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The First Generation: The Packard-Brills (1922-1925)

Trolley bus #20 on Merton Street.

Toronto's first trolley bus was #20, operating on the Mount Pleasant route from 1922 to 1925. Only four such vehicles existed (numbered 20 to 23) and of these, only one (#23) exists today. It is currently at the Halton County Radial Railway (museum), awaiting restoration. This photograph is from the Halton County web site and is reprinted with permission.

Text by James Bow.

The idea of powering a bus using trolley wires was in its infancy in the early 1910s. Detroit and Windsor were two of the first cities in North America to experiment with the vehicles in 1921, and in 1922, the TTC decided to give the vehicle a try. The trolley bus promised some of the advantages of the streetcar (gasoline was far more expensive than electrical power), but with less of the associated costs (one did not need to construct tracks, for example). But as motorized buses in general were in their infancy at the time, the technology was a little slow in catching on.

Original Mount Pleasant Route Map

This map, by C.H. Prentice (69) and Ray Corley, illustrates the route and the full history of Toronto's first trolley bus route. Click on the thumbnail below to see the full map.

The TTC constructed a trolley bus line running from Yonge and Merton, along Merton Street and up Mount Pleasant to Eglinton Avenue. There were wyes at either end of the line, and wires strung along Eglinton Avenue to bring the trolley buses into the carhouse. The route started operating on June 19, 1922 and used four 30-seat vehicles. Canadian Brill (a major streetcar manufacturer) supplied the bodies of these vehicles, while Packard supplied the chassis and Westinghouse supplied the twin motor drives.

The service was so successful that the TTC felt that the line was ready for streetcar service. Trolley buses stopped operating on August 31, 1925 and, on November 3, 1925, streetcars started running along an extension of St. Clair tracks from Yonge and St. Clair to Eglinton and Mount Pleasant. The trolley bus wires were taken down, and the trolley buses moved off TTC property. The vehicles were sold for scrap to DM Campbell in 1928. However, a surprising discovery was made of one of these vehicles on a farm at Bewdley in May 1974 and moved to a museum in Cobourg. Since October 1978, Number 23 now rests in the Halton County Railway Museum and may be restored someday...

Principal Specifications

Fleet Class


Fleet Numbers



Brill / Packard



Year Built (Leased)



26' 2 1/2" (7.99 m)


7' 8" (2.34 m)


9' 6" (2.90 m)


16' 1" (4.90 m)



Weights - Normal (W1)

11950 lb (5420 kg)

Weights -- Normal (Service) (W4)

17950 lb (8140 kg)

Weights -- Normal (Crush) (W5)

18850 lb (8550 kg)


  • Corley, Ray F., Trolley Coach CC&F and Flyer Coaches, The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), January 1987.
  • Filey, Mike, The TTC Story: The First Seventy-Five Years, Dundurn Press, Toronto (Ontario) 1996.
  • Miller, William, Electric Lines of Southern Ontario, personal web site.

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