I’m a fan of public transit. Especially unique transit options. Think the wild noise and general grime of the NYC subway. The PCC like cars that still run as subways in Boston. Or the Toronto Streetcar network. A call back to the early days of the city’s transit system and one of the only major streetcar networks left running in North America. And on the 29th of December 2019 marked both an anniversary and the end of an era. For that day marked not only the first time the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle first rode on the networks for the Toronto Transit Commission back in 1977 and ended their run in 2019. Of course, it made for the perfect chance to get out with my fellow co-hosts of the Classic Camera Revival to join the hordes that lined Queen Street through Leslieville to watch the departures from the Greenwood yards.
It wouldn’t be easy, getting up at 05:30, driving down to the GO Train and catching the one just before 07:00. Then into Union Station, a subway ride up to Queen Street and then into one of the new streetcars that have been slowly taking over regular service since their introduction. By the time I arrived at the Remarkable Bean in Leslieville, both John and Bill had already arrived. Coffee quickly followed as we took some time to discuss the next season for the Classic Camera Revival and plans for our fifth-anniversary photo crawl. The weather was far from perfect, low dark clouds and rain threatened. But we at CCR don’t let a little weather stop us! I had packed my Maxxum 9 kit and a couple of rolls of Tri-X which I planned to push a stop to ASA-800. It would be a brisk walk up to the yards after James arrived, and we saw some of the first cars already making their final run. I was not surprised at the crowds of photographers and well-wishers. Even the TTC staff were getting in the spirit; we were asked many times if we wanted to hop aboard one of the cars. And despite getting some rain, we didn’t. They all looked rather crowded.
The weather slowly got worse as we make our way further west, before ducking down King Street at the Don River. The Distillery District proved empty as the rain got worse. Thankfully it cleared up as we moved along Front Street. Our final stop for the trip would be C’Est What a lovely beer centred basement restaurant with an ever-changing beer selection and excellent food options. Once lunch was done and a couple of pints had, I headed up to Downtown Camera to pick up some film and developer, including the Microphen, used to process these images. And then headed home.
But don’t worry about the old CLRV and the longer ALRV cousins. The TTC will be maintaining a few vehicles for their historic fleet which includes PCC cars which with CLRV replaced. But also the Halton Railway Museum has obtained a good number of CLRV cars and an ALRV which will be on display when they reopen in May. And if you time it right, you may even get to retake a ride on one for a little bit of nostalgia. Another CLRV has been obtained by the Illinois Railway Museum. You can check out all my images of the day in my Flickr album.