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Allen Remembers An Expert for TTC

page 7, Stanley Westall’s “Metropolitan Toronto” column:

Fred Gardiner will be reelected chairman of the council of Metropolitan Toronto today, adding one more year to his record of area leadership — one year closer to inevitable retirement.

When that day comes perhaps Fred Gardiner, like the battle-scarred general he is, will sit down to write his memoirs of the Metro war. I am particularly interested in one of the early skirmishes.

The story goes that in 1953, Allan Lamport, the influential, persuasive Mayor of Toronto, was in a position to swing his council for or against the federation at a critical stage in its growth. The city went into Metro with only a few reservations. Allan Lamport, shortly after, went to the TTC with the solid backing of Metro Executive.

This may have represented complete recognition of his ability. It may have been a deal, horse-trading co-operation for a promised appointment. Only Fred Gardiner and Allan Lamport know for sure.

However, at that time, only one other name had been mentioned to fill the vacancy on the TTC caused by the death of Chairman William C. McBrien — the name of John Barclay Hollinger, president of Hollinger Bus Lines, largest of the four suburban transportation companies taken over by the Metro TTC.

Mr. Hollinger knew more about suburban transportation than anyone on the TTC, but against that solid executive front he stood no chance. Now, more than five years after, his name has been mentioned again as a possible successor to J. Ardagh Scythes (retired) or Clive Sinclair (facing reappointment).

Reeve Jack Allen of East York, executive head of the township in which the Hollinger enterprise was born, will ask Metro Executive today to give consideration to the appointment of the 42-year-old Hollinger to the TTC.

It is a significant measure of the interest shown by the members of Metro in their transportation system that only Mr. Allen bothered to ask Mr. Hollinger if he would be willing to serve. The others have been occupied with the more absorbing speculation of who gets what, if and when Bill Allen is pushed into the Davisville board room.

Barc Hollinger is not a politician. His father was a member of the East York Township Council for many years, and held the position of deputy reeve, but Barc has never been elected to office. He gives most of his time to the Kiwanis, township arena and swimming pool boards of management and charity fund-raiding drives. He has not lobbied for the TTC vacancy — and he’s not going to. “If they ask me, I’ll consider it a privilege”, he says.

It would be sentimentally satisfying of the Hollinger name were carried forward in Metro transportation. Irish-born John Hollinger the First pioneered a bus line in the wilds of East York in 1920-21, with what he called a jitney — a makeover bus which plied for a nominal fare along the rural Woodbine Avenue. John often rose at 4 a.m. on a winter’s morning to clear the snow from the path of his bus. More often that not, he carried a load of shovels to passengers could give him a hand.

In the depression, the family ate. The bus line was not remarkably profitable, but it broke even. In the boom of the Forties, the Hollinger line carried more passengers and travelled more miles every year. Eventually, Hollinger’s faith in the future was justified and the line consisted of 60 buses when Metro stepped in.

John had built his makeshift bus and a little candy store into a fortune of more than $200,000 at the time of his death. His family had helped. Two of his daughters operated the office, and his only son. Barc had been a driver and mechanic — learning that a bus line can either make money or go broke on maintenance.

When Barc Hollinger was 21, he was made a vice-president of the company. He ran it from his father’s death in 1951 until it was bought for close to $1,000,000.

The Hollinger bus line was expanding. It had been operated on the theory that custom had to be created — pioneering new routes before they were entirely justified by demand. If Bill 80 had not enabled Metro to take over the bus line, the Hollingers would not have sold out. In fact, they might have rivalled the TTC with a suburban operation around Metro’s perimeter.

But everything vested in the Hollinger was made the property of the area [i.e. of Metro] on June 30, 1954. The only thing retained by the company is its charter, entitling use of the company name.

Perhaps Mr. Hollinger will be able to pin up his charter in one of the rooms at Davisville.