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Route 505 - The Dundas Streetcar




Eastbound, 7 days a week, 18 hours a day




Westbound, 7 days a week, 18 hours a day

Text by James Bow.

See Also

The Route

Like the KING streetcar, the 505 DUNDAS streetcar is a U-shaped route running through Downtown Toronto from Dundas West station to Broadview station. Most of the trip follows Dundas Street until Broadview Avenue, after which cars turn north and head for the subway. Along the way, it travels through several transit-friendly neighbourhoods and attractions, including West Toronto, Chinatown, the Eaton Centre, Chinatown East and much more.

Cars operate from as early as 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. at night, seven days a week. The portion of the line between College Street and Dundas West station is used by the 306 CARLTON NIGHT car, giving it night service.

The Early Beginnings of Dundas Street

The curious alignment of Dundas Street is largely due to the fact that it was built in stages over centuries. Construction on the road started in 1796, as ordered by Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe. The road was to connect the settlement of Cootes Paradise (today known as the Village of Dundas within the City of Hamilton) at the west end of Lake Ontario with the lands around the Town of York. As it headed east through Etobicoke Towwnship, it followed the alignment of today’s Bloor Street, before ending at the Humber River near where Old Mill station is today. Simcoe named the road Dundas after his friend Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville in Britain, in a similar manner to how he named Yonge Street after his friend Sir George Yonge.

The second section of Dundas Street began construction in 1811, under the supervision of George Taylor Denison, who built a military road from the corner of today’s Dundas and Ossington running via north along Ossington and northwest along the alignment of today’s Dundas Street over the height of land to Lambton Mills. A bridge and a new road connected the street to the Dundas Road where today Bloor meets Dundas at Kipling.

Streetcar service on Dundas Street began in 1882 with the launch of the BROCKTON route by the Toronto Street Railway Company. Horse cars operated from front and George Streets via north on George, west on King, north on Yonge, west on Queen, then north on Dundas (Ossington) and west on Dundas to the Toronto City Limits at Dufferin Street, beyond which the independent village of Brockton stretched. The tracks entered Brockton in 1884, stretching to Lansdowne Avenue, before the City of Toronto annexed Brockton in 1885. When the Toronto Street Railway Company’s franchise to operate streetcar service in Toronto ended in 1891, the Toronto Railway Company took over. They converted the line to electric operation on October 9, 1893, and rechristened it DUNDAS.

Dundas and Arthur Share Alignments and Routes

Though Dundas Street did not extend east of today’s Ossington Avenue, other streets did. Arthur Street ran east from where Dundas turned northwest, running to Bathurst Street. It received streetcar service on February 12, 1902, operating from the Dundas/Ossington intersection via east on Arthur, south on Bathurst to King, returning via the reverse route. Service was extended south on Bathurst and east on Front to George Street on November 6, 1903, and then west on Dundas to Lansdowne on December 18, 1906. On July 14, 1907, the ARTHUR route was realigned to operate from Bloor and Lansdowne, via south on Lansdowne, east on Dundas, east on Arthur, south on Bathurst, east on Queen, south on York and east on Richmond to Victoria, returning via Victoria and Queen over the reverse route.

While this was happening, DUNDAS service also pushed northwest. A single track was laid on Dundas from Lansdowne to the Toronto City Limits at Humberside, with shuttle service starting on April 14, 1894. Full DUNDAS service reached Humberside on March 11, 1895, and the Toronto Railway Company purchased running rights into the Village of West Toronto and extended DUNDAS cars to Keele Street on December 23, 1899. Two years earlier, on October 30, 1897, Dundas Carhouse opened at the corner of Dundas Street and Howard Park Avenue, storing Dundas cars overnight. DUNDAS and ARTHUR cars continued to share split and share service on DUNDAS street until 1909, when the two lines were merged into a single DUNDAS route operating from Keele and Dundas via Dundas, Arthur, Bathurst and Queen, looping downtown via York, Richmond, Victoria and Queen.

As the City of Toronto and the Toronto Railway Company looked at ways to improve mobility for Toronto residents between College and Queen Streets, the TRC pushed DUNDAS service east of Dundas along another set of streets in the same rough alignment: St. Patrick Street, running from Bathurst to McCaul Street, Anderson Avenue, running from McCaul Street to University Avenue, and Agnes Street, running from University Avenue to Yonge. The Toronto Railway Company built tracks along these streets east to Terauley (today known as Bay Street) and extended DUNDAS cars via this alignment to Terauley, then south to loop via Bay, Richmond, Victoria and Queen. Finally, in 1916, the City of Toronto made official what the DUNDAS streetcar was doing, and renamed Arthur, St. Patrick, Anderson and Agnes to Dundas Street. East of Yonge, Crookshank, Wilton and Beach Streets were also renamed, taking Dundas Street all the way to Broadview.

In the early separate arrangements of the DUNDAS and ARTHUR streetcars, you can see how the residential areas along Dundas and Arthur Streets were treated as suburban destinations for downtown residents. DUNDAS and ARTHUR cars acted as separate feeders routing suburban residents downtown. By 1909, however, the Toronto Railway Company was starting to see Dundas Street as its own corridor, albeit one that still focused on getting suburban residents from one section of Toronto’s suburbs to the city’s downtown. The development of streetcar service on Dundas’s east end is a separate story.

On to Dundas East

It took longer for tracks to spring up on the streets (Crookshank, Wilton and Beach) that would make up Dundas Street East. Services in the area used Queen or Carlton Streets to go east-west, or Church, Sherbourne and Parliament Streets to head north. On December 18, 1911, a revision of the WINCHESTER streetcar began operating on new tracks laid on Wilton Street between Victoria and Parliament. This continued even as Wilton Street was renamed to Dundas, with no tracks laid on Dundas between Victoria and Bay. On September 1, 1921, when the Toronto Transportation Commission took over streetcar operations from the Toronto Railway Company, WINCHESTER cars operated from a downtown loop of Richmond, Church and Adelaide to run via Victoria, Dundas and Parliament, ending their route along a single track at Winchester and Sumach in the heart of Cabbagetown.

When the TTC took over, as part of a system-wide program to improve streetcar infrastructure throughout the city, extending tracks on Dundas east from Parliament to Broadview, as well as tracks west from Keele to a new loop at Runnymede Avenue (which opened on November 15, 1923) and eventually closing the gap on Dundas between Bay and Victoria. These tracks opened for service on July 1, 1923, but DUNDAS cars didn’t use them. Instead, COLLEGE streetcars diverted south along Bay to Dundas and then operated east via Dundas, Broadview, Gerrard, Coxwell, Gerrard and Main to wye at Danforth and Main.

DUNDAS cars operated from a loop at Runnymede Road, along Dundas Street to Bay, then south to City Hall Loop, built counter-clockwise on-street from Bay via Albert, James, and Louisa Streets behind what was then Toronto’s City Hall. This loop opened for service on August 30, 1921, and was shared with DUPONT streetcars. They, and the presence of BAY and COLLEGE cars meant that the intersection of Dundas and Bay was becoming quite congested indeed. To address this, the TTC rebuilt City Hall Loop, this time looping via Louisa, James and Albert. This new loop on November 3, 1930, along with an extension along Louisa and Albert to Elizabeth Street, where a set of double tracks north to Dundas allowed DUNDAS cars to access the loop while avoiding the Bay/Dundas intersection.

COLLEGE streetcars were replaced by HARBORD streetcars on April 13, 1933, serving Dundas Street from Spadina to Broadview before operating via Broadview, Gerrard, Carlaw, Riverdale and Pape to Danforth Avenue, but DUNDAS streetcars didn’t venture east of City Hall Loop. Even when the YONGE SUBWAY opened (on March 30, 1954), and streetcar service was eliminated on Elizabeth Street (June 4, 1961, in order to build Toronto’s new City Hall), DUNDAS cars simply moved to Bay Street to access City Hall Loop, while HARBORD cars continued to operate along Dundas from Spadina Avenue east.

Through Routing Finally

It took the opening of the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway to hand Dundas Street East to the Dundas cars. When the HARBORD streetcar was laid to rest, every second DUNDAS car operated beyond City Hall Loop, along its current route to Broadview Station. The section between Dundas West station and Runnymede loop did not fall so quickly, however. Instead, DUNDAS cars continued to operate both ways throughDundas West station from February 1966 to May 10, 1968. Then, when the BLOOR-DANFORTH subway was extended to west from Keele to Islington and east from Woodbine to Warden, trolley buses on the new 40 JUNCTION route started operating on the portion of the DUNDAS streetcar northwest of the subway station, and the tracks were abandoned..

When the massive new Eaton Centre development started construction in the early 1970s, the TTC stopped operation to City Hall Loop on a ‘temporary’ basis. The TTC claimed that the loop would reopen, providing direct streetcar service to the doors of the Eaton Centre, but the Eaton’s company eventually decided against this proposal. The old City Hall Loop operations moved east on January 6, 1975, to an on-street looping arrangement of Church, Queen and Victoria. By this time, however, the difference in the levels of ridership on the west side of Dundas from the east side were fading. The short-turn service faded to just rush hour only by the early 1980s and ceased to be a scheduled branch on June 20, 1986.

The TTC did consider restoring this short-turn loop in 1997, however, as it considered how to deal with a surplus of streetcars. The Conversion to Streetcars report noted a high number of transfers from southbound 510 SPADINA cars to eastbound 505 DUNDAS cars. Consideration was briefly given to create a dedicated line, possibly called EATON CENTRE, operating from Spadina Station and Dundas and Yonge, looping via Church, Queen and Victoria. In the end, the TTC decided that the benefit of such a service would be outweighed by the inconvenience of increased headways on the rest of the two routes, as the proposed service did not have enough traffic to justify operation in addition to the surrounding normal service.

Congestion at the Ends and Possible Extensions

The City of Toronto extended Dundas Street east from Broadview to Kingston Road, again taking over the alignments of east end streets and laneways, during the 1950s. Some thought was given to serving this new street with transit (even trolley buses, according to reports in the early 1970s), but not by DUNDAS streetcars. Though HARBORD streetcars using Dundas Street operated via Broadview, Gerrard, Carlaw, Riverdale and Pape to Danforth, when HARBORD streetcar service ended in February 1966, the TTC decided against extending DUNDAS cars to what would be Pape station, shifting the route to Broadview Station instead. Service along the Pale/Carlaw corridor had been split between the HARBORD streetcar and the 3 ASHBRIDGE bus; replacing these routes with the 72 PAPE bus provided through service. Besides, the TTC was planning to abandon streetcar service at the time, so had no incentive to maintain the tracks on Pape Avenue.

However, around the turn of the millennium, the TTC did briefly consider restoring streetcar service to Pape and Danforth using the 505 DUNDAS route. Increasing ridership and congestion on the 504 KING streetcar was proving challenging for both it and the 505 DUNDAS routes, particularly as both routes shared terminal stations at Dundas West and Broadview stations. Moreover, these facilities featured a single track serving a single platform, meaning that problems at one line could cause delays at the other where the two routes overlapped. By taking 505 DUNDAS streetcar tracks east on Broadview and north via Carlaw, Riverdale, and Pape, 505 DUNDAS could be given a separate terminal, freeing up space for the 504 KING route. In the end, however, the TTC decided to instead modify the terminal loops at Dundas West and Broadview stations. On Labour Day 2002, the TTC began work installing a separate track and platform for 505 DUNDAS cars. This opened to the public on Sunday, November 24, 2002. A similar project began the next year at Broadview station, although it took much longer to finish. This work was followed by an extensive rebuilding of the tracks along the 505 DUNDAS route.

Plans to extend 505 DUNDAS service east of Broadview haven’t gone away, however. As the Ontario Government works on designs for the new ONTARIO LINE subway south from Pape and west into the downtown, one possibility might be to extend 505 DUNDAS east to loop at a new Gerrard/Carlaw station. Another possible extension could see streetcar service restored into the Junction. With the TTC considering extending streetcar service on St. Clair Avenue to Runnymede Road, Jane Street or Scarlett Road, part of that extension could include new tracks up Dundas Street to connect with the tracks on St. Clair. Although the 40 JUNCTION bus did not carry the passengers to justify the improvement on its own when the TTC considered the extension in the 1997 Conversion to Streetcars report, the benefits of shortened deadhead time for 512 ST. CLAIR streetcars entering service might provide enough additional incentive to spur construction.

A Possible New Name

On July 14, 2021, Toronto City Council voted 17-7 to remove the “Dundas” name from city maps, likely requiring the renaming of Dundas and Dundas West subway stations, and the 505 DUNDAS streetcar route. As a result of debates about systemic racism raised earlier that year, it was noted that Henry Dundas, the man who Dundas Street is named for, had a tarnished legacy. While he was friends with John Graves Simcoe and other politicians advocating for the abolition of slavery, he intervened in the anti-slave trade debate in 1792, advocating in the British Parliament that the trade in African slaves should end, but the ending should occur gradually. The move was an attempt at a political compromise that eventually saw the British slave trade abolished in 1807.

However, as activists noted, the year after Dundas’s compromise, British ships took 40,463 Africans from their territories into slavery in the British Caribbean. Between 1792 and 1807, approximately 154,555 Africans were killed while en route to slavery in the Caribbean. Many more died while enslaved. It was noted that Dundas’s compromise was criticized at the time as being horribly inhumane, and as the debate over systemic racism peaked in 2020 and 2021, voices in Canada, as well as Dundas’s native Scotland, argued that Henry Dundas was unworthy of condemnation. In addition to Toronto’s decision to rename Dundas Street, Mississauga, Hamilton, and London considered similar measures.

As of this writing (August 2021), no decision has been made as to what to name Dundas Street to.

The Future

When the new Flexity streetcars started operating on Toronto’s streets in 2014, the TTC planned that 505 DUNDAS would be the first non-private right-of-way to operate these cars in revenue service. This was planned to happen in 2015, although delivery delays forced the TTC to change their plans. On February 18, 2018, due to an ongoing shortage of streetcars resulting from the continuing Flexity delivery delays, buses operating out of Mount Dennis garage replaced streetcars on a temporary basis. This continued into 2019, although the TTC planned to restore streetcar service once Flexity deliveries were complete at the end of 2019. Service was finally restored, with pantographs in operation, on April 20, 2020.

With the TTC having investing in new streetcars and extensively rebuilding the tracks, there are no plans at present to shorten or delete the 505 DUNDAS streetcar. It is one of the busiest and most cost-effective lines on the system, and will likely remain so for years to come, though possibly under a different name.

505 Dundas Image Archive


  • Bromley, John F., and Jack May Fifty Years of Progressive Transit, Electric Railroaders’ Association, New York (New York), 1978.
  • Filey, Mike, Not a One-Horse Town: 125 Years of Toronto and its Streetcars, Gagne Printing, Louiseville (Quebec), 1986.
  • Jago, Robert. “Renaming Places: how Canada is reexamining the map”, Canadian Geographic, July 22, 2021
  • Pursley, Louis H. Street Railways of Toronto, 1861-1921. Electric Railway Publications, 1958.
  • Pursley, Louis H. The Toronto Trolley CAR Story, 1921-1961. Interurbans, 1961.
  • Toronto Transit Commission, Report No. 7: Opportunities for New Streetcar Routes, The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), January 21, 1997.
  • Westland, Stu, ‘The Winchester Carline’ Rail and Transit, September-October 1979, p23-24, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1979.

Special thanks to Mark Brader, John Bromley and Ray Corley for their corrections to this web page.

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