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Street Railways in the Junction

Raymond L. Kennedy

There were a number of street railways in and around West Toronto Junction over the years, some privately owned as well as ones municipally owned. They included local lines serving the Junction and neighbouring communities as well as radial lines that connected outlying communities with the Junction. The local lines weren't thought of by the people who used them as being "railways" rather, just street cars operating on tracks in the streets. Even the Woodbridge line was really just big streetcars that ran out into the country. Only the Guelph radial line was a "railway" style operation that included multiple connected cars as well as special express cars and some freight cars hauled by a locomotive.

Early History

The first street railway to be incorporated on November 12, 1890 under the Ontario Street Railway Act was the Weston, High Park and Toronto Street Railway Company, Limited which was intended to be a horse car operation in Toronto, West Toronto Junction, and York and Etobicoke Townships. Before construction started it was changed in 1891 to the City and Suburban Electric Railway Company, Limited. In October 1892 it began operating its route from Dundas and Keele going west on Dundas to Gilmour Avenue. The following year it was built south to Louisa Street (St. Johns Road), east to Fairview Avenue and south to Evelyn Crescent. It was later extended east along Dundas Street to Humberside Avenue, the City Limits of Toronto where it connected with cars of the Toronto Railway Company which had reached there in 1893. This extension was sold on December 23, 1893 to the TRC which extended its Dundas route over it to a wye in the intersection of Dundas and Keele. TRC double tracked the line from Humberside to Indian Grove leaving the last two short blocks as single track. A planned extension west along Humberside to connect with the west end of the line at Evelyn would have made a complete circuit. It was never built and eventually, the portion south of Dundas to Evelyn was later abandoned (November 28, 1922) for the lack of riders. However, an extension was built in the 1890's westward along Dundas from Runnymede to Lambton Park at the Humber River. This was a side of the road line along the north side of Dundas. The only passing track was at Willard Avenue, two blocks east of Jane Street.

Lambton line views.

It was however, another company that actually began operations first. The Davenport Street Railway Company, Limited, incorporated February 11, 1891 and given a 20-year franchise on April 20, 1891 by the Town of West Toronto Junction; began operation on September 6, 1892 making it a close second to the Toronto Street Railway which had begun its changeover from horses to electric on August 15th. The route began in the Junction at Keele and Dundas going north to St.Clair, then east to Ford Street, (one block east of the old Weston Road) south to Davenport Road, east to Bathurst Street and south to the CPR mainline just north of Dupont Street. Along the way the single track line passed through Carlton, Davenport and Bracondale. In 1899, a further 10-year period was added to the franchise under TSSR ownership.


Map street and steam railways in the Junction and Swansea 1894
Includes lower part of Belt Line Railway
Note that dashed lines are built and dotted lines are projected,
most were never built.due to objections to streetcars on residential streets!


Toronto Suburban Railway

The Toronto Suburban Street Railway Company Limited was incorporated in February 1894 to acquire the City & Suburban and the Davenport Street Railway companies. Its name was abbreviated in 1900 to Toronto Suburban Railway Company.

The Royce family led by Allan H. Royce a barrister and resident of Davenport took control from the original shareholders until they sold out in 1911 to Mackenzie, Mann and Company who bought it primarily for the railway charters it held. Mackenzie owned the Toronto Railway Company which provided service in Toronto, Toronto and York Radial Railway which operated suburban and interurban lines out of Toronto including the former Toronto and Mimico Railway and Light Company and the former Toronto and Scarborough Electric Railway, Light and Power Company as well as the lengthy line from North Toronto to Lake Simcoe of the former Metropolitan Street Railway Company. In addition they owned the Canadian Northern Railway an extensive steam railway running out of Toronto east to Ottawa and north all the way to British Columbia!

Toronto Suburban lines used the old Toronto horse car track gauge of 4 feet 10 and 3/4 inches designed to allow horse drawn wagons to ride along the rails avoiding rutting the dirt streets. This was changed January 30, 1917 to standard gauge (4 feet, 8 and one half inches) in connection with the construction of the Guelph radial line. It was opposed by the City of Toronto over fears freight cars would be hauled along the streets however, the railway prevailed and no freight was ever hauled on streets.

Map of Local Lines Time Table 1918 Local Lines

Trackwork looking east at Dundas and Keele and below on Keele looking north August 23, 1912
City of Toronto Archives/Salmon Collection

 

West End theatre at 215 Mavety Street, one short block west of Dundas and Keele. Next door is the Robinson house.

Originally a TSR power house it was converted 1919 into the Mavety theatre which closed c.1932 reopening 1942 as the
West End finally closing c.1958. Three other theatres were located on Dundas Street within a block of each other. The finest of these was the Beaver (1915-1962) at what is now 2936-2940 Dundas Street West. There was also the Crystal (later the Apollo at now 2901 Dundas St. W. and the earliest, Wonderland built 1907 at now 2824 Dundas Street West.

Map of the Junction September 1912 Dundas Street between Keele Street and Pacific Avenue. Transformer station (in blue) shown as Interurban Electric Co.Ltd. and Erindale Electric Co.Ltd. possibly owned by or affiliated with Toronto Suburban Railway.


TSR 22 Crescent route on Dundas Street

TSR 15 Lambton route on Dundas Street

TSR 25 Davenport route on Keele Street

Three TSR cars in the Junction. May 1920 Ontario Hydro Archives


Weston Line

Busy traffic scene looking north on Weston Road above St.Clair. Ontario Hydro Archives
Russell/Acme Screw & Gear buildings in the background. Light coloured building at right was TSR transformer station.

New bridge to carry CNER Guelph Radial line new extension over Weston Road to reach new terminal at St.Clair Avenue.

Closed car 12 and open car 11 pose for the photographer in this very early scene.

Winter in Weston.

Map of Early Weston

The Weston route was built in 1894; it operated from the Junction north on Keele Street over the existing Davenport line as far as St.Clair, then a short distance farther where Weston Road South (Weston Road) veered off. It was at this point the line changed to the west side of the road. Sidings were built at Seneca Avenue (relocated from the bottom of the hill in the Black Creek Valley to avoid stopping cars there where the step climb drew too heavily on the power tripping the substation), and Buttonwood Avenue. The line originally ended at the south end of Weston a little south of Eagle Avenue (Lawrence Avenue West) until a franchise was granted to bring it into the village of Weston where it first ended at King Street with a requirement to extend it to the north village limits. When the street railway failed to extend the line beyond Church Street, a dispute happened in August of 1898 that resulted in service being stopped in Weston for three months. Further, they stopped supplying electricity for street lights! The dispute was settled and service resumed on November 10th. The franchise was renewed with the requirement that the line had to be extended 1000 feet north from Church Street to the post office (next to the Plank Road office which still exists to this day!) just south of the GTR instead of the north limits, which was done. Following abandonment of the Woodbridge radial line this would remain the end of the Weston route until the very end of streetcar service. A third passing track was added just south of King Street.

TSR combined carhouse and powerhouse on St.Clair just west of northwest corner of (Old) Weston Road.

A steam powered power house generated electricity until hydro-electric was brought in from Niagara Falls after which it remained on stand-by. Mackenzie was part owner of this system as well. Toronto Power Company

Line Car No.1 in front of Heydon House northwest corner St.Clair and (Old) Weston Road in Carlton. 1920
Ontario Hydro Archives


Woodbridge Radial Line

Radial car 19 waits on Keele Street to leave for Woodbridge. Looking south at Dundas. Ontario Hydro Archives

A major extension of the TSR Weston line was undertaken soon after Mackenzie took over and was built 7.9 miles to Woodbridge opening on October 10, 1914. This extension was one of many planned by the TSR but, one of the few actually built. It continued the street trackage in Weston to the north limits (Stop 26) Mileage 4.78 (from Keele & Dundas), until a little north of the Grand Trunk Railway main line where it became side of the road for a half mile then, went onto a private right-of-way making its way through Thistletown (Stop 31 Mileage 7.50), to Pine Street in Woodbridge at Stop 36 and Mileage 12.02.

This line had a spur running east from near the Humber River bridge across Albion Road to the CPR where a supply yard was located on the south side of Wilson Avenue to deliver materials for construction of the Woodbridge line. A small amount of express as well as milk was handled by a small 4-wheeled express motor. Newspapers were also handled on the passenger cars.

About 1918 an interesting sideline was the handling of milk over the Davenport line to the Briar Dairy at Bartlett Avenue and to Bathurst Street where milk was teamed from the end of the line to another dairy at Walmer Road.

Another unusual aspect was a World War I ammunition plant Canadian Nitro-Products Ltd. in Mount Dennis.


Time Table 1918 Local Lines

Map Weston-Thistletown
Showing connecting track to CPR .

Map Thistletown-Woodbridge

Map Woodbridge Radial Line
Also shows new CPR line and old TG&B line


Guelph Radial Line


Planned extensions that never took place.

The TSR had many plans to extend its lines including in 1901 the Lambton line westward to Cooksville and Hamilton and later, in 1904 to Niagara Falls. Also, from Lambton to Brampton (surveyed in 1907); and later to Milton, Guelph, and Berlin (Kitchener). Work actually began on extending the Lambton line west from Lambton Mills/Lambton Park to Summerville with a half-mile of grading and some track laid early in 1903. For some reason things ended here although, it later resumed in 1912 when the radial line was built from Lambton to Guelph, not finally opening until April 14, 1917.

Local line extensions were planned including a 1907 survey from the Junction via Keele, Annette Street west to Elizabeth Street (Runnymede Road) and south to the Swansea Bolt Works. The town council did not want tracks on Annette Street so, in 1908, it was resurveyed from the end of the Crescent route on Fairview to Swansea. However, the line was never built nor were a number of other projected lines as shown on this 1894 map.

Electric railways built and projected 1894.

Another planned local extension was of the Davenport route east along Davenport Road from Bathurst Street to Poplar Plains Road where it would use the Canadian Northern right-of-way to reach Yonge Street where it would connect with TRC streetcars to downtown Toronto. Work began in 1917 with rails being laid as far east as Huron Street about one third of the distance and just short of the railway right-of-way where it all came to an end for uncertain reasons, likely due to the city's doings. Track was removed without ever having been used.



The City of Toronto Takes Over



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