25 Toronto Transit Secrets

25 Toronto Transit Secrets was published by spacing magazine and contained articles written by various authors. I reproduced its exact dimensions in the photo accompanying this review (when viewed on my desktop, that is). In spite of its small size it packed generous text and photos within its 136 pages.

Among my favourite chapters was “The Bronzed Whistle”. In 1995 the TTC discontinued its whistle alert system to notify passengers when the subway doors would be closing. Automated chimes and lights were installed in its place. In late 1990 the Cinematheque in Toronto held an Andy Warhol film program at the Backstage Cinema when it used to be located on Balmuto Street. These thirteen films hadn’t been screened in many years. I decided to take my tape recorder into the theatre and record the audio of each film. I left the tape running after the films ended and recorded my walk back to the Bay subway station. As I listened to each soundtrack I was treated to the recordings of the whistles as I boarded the subway.

“The Most Mysterious Station” covered Bay Lower, which isn’t so mysterious among transit fans. In 2010 the TTC had a route diversion through Bay Lower, and I recorded the route going through this station in both directions:

Although not part of the Toronto Transit Commission yet a mode of transit nevertheless, a chapter was devoted to the former monorail at the Toronto Zoo. I like what the author, Jake Tobin Garrett wrote about the state of it now:

“There is something thrilling about abandoned infrastructure–how it feels both ancient and futuristic at the same time.”

I remember the moving sidewalk connecting the two Spadina stations when it opened in 1978. After frequent breakdowns and faced with expensive repairs, the TTC removed it in 2004. Shawn Micallef wrote about what replaced it:

“What’s left today is a mishmash of concrete patches and tiles that don’t match. Like a mad scar from some grievous wound, the sidewalk’s ghost can still be seen along the entire corridor.”

In 1950 a 78 rpm was released to build morale among the disgruntled citizenry who were annoyed by the disruption the Yonge subway construction was causing. I am glad I found the song uploaded to YouTube:

Each chapter was written with passion and I could tell that the authors were all transit lovers. I have three more small books from this Toronto spacing series and look forward to reading them.

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