Back Track Archive
Bloor-Danforth Subway Official Opening, 19662/25/16 6:00 AM
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson at Yonge Station to officially open the Bloor-Danforth Subway on Feb. 25, 1966.
50 YEARS AGO
Bloor-Danforth Subway Official Opening Ceremonies
Prime Minister L.B. Pearson and Premier J.P. Robarts officiate at Bloor-Danforth opening
Travel time for many transit riders in Metropolitan Toronto was cut in half when the city’s new Bloor-Danforth Subway opened at 6 a.m. Saturday, February 26th.
Formal ceremonies marking the opening of the new eight-mile crosstown line – the final stage of the $200-million Bloor-Danforth-University subway project – were held at 2 p.m. Friday, February 25th by the Rt. Hon. L. B. Pearson, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada; and by the Hon. John P. Robarts, Prime Minister of Ontario.
With its opening, the TTC has 15 miles (24.1 kilometres) of subway in service. The new line extends along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue – the city’s principal east-west traffic artery – from Keele Street to Woodbine Avenue.
Co-incident with the subway extension, streetcars were removed from Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue, between Keele and Woodbine. Several other major thoroughfares were involved too, thus increasing the capacities of these streets at no expense to the community or to motorists.
As proved along the Yonge subway route, the new subway is expected to improve real estate values and accelerate business development; soon to become apparent in substantially increased business and property assessments. Evidence of this is already indicated by high-rise apartment buildings now under construction near Broadview and Keele Stations.
Background, Planning and Financing
The need for an east-west subway route was apparent many years before its construction. In rush hour, the Bloor streetcars were at full capacity, carrying approximately 9,000 passengers per hour. With subway operation, this capacity is increased to 40,000 per hour each way.
In 1956, in response to urging by the TTC for an east-west subway, Metropolitan Toronto Council authorized the preparation of functional plans and estimates. These were presented to Council in January 1958. The plans encompassed a subway beneath or parallel to Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue, from Keele Street to Woodbine Avenue. Further, it called for an extension of the Yonge subway up University Avenue to Bloor Street to provide additional capacity into the downtown area and the whole central business district.
The Ontario Municipal Board approved the project in September 1958. In April 1959, Metropolitan Council approved financing arrangements for the $200 million subway, thus giving the green light to the biggest, most important public transit project ever tackled in Metropolitan Toronto.
Preliminary work on the relocation of utilities was started within a few weeks. On November 16th 1959, the then Premier of Ontario, Leslie M. Frost, operated a power shovel to signal the official start of construction for the two-mile University line. It was completed and officially opened by Lt. Governor J. Keiller Mackay and the Premier of Ontario, John P. Robarts, on February 28th, 1963.
Originally, because of financial considerations, the Bloor-Danforth-University subway was to be built and opened for service in three separate stages; 1) the University section, 2) the east leg from St George Station to Woodbine, and 3) the west section from St George to Keele Station. Final completion was scheduled for 1969. The Province of Ontario, however, advanced a $60-million loan, which made it possible to build stages 2 and 3 concurrently.
Initially, the cost of the entire $200-million project, with the exception of right-of-way, was to be shared equally by Metropolitan Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission. The Metropolitan Corporation purchased and retained ownership of the right-of-way. It expects to recover much of the land costs through the lease of air rights over the subway.
An important change in the cost-sharing formula was approved in 1964. Under the new arrangement, Metropolitan Toronto assumed responsibility for right-of-way construction costs and the TTC became responsible for operating equipment costs.
On the Bloor-Danforth-University subway project, this cost division approximates 70 per cent of the cost to Metro and 33 per cent to the TTC. This formula was also applied to the remaining debt on the Yonge Subway.
The Ontario Government recognized the unusually heavy burden of the subway construction program and under The Highway Improvement Act, 1963, began paying one-third of certain right-of-way construction costs for work done after April 1, 1964. On the Keele-to-Woodbine section of the subway, this share will amount to $12 million.
Assistance was also given by the Federal Government under the Municipal Development and Loan Act, 1963. Loans totalling $29,482,000 were arranged under this Act. These loans were subject to certain “forgiveness” provisions for work completed prior to March 31, 1966, and the amount of the loan forgiven amounted to $7,370,500.
From the March 1966 Coupler, Vol. 41, No. 3
TTC Inspector Ed Brown with ceremonial train for official B-D line opening on Feb. 25, 1966. Photo news clip: Toronto Daily Star, Doug Griffin, Page 1, Feb. 19, 1966.
My father, Inspector Ed Brown
It is 50 years ago, but I can recall with great fondness my father (Inspector Ed Brown) on the Bloor-Danforth Subway for the first time. Petula Clark’s song, Downtown, was playing on the radio and the city was really growing into a metropolis. Many will recall the original B-D opening with four-car trains and every other train leaving Woodbine to Lower Bay and around to Eglinton.
I remember my father telling me he was a little uneasy operating the ceremonial train into Keele Station with a large band close to the edge of the platform as he was coming in with the four-car Hawker 1 subway. The B-D really opened up the city and continues to expand ridership every month it seems. Good memories.
Norm Funk leads a preview tour of the new Bloor-Danforth line. Photo news clip: Toronto Daily Star, Harold Whyte, Page 54, Feb. 19, 1966.
Walking tour of B-D construction
During construction of the Bloor-Danforth Subway, I took a reporter to view the construction of the track bed in the Prince Edward Viaduct. We met our resident on the job and entered the site from the west end. We had to jump a gap of about one meter onto the track slab, but if we missed it was a long drop down to the valley floor. There was a safety net and we made it.
I also met a reporter and photographer from the Globe and Mail at the Keele Station (they wanted to be the first people to walk underground Keele to Woodbine). We climbed the stairs to inspect some stations and bypassed others. In the vicinity of the St George Station, there was an invert concrete pour underway and with the assistance of our employees, we negotiated this area with some difficulty. We left the Keele Station around 9 a.m. and arrived at Woodbine about 1:30 p.m. I accompanied them to the Globe on King Street for the delivery of their film and then had lunch.
Our first ride
My parents, sister and I on Sat., Feb. 26, 1966, on my sister’s third birthday entered the TTC’s Bloor-Danforth east end (Woodbine?) subway station to visit High Park Zoo located near the TTC’s High Park subway station. So the entire family took the newly opened Bloor-Danforth Subway free of charge, riding on new Red Rockets and received one complimentary TTC gold-coloured token souvenir package each.
Over the years one of the souvenir token packages was misplaced leaving only three in the collection, all in mint condition.
My name is Patty Wiley (retired 2010). I received the notice sent out to TTC staff and pensioners regarding the 50-year subway anniversary and forwarded it to my sister and brothers. Our brother, Sean, found the attached picture!
Our father, Patrick Wiley (Engineering and Construction, retired 1989) would often take us to job sites on the weekends. In this picture are the three oldest of seven children: Mary Jo, Kelly and Tom.
No way that the new subway would have been running 50 years ago if it wasn’t for these inspectors brought in to help by Pat Wiley. Amazing how those adult-sized construction helmets fit!
Patty Wiley and family
Remembering flash bulb moments
As a Training School Inspector, we were wandering the whole system to make sure that things went smoothly so we were pretty well free to go where the streetcar lines that would be affected by the opening of the Bloor-Danforth line. I rode the last Harbord streetcar into the Lansdowne Barns and walked down to Bloor Street to catch the last eastbound Bloor car to the loop at Danforth and Main for the last westbound to Jane Street loop.
The Operator of that last trip kindly let me have the privilege of operating the last westbound Bloor-Danforth trip. O-SHO-ME (Ontario Society of H.O. Model Engineers) provided a good number of members, with the late Rex Rundle providing a cheering section that kept encouraging me to maintain a quick pace as we merrily proceeded westward towards Jane Street loop. I made sure I stopped at every stop to pick up passengers, but most were reluctant to get on the jam-packed streetcar that normally should have been quite empty.
A number of automobiles with enthusiasts kept the last car company all the way to Jane and Bloor. I stayed in the Operator’s seat eastbound to Lansdowne where I took the switch iron in hand and threw the switch to take the last scheduled Bloor streetcar into Lansdowne Barns. My action of throwing the last switch prompted many flash bulbs to light up the intersection, but to this date I have never seen a picture in print. Both Toronto daily newspapers covered the streetcar, with a picture in the Toronto Star showing a view down the row of the crowded streetcar.
I was trained on the PCCs, but that was the first time I operated one with passengers on board. It was a trip that I will long remember!
First day ride
I rode the B-D on the first day, but I was in my mother’s arms. We were accompanied by my grandmother and great-grandmother. My mom says they waited at Keele for a Woodbine train, as they wanted to ride over the Prince Edward Viaduct.
Strategy and Service Planning
Tobagging at Christie Pits
As a young child, Christie Pits was the place to toboggan. My gang of friends heard that a subway was going to be built and was to cut through the hills of the Pits. Our imagination told us tobogganing at Christie was doomed. When the subway was completed, not only were the hills were as great as ever, but kids could travel by subway to Christie Station for only 10 cents and enjoy a winter day of tobogganing. Now, thanks to the TTC, kids can travel for free; only the toboggans got more expensive.
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