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

September 1, 2017 | John P.

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On September 1 and beyond, take a moment to remember the founding of the Toronto Transportation Commission on September 1, 1921, the forerunner of the current Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) (1954-  ).

Jump to Toronto Public Library resources.

The City of Toronto took the city-owned Toronto Civic Railways (TCR) (1912-1921), established to serve newer annexed areas of Toronto to which the privately-owned Toronto Railway Company (TRC) (1891-1921) would not extend service and remained focused on downtown service, and used the opportunity of the expired Toronto Railway Company franchise to establish a more widespread Toronto Transportation Commission. The desired outcome was that citizens would have to pay only one fare rather than paying multiple fares to various transportation providers. This was a key pledge of then-Toronto Mayor Thomas Church, following the approval by voters of municipal operation of all streetcar service in Toronto on January 1, 1920.

Consolidation of the Toronto Transportation Commission continued throughout the 1920s as the commission sought to deal with the aging infrastructure left by the TRC by replacing miles of track and purchasing 575 steel-bodied Peter Witt streetcars. The Commission also bought the streetcar operations of the Toronto Suburban Railways (TSR) and other radial railways so that all streetcars were being run by the Toronto Transportation Commission by 1927.

The Great Depression placed extraordinary pressure upon Toronto and other municipalities to provide social welfare to citizens in need. The Toronto Transportation Commission lost 20% in ridership but the commission, to its credit, invested in and used the Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars (designed by American transit company presidents) from 1938 onward (the commission purchased 745 PCC streetcars in total), although the success of these streetcars become most apparent during World War Two when manufacturing companies relied on the PCC streetcars to transport employees to and from work at different times. Women worked for the Commission as conductors, drivers, and maintenance personnel during the 1939 to 1945 period.

During World War Two, in 1942, the Commission began looking at the possibility of providing underground streetcar service on Queen Street and Yonge Street but it was not until 1946 that Toronto voters approved the construction of a subway underneath Yonge Street and a streetcar subway underneath Queen Street. The Yonge Street subway came to pass as Canada’s first subway and with it, the Toronto Transportation Commission became the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on January 1, 1954 under the auspices of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, a federation of the city of Toronto and twelve adjacent municipalties (later five through continuing amalgamation in 1967) by the Government of Ontario. The TTC later became responsible to an amalgamated City of Toronto as of 1998 through legislation from the provincial government of the time.

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


A thirty years' war the failed public-private partnership that spurred the creation of the Toronto Transit Commission 1891-1921

Book, 2015


Toronto streetcars serve the city

Book, 2014


The TTC story the first seventy-five years

Book, 1995




The TTC story the first seventy-five years

 Book, 1996


The TTC story the first seventy-five years

eBook, 1996


Please visit Toronto Public Library’s Digital Archive and TPL History: Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on Pinterest to access images related to the TTC and its predecessors. Additionally, one can also visit the City of Toronto’s web exhibit entitled Collecting Toronto: Transporting Toronto.

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


T.T.C.  #4729  arriving at Hillcrest shops pictures-r-5524

T.T.C., #4729, arriving at Hillcrest shops.

Salmon, James Victor (Canadian, 1911-1958)

Picture, 1952, English

(Credit: Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection; Rights and Licenses: Public Domain; Call Number/Accession Number: S 1-162 A)



Salmon's print inscribed on vso: T.T.C. / #4729 / CAR 829 FROM BIRMINGHAM TRANSIT Co. BIRMINGHAM / ALABAMA. THIS IS THE FIRST CAR #829 / ARRIVING AT HILLCREST NOV. 28 1952.|1952 Nov 28