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Eaton's Special (1930-1977?)

Compiled by Pete Coulman
With additional text by James Bow

The EATON’S SPECIAL began life as a bus service operated by Gray Coach under contract with the Timothy Eaton Company in order to provide an easy ride between Eaton’s two downtown Toronto stores (at Yonge and Queen and Yonge and College). Fares were charged, but no transfers were issued or accepted with linking bus routes. In the early 1950s, the TTC switched the Gray Coaches for TTC “red” coaches, and continued the service until at least the early 1970s. The rise of the Eaton Centre and the exit of the Eaton’s store from what is now College Park likely precipitated the end of this special service.

October 30, 1930 (Thursday)

The Timothy Eaton Company launches the “Eaton Inter-Store Coach” service. Buses operate from the corner of Albert and Yonge via north on Yonge to Hayter (one block north of Gerrard). Buses return via west on Hayter, south on Bay and east on Albert Street to Yonge. The service is initially operated complimentary to Eaton’s shoppers.

November 25, 1930 (Tuesday)

Fares are now charged at a rate of 3 tickets for 5 cents. Tickets are sold at the Enquiry Desk at the Queen and College stores.

June 2, 1932 (Thursday)

On this day, Eaton’s contracts Gray Coach to operate additional coach service linking the Eaton’s stores with the Royal York and King Edward hotels. A number of trips are made during the mornings and afternoons, Monday to Saturday.

June 8, 1932 (Wednesday)

Gray Coach service to the Royal York and King Edward hotels is discontinued.

May 11, 1933 (Thursday)

Gray Coach now operates this service with buses using treadle rear doors. These doors are painted gray on September 27 of this year.

August 18, 1937 (Wednesday)

Gray Coach upgrades service to diesel-electric rear drive coaches.

March 12, 1942 (Thursday)

By this date, the EATON INTER-STORE service operates between 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday to Saturday (store hours are 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.)

October 21, 1942 (Saturday)

Last day of service for the duration of the Second World War. By order of the Dominion War Department, the EATON INTER-STORE coach service is discontinued to conserve gasoline and rubber.

June 4, 1945 (Monday)

Service on the EATON’S INTER-STORE coach resumes.

July 19, 1948 (Monday)

Service is temporarily diverted due to trackwork at the intersection of Dundas and Bay. Southbound buses divert via west on Hayter Street, south on Elizabeth and east on Albert to Yonge.

August 9, 1948 (Monday)

With trackwork complete at the Dundas/Bay intersection, regular routing resumes.

Around July 1954

Service is taken up by the Toronto Transit Commission, using red “city” buses. No transfers are issued or accepted with connecting TTC routes, and the route does not appear on TTC maps or timetables.


Monday to Saturday, shoppers hours

October 1, 1970 (Thursday)

Fares increased from 15 cents/2 tickets for 25 cents to 15 cents/2 tickets for 30 cents.


With the opening of the Toronto Eaton’s Centre, the old main store and the College Street store are closed, and service on the EATON’S SPECIAL ends.

Little is known by this author about the operation of the EATON’S SPECIAL after the YONGE SUBWAY opened in 1954. It is likely that service was cut back, but no official records have been found. Some sites suggest that the EATON’S SPECIAL ended service when the YONGE SUBWAY opened, but photographic evidence shows that operations continued into the 1970s. If anyone has additional information, it would be greatly appreciated.

Eaton's Special Image Archive

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