. In 1955, however, the construction of private right-of-way along the Queensway extended the route west from Parkside loop to the current Humber interchange. And, of course, in 1996 the line was combined with the Long Branch route to produce the longest streetcar line in Toronto's history.

Long Branch

Before its absorption by the Queen line in 1996, the Long Branch route underwent a number of changes. Until the construction of new track on the Queensway, cars operated to Roncesvalles, and every second car used to run downtown to loop at Church Street.


Carlton has held onto its basic route since the 1920s. I wonder if that is a record. The only change occurred during 1967 when cars stopped operating to Luttrell Loop (Danforth Avenue at the East Toronto City Limits) and operated into Main Station, as it does today.

King Exhibition

The King Exhibition cars continue to ply between the downtown core and the Exhibition during the CNE and other special events. The information on this transfer, seen above, was in place even into the 1980s, long after the route had been cut back to King and Church. This route's days may be numbered, however, once the streetcar link between Union Station and the Ex is built...

Great and Small, but Not Here Anymore... ...And This is Why...


Yonge was probably the busiest streetcar route in Toronto's history. The load that it carried made the need for a subway self evident. Operating from a loop at Union Station to Glen Echo loop south of York Mills, no trace of this line exists anymore.


Parliament operated as a short streetcar route until 1966, from a loop just south of King Street (still used by buses) to a loop just south of Bloor Street. The line could easily have continued to operate out of Castle Frank Station, but the TTC were not interested in maintaining it. Track remains between Carlton and King, and plans were recently afoot to reinstall the streetcar loop south of King Street. This was cut due to budget constraints, however...


After the disappearance of Yonge, this line was the undisputed champion of Toronto streetcars until 1966. Multiple-unit PCCs handled the highest ridership on the system, and the line stretched from the western city limits of Toronto (Jane Street) to the eastern city limits of Toronto. One of the interesting features of the line was its direct connection with the subway at Yonge Street, on two enclosed (and enlarged) safety platforms with stairs leading directly to the subway platforms. After 1966, Bloor continued for one more year as a shuttle between Keele Station and Jane.


The Church streetcar disappeared in May 1954, two months after the Yonge Subway opened. Operating from a loop at Bloor Street to loop at Front, Yonge(?) and Wellington (with tripper service along Danforth to Coxwell), bus conversion followed shortly thereafter. The only remaining legacy of this route is the non revenue trackage in place between College and Wellington. Even bus service is gone, eliminated due to poor ridership.


1954 was a bad year for streetcars. As mentioned before, the Bathurst route lost its branch along Front Street. Yonge streetcars disappeared, as well as streetcars on Church, Sherbourne and Avenue Road. Massive abandonments of streetcar routes would also take place in 1963 and 1966 until, the TTC believed, the opening of the Queen Subway in 1980 would spell the end of streetcar service in Toronto. It was only through a concerted effort by Toronto citizens that the TTC was convinced to abandon its streetcar abandonment policy in 1972, and work has slowly begun restoring some of the old trackage to peration...

Subway Transfer: 1955

This was the cause of all this abandonment: the new subway. Not that I'm complaining (much). Streetcars continue to operate in Toronto, after all, and I'm thankful.

This subway transfer is quite different from what you're probably used to. The name of the station where it was issued is still stamped onto the transfer (up top), though. I don't know when the traditional transfer machines were installed in the subway, though. Anybody know when?

And a Final Assortment Under No Category Whatsoever...


(Left) The transfers from the 1940s were different still. This one dates from 1944, as you can probably guess from the patriotic message printed on the great empty space on the bottom left hand side of the transfer. Remember that Grey Coach was wholly owned and operated by the TTC until well into the 1980s (the TTC even owned a money losing bus line in Florida as a legacy of the days when it was a hybrid between a Toronto department and a private transportation company). Note that the hours are arranged differently, going from 12 to 12 instead of 5 to 5 as is the case today. I wonder why they changed that...


This transfer also dates from the 1940s. The Beach route is a precursor to today's 501 Queen, operating between Neville Loop and downtown Toronto. The portion of Queen west of Church was served by an extension of the Long Branch route, and Kingston Road cars were labelled Queen until the TTC decided to alter services along this street to something approaching today's arrangements.

The fact that Torontonians didn't pay taxes for the TTC's operation remained true until 1972 when Metro forced the TTC to eliminate its fare zone system which provided some semblance of a fare-by-distance scheme. The Yonge Subway was built almost entirely from farebox funds, although subsequent capital expansion required provincial and Metro assistance.

Dundas Exhibition & Earlscourt

These two transfers date from 1979. They are here to show how transfers changed in the intervening 20 years. If I were old enough to remember the 1950s transfers (I was born in 72), I'd say that I missed the colour. Oh, well.

These transfers also represent fallen flags. Earlscourt is on its way to being merged into St. Clair, and Dundas Exhibition (shown here primarily because I don't have a 1955 version) disappearing more recently, replaced first by an express bus to the Dufferin Gates of the Exhibition, and then disappearing as a special service entirely. A shame, really. I've only ridden on this route once.

I hope you enjoyed my randomly selected gallery of old TTC Transfers. I liked transfers because they were ideal souvenirs. They not only told you what route you'd ridden on, but when you took that ride; they were also attractive to look at and fun to collect. Those were the days. It's a shame that today's realities have cost Torontonians these attractive sets of transfers, not to mention the many abandoned streetcar routes.

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