Remembering Toronto’s First Electric Streetcar: August 15: Snapshots in History

August 16, 2016 | John P.

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Toronto Railway Company's Map Showing Street Railway Lines 1892

Toronto Railway Company’s Map Showing Street Railway Lines, 1892. Lithograph.


On August 15 and beyond, take a moment to look back into Toronto’s transit history by remembering when Toronto’s first electric streetcar ran on August 15, 1892 (with the last horse streetcar finishing service on August 31, 1894). The Toronto Street Railway (TSR) had received a 30-year franchise from the City of Toronto to deliver horse-drawn street railway service from September 11, 1861 to March 26, 1891. Briefly, the City of Toronto operated the service for an eight-month period after which the Toronto Railway Company (TRC), formed through a partnership of Sir William Mackenzie and James Leveson Ross, embarked on its 30-year franchise which included a move to electrification.



King Street looking east from Yonge Street. Toronto, Canada. 1900


Expansion of the City of Toronto during the 1908-1912 period through the annexation of Dovercourt, Earlscourt, East Toronto and Midway (between Toronto and East Toronto) led to a desired expansion of street railway service. Given the reticence of the privately-owned TRC to expand its service, the City of Toronto established the publicly-owned Toronto Civic Railways (TCR) to offer street railway service in those other areas. With the expiry of the TRC franchise in 1921, the City of Toronto combined the TRC services with those of the TCR to establish the publicly-owned Toronto Transportation Commission (1921-1954) on September 1, 1921, the forerunner of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) (1954- ).



1921 Peter Witt streetcar used by the Toronto Transportation Commission – now on display at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum – Photo Credit: David Arthur, 2007


Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Not a one-horse town 125 years of Toronto and its streetcars


The Witts an affectionate look at Toronto's original red rockets


Mind the doors please the story of Toronto and its streetcars


Toronto trolleys in color


 Please see also:

Remembering the Toronto Transportation Commission: September 1: Snapshots in History