Text by James Bow
Victoria Park opened on May 11, 1968 as part of the extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway east from Woodbine to Warden. At the time it opened, it was one of only two subway stations to be found in Scarborough. Victoria Park was also the second elevated subway station on the network (after Keele, which opened in 1966). Trains entered the station via an elevated guideway, and passengers left the platforms and walked down, rather than up, to street level.
As Victoria Park station was near the end of the line, it was a destination for a number of suburban bus routes funnelling into the new subway from the north and the east. A sizable bus terminal was built, with six separate platforms for connecting bus routes. This was design was similar to the bus terminals built at Warden and Islington stations (which opened on the same day). In Victoria Park’s case, passengers transferred from the subway to the bus terminals by a connecting passage located one level up, via a set of stairs. Separate stairs led up to each platform.
Victoria Park also had to contend with the TTC’s zone fare system that existed in 1968. At the time, Metropolitan Toronto was divided into two fare zones, with the City of Toronto and much of the boroughs of York and East York in Zone 1, and most of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke in Zone 2. Passengers travelling from Zone 1 to Zone 2 and back again had to pay an additional fare to cross the zone boundary. At the east end of the City of Toronto, that zone boundary crossed Danforth Avenue at Luttrell loop, at the eastern end of the Bloor streetcar. When the Bloor-Danforth subway replaced the Bloor Streetcar, Victoria Park station was located in Zone 2. The TTC instituted a policy that held that the Toronto subway in its entirety was part of zone 1, so anybody arriving at Victoria Park station on a Zone 2 bus had to pay a fare to enter the subway.
Zone Fares and Layout Issues
This arrangement affected the construction of Royal York, Islington, Main Street and Warden stations. All these stations had bus terminals offering connections with Zone 2 routes, and so large mezzanines were built between these bus terminals and the subway platforms to hold the collectors booths and turnstiles. At Victoria Park, the presence of the subway above the concourse level rather than below it complicated matters. The original design of the subway station allowed for a simple arrangement where turnstiles controlled access to the subway from the bus terminals and the entrances off Denton Avenue in the south, but how do people access the station from the north? Passengers using an entrance built off the north side of the station would have to cross the subway fare-paid area in order to access the bus terminal. Automatic turnstiles could control access to the subway, but would require these passengers to pay a Zone 1 fare in order to access the Zone 2 buses.
To deal with this problem, the TTC built two flights of stairs and a tunnel to connect Victoria Park’s northern entrance with the bus terminal, by routing passengers beneath the subway fare-paid area to the bus terminal zone. Passengers would then have to backtrack to access the subway via the regular turnstiles. Later, a second entrance was built at the north-west corner of the building, and blocked off from the subway with automatic turnstiles. Again, passengers hoping to access the bus terminal had to either walk around the station, or go to the original entrance and use the underground tunnel.
When the TTC abolished its zone fare system in 1972 and allowed passengers to travel across Metropolitan Toronto on a single fare, these turnstiles had to be moved, separating the bus terminals from the station exits. This is what happened at Victoria Park, although it left a sprawling mezzanine complex behind. The passageway beneath the concourse level remained, though it was now surplus to the station’s needs.
Problems With Accessibility and a Need for an Upgrade
Victoria Park station continued to operate much as it was through the 1970s and the 1980s. Shifting service patterns cut the number of routes serving Victoria Park station and the bus terminal soon found itself underused. However, by the 1990s, the station was showing its age. At the same time, a new provincial mandate required that the TTC upgrade its subway stations to make them wheelchair accessible. The design of the station made this a daunting task.
The TTC’s accessibility initiative required barrier-free access from a main entrance, through the fare collection area, and to both subway platforms and any connecting bus terminal. Victoria Park station had side platforms on either side of the tracks, which meant that at least two elevators were required. To serve the bus terminal, however, each bay required at least one elevator to get passengers from the buses to the concourse level. Given the fact that some of the bus bays were being used only occasionally, making them accessible was a waste of money. Add to this the fact that the elevated structure holding up the bus terminal was decaying, and the TTC realized that Victoria Park’s bus terminal had to be demolished and built anew.
The Victoria Park Modernization Project
At the end of 2006, planners unveiled a conceptual design to replace Victoria Park’s bus terminal. The elevated structure was to be demolished, and the separate bus platforms were to be replaced with a single L-shaped bus terminal with six bus bays located at street level. This reduced the number of elevators needed at the station by six. Other accessibility features included wide, sliding doors, and improved access from the west and the north of the station. The rest of the station would be refurbished, with floors replaced, and windows cut into the walls at platform level to let in more light.
The TTC approved the design at its December 2006 meeting and tenders were issued. The TTC also approved the construction of a green roof for Victoria Park. At its June 2007 meeting, the TTC approved a number of green roof elements and, through 2007 and into 2008, presented station design concepts, finishes, and public art to the public for review. Once designs were finalized, work began in earnest. Victoria Park’s original bus terminal was closed to the public and demolished in 2009. Construction proceeded slower than expected, but the new terminal opened to the public in May 2010. The rebuilt station boasts a new pedestrian walkway to the north, full access for wheelchairs, and an automatic entrance from the east.
The artwork incorporated into the rebuilt station was an installation by Aniko Meszaros entitled Roots. This art piece placed skylights within the station canopy. The design sets stainless steel, filigree panels featuring root patterns traced around the image of a globe within these skylights, allowing the sun to cast their shadows on the platform below. On the subway platforms, the word “community” was engraved on the wall at regular intervals and in different languages. The stairwell walls have been given a tree theme which extends from the platform level down to the concourse level.
A Well-Received Renovation
The reviews of the newly renovated Victoria Park station were generally good. Passengers appreciated the bright new look of the subway platform, and the interesting art designs. The new bus terminal was a lot more accessible and easier to use, as was the new off-street passenger pick-up and drop-off facility and taxi stand. What had been described as a “cavernous, concrete bunker” was now a bright, user-friendly station, offering better access between the subway and the surrounding community.
It was the green roof that won Victoria Park an award, however. Offering over 5000 square metres of permeable and biologically friendly space at the top of the station, it was at the time it opened the largest green roof in Toronto. In February 2013, the renovation project was recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with a National Sustainable Communities award.
Victoria Park station is used by 26,690 passengers on an average workday. The new station has transformed their commuting experience, and the renovations offer a goal to strive for as the TTC considers how to revamp the even more inaccessible Islington and Warden stations.
Service Notes (as of January 3, 2016):
- Off-Site Resources:
- Line: 2 Bloor - Danforth
- Hours of Operation:
First Train Eastbound: 5:53 a.m. weekdays, 5:54 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:14 a.m. Sundays.
First Train Westbound: 5:49 a.m. weekdays, 5:53 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:05 a.m. Sundays.
Last Train Eastbound: 2:11 a.m. every day.
Last Train Eastbound: 1:36 a.m. every day.
- Address: 777 Victoria Park Avenue
- Opened: May 11, 1968
- Average Weekday Ridership: 29,890 (2014); 27,510 (2013)
- Victoria Park Avenue (Accessible) - 6 metres north of bus driveway, 2 blocks north of Danforth Avenue
- North Walkway (2 Entrances) - North Walkway extends east from Victoria Park Avenue and is located 38 metres north of the bus driveway. Accessible entrance is on the south side of the walkway, 6 metres east of Victoria Park Avenue. The automatic entrance is on the south side of the walkway, 41 metres east of Victoria Park Avenue, with stair access to concourse level automatic entrance and Albion Avenue. Note that the north walkway connects with a pedestrian bridge to Crescent Town.
- Teesdale Place Entrance (Automatic) - Found on the south side of Teesdale Place, walk 107 metres west of Pharmacy Avenue, then south 77 metres through the parking lot, and continue west for 84 metres on north walkway to this entrance. Leads directly to the westbound subway platform.
- Albion Avenue Entrance (Automatic) - Found by walking west on Albion Avenue from St. Dunstan Drive 62 metres, then along walkway for 81 metres, down a flight of stairs, and another 41 metres to the entrance. Automatic turnstiles lead to the concourse level; an unpaid passage bypasses the turnstiles and connects with the north walkway where one can access the north walkway accessible entrance.
- Elevators (click here for maintenance schedule):
- Concourse and bus level to westbound subway platform
- Concourse and bus level to eastbound subway platform
- Street to fares concourse to pedestrian overpass
- Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
- North Side - Concourse to westbound subway platform (Up At All Times)
- South Side - Concourse to eastbound subway platform (Up At All Times)
- Wheelchair Accessible Since: May 24, 2010
- Forms of fare payment include credit or debit
- Side platforms
TTC Surface Connections:
- 12 KINGSTON ROAD
- 24 VICTORIA PARK
- 67 PHARMACY
- 300 BLOOR-DANFORTH NIGHT (Transfer required)
- 324 VICTORIA PARK NIGHT (Transfer required)
- 404 EAST YORK COMMUNITY BUS
Victoria Park Station Image Archive
This scan of a TTC report from 1976, donated by Pete Coulman, shows that the original turnstile arrangement at Victoria Park was not modified until November 12, 1976, removing the need for transfers to be shown when connecting between the bus and the subway. This change took place roughly four years after the TTC's two-fare zone system was eliminated.
TTC H2-class subway car #5517 brings up the rear of a train departing Victoria Park station in this early-to-mid 1980s shot by John Calnan.
The Toronto Transit Commission's Victoria Park Station on May 5, 2005, seen from the intersection of Victoria Park Avenue and Denton and looking across the Metropass parking facility. A subway train is visible on the elevated tracks above Victoria Park Avenue. This photograph was taken by GTD Aquitaine and is used in accordance with its Creative Commons License.
Some of the new artwork applied to the platform wall at Victoria Park station. Photo taken by Richard White on January 23, 2011.
A closer view of the artwork seen above. This art shows views of the world. This photo was taken by Richard White on January 23, 2011.
The door leading to the new automatic entrance into Victoria Park station. This shot was taken by Richard White on January 23, 2011.
The new front door of Victoria Park station, snapped by Richard White on January 23, 2011.
An image of the new Victoria Park station entrance off Victoria Park Avenue. Image courtesy the TTC.
A passenger leaves the newly-renovated Victoria Park station through its main entrance from Victoria Park Avenue. Photo courtesy the TTC.
A view of the renovated Victoria Park station, seen from the northwest. Image courtesy the TTC.
Victoria Park station's new bus terminal in 2011, seen from the top of its green roof, looking south. Image courtesy the TTC.
The westbound platform of Victoria Park station, showing the windows that have been cut into the northern wall. Photo courtesy the TTC.
An image of the new walkway built at the north side of the station, in view of the windows that have been cut into the platform level. Photo courtesy the TTC.
An official TTC diagram of Victoria Park station's parking facilities, circa 2014.