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Let's GO -- and TTC -- to the "Ex",
August 19 to September 5



ttc-streetcars-exhibition-east-197509.jpg

A shot of Exhibition loop at the east end of the Exhibition grounds, taken looking northeast from the Shell Oil Tower in September 1975. This photo originally comes from the Charles Houser collection and was donated by Pete Coulman.

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 135 years later, as the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) gets ready for its 137th season at Exhibition Place, transit still plays an important role in the success of the annual fair. This year, the “Ex” starts Friday, August 19 and continues until Labour Day, Monday, September 5.

As usual, the TTC is revising and increasing its services to help fair-going crowds head to the “Ex”.

Since GO Transit now provides regular train service along the 01 Lakeshore West line to and from Exhibition GO Station seven days a week during the fair, it’s not operating extra service, except during the Labour Day holiday weekend.

At most times of the week, GO trains operate along the 01 Lakeshore West line every 30 minutes — or even more frequently — to and from Exhibition. Trains operating along the 12 Niagara Falls line also stop at Exhibition GO Station Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.


Since those first passengers in 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 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 also 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 transit service to Exhibition Place here (with John F. Bromley).
  • 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 history of the Dufferin streetcar here (with John F. Bromley).

Other relevant history articles on our site:

  • the history of the 7 Bathurst bus route by Jeffrey Kay with Pete Coulman, here.
  • the history of the 29 Dufferin bus route by Jeffrey Kay, here.
  • the history of the 93 Exhibition West express route (1988 - 2002) by Jeffrey Kay, here.
  • the history of the 193 Exhibition rocket route by Jeffrey Kay, here.
  • the history of the 310 Bathurst night route by Jeffrey Kay with Pete Coulman, here.
  • the history of the 314 Dufferin - Bathurst overnight route (1987 - 1996) by James Bow, here.
  • the history of the 329 Dufferin overnight route by Jeffrey Kay, here.

Service to the CNE affects these routes:

TTC29 Dufferin, 121 Fort York - Esplanade, 193 Exhibition rocket, 329 Dufferin overnight, 509 Harbourfront, 511 Bathurst, 514 Cherry.

GO Transit01 Lakeshore West, 09 Lakeshore East, 12 Niagara Falls, 21 Milton, 31 Kitchener, 65 Barrie, 71 Stouffville.


Toronto Transit Commission
511 Bathurst

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with streetcars operating every few minutes to and from Bathurst Station. It’s also assigning extra staff and setting up crash gates at the Exhibition Loop to handle crowds during busy hours at the CNE. Passengers pay their fares when they enter the loop and can board streetcars through all doors.

514 Cherry

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC operates regular service along this new streetcar route to and from King and St Andrew stations. 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 streetcars through all doors.

29 Dufferin

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC is increasing the frequency of service along the route, with buses operating every few minutes to and from Wilson and Dufferin stations. Extra non-stop express buses also operate between Dufferin Station and Dufferin Gate Loop. The TTC’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.

The TTC is also canceling service along the 29C branch to and from Princes’ Gates. All buses start and end their trips in Dufferin Gates Loop, during the CNE.

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 across from Exhibition Loop and
  • in Princes’ Gate Loop.

Northbound buses skip their regular stops

  • in Princes’ Gate Loop,
  • on Princes’ Boulevard beside the Direct Energy Centre,
  • on Nunavut Road north of Princes’ Boulevard,
  • on Manitoba Drive across from Nova Scotia Avenue and
  • on Saskatchewan Road west of Manitoba Drive and at Dufferin Street.
329 Dufferin overnight

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, Exhibition Place is closing its streets to through traffic to accommodate the “Ex”.

The TTC is revising the path for buses operating along the route, while the streets are closed. Buses start and end their trips in Exhibition Loop, instead of Dufferin Gate Loop.

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

northward along Dufferin Street;
eastward along Liberty and East Liberty Streets;
southward along Strachan Avenue; and then
westward along Manitoba Drive and the Exhibition Loop access road to Exhibition 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 across from Exhibition Loop and
  • in Princes’ Gate Loop.

Instead, southbound buses drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • on Dufferin Street at Liberty Street,
  • on Strachan Avenue at Manitoba Drive and
  • in Exhibition Loop.

Northbound buses start their trips in Exhibition Loop, then proceed:

eastward along the access road and Manitoba Drive;
northward along Strachan Avenue;
westward along East Liberty and Liberty Streets;
southward along Dufferin Street;
westward along Springhurst Avenue;
southward along Fort Rouille Street; and then
eastward through Dufferin Gate Loop,
resuming their regular route.

Northbound buses skip their regular stops

  • in Princes’ Gate Loop.
  • on Manitoba Drive beside Exhibition Loop and across from Nova Scotia Avenue and
  • on Saskatchewan Road west of Manitoba Drive and at Dufferin Street.

Instead, northbound buses drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • in Exhibition Loop,
  • on Strachan Avenue north of Fleet Street,
  • on East Liberty Street west of Pirandello Street and at Lynn Williams Street,
  • on Liberty Street at Atlantic Avenue and
  • on Dufferin Street at Springhurst Avenue.
193 Exhibition rocket

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC reintroduces service along this express route between Dundas West Station on the 2 Bloor - Danforth subway line and the CNE’s Dufferin Gate.

Buses operate every 10 minutes seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. until Sunday, September 4. They also operate from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. Labour Day, Monday, September 5.

Starting Friday, August 19, southbound buses proceed from Dundas West Station without stopping:

south- and eastward along Dundas Street West;
southward along Dufferin Street;
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; 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.

121 Fort York - Esplanade

From Friday, August 21 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC operates regular service along this new bus route to and from Union Station. Buses do not enter the Exhibition grounds, but start and end their trips on Strachan Avenue, across from the Princes’ Gates.

509 Harbourfront

From Friday, August 19 until Labour Day, Monday, September 5, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with street operating every few minutes to and from Union Station.

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

GO Transit
65 Barrie

GO already operates summer weekend trains to and from Union Station. Passengers riding most regular weekend Barrie trains must change trains at Union Station to reach Exhibition GO.

You can view the schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

31 Kitchener

GO usually operates extra trains along the line to and from Exhibition GO Station only during the Labour Day weekend, but has not yet confirmed details

09 Lakeshore East
01 Lakeshore West

Trains operate along both lines every 30 minutes at most times of the week — and even more frequently Mondays to Fridays during rush hours. (GO interlines the trains on both lines.)

You can view the schedule for the 01 Lakeshore West line here. (.pdf)

You can view the schedule for the 09 Lakeshore East line here. (.pdf)

21 Milton

GO usually operates extra trains along the line to and from Exhibition GO Station only during the Labour Day weekend, but has not yet confirmed details

12 Niagara Falls

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

You can view the regular schedule for the line here. (.pdf)

71 Stouffville

GO usually operates extra trains along the line to and from Exhibition GO Station only during the Labour Day weekend, but has not yet confirmed details


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.