Even as long ago as 1910, traffic congestion was a problem in Toronto. City Council hired an American firm of traffic consultants, Jacobs and Davies, to examine the situation. In their report of August 25, 1910, the consultants promoted subway construction, urging Toronto to join the ranks of London, Boston, and New York: cities that already had established subways.
One of Jacobs and Davies’ proposals was for a Yonge subway line from Union Station to St. Clair Avenue, along with a double-decked viaduct across the Don Valley to accommodate both vehicle and subway traffic across Bloor and Danforth. Interestingly, a more ambitious second proposal would have seen a Yonge line with two additional lines radiating from Queen Street to the north-west and north-east corners of the city.
City politician Horatio Hocken was a subway booster, running for mayor in 1911 on a platform to build a new underground transportation network. Unfortunately for Hocken, the newspapers of the day did not support subway construction, pointing out that the City did not have the money to pay for it. Hocken lost his bid for mayor, and the dream of a subway for Toronto was shelved for decades.
By 1942, the TTC also began to champion for the development of subway service. The newly established Rapid Transit Department worked together with consultant Norman D. Wilson and the firm of De Leuw, Cather & Co. to undertake studies and develop plans. In their report, Rapid Transit for Toronto, published in 1945, the Commission advocated for “a substantial improvement in the speed and comfort of the ride furnished, and this cannot be given upon thoroughfares crowded with other traffic.” With the end of the Second World War in sight, the TTC anticipated an explosion in growth that demanded an audacious transportation plan to help the city realize its potential. The people of Toronto were asked for their support, and in a January 1, 1946 plebiscite, they gave their overwhelming approval to the TTC’s plan.
There are certain interesting similarities between the 1945 plan and one of the schemes proposed by Jacobs and Davies. The Rapid Transit plan included a Yonge subway line running between Union Station and Eglinton Avenue, as well as an underground section along Queen Street between Trinity Park and Logan Avenue. From these termini, surface routes would radiate to the east and west along Queen Street, as well as to the north-east and north-west boundaries of the city to serve the burgeoning suburbs. Despite its popularity, this plan was found to be too expensive when anticipated federal funding fell through. The plan was scaled back to a single line along Yonge Street.