Text by James Bow.
The Route at time of Dissolution
The Mount Pleasant streetcar was one of the shortest routes in terms of lifespan and in terms of route mileage. Starting at St. Clair Station on the Yonge Subway, it headed east along St. Clair Avenue to Mount Pleasant and north along Mount Pleasant to Eglinton Loop, just north of Eglinton Avenue. The route boasted a short-turn loop at Mt Pleasant and St. Clair called Moore Park Loop and, until 1954, tracks ran along Eglinton Avenue between Mt Pleasant and Yonge, connecting the line to Eglinton Carhouse. These tracks were removed before the Mt. Pleasant streetcar came into being.
Service ran from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and night service was provided by its parent route, the St. Clair streetcar. Abandoned before the arrival of CLRVs to Toronto, it was never assigned an official route number that appeared on the rollsigns.
A Very Short History of the Mount Pleasant Streetcar.
For a discussion of how tracks came to be on Mount Pleasant Avenue, you should refer to the St. Clair streetcar Page. As for how the eastern half of the St. Clair streetcar became its own route, that took place in 1975. From 1954 to 1975, St. Clair cars straddled St. Clair station, operating between Keele and Eglinton. Extra service west of St. Clair was provided by the Earlscourt car and rush-hour trippers on the Rogers Road route. By the early 1970s, however, traffic patterns on St. Clair Avenue were changing.
The fact that the extra Rogers Road service to the subway disappeared in 1974 (when the route was converted into a branch of the Ossington trolley bus), illustrates that traffic demand on the St. Clair line was dropping. The Earlscourt route was fading as well, to a rush-hour only route, and the base route of St. Clair was being left behind. Passenger traffic on Mount Pleasant may have been dropping as well but, tied as it was to the St. Clair base route, the TTC could not modify service to meet demand without changing service for the rest of the route. For greater flexibility, it was decided to break off the portion of the St. Clair streetcar operating east of St. Clair Station and turn it into its own route: Mount Pleasant. Service began on March 30, 1975.
The Last Days and Why They Came
The Mount Pleasant streetcar stopped operating after July 24, 1976, long after the TTC decided to abandon its streetcar abandonment program. With the Rogers Road streetcar abandoned two years before, the TTC had enough streetcars to maintain service on Mount Pleasant and continue its PCC rebuilding program. So, why did Mount Pleasant fall?
The blame can be laid at the feet of the Metro Roads Department. In March 1976, the Roads Department closed Mount Pleasant to reconstruct the bridge over the former Belt Line Railway. At that time, the track on Mount Pleasant was the same track that had been laid down in 1925, when the route was first built. The road construction forced the TTC to consider whether or not to rehabilitate the whole line. The TTC did a cost estimate and found that retaining streetcar service would cost $875,000, compared to $440,000 for conversion to trolley coach and $249,000 for conversion to diesel buses.
Based on those numbers, it would seem that the TTC would have favoured conversion to diesel buses, but a further cost analysis pointed out that although diesel buses and trolley buses cost less to operate per year than streetcars, this cost savings was nullified by the fact that it would take five buses to meet the carrying capacity of the four streetcars then serving the line. Community activism provided further pressure, with the South Eglinton Ratepayers and Residents Association making a number of presentations to TTC Board meetings and chartering Peter Witt #2894 to promote its campaign to retain streetcar service. The TTC bowed to public pressure and announced that streetcar service would be retained.
It didn’t happen. Three months later, public notices appeared along the line announcing that service would end at the end of July. The TTC was forced to reverse its decision through the direct intervention of the Metro Roads Department, in response to complaints from car drivers about streetcars ‘obstructing’ their progress. This reversal was made without any community consultation, and it was a sad comment that drivers from outside the community could effectively override the desires of people living within that community.
Streetcars stopped running on Mount Pleasant after the last St. Clair night car departed Eglinton Loop at 5:15 a.m. on July 25, 1976. Night Service by the same cars to Moore Park Loop continued until the 1st of October that year, before it too was cut back to St. Clair Station and the tracks abandoned. Mt. Pleasant has not had night service ever since.
Echoes of the Mount Pleasant streetcar continue to this day. The Mount Pleasant trolley bus started running about a year after abandonment, following the same route. Eglinton Loop still exists, albeit beneath a new commercial/residential development. These echoes are fading, however: Moore Park loop was turned into a parkette soon after abandonment, and the trolley coaches disappeared in 1992.
Mount Pleasant Streetcar Image Archive
- Roschlau, M.W., ‘Adieu, Mt Pleasant’ Rail and Transit, Sept-Oct 1976, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario), 1976.
Thanks to John Bromley and Ray Corley for their corrections to this web page. Thanks to New York City Subway Resources for the use of their photographs.