Toronto constructed three expressways in the late 1950's and through the 1960's, but none since then.
Gardiner Expressway (left), Don Valley Parkway (centre), and Allen (formerly Spadina) Expressway (right)
Plans for additional expressways including Crosstown, Scarborough and 400 Extension routes were cancelled or just not built.
By 1969, construction of the William R. Allen (formerly Spadina) Expressway between Lawrence and Eglinton Avenues was nearing completion. The capital budget at that time provided for construction of the Willam R. Allen Expressway to Bloor Street by 1975 and extension of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway through the east end of the city into Scarborough after 1975.
After two years of protest from area residents, further construction of the William R. Allen Expressway was cancelled in 1971 leaving the section between Lawrence and Eglinton Avenues unfinished. In 1973, the design and parts of the route of the extension of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway into Scarborough were changed to fit it almost entirely within a major railway corridor and to minimize the number of properties required for it. The new design placed the entire extension below grade with some tunnelled sections and new parkland decked over it. After a report showed little need for it at that time, the eastern extension of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway was shelved in 1974, though Metro retained the lands acquired along the route. In 1976, the William R. Allen Expressway was completed to Eglinton Avenue as the William R. Allen Road, which is now part of the expressway since 2000.
In 1982, a four-lane extension of Highway 400 to Weston Road known as Black Creek Drive was built by the Provincial Government and transferred to Metro. In 1997, three more Provincial highways were transferred to Metro. The Queen Elizabeth Way east of Highway 427 to the Humber River became part of Metro’s Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway and Highway 27 and Highway 2A were also transferred to Metro. Metro became the amalgamated City of Toronto in 1998. With these transfers, the City of Toronto now owned 48 kilometres (30 miles) of expressways. However, all 400-series highways remained under Provincial control.
In 2001, the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway from east of the Don Valley Parkway to Leslie Street was demolished and replaced with a new eastern terminus west of Carlaw Avenue. Environmental assessments on demolishing more of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway and on reconfiguring the William R. Allen Expressway began in 2009. A 'hybrid' plan was approved for the eastern section of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway in 2015, involving rebuilding this section and slightly rerouting it. The remainder of the expressway to the west was fully rehabilitated. The idea of demolishing and removing the expressway was defeated. The assessment looking at the William R. Allen Expressway was put on hold indefinitely in 2010, effectively being shelved. That assessment is now dead and the expressway will remain as it is now.
Click on this link for an article printed in a UK magazine about the Allen Expressway and How the War on cars got started (go to page 10)
Click on this link for an article printed in a UK magazine about the Gardiner Expressway and A Victory for Collaboration (go to page 5)
City of Toronto Expressways today include:
F.G. Gardiner Expressway
Don Valley Parkway (D.V.P.) - south of Hwy. 401
W.R. Allen Expressway (Eglinton Avenue to Wilson Heights Boulevard)
Hwy. 2A (Kingston Road)
City of Toronto Arterial Highways (Controlled Access Roads) today include:
Highway 27 - north from Hwy. 401 to Steeles Avenue
Black Creek Drive
Past Toronto Expressways proposed:
W.R. Allen Expressway (Eglinton Avenue to Bloor Street - cancelled June 1971)
F.G. Gardiner Expressway Extension (east to Highway 2A - approved, but not built)
Highway 400 Extension (reduced to Black Creek Drive)
Note: Roads shown in the maps of Toronto on this site are in accordance with the
Toronto Road Classification System officially adopted in June 2000 and updated in 2012, since this is official policy of the Toronto Transportation Department.
Click on the gallery of historical maps of Toronto's Arterial Roads System from 1966 to the Present below to enlarge them
City of Toronto T.T.C. Subways today include:
Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina Line)
Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth Line)
Line 4 (Sheppard Line)
City of Toronto T.T.C. Light Rail Transit today include:
Line 3 (Scarborough Rapid Transit) - to close after Line 2 extension is completed
Line 5 (Eglinton-Crosstown Light Rail Transit)
Line 6 (Finch West Light Rail Transit)
City of Toronto T.T.C. Subways currently proposed:
Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina Line) - extension to Richmond Hill
Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth Line) - extension to Scarborough Centre
Line 7 (Ontario Line [formerly Downtown Relief Line])
Past Toronto T.T.C. Subways & Light Rail Transit proposed:
Queen Street Line
Eglinton West Line
Line 4 (Sheppard Line) - Yonge to Downsview, Don Mills to Scarborough Centre
Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth Line) - Kipling to Sherway Gardens
Line 3 (Scarborough Rapid Transit) - McCowan to Malvern
Click on the image below for a detailed history of Toronto's transit system
Click on the gallery of historical maps below of Toronto from 1954 to the Present to enlarge them
This History section and all of its pages outlines historical transportation projects in Toronto. This in no way indicates support by the 'Get Toronto Moving' transportation plan for revival of these projects. The information contained in these pages is purely for an understanding of past transportation planning to learn from the best and never repeat the worst.
Important Transportation Opening Dates in Toronto
Expressway construction in Toronto
While the Provincial Government of Ontario built the 400-series freeways, Metropolitan Toronto (known as Metro), since its incorporation in 1954, until 1969, provided an expressway network which proceeded continuously with the completion of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway to Leslie Street, the Don Valley Parkway between the lakeshore and Sheppard Avenue and the Spadina Expressway north from Lawrence Avenue – a total of 32 kilometres (20 miles) of new expressways. In 1969, the Spadina Expressway was renamed as the William R. Allen Expressway.
Click on the gallery of historical maps of Toronto's Road Lighting from 1966 to the Present
Subway construction in Toronto
The provision of a subway network by the Toronto Transit Commission was approved in a referendum in 1946 and construction began soon after, continuing to this day. At the time of the incorporation of Metro Toronto in 1954, Canada’s first subway, the Yonge line, opened from Eglinton to Union Station and a short unfinished streetcar subway tunnel had been provided for a future Queen Street line. By 1963, the University extension of the now Yonge-University line had been completed to St. George, and by 1966, the Bloor-Danforth line had been completed between Keele and Woodbine, later extended to Islington and Warden in 1968.
In 1974, the Yonge line had been extended north to Finch and the proposed Queen Street line was shelved in favour of new subways in the suburbs.
By 1980, the Spadina extension of the now Yonge-University-Spadina line had been completed to Wilson and the Bloor-Danforth line had been extended west to Kipling and east to Kennedy. The smaller Scarborough Rapid Transit line was opened in 1985 connecting the east end of the Bloor-Danforth line northeasterly to McCowan.
A 1985 report recommended construction of new subways along Eglinton Avenue West and Sheppard Avenue East and a new Downtown Relief Line from Pape to Union Station, to be built by 2011. Construction of the Eglinton West line was cancelled in 1995 after a brief start, but the Yonge-University-Spadina line was extended from Wilson to Downsview in 1996 and the Sheppard line was completed from Yonge to Don Mills in 2002. By then, Toronto had 70 kilometres (43 miles) of subway with 69 stations.
Toronto has constructed three subways from the 1950's to the present, continuously extending them.
Yonge-University-Spadina line (left), Bloor-Danforth line (centre) and Sheppard line (right)
Plans for a longer Sheppard line and Eginton and Queen lines have not yet materialized
Metro became the amalgamated City of Toronto in 1998 but this did not affect the Toronto Transit Commission which had always operated on a Metro-wide basis since 1954, except for fare zones which had been abolished in 1973.
Between 2003 and 2010, no new subway construction took place due to rising costs and a network of eight surface light rail lines along arterial roads called ‘Transit City’ with a short tunnelled section under part of Eglinton Avenue was proposed instead. A northern extension of the Spadina line to Vaughan was the only subway to be built with construction beginning in 2009.
By 2010, due to public protest against the light rail proposal on arterial roads, subway construction was to be resumed. Plans were approved for completion of the Sheppard line west to Downsview and east to the Scarborough Town Centre and extension of the Yonge line north to Richmond Hill. A now completely underground Eglinton-Crosstown light rail line would be built like a mini-subway from Black Creek to Kennedy, and extending northeasterly as a replacement of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line on the surface to McCowan, joining the extended Sheppard line. A Downtown Relief line remains proposed for the long-term future, but the route remains uncertain.
In 2012, due to costs, City Council decided to return to some of the previous 'Transit City' light rail plan with both underground and surface sections along the Eglinton-Crosstown route, including a surface replacement of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, and light rail lines along Finch West and Sheppard East. Proposals to build extensions of the Sheppard Subway with either new taxes or private financing were rejected.
Council did, however, later decide, with the support of the Province, to extend the Bloor-Danforth Subway northeasterly along Danforth Road and McCowan Road to Sheppard Avenue (known as the 'Scarborough Subway' as a replacement for the Scarborough Rapid Transit line due to the public demand for a new subway in Scarborough. The Ontario Government elected in 2018 decided to take over Toronto's subways and complete the Scarborough (Bloor-Danforth Extension), Yonge North and Downtown Relief Subway line (renamed the Ontario line), and take a look at extending the Sheppard line east to the Scarborough Town Centre as originally planned.
Click on the image below for a detailed history of Toronto's expressways system
Click on the gallery of historical maps of Toronto's Subway System from 1959 to the Present below to enlarge them
Click on the gallery of historical maps of Toronto's GO Transit Lines System from 1967 to the Present below to enlarge them
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Click on the gallery of historical maps of Toronto's Expressway System from 1959 to the Present below to enlarge them
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