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High Park

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Text by James Bow
With thanks to Nathan Ng.

High Park station opened on May 10, 1968 as part of the western extension of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway line from Keele to Islington. The first station west of the former terminus at Keele, High Park serves a residential area and Toronto’s High Park. Although the station sees modest crowds, it features two entrances and a design which complements the surrounding neighbourhood.

A History of High Park

High Park, located south of the station across Bloor Street, is a 161 hectares (400 acres) recreational and national park stretching all the way south to the Queensway. The park features, among other things, playgrounds, sporting facilities, gardens, as well as education centres while a third of the park is reserved in a natural state, preserving a rare oak-savannah ecology. It is the City of Toronto’s second-largest park (Rouge Park is larger), and the largest park wholly within the City of Toronto’s boundaries.

High Park was donated to the city in 1876 at the bequest of John George Howard, who purchased the property in 1836. He operated a sheep farm on the land, but he was also a successful architect, engineer and land surveyor for the City of Toronto. He designed and built Colborne Lodge to house himself and his wife Jemima Frances Meikle. As the property was situated on the highest point of land along the Humber Bay shoreline, Howard named his property “High Park”.

Howard retired from work in 1855. In 1873, Howard and Jemima decided to gift their property (at the time 120 acres (49 hectares) to the City of Toronto. The gift came with a number of conditions, including allowing the Howards to remain at their residence and receive a pension, and that no alcohol ever be served in the park. The agreement required that the city hold the park, “for the free use, benefit and enjoyment of the Citizens of Toronto for ever and to be called and designated at all times thereafter High Park”.

After Toronto City Council approved the gift (by a 13-2 vote), the deal was made official in 1876. At the time, the park could only be accessed by boat, by the Great Western Railway running along the south edge of the park, or the Bloor toll road. After the gift was received, the city began to build a road north from the Lake Road into the park lands, today better known as Spring Road and Centre Road. John Howard lived on at Colbourne Lodge until 1890. Both John and Jemima are buried in the park, their plot marked by a stone monument.

The two city councillors who voted against the gift believed that the property was too far from the city to be of use to its residents. However, the city was growing, and establishing its streetcar network. Tracks crept closer along Queen and, further north, via Dundas Street and Howard Park Avenue. Soon, going to High Park was an excursion. The CARLTON streetcar was routed to High Park in 1923 (the COLLEGE streetcar had been going to High Park loop before 1910), and there it has remained, outside of night service hours.

A lesser known loop in the park, however, was Park loop, located south of Bloor Street at High Park Avenue. It was primarily used for short turns until the BLOOR streetcar was cut back to Keele subway station in 1966 and used as a shuttle service. The tracks through the park were removed between 1966 and 1968, along with the tracks on Bloor once the subway was extended west from Keele, and High Park station opened.

Service Into the Park

With High Park prominent on the station’s walls, the station became an obvious means of getting to the park, but High Park is so large that it can be difficult to access all of its features by walking. Colbourne Lodge is easier to get to from the QUEEN streetcar, and 506 CARLTON drops passengers off within easy walking distance of a popular playground. The first bus service connecting the park to Bloor Street ran in the summer of 1963, Sundays and holidays only. Called HIGH PARK, it operated in a counterclockwise circle from Spring Road and West Road via south and east on West Road, east on Centre Road and north on Spring Road, stopping at the Colbourne Lodge restaurant, the gardens and the zoo. Walking transfers with the BLOOR streetcar were at Spring and West, and with the CARLTON streetcar at Spring Road nearest Howard Park. The service did not run the following summer.

Around 1980, however, the TTC extended 30 LAMBTON buses south from High Park station each summer to loop via West Road and Colbourne Lodge Drive. This service operated for years without designation until 1994 when it was officially recognized as the 30B “Kipling Station-High Park” branch.

Station Features

High Park station follows the same 1960s modernist style of the other stations on the original BLOOR-DANFORTH subway, with long clean lines and overhanging roofs. The station continues the line’s tile pattern, with white background tiles and black trim, sharing this arrangement with Broadview. The windows around the entrances run from ground to near the ceiling with a metal strip around waist height. One difference between High Park and other stations on the route, like Old Mill, is the plastic covering of this strip is blue rather than red. This change included the station name board at its Quebec Avenue entrance, until before 2014 when the entrance was renovated, and the current standard signage was put into place.

After diving underground at the west end of Keele station, the line emerges from the hill at High Park station. While the station itself is primarily underground, the tracks continue onto an embankment above the lie of the land. This embankment at the west end of the station cuts the street known as Parkview Gardens in two. A secondary entrance built from the west end of the High Park platforms provides a public connection allowing residents from Parkview Gardens north of the tracks to either enter the station using a token (later Metropass), or to cross over to the south entrance and continue their journey to Bloor Street.

Steps lead down from the west end of the platform to the Parkview Gardens exit. At the other end of the station, stairs and escalators lead up to a concourse level, where the main collector’s booth can be found. Another flight of stairs and escalators lead up to the Quebec Avenue entrance and a platform serving a bus loop running from High Park Avenue. Even though High Park opened within the “City” fare zone, no provision was made for a seamless transfer between the subway and connecting 30 LAMBTON bus; possibly the station’s designers felt that such a limited connection did not merit a full bus terminal.

The bus terminal houses another non-standard feature of High Park station. Instead of a flat overhanging canopy, the bus platform roof is a series of arches running perpendicular to the road across the structure. This arch motif carries on indoors in the waiting area and exit onto Quebec Avenue. The design of the bus terminal is mimicked by Runnymede station, the next station west.

Changes Since Opening

In 2007, the Monarch Development Corporation built an eight storey building at 20 Gothic Avenue, located directly over the station. After negotiating with the TTC, the developer agreed to take a number of steps to ensure the station’s structural integrity, including constructing a large floodwater tank beneath the front of its building to divert excessive stormwater away from the station. Concrete pilings were placed around the station structure to ensure High Park station bore none of the weight of the building. The portal at the west end of the station, located beneath the west end of the building, was also rebuilt, with additional sound barriers to reduce noise in the neighbourhood. The deal was completed with the exchange of some money and a parcel of land, but the TTC did not use this as an opportunity to add elevators to the station, making it wheelchair accessible.

High Park station did receive some renovations around 2008, to rehabilitate the roof and repair portions of the structure. In addition to changing the distinctive blue background station sign at the Quebec Avenue entrance, the renovations added a wheelchair accessible ramp between the Quebec Avenue entrance and street level. While the station remained non-accessible (elevators are not scheduled to be installed until 2023), the move did allow wheelchair passengers to access accessible 30 LAMBTON buses at the bus terminal.

Despite its proximity to High Park, High Park station functions more as a local neighbourhood station on the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway line. Its ridership remains modest (10,390 passengers used the station on an average weekday in 2015) compared to stations like Dundas West or Dufferin. However, the area that High Park serves is seeing growth. The eight-storey condominium tower built over the station footprint was one example of infill and intensification. Other mid-rise buildings are going up along Bloor Street in the area, and their presence relies on the station as their means to connect with the rest of the city. High Park’s use may be modest, but it will grow into the future.

Trivia

  • High Park is one of only four stations on the TTC’s rapid transit network, and the only one on the BLOOR-DANFORTH network where it is possible to cross both under and over the subway tracks within the fare paid zone. The topology of the land means that passengers can cross under the tracks via the Parkview Gardens entrance at the west side of the station, and over the tracks via the main concourse at the east side of the station. The other stations where this is possible are Queen (under via the main concourse, over via the Shuter Street exit), Bloor (over via the south entrance or the main entrance, under via the Yonge station platform), and Sheppard-Yonge’s SHEPPARD line platform (under via the YONGE line platform, over via the passage at the west end of the SHEPPARD line platforms).

Service Notes (as of June 7, 2017):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 2 BLOOR-DANFORTH
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Kennedy: 5:51 a.m. weekdays, 5:59 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:10 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Kennedy: 1:41 a.m. every day.
    First Train to Kipling: 5:59 a.m. weekdays, 6:03 a.m Saturdays/holidays, 8:24 a.m. Sundays
    Last Train to Kipling: 2:06 a.m. every day.
  • Address: 35 Quebec Avenue
  • Opened: May 11, 1968
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 10,390 (2015), 9,750 (2014), 11,420 (2013), 10,910 (2011), 10,350 (2010), 10,880 (2009)
  • Entrances: 4
    • Quebec Avenue Entrance, located on the east side of Quebec Avenue, 57 metres north of Bloor Street West, with access to bus terminal and stairs and escalators leading to main concourse.
    • High Park Avenue Entrance, located on the west side of High Park Avenue 62 metres north of Bloor Street West and via west along the Bus Platform for 87 metres. Stairs and escalators lead to the main concourse.
    • Parkview Gardens Entrance (North) (Automatic entrance), located at the east end of Parkview Gardens, 118 metres east of Clendenan Avenue. Connected with Parkview Gardens south entrance. Stairs lead to west end of the subway platforms.
    • Parkview Gardens Entrance (South) (Automatic entrance), located at the north end of Parkview Gardens, 50 metres north of Bloor Street West. Connected with Parkview Gardens north entrance. Stairs lead to west end of the subway platforms.
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • North Side - East End - Westbound Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
    • South Side - Parkview - Concourse To Eastbound Platform (Up At All Times)
    • North Side - Parkview - Concourse To Westbound Platform (Up At All Times)
    • South Side - East End - Eastbound Platform To Concourse (Down 6am-10am (Mondays-Saturdays) Up All Other Times)
    • Concourse To Bus Platform (Up At All Times)
  • Not Accessible (Elevators to be installed in 2023)
  • No Washrooms
  • Token vending machine
  • 2 Side Platforms
  • No TTC parking.

TTC Surface Connections:

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