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Text by James Bow
With thanks to Nathan Ng

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Glencairn station is a stop on the SPADINA subway south of Lawrence Avenue and north of Eglinton, serving the residential neighbourhood of Lytton Park and a minor thoroughfare running from Yonge Street to Caledonia Avenue. Opened with the rest of the original SPADINA on January 28, 1978, it has seen modest ridership, carrying 6940 passengers on an average weekday in 2014. However,

Neighbourhood History

The area around Glencairn Station is in the Glen Park neighbourhood of Toronto, which was largely rural until the 1950s. However, the street that became Glencairn Avenue dates back to the late 19th century. A Glen Cair Avenue appears running west from Yonge Street in the 1899 Toronto Fire Insurance map, stretching most of the way to Bathurst Street, ending at what is today Glenrush Boulevard.

The street’s name has changed to “Glencair” by 1910, but still ending at Glenrush Boulevard. In 1935, Glencairn has taken on its current name, and a roadway extends west from Glenrush to Alexandra Boulevard, while a Park Road follows today’s alignment of Glencairn Avenue from Bathurst Street to Dufferin Street. It’s not until 1940 that Glencairn is extended west to Bathurst, connecting to and renaming Park Road on its way to Dufferin, and then extending further west into new industrial lands between Dufferin Street and Caledonia Avenue.

The Beginnings of Transit Service

TTC service on Glencairn started modestly. In 1922, as the YONGE streetcar line was extended north to Glen Echo loop at the northern limits of the City of Toronto, a wye was installed at Glencairn Avenue to allow YONGE trains to short turn. The street west of Yonge was largely residential, so no other transit service was provided.

On December 1, 1938, the TTC BATHURST bus was established, at the behest of the Township of York, running from the end of the BATHURST streetcar line at St. Clair north to Glencairn, where vehicles wyed in the intersection. Service was extended west on Glencairn to Dufferin on July 22, 1940. This was extended west to Caledonia on November 1, 1964. Service was replaced by the 14 CHAPLIN bus on May 11, 1968, which itself was renamed 14 CLENCAIRN on March 31, 1973.

The YONGE subway opened on March 30, 1954, with stops roughly a kilometre apart or less. As plans formed to extend subway service north of Yonge into the Borough of North York, these plans initially called for stations a kilometre apart, placing “mid-block” stops between the major concession roads of Eglinton, Lawrence, York Mills/Wilson, Sheppard and Finch. A stop at Glencairn would have served the stores and residences between Eglinton and Lawrence.

Spadina Service

However, with the cost of subway construction increasing and the City of Toronto and the TTC looking to save money, the decision was made to extend the subway north of Eglinton with stops only at the major concession roads, leaving behind the 97 YONGE to provide local service. Glencairn would get its due, however, when plans formed to build the SPADINA subway, with mid-block stations placed between the major concession roads north of Eglinton Avenue West. This was likely because with the line operating in the median of an expressway, building stations here was less expensive than building them underground. A stop at Glencairn Avenue also served the high density residential developments around Marlee Avenue, and offered a quick connection via the 14 GLENCAIRN bus to the industrial jobs on Glencairn west of Dufferin.

As the ridership of the SPADINA subway lagged behind that of the YONGE line, initial service on the route, including to Glencairn station, was reduced. Rush hour trains would often short turn at St. Clair West station, leaving the stations north of there seeing half the amount of regular service during rush hour. This gradually changed as ridership increased, and development pressures extended the Spadina subway north of Wilson and into the City of Vaughan. The afternoon short turn service was curtailed ((WHEN?)), leaving only the morning short turn service behind.

On ((DATE)), the short turn service at St. Clair West was extended north to Glencairn, to reduce ridership pressures at Eglinton West station. Northbound trains pulled into Glencairn station, dropped their passengers, and headed north into the pocket track between Glencairn and Lawrence West stations before reversing and heading into the southbound platform at Glencairn. It’s now possible to watch these short turning trains from the windows at the northern entrance to Glencairn station. Despite rumours that this short turn service would be extended further north with the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension into Vaughan (possibly to Pioneer Village station), this did not happen and, as of 2019, a selection of morning rush hour trains continue to turn back north of Glencairn station.

Station Features and Art

Glencairn station sits in the middle of the Allen Expressway. The main station building runs south from Glencairn Avenue to Viewmont Avenue. Passengers can exit at both ends of the station to their respective streets, although the entrance from Viewmount was automatic and by token or pass only. With 14 GLENCAIRN buses stopping in front of the station at Glencairn Avenue, this made the TTC set up special transfers at the Viewmount entrance, reading “GLENCAIRN-VIEWMOUNT”. This allowed passengers to enter the station via the Viewmount entrance, pay their fare, collect their transfer, and pass through the station to the Glencairn Avenue, where they could transfer to 14 GLENCAIRN buses there.

The main entrance at Glencairn is accessible from the south side of the Glencairn Avenue bridge over the Allan Expressway. A tunnel and a set of stairs leads beneath the Glencairn Avenue bridge to a structure at the north side of Glencairn Avenue, allowing access from that side, as well as convenient connections with westbound 14 GLENCAIRN buses.

Glencairn station was designed bu Adamson Associates in the Montreal-inspired 1970s architecture that is a feature of the stations of the original SPADINA subway. Brick and concrete abound, although the central arch of the roof, running the length of the station, features a vault of glass panels, allowing natural light to reach the platform level. The glass panels were originally stained as part of an art installation entitled Joy by Rita Letendre. Unfortunately, long years of sunlight and inadequate maintenance caused the stained glass to fade and, at the artist’s request, the panels were removed and replaced with clear panes. In 2017, however, the TTC launched plans to refurbish the glass roof, after which time the artwork could be restored.

As of 2019, Glencairn was not wheelchair accessible, and initial plans by the TTC called for the station to be the third last station on the network to be rendered accessible, after the topologically-challenging Warden and Islington stations. While not as challenging as these other stations to be made wheelchair accessible, the station’s comparatively low ridership, especially compared to surrounding stations, made the TTC give it a lower priority.

Service Notes (as of July 1, 2019):

  • Off-site Resources:
  • Address: 785 Glencairn Avenue
  • Opened: January 28, 1978
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 6,940 (2018), 6,040 (2016), 5,720 (2015), 6,520 (2014), 5,500 (2013), 6,140 (2012), 6,130 (2011), 5,300 (2010), 5,560 (2009), 5,670 (2008), 5,850 (2007),
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Finch: 5:51 a.m. weekdays, 6:01 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 7:46 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train to Downsview: 6:25 a.m. weekdays, 6:28 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:33 a.m. Sundays
    Last Train to Finch: 1:26 a.m. every day.
    Last Train to Vaughan: 2:12 a.m. weekdays, 2:07 a.m. weekdays/holidays.
  • Entrances: 3
    • South side of Glencairn Avenue, 209 metres east of Marlee Avenue, with stair access to concourse level.
    • North side of Glencairn Avenue, 210 metres east of Marlee Avenue, with stair access to Concourse Level
    • North side of Viewmount Avenue, 240 metres east of Marlee Avenue; automatic entrance with stair access directly to Subway Platform Level
  • Wheelchair Accessible?: No (Due 2024)
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Train Platform To Concourse (Down At All Times)
    • Train Platform To Concourse (Up At All Times)
    • Concourse To Glencairn Concourse, South Side (Up At All Times)
  • Concourse To Glencairn Concourse, North Side (Up At All Times)
  • Parking: None
  • Washrooms: None
  • One centre platform
  • TTC Surface Route Connections:

    Former TTC Surface Route Connections

    Glencairn Station Image Archive

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