In 1928, a major realignment of streetcar routes took place in Toronto's downtown core. It was largely the result of developments occurring in the suburban villages to the west of Toronto. The former Mimico line which had run along Lake Shore Boulevard was converted to "city" operation and a new Lake Shore streetcar began operation from Long Branch west along Lake Shore Boulevard and Queen Street, looping via Victoria, Richmond and York. The Queen section of this new route replaced Beach and Queen service, which had operated through the downtown core. These routes were rerouted to loop downtown, using the same loop the Lake Shore streetcars were using, but counter-clockwise instead of clockwise.
The sharing of this looping arrangement by three major streetcar routes produced considerable congestion through the downtown. In response to this, the TTC built two streetcar loops, on either side of Yonge Street, so that cars could be turned around faster, and service overlapped on Queen Street to maintain connections. On the east side of Yonge, for Lake Shore cars, a new loop was opened on Mutual Street just north of Queen. On the west side of Yonge, for Beach and Queen cars, the loop on McCaul was constructed.
The loop sat on property owned by the TTC on the eastern side of the street, just north of Stephanie (one block north of Queen). It was accessed only from the south, and discharged only to the south, and there were no tailtracks or loop-the-loop features included. McCaul loop served Beach and Queen streetcars until 1937, when the Lake Shore streetcar was replaced by an extension of the Queen streetcar, now operating between Neville and Parkside loops. The former Queen service, that ran from either Bingham or Birchmount loops on Kingston Road, was renamed Kingston Road, and continued to use McCaul loop.
The most significant change to McCaul loop started on April 2, 1973. At that time, the TTC extended Kingston Road cars west on Queen and north on Bathurst to Bathurst station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The route was renamed 'Downtowner' to promote the direct-downtown connection provided from Bathurst station. The loop itself was taken offline two years later, while the block was redeveloped. An apartment/shopping complex known as Village by the Grange was built around and on top of the loop. The loop was retained, but when Village by the Grange opened in 1976, the loop was now enclosed
A restaurant built in the centre of McCaul loop significantly enhanced the loop's character. The developers purchased the bodies of two ex-TRC streetcars and built them into a restaurant. The venture did not succeed, however, as a number of restaurants opened at this location in the following years, only to go out of business. The structure remains, with streetcar bodies still visible, though heavily modified. A real-estate office now resides in the space, selling new townhouses as Village by the Grange is renovated to add more condominium space.
The extension to Bathurst station also did not work out as well as the TTC hoped. On September 4, 1974, McCaul loop was again being used by Downtowner cars between rush hours. When the loop was closed for construction, this terminus was moved temporarily to Wolesley Loop north of the Queen/Bathurst intersection, but returned to McCaul Street as soon as the loop reopened. The Bathurst Station extension of the Downtowner streetcar eventually disappeared altogether and, since March 9, 1984. McCaul loop remains as the western terminus for the 502 Downtowner route, not to mention short-turns of the 501 Queen streetcar.
McCaul Loop Image Archive
- Bromley, John F., TTC '28, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1979.
- Bromley, John F., and Jack May Fifty Years of Progressive Transit, Electric Railroaders' Association, New York (New York), 1978.