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Monday, May 11, 2015

A TTC History Lesson

The lights were blazing in the TTC garage as Pioneer strolled by a few weeks ago, so we started wondering more about this mysterious building taking up so much usable space at the intersection of Coxwell and Danforth. We did what any smart blogger would do and reached out to neighbourhood historian Stephen Wickens, who knows a heck of a lot about urban affairs and the TTC. Here's a history lesson for you! 

The Danforth Garage, as it’s formally called now, has served many purposes over the years. It was once upon a time called the Coxwell Barns and was part of the same streetcar barns system as the Wychwood Barns and four other transit “service” nodes.

In 1915, when the above picture was taken, streetcar tracks sprawled across the city far and wide including along Danforth. The Coxwell Barns served as a repair shop for these streetcars until the early 1960s.

If you look at an aerial view of Coxwell & Danforth from the mid-1900s, you can see that transit engulfs the whole intersection and the Barns has been expanded and is being used for buses rather than streetcars. These buses and their diesel fuel left their legacy in the form of the brown land the site sits on today.

Currently, it’s a big dumping ground for things the TTC doesn’t know what to do with, kind of like that drawer in Pioneer’s kitchen filled with knick knacks that serve no purpose. It also provides free parking for TTC employees.

Pioneer would love to see it restored to its original glory and once more serve as a neighbourhood hub in a different format like the Wychwood Barns which was repatriated by the city in 2008 and houses Artscape, a farmers market plus more. What would you do with our east-end space? If you’re interested in hearing more about the Barns and its future, architecture students from Ryerson University will be presenting their vision and development of the “Danforth East Streetcar Yards” tonight at Tobias House (7:00 p.m.).

Let us know what you envision for that intersection. Reach us at and we’ll post some of the best ideas and pass them on to our local councillors.

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