In 1968, the westerly and easterly extensions of the Bloor-Danforth subway line into Etobicoke and Scarborough marked a triumphant moment in the history of ‘Metro’ Toronto: rapid transit finally connected these suburban municipalities, and their residents, to the central downtown. Islington station supplanted Keele as the new western terminus, a full six stops away.

Bus bays of Islington
The balefully glowing, doomed bus sheds of Islington

Understanding the historical context is key to our appreciation of Islington—a suburban station, serving Etobicoke as a hub for numerous feeder surface routes. Its existential purpose was to link travellers to the core (“Simpson’s... only 26 minutes from Islington Station” trumpeted one typical commercial advertisement).

The individual covered bus bays and roomy interior ‘mall’ epitomize a particular era of station configuration, matched at the other end of the line by Warden and (in a previous iteration) at Eglinton. This type of layout is no longer understood as optimal for passenger efficiency (not to mention being inherently inaccessible); plans to demolish the bays and modernize the station have periodically circulated, but never quite materialized into actuality. It will happen! Just on the TTC’s timeframe.

Bus bay at Islington station
The tunnel-like interior of one of the bus bays

The suburban weltanschauung is also evident in the commuter lots—described as ‘spacious’ in a TTC service notice from the period—that abut the station. Why fight traffic, when you can conveniently park at a suburban lot and ride the subway into town?

Subway signal at Islington station platform
Admire this beauty directly on the platform

Premier John Robarts unveiled a commemorative photo montage in the mezzanine at the opening ceremonies on May 10, 1968, but sadly no trace remains of the display. I wonder if it’s tucked away in a storage warehouse somewhere, along with other flotsam and jetsam from the TTC’s visual past?

Historical tidbit: Islington is named for the native town of Elizabeth Smith, the wife of innkeeper Thomas Smith. As lore has it, in 1859 a Public Meeting was held at Smith’s Hotel to decide the nomenclature of what was then known as Mimico village, but a unanimous selection could not be attained. Elizabeth was called in from the kitchen for her input, and so we have Islington.

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:

Islington Photo gallery

Islington station transfer
Islington station transfer

More about Islington

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Islington

My next stop: Kennedy
Previous station: Wilson

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