Toronto Railway

The Toronto Railway Company (TRC) was the first operator of horseless streetcars in Toronto. A 30-year franchise was granted in 1891 to modernize transit operations after a previous 30 year franchise that saw horse car service from the Toronto Street Railways (TSR). At the end of the TSR franchise, the city ran the railway for eight months, but ended up granting another 30-year franchise to a private operator, the TRC. The first electric car ran on August 15, 1892, and the last horse car ran on August 31, 1894, to meet franchise requirements. There came to be problems with interpretation of the franchise terms, for the city. By 1912, the city limits had extended significantly, with the annexation of communities to the North (1912: North Toronto) and the East (1908: Town of East Toronto) and the West (1909: The Town of West Toronto - The Junction). After many attempts to force the TRC to serve these areas, the city created its own street railway operation, the Toronto Civic Railways to do so, and built several routes. Repeated court battles did force the TRC to build new cars, but they were of old design. When the TRC franchise ended in 1921, the Toronto Transportation Commission was created, combining with the city-operated Toronto Civic Railways lines.


The TRC had a proposal for a subway like line under Queen Street using streetcars, but the idea died after a city vote rejected the proposal in 1910.

The proposed system consisted of three underground routes:

  • Queen Street
    • Roncesvalles Avenue
    • Landsdowne Avenue
    • Dufferin Street
    • Dundas Street
    • Bathurst Street
    • Yonge Street
    • Sherbourne Avenue
    • Broadview Avenue
    • Pape Avenue
    • Coxwell Avenue
  • Bloor Street
    • Roncesvalles Avenue
    • Dovercourt
    • Bathurst Street
    • Yonge Street
    • Sherbourne Avenue
    • Broadview Avenue
  • Yonge Street (Rapid Transit Subway)
    • Front Street
    • City Hall
    • Dundas Street
    • Bloor Street
    • station south of Davenport
    • station north of Davenport
    • station south of St. Clair Avenue
    • St. Clair Avenue

These routes would connect with surface streetcar routes and radial railways.

The TRC planned had surface routes would connect between the subway routes.


  • Queen-High Park
  • Church
  • Carlton-College
  • Yonge
  • Belt Line
  • Bloor-McCaul
  • Avenue Road
  • Dundas
  • College-Yonge
  • Bathurst
  • Wincester
  • Parliament
  • Broadview


The TRC streetcars were made of wood and after 1906 the basic design of their cars did not change. All but ten of the TRC cars were built in-house at their car works at Front and Frederick Streets.

Because of a narrow devilstrip (distance between tracks), later cars were built with a taper to the roof on the passing side, and car bodies were offset to the right by four inches. The idea was to build a wider car and still safely pass another car traveling in the opposite direction.

Very early on, in 1894 the TRC decided on single-end operation. Many of the early streetcars were 'open' cars, where one entered from either side of the car, but with single-ended operation, only the curb 'near' side of the car was left open. In other Canadian cities (e.g., London, Montreal), this form of open car became common. Open cars carried huge loads of people, because there were no aisles.

In warm weather, people loved open cars. When it rained, there were side curtains that one could unroll from the roof to keep one dry. When it was cold, open cars were not so attractive, so the TSR developed a 'convertible car' in which the nearside of the car could be removed in the spring, and re-connected in the fall, thus changing from an open car to a closed car.

The TRC also had a subsidiary company, the Convertible Car Company of Toronto, that built cars for systems in Mexico, South America, and Western Canada. Several large interurban cars were turned out for the Toronto and York Radial Railway.

The TRC never had a steel car, but by 1921, the city-operated Toronto Civic Railways had both single and double truck steel cars, including the standardized Birney Car.

Some used TRC cars were sold to Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Company and Winnipeg Electric Railway Company.

Product list and details
 Builder   Description   Fleet size   Year acquired   Year retired   Notes 
TRC SE-ST-T - single end single truck
James Crossen-Cobourg Car Works (Cobourg ON) SE-ST-M - single end, single truck
TRC DE-DT-T - double end, double truck
TRC SE-DT-M - single end double truck


Facility details
 Yard   Location   Year Open   Notes 
Roncesvalles Carhouse Roncesvalles Avenue and Queen Street West 1895-1921 transfer to Toronto Transportation Commission 1921-1954; still used by the Toronto Transit Commission
Russell (Connaught) Carhouse Connaught Avenue and Queen Street East 1913-1921 transfer to Toronto Transportation Commission 1921-1954; still used by the Toronto Transit Commission


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