Editorial Archive

Back Track: March 30, 1954

1954 Yonge Subway crowds 3/3/21 6:00 PM

Canada’s First Subway

The original Yonge Subway officially opened for service on March 30, 1954. The line stretched 7.4 kilometres from Eglinton to Union. The first subway included 12 stations: Eglinton, Davisville, St Clair, Summerhill, Rosedale, Bloor, Wellesley, College, Dundas, Queen, King and Union.

The Yonge Subway was Canada’s first subway, and the first post-war subway to be built in North America. Its construction began in 1949.

On March 30, 1954, more than 5,000 people witnessed Ontario Premier Leslie Frost, Toronto Mayor Alllan Lamport, Metro Chairman Fred Gardiner and TTC Chairman William C. McBrien launched a new era of public transit in Toronto in a public ceremony near Davisville Station.

The first subway was built at a cost of $67 million (including shiny new Red Gloucester trains from England).

Here are a few construction facts about the building original Yonge Subway. The line required:
> 10,000 tons of structural steel.
> 14,000 tons of reinforcing steel.
> 4,200 tons of rail steel.
> 420 tons of cast iron pipe.
> 1.4 million bags of cement.
> 170,000 tons of sand.
> 240,000 tons of gravel.
> 15 million feet of lumber.

Important dates in Toronto subway history

1910: First proposal for subway: a consultant recommends streetcar tubes beneath Yonge and Bay streets to alleviate traffic congestion. Voters turned down the idea.

1942: The Toronto Transportation Commission presented a major proposal for rapid transit to Toronto City Council. The plan called for two streetcar subways: one under Bay and Yonge Street from Union Station to the Beltline Railway (at Davisville Yard) and the other along the Adelaide/Richmond/Queen corridor from Trinity/Bellwoods Park to Logan Avenue.

January 1, 1944: The Rapid Transit Department was created and headed by W.H. (Pat) Paterson. It updated the 1942 proposal by calling for a conventional subway under Yonge Street from Union to Eglinton.

January 1, 1946: The Rapid Transit Plan, proposing a new subway system, was put to the vote and residents of Toronto gave it their overwhelming support.

September 8, 1949: Construction begins on the Yonge project, a 4.6-mile subway running under Yonge Street from Front Street to Eglinton Avenue. Construction comprises 3.2 miles of cut-and-cover and 1.4 miles of open cut.

April 15, 1953: The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act (Bill 80) was passed, creating North America’s first metropolitan government.

July 26, 1953: Canada’s first two subway cars – Gloucesters 5000 and 5001 – arrive in Montreal from overseas, in time for a display at the CNE the following month.

January 1, 1954: The Toronto Transportation Commission becomes the Toronto Transit Commission and gains the responsibility of being the sole provider of transit services within the 240 square miles of Metropolitan Toronto.

March 30, 1954: Canada’s First Subway opened for business from Eglinton Station to Union Station. Opening ceremonies began at 10 a.m. The line opened to the public at 1:30 p.m.

Top photo: Opening day crowds, March 30, 1954.

Latest News

 New Corporate Plan cover

TTC Corporate Plan 2018-2022

Advancing to the next level.

Corporate Notice

COVID-19 positive tests update.

From the TTC Chair

Special message to all employees.

In Memoriam

Alati, Fiaoni, Proietti, Pullon.

The Coupler wants to keep you connected

The Coupler invites all employees and pensioners to sign up for TTC news and headlines via our mailbox at coupler@ttc.ca. Simply send us an e-mail request from your personal e-mail address and include your full name, badge number or pensioner number and work location or home address. Note: personal information is for verification purposes only. Please call Senior Communications Advisor/Editor Mike DeToma at 416-393-3793, or e-mail mike.detoma@ttc.ca, for more information.