Westerly Long Branch Loop

Special Long Branch Loop sign

Special Long Branch sign marks the loop. Photo by James Bow.

By James Bow

Urban development spilled over the Humber River in the 1890s. Plans for New Toronto appeared as part of a full-page feature story in an October 1890 issue of the Toronto Globe. The article may have been a little optimistic, saying “on the borders of the city there is an embryo town growing up which promises in time to equal, if not surpass, old Toronto as a commercial centre”, but the fact remains that the villages of Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch were soon on the scene, containing people who wanted to travel downtown.

The history of the Mimico interurban is covered in more detail on the Route 507 page. It is only important to note that tracks reached Etobicoke Creek and the present site of today’s Long Branch Loop in 1895. It would be another thirty-three years before the loop would come into being. Long Branch Loop came into being in on December 8, 1928 when the TTC extended ‘city’ tracks from the Humber River along Lake Shore Boulevard to this site. The Mimico Interurban line, which the city tracks replaced, would continue further west, paralleling Highway 2 into the village of Port Credit. Thus, when Long Branch Loop was built, a waiting shelter was built for passengers transferring from the frequent Lake Shore streetcar onto the half-hourly Port Credit interurban line.

The configuration of Long Branch Loop has remained roughly the same to this day. Even the waiting shelter remains at the centre of the loading platform, although it has been rebuilt a few times. The loop features a storage track and the waiting shelter is located in the centre of a loading platform. Passengers can board vehicles on either side of this platform. For people in the far western suburbs, Long Branch Loop was their gateway into the city. Although the Port Credit interurban disappeared in the mid 1930s, the TTC continued to operate a Port Credit bus. This bus would run until 1974, when the route was taken over by Mississauga Transit.

The only major change to Long Branch occurred in 1942, when the TTC extended streetcar tracks past the loop and along private right-of-way a third of a mile into what is now Mississauga. For three years, Small Arms Loop was the City’s westernmost streetcar loop, serving a munitions factory supporting Canada’s war effort. Little or no photographic record exists of Small Arms Loop, as photographing a facility such as a municions factory was definitely discouraged during the war. Almost immediately following the cessation of hostilities, Small Arms Loop lost its usefulness and the Long Branch streetcar line pulled back to its Long Branch terminus. There it has remained to this day.

Gradually, as urban development built up to the north and the west of the village of Long Branch, more and more bus routes made Long Branch Loop their terminal. When Queen and Long Branch streetcars were combined in 1996, Long Branch Loop passed the Humber Interchange in importance as a suburban transit gateway. The route not only serves as the terminus for two streetcar routes (501 and 508) but it also offers transfers to two TTC bus routes (123 Shorncliffe and 110 Islington South) and two Mississauga Transit routes. There is even a GO Train station, just a few metres to the west of the waiting shelter. In today’s transportation picture, Long Branch Loop is almost as important an interchange as Islington Station, or the York Regional Terminal at Finch Station.


Long Branch Loop Image Archive

This shot is of Long Branch Loop (at the entrance to the loop, looking west) on one of the last days that streetcars used to go further west (with the exception of the period when Small Arms Loop operated). On February 6, 1935, a radial car bound for Port Credit waits to pick up passengers. Image courtesy the Toronto Archives.

A 501 streetcar departs Long Branch Loop while a Mississauga bus collects passengers. The waiting shelter sits in the middle of it all. Photo by James Bow.

PCC 4500 poses for railfans on the loop's storage track in this 1999 shot. Photo by James Bow.

Two girls use the overhang to shelter themselves from the elements. CLRV 4181 boards passengers behind them. This 1999 photo was taken by James Bow.

PCC 4545 rounds the westernmost part of Long Branch loop. Washroom facilities are in the background. This 1999 photograph was taken by James Bow.

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.
  • Stamp, Robert M., Riding the Radials: Toronto’s Suburban Electric Streetcar Lines, The Boston Mills Press, Erin (Ontario), 1989.

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