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Text by James Bow
With thanks to Nathan Ng

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Dupont Station is a moderately used station located at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Dupont Street, a couple of blocks south of Casa Loma in the northern part of the Annex neighbourhood. As of 2018, 8,500 passengers boarded at Dupont during an average weekday, a number possibly depressed by longstanding construction going on within the station to build new elevators which opened for service in November 2020.

Brief History of Dupont Street

Dupont Street is named for George Dupont Wells (1814-1854), the son of Colonel Joseph Wells and one of the first students to attend Upper Canada College. Joseph Wells was a former military officer, legislator, bank director and treasurer of Upper Canada College, and a significant landowner in the area of Davenport and Bathurst.

The areas Dupont Street serves today were farmers’ fields up to the middle of the 19th century. As the City of Toronto developed, its boundaries extended north to Bloor Street. Development that spilled north of the old toll road were incorporated into the villages of Yorkville (from east of Brunswick Avenue) and Seaton (from west of Brunswick Avenue). As Bloor was the major commercial street in the area, development stayed close, and only gradually moved north. Dupont Street first appeared on maps, so far as we know, in 1878, as a short residential street extending east from Bathurst for three blocks to Frederick Street (today, an extension of Brunswick Avenue).

Toronto would annex Yorkville in 1883, and a piece of unincorporated territory between Kendall Avenue and Bedford Road in 1887 (today known as “the Annex”, and Seaton Village (west to just past Dundas West) in 1888. The northern boundaries of Toronto thus moved to the right-of-way of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Dupont was among a number of short streets that ran just east-west just south of the new boundary.

By 1890, today’s Dupont Street was a continuous stretch of road running from Avenue Road in the East to Manning Avenue in the west, but named as Dupont Street only from Avenue Road to Kendall Avenue. The stretch from Kendal to Bathurst was named VanHorne Street, while the section west from Bathurst was named Dupont Avenue. By 1893, Dupont Street had absorbed VanHorne Street and Dupont Avenue and extended to just past Christie. A new Van Horne Avenue (formerly Union Street) ran from Ossington west to Dufferin, with Union Street continuing west from Dufferin to end abruptly just east of Emerson. Royce Street continued west from a dead-end south of this dead-end, west to Dundas Street. Further extensions to Dupont Street brought it to Shaw by 1910, and Ossington by 1924.

Streetcars on Dupont

Streetcar service came to Dupont Street via Bathurst Street in 1889, as the Toronto Railway Company launched its BATHURST service. The TRC laid down tracks on Dupont from Avenue Road west to Kendall on January 5, 1903, to extend its AVENUE ROAD service. Shuttle service was operated on this new track until February 16, 1903, when the service was formally incorporated into AVENUE ROAD, taking passengers south via Avenue, Bloor, Yonge and Front to loop west of Union Station. Dupont launched as its own route on August 29, 1906, when the TRC extended tracks west on Kendall to Ossington on August 29, 1906. The tracks were extended west of Bathurst to a wye at Christie on October 11, 1906, but these were served by an extension of the BATHURST streetcar.

To the west, tracks were laid down on Hallam Street and Lappin Avenue as part of an extension of HARBORD streetcar service. The new service operated from a wye at Lansdowne Avenue via east on Lappin, south on Dufferin, east on Hallam, south on Ossington, east on Harbord, south on Spadina, and east on Adelaide to loop via Victoria, Richmond and Church. This operation would continue until 1947.

Pressures to Take it West

The streets upon which Dupont Street now runs may have been disjointed, but there came pressures to unite them as development pushed north from Toronto. As industries flourished around the West Toronto Junction north of the Bloor/Dundas intersection, and houses were built between Bloor and St. Clair west of Bathurst, Bloor Street became congested. There were considerable discussions about uniting the short sections of streetcar service operating on Lappin, Hallam and Dupont Streets.

Davenport Street may have seemed on paper like a better street to connect the areas within Bloor, Bathurst, St. Clair, and Dundas/Keele. It was an older street, starting as a First Nations trail before European settlement, and it extended all the way to Yonge Street to offer an easy connection downtown. However, Davenport was on the wrong side of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and further hampered by the old Lake Iroquois shoreline escarpment running to its north. For many residents hoping to access a thoroughfare that wasn’t Bloor Street, the CPR provided a barrier to Davenport, and a minor arterial road to the south of the tracks would be much more useful.

The first proposal to unite transit service along the Dupont/VanHorne/Royce corridor emerged in the late 1920s, with a plan by the TTC to extend DUPONT streetcars west from Christie via Dupont, Dovercourt, Hallam, Dufferin, and Lappin to Lansdowne Avenue before following an extended Lappin Avenue (along what is today Antler Street) to Dundas Street and then operating via west on Humberside, north on Keele, west on Annette and south on Jane to Jane Loop at Bloor Street. These plans ran up against the financial instability wrought by the Great Depression. However, this didn’t stop the city from connecting and smoothing out the links between Dupont, Van Horne and Royce.

Following the Second World War, the TTC again considered creating an east-west transit route between the BLOOR and ST. CLAIR streetcars to serve the area’s residents and industries, and to relieve pressure on the other lines. By now, however, the TTC was less interested in extending streetcar infrastructure and turned instead to trolley bus technology. In the summer of 1947, work began stringing up trolley coach wires along Dupont west from Christie Loop, via Dupont, Van Horne, Royce, Annette and Jane to Jane loop. The ANNETTE trolley coach route launched on October 6, 1947.

Streetcars would continue to operate on Hallam and Lappin until December 8, 1947 when DOVERCOURT streetcar would end, replaced by a new OSSINGTON trolley bus, and HARBORD streetcar service extended onto Dovercourt Road and Davenport Road from Bloor to St. Clair. Hallam and Lappin would not see transit service again, having been replaced by the trolley coaches on Van Horne and Royce. Van Horne and Royce would be renamed Dupont Street on January 19, 1948, bringing the street to its current length.

Spadina Expressway and Subway Plans

Dupont Street continued as a secondary arterial road through the middle of the 20th century. North of the street, the urban landscape was primarily industrial, taking advantage of the area’s close proximity to Canadian Pacific service. South, the landscape was primarily residential. ANNETTE trolley buses and DUPONT streetcars bisected these parcels of land. As Toronto pushed into the 1950s, however, the city began to consider plans for new highways and rapid transit lines. Plans for an extension of Spadina Road into the northwest of North York Township transformed into a plan for the Spadina Expressway diving under Casa Loma to the north of the Dupont/Spadina intersection and heading northwest through Metropolitan Toronto via the Nordheimer and Cedarvale ravines to Highway 401. Paired with this highway plan was a plan to extend subway service into the northwestern part of Metropolitan Toronto along the median of the expressway.

As planning for the highway/subway combo continued into the 1960s, the TTC built the UNIVERSTIY subway, opening the line from Union to St. George on February 28, 1963. At this time, the DUPONT streetcar was abandoned, and the 4 ANNETTE bus was extended east from Christie Loop via Dupont, Davenport and Bedford to loop through St. George station’s bus terminal.

Plans to extend the Spadina Expressway south of Eglinton Avenue stalled, as area residents spoke out against the road and the impact it would have on downtown Toronto and surrounding neighbourhoods. Though the lower half of the Spadina Expressway was effectively blocked, plans for the Spadina subway continued, with the TTC settling on a line connected with the UNIVERSITY subway at St. George station, turning north and running beneath Spadina Road and Casa Loma to the Nordheimer Ravine, and following the expressway’s proposed alignment to Wilson.

By the time the TTC set to designing the route of the Spadina subway, Dupont Street was a minor corridor serving a large superblock of the city, boasting enhanced transit service in the form of the 4 ANNETTE trolley coach. As the only such street between Bloor Street and St. Clair (and with the logistics of a station at Davenport Road likely too complicated to justify construction), the TTC set down plans to build a stop at the Dupont/Spadina intersection. Formal approval of the line’s construction came from the provincial government on January 18, 1973, and construction began soon thereafter.

Opening Design and Subsequent Changes

The subway beneath Spadina station was built using a cut-and-cover technique. The station was dug down two storey from the Dupont/Spadina intersection, deep enough to get the subway tracks beneath the Canadian Pacific railway tracks and Spadina Road underpass before heading into a tunnel beneath Casa Loma. The station featured a concourse level connecting to two street exits, one located at the northwest corner of the intersection, and the other at the southeast corner. The concourse level contained a single set of fare gates and stairs and escalators leading down to the platform level. The subway station extends south from the Spadina Road/Dupont Street intersection.

Dupont Station opened with the rest of the Spadina subway to considerable fanfare on January 28, 1978. The opening ceremonies were held the day before, with special trains carrying dignitaries departing from Wilson and St. Andrew stations and meeting at St. Clair West. While Dupont station was not a major stop on the line (there were no surface transit terminal facilities, and connections with the 4 ANNETTE trolley bus and 103 SPADINA NORTH buses were made on street), it still stood out due to its unique architectural features.

The station was designed by the firm of Dunlop Farrow Architects. The underground platforms and mezzanine levels boasted “organic curves, fluid corners, and mellow earth tones”, in stark contrast to the subway development that had gone on before. A highlight was a two-storey-tall section of the platform which featured the mosaic artpiece entitled Spadina Summer Under All Seasons, by James Sutherland.

At the surface, Dupont boasted modest but distinctive facilities, including golden-barred glass bubble domes for the two entrance buildings. A transformer yard was installed northwest of the intersection, and an art piece, entitled Miscellaneous Hardware by Ron Baird, was added to the gate.

Dupont station was hailed as a striking station from the moment it opened. This opinion appears to have remained relatively consistent in the forty-plus years since it opened. In May 2016, BlogTO listed the station amongst their favourites”. Nathan Ng, on his StationFixation page, stated “Dupont is without question the most playful, exuberant, and inspiring TTC subway stop to visit on a warm midsummer evening”.

Wheelchair Accessibility and Dupont’s Future

Starting in 2014, the TTC launched plans to renovate Dupont Station and make it accessible to people on wheelchairs. An open house was held on September 24, 2015 to consult with local residents. Plans called for a new elevator shaft to be dug into the concourse level from the southeast corner of the Spadina/Dupont intersection. Construction of the new entrance began in 2016, but ran into difficulty with a third-party contractor in charge of the project.

The TTC did note that the construction was a challenge. Stewart Green, a senior communications specialist for the TTC, noted in 2018, “(Dupont) station is many decades old. It was not built to accommodate an elevator so we have to go in and completely reimagine what the station would look like with the inclusion of an elevator… This station is very compact and very condensed within the neighbourhood. You have the busy roadway above and the little room around to work it which makes it more challenging to work in.”

By the Summer of 2018, the TTC was forced to announce that completion of the project would be delayed by a year. In 2019, further delays pushed construction into 2020. On September 30, 2020, however, the TTC successfully opened Dupont station’s escalators to the public, adding the station as the 49th on the system to be wheelchair accessible.

After the elevator construction, work continued on a new public art installation, commissioning none other than James Sutherland, who designed the station’s original mural. The new mural, entitled The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower, in Sutherland’s words, “is meant to provide thematic context for the original mosaics and for our species in this Anthropocene era, through some of the many insights of botanical science which represent a more fundamental magic, that of the evolution of plants from the inception of photosynthesis in Precambrian oceans to that miracle’s on-going consequences as flowering plants, since 130 million years ago. Almost all life on our planet has ensued from this primary process of Nature: from the manufacture of nourishing plant sugars to the oxygenation of our atmosphere, from production of fertile soil and the fungal networks that connect plant life under the soil in a “wood wide web” of nutrient trade and communication. We are the product of this wondrous phenomenon and it is part of us. We are all, truly, in this together.” (Source)

Dupont station anchors the northern end of one of Toronto’s more prosperous urban neighbourhoods. The commission’s investment in the facility enhances its accessibility and its service in the community now and well into the future.

Document Archive

Service Notes (as of January 1, 2021):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 1 Yonge - University - Spadina
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train Finch: 5:59 a.m. weekdays, 6:00 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 7:54 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train Union/Vaughan: 6:14 a.m. weekdays, 6:20 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:24 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train Finch: 1:34 a.m. daily
    Last Train Union/Vaughan: 2:03 a.m. weekdays, 1:58 a.m. weekends/holidays.
  • Address: 263 Dupont Street
  • Opened: January 28, 1978
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Since September 30, 2020 (49th)
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 8,500 (2018), 14,770 (2016), 16,140 (2015), 16,490 (2014), 14,550 (2013), 18,190 (2012), 17,660 (2011), 17,750 (2010), 16,870 (2009), 15,820 (2008), 14,980 (2007)
  • Entrances: 3
    • Northwest corner of Spadina and Dupont, located on the north side of Dupont, 17 metres west of Spadina, with escalator and stair access to the concourse level.
    • Southeast corner of Spadina and Dupont, located on the south side of Dupont, 17 metres east of Spadina, with escalator and stair access to the concourse level.
    • Southeast corner of Spadina and Dupont, located on the east side of Spadina, just south of Dupont, with elevator access to the concourse level
  • Elevators (click here for maintenance schedule): 3
    • Street to Concourse
    • Concourse to southbound platform
    • Concourse to northbound platform
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule): 8
    • Concourse to southbound platform (up at all times)
    • Concourse to southbound platform (up at all times)
    • Concourse to northbound platform (down at all times)
    • Concourse to northbound platform (down at all times)
    • Concourse to street south side (up at all times)
    • Concourse to street south side (down at all times)
    • Concourse to street north side (up at all times)
    • Concourse to street north side (down at all times)
  • Cellular/Wi-Fi enabled
  • Side platforms

TTC Surface Connections:

Previous TTC Surface Connections

Document Archive

Dupont Station Image Archive

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