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Russell (Connaught) Carhouse

Russell Plan

Click on the thumbnail above for the official TTC plan of Russell, annotated by Ray Corley. Plan courtesy Ray Corley

Photos and Text by: James Bow and Hugh McAuley

Russell carhouse was built in 1913 by the Toronto Railway Company in 1913 as a paint shop. Six stub tracks entered the facility off of Queen Street. When the King carhouse burnt down in 1916, Russell was hurriedly turned into a carhouse, with painting restricted to one bay. TTC found when they took it over that the foundations were faulty, and the facility was sinking into the Ashbridge's Bay "fill". In 1923 they called for tenders for its demolition, and the erection of a new carhouse on the site, the new building re-opening on December 13th, 1924. The Traffic office was located at the northeast corner of the property.

Russell Versus Connaught

Officially, the facilities are referred to today as Russell Carhouse, which causes some confusion. Just as Roncesvalles is named after the street it's located near, the habit has been for many (especially the generation under 30) to refer to these facilities unofficially as Connaught Carhouse. Connaught Avenue borders the property on the east and until recently, all streetcars heading into Russell signed themselves to Connaught. New streetcar rollsigns installed in 2000 allowed cars running in to display the more descriptive final destination. Cars on the Russell-bound 504 and 505 routes now read "Greenwood and Queen" while 501, 502 and 503 have "Greenwood/Connaught" and 506 has "Coxwell & Queen".

Why the name Russell? The TTC, in its August 1978 magazine Coupler claimed that Russell Carhouse was named after T.A. (Tommy) Russell, who was a prominent east-end resident. T.A. Russell also happened to be a friend of R.J. Fleming, a former mayor of Toronto and the General Manager of the Toronto Railway Company as the paint shop on the carhouse site was being built in 1913. Tommy Russell was the man behind the Canadian Cycle and Motor Company Ltd., (CC&M for short) and was later president of the Massey-Harris (later Massey-Ferguson) company whose former land holdings are now being developed in mid-southwest Toronto.

Ray Corley's research disputes this, however, noting that R.J. Fleming was also friends with a Joseph Russell. Joseph was a brick manufacturer at 1308 Queen Street East at Alton Avenue (northeast corner) and he provided much of the supplies used in the original construction of the TRC's paint shop in 1913, a more direct and obvious connection between the person and the naming of the site. Joseph was born on April 1, 1868, ran for the provincial leglislature in 1908 and won a seat in the federal legislature that same year. He died on December 14, 1925.

Many thanks to Ray Corley for supplying me with the above two paragraphs of information.

TTC Takeover

During the days of the Toronto Railway Company, cars entered from Queen Street. The TTC changed things before they rebuilt the carhouse in 1924 and had all cars enter from Eastern Avenue. This change occurred in 1922, when the TTC opened the western part of the yard. The property's importance to the TTC's streetcar fleet increased significantly in 1967 when Danforth Carhouse, its major rival in East Toronto, was converted to full bus operation after the opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway. Today, Russell exclusively stores the cars on the 502 DOWNTOWNER and 503 KINGSTON ROAD routes, while sharing responsibility with Roncesvalles for 501 QUEEN, 504 KING, 505 DUNDAS, 506 CARLTON and, occasionally, 510 SPADINA.

Russell (Connaught) Carhouse Image Archive

Thanks to Ray Corley for correcting this web page and offering additional information.

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