The Dupont and Bay Streetcars (Deceased)

Bay Transfer

World War II Bay Transfer.

World War II Dupont Transfer.

Dupont Transfer

Text by James Bow.

The Route at the time of Abandonment

The Dupont Streetcar spent far more time on Bay than on Dupont. Beginning at Ferry Loop at the northwest corner of York and Queens Quay, the route travelled east on Queen’s Quay and north on Bay Street to Davenport Road. There, it turned northwest on Davenport and followed this street until it reached Dupont. There, it turned west, and continued along Dupont to Christie Loop. At Christie Loop, connections were made with the Annette trolley bus (which spent far more of its time on Dupont than it did on Annette) for points west.

At the time of its passing, the Dupont Streetcar operated seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.

The Beginnings of Service on Bay and Dupont Streets

At the beginning of the 20th century, Bay Street came up from Front Street and ended at Queen. The portion of the street north of Queen that we now know as Bay was referred to as Terauley. These two streets did not align with each other, and the present S-bend on Bay’s intersection with Queen is the result of this.

Bay Street found itself taking a back seat to Yonge in terms of commercial development and transit service. In 1910, almost every streetcar that went downtown from the northern half of the city went down Yonge Street. Bay was primarily used to help loop the cars through the downtown.

However, as Toronto grew, so too did the number of commuters heading downtown. The number of streetcars running in from the eastern and western suburbs and heading down Yonge Street increased significantly, to the point where Yonge Street began to see serious congestion. Moving some routes off of Yonge Street onto nearby parallel streets was an obvious means of increasing the capacity of the Yonge transit corridor. By September 1921, the College Streetcar operating on College Street from the western part of the city turned south on Terauley, and ran down Terauley and Bay Streets to loop via Wellington, York and Front. Similar cars running on Dundas were also turning south at Terauley to loop downtown.

streetcar-4117-09.jpg

Witts provide service on Bay in this shot looking north from the Avenue Road/Bloor intersection. The day is September 14, 1925.

Bay Street was fortunate to boast a connection with Lake Ontario. The railway tracks around Union Station presented an effective barrier to streetcar service south of Front Street. However, a temporary wooden bridge over the railway tracks was installed in May 1926 closer to Bay Street than to Yonge Street. Streetcar service on a short shuttle run known as Ferry commenced May 22, 1926. This service provided a connection with the Ferry Docks and their services to the Toronto Islands.

Streetcar tracks on Dupont Street were inherited by the Toronto Transportation Commission from the Toronto Railway Company. Sources on the early days of Dupont operation are sketchy, but tracks on Bathurst had reached Dupont Street by 1889 and were in regular use by 1890. Service was extended west on Dupont Street to a wye at Christie on October 11, 1906, and it is conceivable that tracks were laid down on Dupont Street between Bathurst to Avenue Road at that time. When the TTC took over in 1921, a Dupont streetcar was wying at the Bathurst/Dupont intersection and heading east on Dupont, south on Avenue Road, east on Bloor and south on Yonge to loop at Scott and Front.

Northwest Bound

Toronto continued to grow, north along Yonge Street, but also northwest, as evidenced by the development of Forest Hill and the unincorporated areas of the Township of York. This increased the problems of streetcar congestion on Yonge Street, to the point where service on Yonge was already operating at capacity south of St. Clair Avenue. The need to divert downtown-bound northwestern commuters away from Yonge Street became acute, as evidenced by the increase of service on other north-south lines as Bathurst and Dovercourt. Tracks had already been laid on Avenue Road from Bloor to St. Clair. As with Bay Street, Avenue Road was an obvious corridor for serving the areas around Yonge Street while reducing pressure on the Yonge Streetcar.

When the Toronto Transportation Commission took over all streetcar services within the City of Toronto, it set about integrating the Toronto Civic Railways St. Clair line with the former Toronto Railway Company’s Avenue Road line. Starting Monday, December 26, 1921, St Clair cars were cut back to crossovers between Yonge and Avenue Road, while the single-ended Avenue Road cars operated along the rest of the route to a newly constructed Caledonia Loop at Station Street. This was only a temporary revision; by July 1, 1923, St. Clair cars were operating along the full route again, to Lawton Loop at Yonge Street and Lawton Avenue (now a parkette). Avenue Road cars continued to provide additional service west of Avenue Road.

PCC 4518

Before 1954, the Bay Streetcar was the dominant streetcar on Bay Street, and Dupont only the sidekick. Bay cars collected patrons from the northwest end of the city and ferried them downtown and back. This photo by Julian Bernard, donated by Curt Frey.

The Avenue Road Streetcar moved onto Bay Street for Sunday service only on June 4, 1922, followed by tripper cars on February 26, 1923. The route, running from Caledonia Loop on St. Clair Avenue, via St. Clair, Avenue Road, Bloor and Yonge, kept its name until July 1, 1923, when it was renamed Bay and routed south on Bay Street. Similarly on July 1, 1923, Dupont cars were pulled east along Bloor to head south on Church Street, looping via Front, Yonge and Wellington to help reduce congestion.

When the Dupont streetcar was founded, its function was also to get suburban residents. It too had to be adjusted to relieve the pressure on Yonge Street south of Bloor when, on July 1, 1923, it was rerouted to operate on Church Street instead of Yonge south of Bloor. However, the residential neighbourhoods it served were older, and as the city grew north and west, other lines began to take up the role of ferrying suburban commuters downtown. The nature of Dupont became more local in character. It was rerouted onto Bay Street in the mid 1920s, but was soon rerouted to terminate at the edge of Toronto’s downtown rather than looping through it.

The first City Hall loop, running onstreet from Bay via Albert, James and Louisa, was opened on August 30, 1921 and Dupont cars were routed into this loop in the mid 1920s. The Dupont cars shared the loop with the Dundas streetcar and the presence of Bay, Dupont, Dundas and Harbord cars trundling through the Bay/Dundas intersection made for significant streetcar congestion. City Hall Loop was rebuiltm running via Louisa, James and Albert, and reopened on November 3, 1930, with access from Elizabeth Street, which allowed Dundas cars to avoid the Bay/Dundas intersection.

On August 1, 1927, the Bay line absorbed the Ferry shuttle. It would operate over the temporary bridge over the railway tracks to the docks until the Bay Street underpass was opened on May 1, 1930. With the Ferry Docks themselves a major trip generator, especially during summer, it made sense to link them to a line that offered access to much of the city. Also, combining the two streetcar routes eliminated the need to loop both routes downtown, where there was already enough streetcar traffic to contend with.

In 1931, the TTC extended tracks on Bay Street north of Bloor and soon the Bay cars were operating via Bay and Davenport to Avenue Road. Dupont cars used these tracks to get from Bloor Street to the Dupont/Davenport intersection. The sections of track on Avenue Road south of Davenport and on Dupont Street between Davenport and Dupont were abandoned, and service took on the structure that would sustain it for the next three decades. The Bay streetcar was the premiere route, operating from the northwestern sector of the city and then parallel Yonge street, augmenting service along this major corridor. Dupont streetcars were secondary cars, serving the neighbourhoods of the Annex and Wychwood, connecting them with streetcar services on Bathurst, Bloor, College and Dundas streets.

At the end of the 1920s, there were plans to extend the Dupont streetcar west from Christie loop along Dupont to Dovercourt. From there, it would use existing tracks along Dovercourt, Hallam and Lappin Streets to Lansdowne before transferring to new tracks along Lappin to Dundas. The proposed line would continue west of Dundas along Humberside through the Toronto Junction to Jane Street via Keele and Annette. This extension would have brought streetcar service to an underserviced area north of Bloor and south of St. Clair. Unfortunately, the onset of the Depression killed this proposal, and it was not fulfilled until 1947 when the Annette trolley coach was installed from Jane and Bloor via Jane and Annette to Christie Loop.

The Yonge subway was designed to replace the Bay streetcar as much as it was designed to replace the Yonge line. The two streetcar routes together were carrying thousands of passengers per hour along two roads that were never far apart from each other. When the Yonge subway opened on March 30, 1954, the Bay streetcar was replaced by the Earlscourt car, which channelled passengers over the St. Clair portion of the original route to the Yonge subway at St. Clair station. The tracks on Avenue Road were abandoned.

The section of the Bay line south of Davenport Road did not lose streetcar service, however, despite its proximity to the Yonge line. The Ferry Docks still needed service, Bay Street was still a busy thoroughfare through downtown Toronto, and the residence of the Annex and South Wychwood still required service. As a result, the Dupont streetcar, which had been the secondary route along this street, was promoted. It was now responsible for all streetcar service along the length of Bay Street.

The Last Days and Why they Came

The Dupont streetcar continued to operate from Dupont and Christie, Dupont, Davenport, Bay and Queen’s Quay to York loop until February 28, 1963, when the University Subway opened. Flanked by two subway lines instead of one, and with the TTC’s streetcar abandonment policy very much in force, the Dupont Streetcar was replaced by a Bay bus. The Annette trolley bus was also extended east from Christie Loop, over Dupont Street, Davenport Road and Bedford Road, to St. George station.

The tracks on Bay remained for a couple of years after the fall of Dupont so that Dundas streetcars could provide special runs to the Ferry Docks. This service was abandoned on August 15, 1965. Regular streetcar service on one part of Bay continued in the form of Dundas cars looping around City Hall loop, but this too fell when the Eaton Centre development removed City Hall loop on January 6, 1975.

The TTC would later go on record saying that it regretted its decision to remove streetcars from Bay Street. During rush-hours especially, the route proved to be a popular alternative to the subway, and the skyscrapers which developed downtown during the 1960s and the 70s produced a canyon which trapped the fumes from diesel buses. The line proved to be ideal to convert to trolley bus operation in the mid 1970s, using equipment made surplus by the North Yonge subway extension and the conversion of the 97 Yonge trolley bus to diesel operation. The Bay trolley bus was the most frequent and most travelled trolley bus operation until the technology was abandoned in 1993.

Echoes of the Bay Streetcar would sound now and again. The TTC seriously considered reconversion back to streetcar operation when it looked at changing the bus to trolley bus operation in the 1970s. In the late 1980s, a study recommended that the Harbourfront line be extended north, partly underground, partly at street level, to the Bloor-Danforth Subway. No serious plans are in the books to restore streetcar service, however. Tracks remain in place between College and Dundas Streets for short turns and diversions.

Bay has, to some extent, fallen back into the shadow of Yonge Street. When provincial cutbacks in 1996 forced major service reductions, the Bay bus was hard hit. Plans to increase service on Bay come up hard against the presence of two high-capacity north-south subway lines scant blocks away. It will be some time, if at all, before this situation changes, and Bay reemerges as a major transportation corridor in its own right.


Bay and Dupont Image Archive

TTC2454_W-H-Coo_1225.jpg

TTC Large Peter Witt #2454 turns from St. Clair Avenue onto southbound Avenue Road at 12:26 p.m. on a wintery day sometime before 1954. Photo by W.H. Coo, from the Dave Shaw Collection.

ttc-2568-bay-1950.jpg

TTC Peter Witt #2568 heads southbound on Avenue Road, beneath the Canadian Pacific mainline tracks, approaching Dupont Street in this early 1950s shot. The photographer is W.H. Coo, and the photo is from the Dave Shaw collection.

PCC 4164 in Christie Loop

DUPONT cars terminated at Christie loop, where this shelter shielded passengers from the elements while they transferred to the ANNETTE trolley bus. When the University Subway opened in 1963, the ANNETTE trolley bus was extended to St. George Station, and this loop was rendered surplus. This photo, of air-electric PCC #4164 at Christie loop, taken before March 30, 1954, was donated from the Curt Frey collection.

ttc-4538-dupont-1958.jpg

TTC A8 PCC #4538 boards passengers at Christie loop in service on DUPONT on June 18, 1958. Photo by John F. Bromley.

ttc-4563-dupont-1962.jpg

TTC A9 ex-Cincinnati PCC #4563 is seen here travelling southbound on Bay at Hayden, in service on DUPONT on October 8, 1962. Photo by R. McMann, from the John Knight collection.

ttc-4181-dupont-1955.jpg

TTC Air Electric PCC 4181 is seen here about to board a passenger southbound on Bay at Gerrard in this 1955 shot. Everything has changed on this street since, except the streetcar tracks. The photographer is unknown.

Bay Street Today

Today, the only streetcars operating on the surface of Bay Street are short-turns and charters making use of the non-revenue trackage between College and Dundas. The last in-service streetcars to operate on Bay were Dundas cars looping at City Hall Loop in 1974. Photo by James Bow.

ttc-0000-dupont-1955-gerrard.jpg

TTC A-8 All Electric PCC in service on DUPONT waits northbound on Bay at Gerrard for a mother and child to cross the street. This shot was taken circa 1955. The photographer is unknown.

ttc-4528-dupont-1955.jpg

After the demise of the BAY streetcar on March 30, 1954, DUPONT took over operations, running the length of Bay Street from the Ferry Docks to Davenport and then west on Dupont to Christie. Here, southbound A-8 All Electric PCC #4528 is about to pass Louisa Avenue, where DUPONT cars used to turn east into City Hall loop. Note the crossing tracks, that brought in DUNDAS cars from Elizabeth Street. This photo is circa 1955 and the photographer is unknown.

ttc-4180-dupont-1955.jpg

TTC Air Electric PCC 4180 is seen here on Bay Street, heading north towards Louisa, past the old Eaton store, in service on DUPONT circa 1955. The photographer is unknown.

ttc-4167-dupont-19630216.jpg

TTC Air-Electric PCC #4167 drops off passengers southbound on Bay at Queen, on February 16, 1963, in the last two weeks of DUPONT operations. Toronto's iconic city hall is under construction in the background. The photographer is unknown, and the photo is from John Knight's collection.

Bay and Dundas

Two PCCs at Dundas and Bay, looking southwest towards Toronto's new City Hall. For ten years after the fall of the Dupont streetcar, Dundas cars continued to use Bay Street to loop its cars for its 'Dundas West-City Hall' runs. Photo by R. Hill, donated by Kenneth Josephson.

Queen's Quay Station

Beneath the surface of Bay Street, there has been more streetcar activity. In 1989, the Harbourfront LRT restored streetcar service to the Ferry Docks. It had been missing since 1965. Today, the Spadina and Harbourfront streetcars roar underneath Bay Street south of Union Station. James Bow caught this photograph.

Above Queen's Quay

Almost forty years ago, things were completely different. A Dupont car exits from beneath the underpass beneath the railway tracks on its way to Bay and Queen's Quay. Photo by R. Hill, donated by Kenneth Josephson.

At the Ferry Docks

Almost forty years ago, things were completely different. A Dupont car loops around York Loop (formerly Ferry Loop) with Lake Ontario and one of the piers around it. Today, the backdrop would be provided by a large hotel. Photo by R. Hill, donated by Rob Hutch.

ttc-2466-docks.jpg

TTC Peter Witt car #2466 poses at the Docks loop on a sunny summer day before 1954. The photo is by W.H. Coo.

ttc-4518-ferry-loop.jpg

TTC A8 PCC #4518 waits at Ferry Loop in service on the DUPONT route on August 8, 1961. The photographer is unknown, and the photo is from the Dave Shaw collection.

dundas-docks.jpg

After the demise of the DUPONT streetcar in February 1963, streetcar service continued on Bay south of City Hall in the summer months, as DUNDAS cars were extended to the Ferry Docks. But this service came to a close on August 15, 1965. Charles Bridges was there to snap PCC 4707 heading south on Bay from Queen Street. Photo donated from the collection of John Knight.


References

  • Bromley, John F., TTC ‘28, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1979.
  • Bromley, John F., ‘Toronto Streetcar & Radial Loop History’, Transfer Points, March 1999, p4-10, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).
  • Bromley, John F., and Jack May Fifty Years of Progressive Transit, Electric Railroaders’ Association, New York (New York), 1978.
  • Hood, J. William, The Toronto Civic Railways: An Illustrated History, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1986.

Special Thanks to Mark Brader, John Bromley and Ray Corley for their assistance in the construction of this page

About this Page

This page is an article within the Streetcar and LRT division of Transit Toronto articles.

To see more articles within the Streetcar and LRT division, you may return to the Streetcar and LRT division page.

You can also return to the main page for news and other articles in Transit Toronto.