Toronto Street Railway

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Toronto Street Railway
Toronto Street Railway Co. horse-car 145 on King street. View from Church street.jpg
Toronto Street Railway Co. horse-car 145 on King street. View from Church street
Dates of operation1861–1891
SuccessorToronto Railway
Track gauge4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) Toronto gauge

After the Williams Omnibus Bus Line had become heavily loaded in 1861, the city of Toronto issued a transit franchise (Resolution 14, By-law 353) for a horse-drawn street railway. The winner was Alexander Easton's Toronto Street Railway which opened the first street railway line in Canada on September 11, 1861, operating from Yorkville Town Hall to the St. Lawrence Market. The second line was on Queen Street. On other routes, the TSR continued to operate omnibuses. By 1868 the railway passed into the hands of the bondholders, and in 1869 the company was sold. In 1873 a new act of incorporation was obtained under the old name.

In 1874 extensions were made, and new cars were ordered. New lines were added until the 30-year franchise expired on March 26, 1891. The City operated the system briefly, but soon elected to pass on the rights to a new company, the Toronto Railway Company on September 1, 1891 for another thirty years under James Gunn and William Mackenzie.

Under the TRC, the first electric cars were run on August 15, 1892, and horsecars were last operated August 31, 1894.[1]


  • St Lawrence Hall-Yorkville
  • Yonge - north from King Street to Yorkville Town Hall
  • Queen - west from Yonge Street to Dundas Street (Ossington Avenue); later extended from east City Limits to Roncesvalles
  • Front - Sherbourne to Fleet Street
  • Sherbourne
  • Carlton - Parliament to Lansdowne
  • St Lawrence Market-Woodbine
  • Dovercourt-McCaul
  • North Toronto-Union Station
  • King - Bayview to Roncesvalles
  • Bloor - from Broadview to Lansdowne
  • Spadina - north from Queen Street to Bloor Street


As for the cars, they were built mostly in-house or by carriage-makers of their day. In the first year the TSR had only 11 horsecars on the roster. Before the end of the franchise, the TSR had 262 cars, 100 omnibuses, 100 sleighs and 1,356 horses:

Product list and details (date information from TTC)
 Make/Model   Description   Fleet size   Year acquired   Year retired   Notes 
John Stephenson Company, New York, New York single-ended, single-truck, closed horsecar N/A - builder for TSR Car 16
Thomas Speight Wagon Works, Markham Village, Ontario single-ended, single-truck sleigh 63 1881 builders built many of the TSR cars


  • 165 Front Street East (near St Lawrence Market) stables - Built 1886-1887, became electrical generating plant 1891, storage space 1906; sold by TTC but left vacant and sold to Young People's Theatre 1977
  • Yorkville Stables (west of Yonge between Scollard Street and Yorkville Avenue)- Built 1861 and was converted to TRC operation in 1921 and sold to TTC 1921 (closed 1922); demolished and now site of Townhall Square and condo tower.
  • 132 Front Street East 1880; demolished 1979 and now condo towers


  • Filey, Mike (1986). Not a One Horse Town. North York, Ontario: Firefly Books. ISBN 0-9691501-1-3.
  • Wyatt, David A. "Transit History of Toronto, Ontario". Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  1. ^ Pursley, Louis H. (1958). "Street Railways of Toronto, 1861-1921". Interurbans. 25: 15.
Preceded by
Williams Omnibus Bus Line
Public Transit in Toronto
Succeeded by
Toronto Railway Company