There can be no doubt that the construction of Canada’s first subway was a spectacular engineering triumph. Approved in January 1946, but delayed by post-war shortages of supplies, the ground-breaking ceremony took place on September 8, 1949. In the section south of College Street, the subway was built directly under Yonge Street. Where the “cut and cover” method was used (as far north as Davenport Road), citizens were treated to daily displays of massive equipment, such as pile drivers, power shovels, and cranes, while hundreds of men toiled on the project. The TTC encouraged the public’s interest in the subway construction, and issued several informative brochures for “sidewalk supervisors.”
To minimize traffic disruption along Yonge Street, the initial work was done along short sections of the street. This work involved preliminary excavation and support for utility conduits, accompanied by the placement of temporary decking to support traffic. This was followed by the completion of the excavation underneath the decking, and the construction of the reinforced concrete subway structure. Finally the temporary decking was removed, the subway structure was backfilled, and Yonge Street was resurfaced.
Responding to the tremendous public interest in the new subway, the TTC produced four “manuals” filled with facts, figures, and information required to answer the many questions of the sidewalk superintendents.
Meanwhile, underneath the surface, work was continuing away from the interested gazes of the sidewalk superintendents. As these photographs amply illustrate, it was difficult and dirty work, but by the latter part of 1953, the construction work was largely completed.
North of College Street, the route continued along a right-of-way adjacent to Yonge Street, partly underground and partly in an open cut as far as Eglinton Avenue. Ten intermediate stations were more or less evenly spaced along the 4.6 mile length of the subway between the Union and Eglinton terminals.