A History of Subways on Bloor and Queen Streets (toronto.transit.on.ca)

David Juliusson has shared with us the text of a blog post at toronto.transit.on.ca entitled: “A History of Subways on Bloor and Queen streets.”

[Click on the link in the previous sentence to access the post.]

The opening paragraphs read:

The Initial Proposals

(see also Early History)

As the city of Toronto developed, it took on the shape of an upside-down “T” on the shores of Lake Ontario. Development spread north along Yonge Street and east and west along the Lake. Yonge Street was, almost from the beginning, the city’s north-south axis. The city’s prominent east-west street was less clearly defined throughout Toronto’s history but, by the 1940s, Queen Street arguably held that title.

Although the subway proposals of 1909-1912 mentioned a number of alignments for a possible east-west route, the north-south line was generally given more attention. By the 1940s, however, the city had grown and the country was at war. The number of commuters was straining the capacity of a number of routes, and it became clear that only a subway would provide an effective long-term solution to the problem. Again, the initial proposals focused heavily on a north-south line, but the plans for an east-west companion were much more detailed.

In 1942, the TTC submitted a subway plan calling for two streetcar subways, one running beneath Yonge and Bay Streets from St. Clair to Union Station and another operating beneath Queen and Adelaide Streets from Strachan to Logan. The Yonge/Bay streetcar subway would channel streetcars from the northern suburbs downtown, while the Queen/Adelaide subway would take streetcars off King and Queen streets for a ride unobstructed by automobiles. The City was not satisfied with this plan, however, and sent it back to the TTC for reconsideration.

In 1945, the TTC came up with a new plan, this time with a “rapid transit subway” beneath Yonge Street and a more modest streetcar subway along Queen. The Queen streetcar subway would operate to the north of Queen Street from Trinity Park to McCaul, then beneath Queen Street from McCaul to Mutual, and then north of Queen Street in an open cut from Mutual to St. Paul. The line would become elevated from St. Paul to Boulton and would parallel the CN railway tracks to Gerrard and Carlaw. A ramp at Boulton Avenue would branch off the subway and take Queen and Kingston Road cars back to Queen Street.

[End of excerpt]

David Juliusson comments:

“Imagine if they had the foresight to follow thorough on a Queen Subway,” comments David Juliusson. “All the way from Humber to the Don and maybe to Greenwood would have solved so many problems.”

Comment

I’m reminded of a May 2013 blog post based on a Globe and Mail article highlighting a book by Ed Levy.

I’m really pleased to know about the toronto.transit.on.ca site. The site reminds me that history isn’t solely about houses and buildings. It’s also about the history of urban transportation systems, military history (of which, in my view, it can be argued that the history of gangster literature is an integral element], cultural history, and the history of ideas.

The text also reminds me that history is always accessed in the here and now – in the present moment – and that the present moment – and what we do or don’t do, right now – is what matters.

Update: One can add, as is noted in a blurb for Canadians and their Pasts (2013), that William Faulkner is quoted as saying: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

 

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