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A Streetcar Named Toronto (CLRV 4178)

Text by Damian Baranowski and James Bow.

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Early in 2019, as the City of Toronto faced the imminent retirement of the Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRV), a group of enthusiastic Toronto activists saw an opportunity to use the event as an opportunity to produce a moving work of art. The project came to be known as “A Streetcar Named Toronto”. With the help of the charity CityFund, these artists launched a competition on redesigning the look of the CLRV streetcar.

Over 80 proposals were submitted, and Jacquie Comrie was selected as the artists to repaint the exterior of the CLRV. She proposed “use(ing) a CLRV as a vibrant installation of colour… a moving colour wheel, healing hearts and minds as it snakes its way through the city.” She was joined by artist Chris Perez to draw a design of red and white leaves on the CLRV’s floor, while Nicole Beno and Ryan Van Der Hout put together a plan to install a paint and lighting installation along the ceiling and advertising spaces respectively, while Suanne McGregor refitted the seats and lighting for bold new colour effects.

In early September 2019, the TTC set aside CLRV #4178 in a painting stall at Hillcrest Shops and let the artists go to work. This was no mere advertising wrap, but a full paint job, recalling the work done to the city’s streetcars during its Sesquicentennial celebration in 1984. The artists worked carefully and hard, producing a design that impossible to miss. Even at night, some of the paint glows in the dark.

The TTC unveiled the repainted CLRV at Hillcrest Shops near the end of September then brought the vehicle to Roncesvalles Carhouse for a public display on Saturday, September 28. The public came out to gawk and snap pictures, and share a hot dog or a burger and a drink, with proceeds going to the United Way.

The TTC plans to operate CLRV #4178 in regular service on 506 CARLTON on weekends, with special service on 501 QUEEN during weekends. The TTC also plans to operate the vehicle on 511 BATHURST during the Nuit Blanche art event on October 5, 2019.

Above all else, the artists are proud of their moving art exhibit, and the chance to send off a venerable piece of city infrastructure off with a bang.

A Streetcar Named Toronto Image Archive

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