Toronto Subway construction

Toronto subway

Pictured here in September 1949 is the opening ceremony for the start of the long-awaited Toronto Subway. The subway idea had been floated since 1910, but not financially feasible due to the two world-wars and the Great Depression of 1929. 

Soon after the Second World War ended, planning for construction of the 7.4 km Yonge Street Subway began in earnest.

A contracting consortium, which included Pitts, Johnson, Drake and Perini, won the contract. Given the scope of the project, many other Ontario contractors came on-board supplying equipment on rent to expedite construction.

RELATED:  A Northwest model 25 cable backhoe at work on Toronto’s Yonge Street subway

The subway, when opened to commuters at the end of March 1954 came at a final cost of $67 Million. Some 24,000 tonnes of structural and reinforcing steel; 4,200 tonnes of rail; 1.4 million bags of cement and 400,000 tonnes of sand and aggregate had been required to complete the project. In addition, there had been 1.3 million cubic metres of material excavated. 

The consortium’s new Northwest crane, pictured here with a pile driving attachment, was driving H-steel piling in preparation for the open-cut phase of excavation.

It was quite the ceremony, with dignitaries, politicians, a Scottish pipe-band and the cameraman perched on the roof of the crane. More importantly was the interest shown by the civic minded on-lookers, some of whom became ardent ‘sidewalk-superintendents’ for the next five years. 

The Historical Construction Equipment Association of Canada wish all Equipment Journal subscribers a great Christmas Season and a prosperous, healthy New Year! 

To see more than 60 restored pieces of vintage construction equipment in action be sure to attend the Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA) Canada’s 2021 events: ‘Wheels & Tracks in Motion’ held in June and the ‘Last Blast’ in October. Both events are held at the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie, Ontario.  

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