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Canadian National Exhibition, August 20 to September 6:
Let's GO -- and TTC -- to the "Ex"!



On September 9, 1881, two horses pulling a Toronto Street Railway car full of passengers arrived at Strachan Avenue and Wellington Street, the new end of the line for the TSR’s King route. The passengers stepped off the car and into the history books as they walked down Strachan to the entrance of the local fairgrounds and introduced Torontonians and visitors alike to the idea that traveling by transit was a safe, convenient — and, often, fun — way to get to the exhibition.

Nearly 129 years later, as the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) gets ready for its 131st season at Exhibition Place, transit still plays an important role in the success of the annual fair. This year, the “Ex” starts one week from today, on Friday, August 20 and continues until Labour Day, Monday, September 6.

GO Transit and the TTC are revising and increasing their services to help fair-going crowds head to the “Ex”.


Service to the CNE affects these routes:

GO Transit01 Lakeshore West, 07 Niagara Falls, 09 Lakeshore East.

TTC29 Dufferin, 193 Exhibition Rocket, 310 Bathurst overnight, 316 Ossington overnight, 329 Dufferin overnight, 509 Harbourfront, 511 Bathurst.


GO Transit
09 Lakeshore East
01 Lakeshore West

From Friday, August 20 until Labour Day, Monday, September 6, GO increases service on both lines, with more trains stopping at the Exhibition Station. (GO interlines the trains on both routes.)

Most eastbound GO trains stop at Exhibition GO Station at most times of the week, except during Monday-to-Friday morning rush hours. Most westbound trains stop at Exhibition at most times of the week, except during Monday-to-Friday afternoon rush hours.

Even more trains stop at Exhibition GO station while the CNE is going on. Mondays to Fridays during the “Ex”, the eastbound trains leaving Aldershot GO Station at 6:03 a.m. and Burlington GO Station at 8:44 a.m. stop at Exhibition GO Station at 6:56 and 9:22 a.m.

Mondays to Fridays during the “Ex”, the westbound trains that leave Oshawa Station at 5:47 and 8:25 a.m., Union Station at 4:13 p.m. and Pickering Station at 6:25 p.m. stop at Exhibition Station at 6:59 and 9:24 a.m., 4:19 and 7:11 p.m. (After the “Ex” is over, the trains leaving Oshawa at 5:47 a.m. and Union at 4:13 p.m. skip Exhibition Station, while the trains leaving Oshawa at 8:25 a.m. and Pickering at 6:25 p.m. end their trips at Union Station at 9:18 a.m. and 7:05 p.m.)

On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, all trains stop at Exhibition GO Station.

07 Niagara Falls

This year, all trains operating along the line between Union Station and the Niagara Falls VIA Rail Station stop at Exhibition Station Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

TTC
511 Bathurst

From Friday, August 20 until Labour Day, Monday, September 6, the TTC increases the frequency of service. It is assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at the Exhibition (East) Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board streetcars through both doors.

310 Bathurst overnight

Buses operate with regular service along their regular route

29 Dufferin

The TTC is revising the route while work crews prepare for the Exhibition, during the event, and afterward, while workers take down exhibits, displays, the midway and rides.

From Thursday, August 5 until Friday, September 10, all buses operating along the 29 Dufferin route end their trips at the Dufferin Gate Loop. The TTC is canceling service along the 29B and 29D branches into Exhibition Place to serve the Princes’ Gates and Ontario Place.

During the CNE, from Friday, August 20 until Labour Day, Monday, September 6, the TTC increases the frequency of service along the route. It’s also assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at Dufferin Gate Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses through both doors.

329 Dufferin overnight

The TTC is revising the route while work crews prepare for the Exhibition, during the event, and afterward, while workers take down exhibits, displays, the midway and rides.

Overnight from early Friday, August 10 until early Friday, September 10, southbound buses operate along their regular route to Dufferin Street and Springhurst Avenue, then proceed:

Southbound buses operate along their regular route to Dufferin (Gate) Loop, then proceed:

northward along Dufferin Street;
eastward along King Street West;
southward along Strachan Avenue; and then
westward along Manitoba Drive and the loop access road into Exhibition (East) Loop,
ending their trips.

Southbound buses skip their regular stops

  • on Saskatchewan Road east of Dufferin Street,
  • on Manitoba Drive east of Saskatchewan Road, at Nova Scotia Avenue and opposite Exhibition (East) Loop.

(The buses end their trips inside the loop, instead of on Manitoba Drive beside the loop.)

Northbound buses start their trips at the Exhibition (East) Loop, then proceed:

eastward along the loop access road and Manitoba Drive;
northward along Strachan Avenue;
westward along King Street West;
southward along Dufferin Street;
westward along Springhurst Avenue;
southward along Fort Rouille Street; and then
eastward into Dufferin Loop; and then
resuming their regular route northward along Dufferin.

Northbound buses skip their regular stops:

  • on Manitoba Drive at Exhibition (East) Loop and west of Nova Scotia Avenue,
  • on Saskatchewan Road west of Manitoba Drive and at Dufferin Street.

The TTC is assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at Dufferin Gate Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses through both doors.

193 Exhibition rocket

From Friday, August 20 until Labour Day, Monday, September 6, southbound buses proceed from Dundas West Station without stopping:

south- and eastward along Dundas Street West;
southward along Dufferin Street;
eastward along Peel Avenue;
southward along Gladstone Avenue;
westward along Queen Street West;
southward along Dufferin;
westward along Springhurst Avenue; and then
southward along Fort Rouille Street into Dufferin Gate Loop.

Northbound buses proceed from Dufferin Gate Loop without stopping:

northward along Dufferin Street;
eastward along Queen Street West;
northward along Gladstone Avenue;
eastward along Peel Avenue;
northward along Dufferin; and then
west- and northward along Dundas Street West to Dundas West Station.

The TTC is assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at Dufferin Gate Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board buses through both doors.

509 Harbourfront

From Friday, August 20 until Labour Day, Monday, September 6, the TTC increases the frequency of service. It is assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at Exhibition (East) Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board streetcars by both doors.

316 Ossington overnight

The TTC is revising the route while work crews prepare for the Exhibition, during the event, and afterward, while workers take down exhibits, displays, the midway and rides.

Overnight from early Friday, August 10 until early Friday, September 10, southbound buses operate along their regular route to Strachan Avenue and Manitoba Drive / Fleet Street, then detour:

westward along Manitoba and the loop access road into Exhibition (East) Loop,
ending their trips.

(The buses end their trips inside the loop, instead of on Manitoba Drive beside the loop.)

Northbound buses reverse the detour routing.


Since 1881, Toronto’s public transit vehicles — horse cars, streetcars, buses and trains — have been carrying passengers to and from the Canadian National Exhibition — and the various fairs that preceded it. From 1883 until 1885, Toronto’s and Canada’s first electric-powered streetcar carried passengers through the exhibition grounds from the end of the horse car line at Strachan Avenue and Wellington Street — then the main entrance to the fair — to the area of the current Dufferin Gate. The city as a whole had to wait until until August 16, 1892 before an electric streetcar entered regular service along city streets.

All four of Toronto’s public transit agencies — the Toronto Street Railway, the Toronto Railway Company, the Toronto Transportation Commission and the Toronto Transit Commission — have traditionally dedicated extra human and equipment resources in making sure that everyone gets happily, safely and efficiently to and from the great fairs. And, Canada’s railways and interurban bus companies have also played their parts in the history of the Exhibition, especially the TTC’s former interurban subsidiary company, Gray Coach Lines, the forerunner of today’s GO Transit.

Starting in the 1930s, Gray Coach operated buses directly to a terminal on the Exhibition grounds — immediately west of the Automotive Building (today’s Allstream Centre) — from various cities and towns in Southern Ontario, including Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Galt (Cambridge), Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Preston (Cambridge) and St. Catharines. For those who lived in other towns, GCL operated special flag buses from the downtown bus terminal on Bay Street to the CNE. (They were “flag” buses, because you could wave at, or “flag”, the driver to stop and pick you up.) Your Gray Coach ticket from elsewhere in Ontario let you ride the flag bus from the downtown terminal for free. The downtown flag buses also served major downtown hotels, including the Royal York and the King Edward.

In the 1960s and 70s, the TTC got into the flag bus business, operating express buses from suburban points to the same Exhibition bus terminal near the Automotive Building that you could also flag down. In 1961, buses operated from Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, Jane Street and Wilson Avenue, Royal York Road and Anglesey Boulevard, Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue East and Eglinton Avenue East and Pharmacy Avenue. In 1982, the last year of this service, the buses still operated from Jane and Wilson and Eglinton and Pharmacy, but also ran from Yonge and Steeles Avenue, Bloor Street West and the East Mall, Islington Avenue and Elmhurst Drive and Ellesmere and McCowan Roads.

The Transit Toronto archives contain several informative articles by James Bow describing the history of transit services to the Canadian National Exhibition.

You can read about:

  • the history of streetcars to the Exhibition here.
  • the history of the present 511 Bathurst and the former Fort streetcar routes here.
  • the history of the 509 Harbourfront streetcar route here.
  • the history of Exhibition East and Fleet loops here.
  • the “last stand” of the 521 King - Exhibition streetcar route (and, in passing, the history of the 522 Dundas - Exhibition car route, too) here.

Transit agencies interline one or more routes sharing a common terminal refers to reduce costs by sharing resources — drivers and vehicles — for two or more routes with a common terminal. In this case, a westbound train operating along the 09 Lakeshore East line arrives at Union Station, then continues westward along the 01 Lakeshore West line. Similarly, an eastbound train operating along the 01 Lakeshore West line arrives at Union Station, then continues eastward along the 09 Lakeshore East line.





























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