The Department of Labours’ National Selective Service was an agency in charge of the manpower mobilization. The TTC was declared an essential service. Employees were not required to go to war unless approved by the Selective Service. TTC employees who served were guaranteed a job upon their return home.

To accommodate this promise, the TTC redeployed those in its workforce to fill vacancies. However, by 1943 there was a significant shortage of employees within the TTC. Wives of employees serving overseas often were hired to fill these vacancies.

Women were first hired to fill traditional office roles as clerks and stenographers. Eventually, they were also employed to clean streetcars and buses. The TTC gave the matter much consideration before women were hired as bus drivers, operators, and conductors. Women began working as bus drivers on July 29, 1943, as conductors on September 3, 1943, and as operators on November 8, 1943. At the end of the war, the permanent male TTC staff returned, and these female staff left the TTC.

 

Page one of photo essay titled "Clean-up Gals" about women cleaning streetcars and buses.
The Coupler, Clean-Up Gals, July 1944.
Page two of photo essay titled "Clean-up Gals". about women cleaning streetcars and buses
The Coupler, Clean-Up Gals, July 1944.

 

The TTC had been declared and essential service, as such, all TTC employees were exempt from military service. Special permission was required from the Selective Service agency to leave their TTC employ.

 

Notice stressing the imporatance of work in the commission to win the war.
Notice to male employees
October 1943
Fonds 16, Series 2218, File 3.

 

By 1943 the TTC decided to start to hire women to fill those vacancies created when men were granted permission to join the war effort. Advertisements were placed in newspapers and women were required to sign a three page contract stating that their employment was temporary; their employment would be terminated upon return of the male employees.

 

Newspaper advertisement
Women bus drivers assist the war effort
September 17, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 836, Sub-series 2, File 212.

 

Page one of a contract
Conditions of Employment for Women Employees
1943
Fonds 16, Series 836, Sub-series 2, File 213.

Page two of a contract

Page three of a contract

The bus driver or operator training programs for women took 28 days to complete; while the training program for women to be conductors would take only 13 days.

 

Woman in bus drivers seat with instructor standing behind her
Women bus drivers in training
July 14, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14458D.
Three women looking at a bus motor with instructor pointing at motor part.
Women bus drivers in training
July 14, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14458E.
Three women standing about bus motor with instructor lecturing.
Women bus drivers in training
July 14, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14458F.

 

Three women in uniform standing near bus.
Mrs. McCutcheon, Mrs. Wilkinson, and Mrs. Martin were the first three women bus drivers to qualify with the Toronto Transportation Commission and Gray Coach Lines.
August 5, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 14472.
One man and two women seated with one man and four women standing behind. All of the women are wearing hats with TTC badges.
The first class of TTC women conductors were recruited to fill positions vacated by employees serving overseas. In the back row from left to right are Mrs. D. Hawke, Mrs. H. Favere, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction F. Richards, Mrs. C.E.M. Clifford, and Mrs. M. Ellis. The front row from left to right is Mrs. I. Corrigan, Superintendent of Instruction G.I. Grant, and Miss L.M. Gray.
1943
Fonds 516, Series 2208, File 1, Item 1.

The TTC erected separate quarters at each division to accommodate the female operators. These buildings were slated for demolition upon the termination of the women employees’ contracts.

Two uniformed women standing on stairs by white one storey building.
Eglinton Division, temporary building for women employees
September 13, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14494.
Two uniformed women seated by window reading magazines.
Eglinton Division, temporary building for women employees
September 13, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14491.
Perspective view of white one storey building near streetcar tracks.
Eglinton Division, temporary building for women employees
September 13, 1943
Fonds 16, Series 71 Item 14487.

By 1946 the war had ended and the women who replaced the men were starting to be let go.

Thirteen uniformed women standing in front of streetcar in yard.
Group of women TTC drivers and operators in front of streetcar. This picture was taken shortly before their employment with the TTC ended.
April 1946
Fonds 16, Series 836, Sub-series 2, File 213, Item 717.

 

Photo essay of the farewell party for the women drivers from Eglinton Division
The Coupler, Eglinton’s Girls Say Goodbye, August 1946.
Brief article about the total number of female employees hired at the TTC during WW2
Canadian Transportation “Women Employees on Toronto System”
1945
Fonds 16, Series 2158, Sub-series 2, Item 25.