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A Brief History of the TTC's ex-Radial Cars

Text by James Bow

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On September 1, 1921, the Toronto Transportation Commission took over the operations of the Toronto Railway Company and the city-owned Toronto Civic Railway, as part of its mandate to operate all street railway service within the boundaries of the city of Toronto. Despite acquiring hundreds of miles of track and hundreds of streetcars, the job of acquiring property wasn’t done. Two other street railway systems, the Toronto Suburban Railway, and the railways of the Toronto & York Radial Railways, were still operating at the fringes of the city. Taking over these operations required more negotiations, but it was only a matter of time. The TTC acquired the Toronto Suburban Railway in 1923, and took over the remaining possessions of the T&YRR in 1927, in so doing acquiring its last burst of inherited equipment. This is the story of those cars.

The TTC’s All-Time ex-Radial Roster

 Fleet                     TTC
Numbers    Date  Make  #  Class Scrapped Notes
=========  ====  ==== === ===== ======== =============================================
38, 42     1896  JGB   2   ---   1930    Acquired Fairmont Park Traction (Philadelphia) 1909
43-50      1911  PC&C  8   ---   1922    Not used by the TTC
51, 52     1906  SOU   2   ---   1930    Acquired Norwich & Westerley (CT) 1911/2
53-56      1906  TRC   4   ---   1930    #55 built by TRC in 1902
58, 60     1906  TRC   2   ---   1930
59, 61     1903  OTT   2   ---   1930    Acquired Grand Valley Rwy, 1905
62,64,66   1906  OTT   3   ---   1930
68-78 (E)  1907  TRC   6   ---   1930    
101-105(O) 1900  TRC   3   ---   1927    Rarely, if ever, used by the TTC. 
                                         #103&105 former TRC open cars, banned in 1915.
113-119    1915  PC&C  4   ---   1930    Rarely used by TTC after 1928
125        1897  JGB   1   ---   1927    Acquired Fairmont Park Traction (Philadelphia) 1909
                                         Not used by TTC
129,131    1914  PC&C  2   ---   1927    Not used by TTC
139        1906  SOU   1   ---   1928    Acquired Norwich & Westerley (CT) 1911/2
141        1901  STL   1   ---   1929    Acquired Easton Transit 1905
151-155    1911  PC&C  5   R-2   1936    Acquired from Guelph Radial Rwy (#60,70,80,90,100)/Rebuilt 1925
211,213    1913  PC&C  2   R-3   1935    Acquired from Edmonton Radial Rwy (#50,58), 1918
215        1906  TRC   1   ---   1928    Acquired from TRC (#406) 1906
217        1903  TRC   1   ---   1929    Acquired from TRC (#910) 1906
219,221    1901  STL   2   ---   1929    Acquired Easton Transit 1905
223        1897  JGB   1   ---   1928    Acquired Fairmont Park Traction (Philadelphia) 1909
302        1896  GTW   1   ---   1927    Steam railroad coach, used as trailer, not used by TTC
409-416    1924  OTT   8   R-1   1948    M.U-equipped (not used) 416 preserved by HCRY

GTW   Grand Trunk Western                 Montreal QC
JGB   J.G. Brill Company                  Philadelphia PA
McGC  McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing Co.  Paris IL
NC&M  Niles Car & Manufacturing Company   Niles OH
OTT   Ottawa Car Company                  Ottawa ON
PC&C  Preston Car & Coach Company         Preston ON
STL   St. Louis Car Company               St Louis MO
TRC   Toronto Railway Company             Toronto, ON

(E)   Even numbers only
(O)   Odd numbers only

HCRR  Halton County Radial Railway       Rockwood ON
TTC   Toronto Transportation Commission  Toronto ON

The Toronto Suburban Railway

In November 15, 1923, after successful negotiations, the TTC took over the operation of the Toronto Suburban Railway operating in the Toronto Junction area. Standard-gauge lines along Davenport Road, Keele Street, Weston Road and Dundas Street (from Keele to Runnymede) had to be upgraded and converted to TTC gauge. Toronto Suburban Railway cars were used with TSR motormen and TTC conductors to provide shuttle services on these streets as they were regauged. Davenport tracks were finished on December 5, 1923. On January 20, 1924, regauging was complete on Dundas and DUNDAS streetcar extended to Runnymede. Finally, on November 25, 1924, the former TSR Lambton line was converted to TTC operation, running along Dundas from Runnymede to Lambton Park near Humber River.

In spite of this takeover, the TTC did not acquire any equipment from the suburban railway. The differences in gauges would have required further work on the cars before they could be used, and by and large they were old and built more for rural or interurban rather than city streetcar operation. When the TTC took over and regauged the tracks, the TSR equipment was spread elsewhere among the properties of its owner, Canadian National. Equipment was needed on the TSR’s Guelph and Woodbridge lines. Others were distributed further afield, such as to the Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto railway and the Montreal & Southern Counties lines.

Acquiring the Metropolitan

When the TTC took over TRC operations on September 1, 1921, it also had its eye on the Toronto & York Radial railways tracks operating within the city’s boundaries, particularly the old Metropolitan Railway running up Yonge Street from Woodlawn Avenue to the City limits. At the same time, Sir Adam Beck of Ontario Hydro was looking at the T&YRR operations outside of Toronto as a potential component of his planned network of interurban lines across southern Ontario.

The T&YRR owned and operated three lines stretching out from Toronto’s boundaries. One was the old Metropolitan Railway stretching up Yonge Street from Woodlawn Avenue to Lake Simcoe. Another was the old Mimico line following Lake Shore Road through the villages of Mimico, New Toronto, Long Branch and Port Credit. The last was the Scarborough radial line, following Kingston Road from Queen Street to West Hill, near where today’s Old Kingston Road splits off from Kingston Road. The T&YRR was owned by the business partnership of Mackenzie and Mann, the owners of the Canadian Northern railway and the Toronto Railway Company.

In 1922, as part of a deal reached between the T&YRR’s old owners, Ontario Hydro and the TTC, the whole ownership of the T&YRR was assumed by the TTC, although Ontario Hydro had responsibility for operating the lines outside of Toronto. All tracks located within Toronto’s city boundaries were converted to city standards, using TTC gauge and equipment. The portions of these lines outside of Toronto were maintained to interurban standards. By and large, the original cars were used (and the T&YRR had a surplus thanks to the reduction in its route mileage resulting from the conversion of Toronto routes to TTC operation), but the new managers, Ontario Hydro, invested some money in improvements ahead of the anticipated provincial radial network. This included, in 1924, the purchase of steel interurban cars from the Ottawa car company. Eight vehicles, with double trucks, couplers, and large overhead headlights, were delivered for use on the line to Lake Simcoe, giving the route a fresh appearance. The cars were numbered 409-416 consecutively.

Acquiring the Rest of the T&YRR

When Beck’s vision for a southern Ontario network of interurban lines collapsed in the mid 1920s, the TTC took over full operational responsibility of the T&YRR lines. The tracks from the City Limits to Lake Simcoe were regauged from standard to the TTC’s wider streetcar gauge between September 11 and September 17, 1927, allowing T&YRR cars to use the TTC’s facilities at Eglinton Carhouse. Similar regaugings and connections took place in Mimico (Scarborough had always been built to TTC streetcar gauge). In 1928, the tracks along Lake Shore Road from Roncesvalles to Etobicoke Creek were taken up and replaced by city-style streetcar tracks, cutting radial service to a short shuttle between Long Branch loop and Port Credit.

In all, the TTC inherited 54 pieces of equipment from the T&YRR, including some that were built as early as 1896. A number of these (14) were almost immediately scrapped. Another seven fell in 1928 and 1929 as the Mimico radial line was shortened into the Port Credit shuttle. Then, in 1930, the TTC shut down the Lake Simcoe line, resulting in another 23 retirements. At the time, all that was left were seven Preston-built cars (numbers 151-155, 211 and 213) used on thePort Credit and Scarborough radial lines. These would be scrapped when the lines were abandoned and replaced by buses (1935 for Port Credit, 1936 for Scarborough). The Ottawa-built 400 series cars could well have followed their compatriots to the scrap heap had the portion of the Lake Simcoe line south of Richmond Hill not been given a reprieve and renamed NORTH YONGE. Cars 409 to 416 were called back into service, still operating out of Eglinton carhouse.

These remaining T&YRR cars would operate until October 1948 when they were mothballed as part of the NORTH YONGE’s “temporary” replacement by diesel buses. When the temporary replacement became permanent in March 1949, these cars were taken to the scrapheap.


Most (but not all) of the ex-TTC equipment currently preserved at museums across North America are streetcars which were retired after 1951. The early 1950s seems to be a time when railfans found the interest and the resources needed to preserve the TTC’s vanishing history. It was the prospect of losing several pieces of Toronto Railway Company equipment that sparked dedicated railfans to found the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association and build the Halton County Radial Railway museum. Unfortunately, too much of the Toronto & York Radial Railways equipment was abandoned too early for railfans to save.

One exception was car #416, the last car purchased by the T&YRR when it was still under Ontario Hydro management, and familiar to railfans as one of the cars operating on the North Yonge Railways. All of the other cars of its class had been sold to a scrapyard, but #416 was used as a cottage north of Toronto for many years before being rediscovered and obtained by the HCRY. The car is currently undergoing restoration, and will soon be back in operating condition.

As for the Toronto Suburban Railway, one city-car, #24, was used in the Thunder Bay yard to transport CN workers before retirement. After being saved from the scrapyard torch by Edmonton railfans, it now resides in Fort Edmonton Park in Alberta where it has undergone restoration and now carries passengers through the museum park.

The ex-Radial Fleet Image Archive


  • Bromley, John F., and Jack May. Fifty Years of Progressive Transit: A History of the Toronto Transit Commission. [New York]: Electric Railroaders’ Association, 1973. Print.
  • Bromley, John F. TTC ‘28: The Electric Railway Services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928. Toronto, Canada: Upper Canada Railway Society, 1968. Print.
  • Stamp, Robert M. Riding the Radials: Toronto’s Suburban Electric Streetcar Lines. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills, 1989. Print.
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