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Let's GO -- and TTC -- to the "Ex":
August 17 to September 3



ttc-streetcars-exhibition-east-197509.jpg

A shot of Exhibition loop at the east end of the Exhibition grounds, 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 137 years later, as the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) gets ready for its 138th season at Exhibition Place, transit still plays an important role in the success of the annual fair. This year, the “Ex” starts Friday, August 17 and continues until Labour Day, Monday, September 3.

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

CNE Map 2018.jpg

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 during rush hours — 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 Beanfield 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.

Meanwhile, GO trains have been stopping at Exhibition GO Station since the very first day of service, May 23, 1967.

dufferin-gates-station-1967.jpg

During the 1968 Exhibition season, GO Transit set up a temporary ticket booth and provided service for CNE patrons. This image is courtesy the Government of Ontario.


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 509 Harbourfront streetcar route here.
  • the history of the present 511 Bathurst and the former Fort streetcar routes here.
  • the history of the 514 Cherry streetcar route here.
  • the history of Exhibition East and Fleet loops here.
  • the history of the Dufferin streetcar here (with John F. Bromley).
  • the history of GO Transit’s Lakeshore lines here (with Daniel Garcia).

Other relevant history articles on our site:

  • 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 121 Fort York - Esplanade route here.
  • the history of the 193 Exhibition rocket route by Jeffrey Kay, here.
  • the history of the 307 / 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 and from the CNE affects these routes:

TTC29 Dufferin, 121 Fort York - Esplanade, 329 Dufferin overnight, 504B / 504C King, 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 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with streetcars operating every few minutes to and from Bathurst Station. It’s likely 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

Starting Sunday, September 2, the TTC resumes regular service along the route, replacing 504B / 504C King service.

Before 9 a.m. Sunday, September 2 and Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the cars operate along their regular route to and from Dufferin Gate Loop.

From 9 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, September 2 and Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the TTC extends the route to Sunnyside Loop, instead of Dufferin Gate Loop each day.

Eastbound cars start their trips in Sunnyside Loop, then proceed:

southward along Sunnyside Avenue; and then
eastward along The Queensway and King Street West to Dufferin Street,
resuming their regular route eastward along King West.

Eastbound cars skip their regular stops

  • in Dufferin Gate Loop and
  • on Dufferin Street at Liberty Street and King Street West.

Instead, eastbound cars drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • in Sunnyside Loop,
  • on The Queensway at King Street West and
  • on King Street West across from Wilson Park Road and at Dowling, Jameson, Dunn and Spencer Avenue and at Dufferin Street.

Westbound cars reverse the detour routing.

Westbound cars skip their regular stops

  • on Dufferin Street across from Liberty Street and at Springhurst Avenue and
  • in Dufferin Gate Loop.

Instead, westbound cars drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • on King Street West across from Spencer Avenue and at Dunn, Jameson and Dowling Avenues, west of Wilson Park Road and at Queen Street West and
  • in Sunnyside Loop.

504_Ex.gif

Route 514 streetcars replace route 504C service starting Sunday, September 2.

29 Dufferin

From Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the TTC is increasing the frequency of service along the route, with buses operating every few minutes to and from Wilson and Dufferin stations. It’s also likely 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.

To accommodate the large number of events in Exhibition Place during summer, including the Canadian National Exhibition, the TTC shortens the path for buses operating along the route. All buses start and end their trips in Dufferin Gate Loop, instead of Princes’ Gate Loop.

Starting Sunday, June 17, southbound buses no longer drop off or pick up passengers at stops:

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

Northbound buses no longer serve passengers at stops

  • in Princes’ Gate Loop,
  • on Princes’ Boulevard across from Newfoundland Road,
  • on Nunavut Road beside the Horse Palace,
  • on Manitoba Drive across from Nova Scotia Avenue and at Saskatchewan Road and
  • on Saskatchewan Road at Dufferin Street.

Summer service ends and regular service resumes Tuesday, September 4.

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329 Dufferin overnight

From Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3, Exhibition Place is closing its streets to through traffic to accommodate the “Ex”.

However, to accommodate the large number of events in Exhibition Place during summer, including the Canadian National Exhibition, the TTC extends the path for buses operating along the route. All buses start and end their trips in Exhibition Loop, instead of Prince’s Gate Loop.

Starting Monday, June 18, southbound buses operate along their regular route to Dufferin Street and Springhurst Avenue, then proceed:

westward along Springhurst;
southward along Fort Rouille Street;
eastward through Dufferin Gate Loop;
northward along Dufferin;
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 at Quebec Street and 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 (for this route)

  • in Dufferin Gate Loop,
  • on Dufferin Street [northbound] 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 Exhibition Loop access road and Manitoba Drive;
northward along Strachan Avenue;
westward along East Liberty and Liberty Street; and then
southward along Dufferin Street to Springhurst Avenue,
resuming their regular route westward along Springhurst.

Northbound buses skip their regular stops

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

Instead, northbound buses drop off or pick up passengers at new stops (for this route)

  • in Exhibition Loop,
  • on Strachan Avenue north of Fleet Street,
  • on East Liberty Street east of Pirandello Street and at Lynn Williams Street,
  • on Liberty Street at Atlantic Avenue and
  • on Dufferin Street [southbound] at Springhurst Avenue.

Summer service ends and regular service resumes Wednesday, September 5.

121 Fort York - Esplanade

From Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the TTC operates more frequent service along the route between Union Station and Ontario Place.

509 Harbourfront

From Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3, the TTC increases the frequency of service, with streetcars operating every few minutes to and from Union Station.

The TTC is likely 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.

504B / 504C King

Friday, August 17, Mondays to Fridays from Monday, August 20 to Friday, August 24 and from Monday, August 27 until Friday, August 31, streetcars operate along their regular route. The TTC’s also likely 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.

Saturday, August 18, Sunday, August 19, Saturday, August 25 and Sunday, August 26, and Saturday, September 1, the TTC extends the route to Sunnyside Loop, instead of Dufferin Gate Loop from 9 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. each day.

Eastbound cars start their trips in Sunnyside Loop, then proceed:

southward along Sunnyside Avenue; and then
eastward along The Queensway and King Street West to Dufferin Street,
resuming their regular route eastward along King West.

Eastbound cars skip their regular stops

  • in Dufferin Gate Loop and
  • on Dufferin Street at Liberty Street and King Street West.

Instead, eastbound cars drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • in Sunnyside Loop,
  • on The Queensway at King Street West and
  • on King Street West across from Wilson Park Road and at Dowling, Jameson, Dunn and Spencer Avenue and at Dufferin Street.

Westbound cars reverse the detour routing.

Westbound cars skip their regular stops

  • on Dufferin Street across from Liberty Street and at Springhurst Avenue and
  • in Dufferin Gate Loop.

Instead, westbound cars drop off or pick up passengers at temporary stops

  • on King Street West across from Spencer Avenue and at Dunn, Jameson and Dowling Avenues, west of Wilson Park Road and at Queen Street West and
  • in Sunnyside Loop.

Starting Sunday, September 2, the TTC again operates cars along the 514 Cherry route, replacing 504B / 504C service.

504_Ex.gif

Route 514 streetcars replace route 504C service starting Sunday, September 2.

GO Transit
65 Barrie

GO already operates 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.

GO Transit is revising train service. The TTC is increasing service to handle the crowds heading to the “Ex”.

GO Transit
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.)

Due to crowds boarding and exiting from trains at Exhibition GO Station during the CNE, expect delays of as much as 10 minutes behind schedule along the lines from Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3.

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.

Due to crowds boarding and exiting from trains at Exhibition GO Station during the CNE, expect delays of as much as 10 minutes behind schedule along the line from Friday, August 17 until Labour Day, Monday, September 3.

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.