Toronto Suburban Railway

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Toronto Suburban Railway Company
Locale Toronto
Dates of operation 1891–1931
Track gauge from 1917 to end: 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Previous gauge from start to 1917: 4 ft 10 34 in (1,492 mm)[1]
TSR Guelph Line
Mileage Station Stop
48.30 Guelph 100
Guelph Radial Railway
46.30 Speedwell
45.00 Eramosa 98
42.00 Eden Mills 95
Halton County Radial Railway
37.60 Blue Springs 90
34.70 Acton 85
32.80 Dolly Varden 80
32.30 Limehouse 77
28.00 Georgetown 70
24.50 Norval 60
21.10 Huttonville 54
18.80 Churchville 50
17.30 Meadowvale 47
15.30 Streetsville 42
12.10 Centre Road 37
10.00 Cooksville 31
8.50 Dixie 25
7.10 Summerville 20
6.20 Eaton’s Farm 18
4.30 Islington 9
2.00 Lambton 1
0.00 Keele & Dundas
to local lines

The Toronto Suburban Railway was an electric railway operator with local routes in west Toronto, and a radial (interurban) route to Guelph.


The Weston, High Park and Toronto Street Railway Company was incorporated in 1890, and changed its name to the City and Suburban Electric Railway Company the next year. The Davenport Street Railway Company was incorporated in 1891. In 1894, the Toronto Suburban Street Railway Company was incorporated[2] and acquired these two companies,[3] giving it 7.5 miles of lines in the northwestern suburbs of Toronto. In 1900, the company name was shortened to Toronto Suburban Railway Company,[4] and in 1904 it was authorized to extend its operations to Hamilton, the Niagara Peninsula, Brampton, Guelph and Woodbridge.[5] The Township of Etobicoke also granted the TSR a franchise to cover the full length of Dundas Street within its limits, west of the Humber River. Expansion plans were hampered because of the shortness of capital and labour, as well as by potential takeover interest by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, but it did convert its power source from internally generated 500V DC from its own plant, to high-voltage AC power from Niagara Falls.[6]

Allan Royce[6][7] was the largest shareholder in the TSR, eventually gaining a controlling interest. In 1911, that was sold to William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, who incorporated it into the quickly-expanding Canadian Northern Railway system. At that time, Sir Adam Beck of Ontario Hydro and Henry Thornton of Canadian National Railways had also expressed an interest in the TSR.[8]


The Davenport section was the first to come into operation in 1892. Service operated from Keele and Dundas Streets, along St. Clair Avenue, Ford Street, and Davenport Road. An extension in 1892 went west along Dundas Street from Gilmour Avenue to Lambton Park, on the east side of the Humber River. The TSR Lambton Line track "crossed Scarlett Road, descended Lambton Hill, then swung around the loop [laid] in an open field."[9] It was recorded "that the conductor would holler to the motorman to go slow around it so he could have a quick thirstquencher ..."[10] as the car passed the Lambton Hotel where passengers often waited.

By 1914, extensions had increased the length of the Toronto Suburban lines to approximately 10 miles. In that year, service began from Weston to Woodbridge. By 1917, through extension of service to Guelph, the Toronto Suburban was over 65 miles long.[11] In the course of that line's construction, the TSR entered into a notable dispute over a crossing with a spur line of the Grand Trunk in Acton, that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for resolution.[12] In 1918, as a consequence of Canadian Northern's bankruptcy, the Guelph and Woodbridge lines were transferred to Canadian National and vested in its subsidiary Canadian National Electric Railways as the Toronto Suburban District.[8]

In order to spur Sunday ridership, the TSR also owned a 100-hectare recreational property called El Dorado Park, which was located on the Credit River near Churchville.[13]

Under the Municipal Electric Railway Act, 1922,[14] local municipalities were authorized to operate radial lines, or enter into agreements with Ontario Hydro to do so, as part of a larger plan to create a radial network spanning the Greater Golden Horseshoe region,[15] but that did not take place with respect to the TSR lines as that measure was rejected by Toronto voters in a plebiscite held on 1 January 1923,[16] and the issue was not pressed by the Province as the provincial government was subsequently defeated in the 1923 general election.[17] However, routes inside the city were purchased by the City of Toronto in 1923, which then turned them over to the Toronto Transportation Commission.[18] The TTC did upgrade the city routes, and operated the Lambton, Weston and Davenport lines for some years, connecting them with the St. Clair and Dundas routes. In the same year, TSR was amalgamated with the Toronto Eastern Railway, leaving CNER with the Guelph and Woodbridge lines.[8]

In 1924, the Township of York acquired the TSR's track within its boundaries, which subsequently became the York Township Railways, managed under contract by the TTC. Track within the Town of Weston was subsequently transferred to the YTR in 1925.

In 1926, the Woodbridge line was abandoned. By 1931, the Guelph line was only carrying 300 passengers a day, compared to 1662 cars and nine buses per day travelling along the essentially parallel Highway 7.[17] CNR let the TSR bond interest go unpaid on 15 July 1931,[19] causing the Guelph line to go into receivership and be shut down on 15 August 1931.[20][21] Eventually, in 1934, CNR paid off the bondholders at 25 cents on the dollar, following which the receivership was ended on 13 September 1935. The Guelph line was subsequently sold to Ontario Hydro,[22] and the track was torn up in World War II.[23]


Since the TSR's closure, the right of way became popular for strolling and hiking. From 1970, the Guelph Hiking Trail Club was formed to establish and maintain a formal trail on it between the Bruce Trail at Limehouse and Guelph.[24][25] A small part of the Guelph line's right-of-way is operated as the Halton County Radial Railway museum.

A power house on Weston Road is now a lumber store and a power house on James Street in Guelph has been converted to residential use.

The remains of a TSR bridge can still be found in the Meadowvale neighbourhood of Mississauga, Ontario.[26] In Halton Hills, the railbed can be readily seen running parallel to the Canadian National track between Acton and Limehouse.[27]


1921 map of electrified rail lines serving Toronto at that time

The Toronto Suburban operated one radial and five city routes during its existence.[18]



Rolling Stock[edit]

The one remaining TSR car is number 24. It was built in 1914 by the Preston Car Company, reusing an 1897-vintage Taylor truck. After the TSR was absorbed by the CNR in 1923, the car was renumbered as CN 15702 and used at Neebing Yard in Fort William, Ontario. It was retired in the 1960s, donated to the Canadian Railway Museum, then leased to the Edmonton Radial Railway Society in 1987.[28]

Number Built Builder Trucks Type Route Notes
1 DEST city line car 1-17 in service by 1911
2 DEST sweeper
3 known to have existed
4 known to have existed
5 no details
6 no details
7 no details
8 open
9 no details
10 open
11 DEST open
12 DEST closed
13 open
14 known to have existed
16 spare for CRESCENT or LAMBTON
18 WESTON no details
24 1914 Preston DEST DAVENPORT to Canadian National Railways 15702 in 1923; see above (now with ERRS)
30 DEDT semi-convertible WESTON ex-Tuscaloosa, AL
31 DEDT semi-convertible WESTON ex-Tuscaloosa, AL
32 DEDT semi-convertible ex-Tuscaloosa, AL
33 DEDT semi-convertible WESTON ex-Tuscaloosa, AL
Guelph Radial Cars
101 1915 Preston SEDT centre entrance GUELPH rebuilt to DE in 1924-25
102-103 1915 Preston SEDT centre entrance burnt in storage before delivery
104-106 1915 Preston SEDT centre entrance combine GUELPH rebuilt to DE in 1924-25
107 1924 NS&T DEDT coach GUELPH to NS&T 83 in 1927
108 1926 NS&T DEDT combine GUELPH to M&SC 300 in 1927; rebuilt to snow plow
150-153 DT open-platform trailer GUELPH ex-New York City, 1918; rebuilt with closed platforms
201 TRCo? DEDT express motor GUELPH
250 DEDT express motor GUELPH to Montreal & Southern Counties Railway 305, 1927
251 flat trailer GUELPH
252 DT line car/plow GUELPH to NS&T in 1927; scrapped 1947
300 1926 NS&T DEDT 60-ton box cab locomotive GUELPH to Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern 7 in 1927
Canadian Nitro Products
"1000" c.1916 DEDT flat motor rebuilt from Toronto and York Radial Railway flat trailer; originally James Bay Railway flat trailer; to Stanstead Granite Quarries Ltd. (Beebe, PQ) in 1920; scrapped 1940
NS&T Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto
Preston Preston Car Company
TRCo Toronto Railway Company
DE double-ended
DT double trucked
SE single-ended
ST single truck

Other Toronto lines controlled by Sir William Mackenzie[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Old Time Trains
  2. ^ S.O. 1894, c. 94
  3. ^ a b Raymond L. Kennedy (2009). "Street Railways in the Junction". Trainweb. Retrieved 3 February 2012. mirror
  4. ^ S.O. 1900, c. 24
  5. ^ S.O. 1904, c. 94
  6. ^ a b Ball, Norman R.; Vardalas, John N. (1994). Ferranti-Packard: Pioneers in Canadian Electrical Manufacturing. Rolls-Royce Industries Canada Inc. pp. 70–74. ISBN 0-7735-0983-6. 
  7. ^ "The Royce family and Earlscourt Park". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  8. ^ a b c Burnet, Robert G. (1995). "CPR and TSR tracks through Etobicoke" (PDF). Canadian Rail (Canadian Railroad Historical Association) (449): 211–239. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  9. ^ Stamp, Robert M. (1989). Riding the Radials - Toronto's Suburban Electric Streetcar Lines. Erin: Boston Mills Press. p. 90. ISBN 1-55046-008-0. 
  10. ^ Given, R.A. (1950). The Story of Etobicoke Centennial Year 1850–1950. Township of Etobicoke. pp. 27–28. 
  11. ^ Pat Scrimgeour (July 1990). "33 - Historical Outlines of Railways in Southwestern Ontario" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  12. ^ Acton Tanning Co. v. Toronto Suburban Rway. Co., 56 S.C.R. 196, Date: 1918-03-05
  13. ^ Brown, Ron (2011). In Search of the Grand Trunk: Ghost Rail Lines in Ontario. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 77–79. ISBN 978-1-55488-883-2. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Municipal Electric Railway Act, 1922". , S.O. 1922, c. 69
  15. ^ "Toronto Suburban Railway Company Act, 1922". , S.O. 1922, c. 35
  16. ^ Due, John F. "Sir Adam Beck and the Hydro Radial Proposals". Bulletin (Upper Canada Railway Society) (50). Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  17. ^ a b Raymond L. Kennedy (2009). "Toronto Suburban Railway - Guelph Radial Line". Trainweb. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  18. ^ a b Pursley, Louis H. (1961). The Toronto Trolley Car Story: 1921-1961. Los Angeles: Interurbans Press. p. 26. 
  19. ^ "C.N. Electric Railways". Toronto Star. 21 July 1931. p. 15. 
  20. ^ "Radial line abandonment leaves pupils stranded". Toronto Star. 30 July 1931. p. 24. 
  21. ^ "English investors sue for lost funds". Toronto Star. 18 August 1931. p. 1. 
  22. ^ Hicks, Kathleen A. (2006). Dixie: Orchards to Industry (PDF). Mississauga: The Friends of the Mississauga Library System. p. 99. ISBN 0-9697873-8-3. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  23. ^ Coles 2006
  24. ^ Dave Hull. "Guelph Trail Club 1970–1975". Guelph Hiking Trail Club. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  25. ^ "Guelph Hiking Trail - Radial Line/Speed River". Ontario Trails Council. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  26. ^ "Toronto Suburban Railway bridge ruins (City of Mississauga, ON)". Retrieved 2012-11-07. , located at 43°37′25″N 79°43′56″W / 43.62361°N 79.73222°W / 43.62361; -79.73222
  27. ^ "Toronto Suburban Railway, Guelph Radial Line - Crossing 4th Line Esquesing Township (Town of Halton Hills, ON)". Retrieved 2012-11-08. , located at 43°37′48″N 79°59′45″W / 43.63000°N 79.99583°W / 43.63000; -79.99583
  28. ^ "Toronto Suburban Railway 24". Edmonton Radial Railway Society. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 

Further reading[edit]