If you were to compile a hypothetical inventory of Toronto’s most romantic subway stations, Donlands would almost certainly not appear on your list.*

Benches in the main bus platform waiting area at Donlands station
Orthogonal benches in the waiting area

Cramped, pallid and boxy, Donlands is a drowsy Danforth neighbourhood departure point that serves the locals well. Not much really goes on here—but that would have all changed, had the station ever become the Bloor-Danforth transfer node for the Relief Line. Which it nearly did, a couple of times.

In the late 60’s, a $200 million, 15-stop Queen subway (using Queen Lower) was proposed by the TTC, with its eastern terminal being Donlands. The first iteration would have been constructed for streetcars, with an eye to later conversion into a full-scale subway. Alas, Metro Council dithered and ultimately prioritized extending the line elsewhere.  

In the early 80’s, TTC Chief General Manager Alf Savage advocated for a relief line (using ICTS cars!) from Union to Donlands, against opposition from city planners and suburban politicians alike, who flinched at the expense and who also wished to promote outlying regional growth centres over the downtown. During the debates, the TTC repeatedly noted that the underpinnings for Donlands were specially built so that a connecting tunnel could be dug without interrupting the Bloor-Danforth line.

But nothing ever came of it.

The grey concourse originally held the fare collection booth; when the current street-level building was built in the ‘80s, the booth moved upstairs.

I used to date a girl who lived near Donlands. She inhabited a tiny apartment in a house on Fielding. So my objectivity regarding this station may be suspect. My perception of the place is forever coloured by that flush, fevered spring I spent tromping through its modest halls.

What does it reveal about our identity, when we ascribe meaning to a location, in terms of the people we’ve met, and the encounters we’ve had?

Donlands station exterior signage
I once kissed a girl
 beneath these vertical letters

In the end, she moved out East and became a marine biologist. I stayed here, and I hadn’t been to Donlands since, because it reminds me of her...

The heart is a strange and curious organ.

Donlands opened on February 25, 1966 as part of the Bloor-Danforth line. East of the station lies the underground wye connecting the system to the Greenwood subway complex. On August 6, 1977 a pile of rubber pads being stored in the wye caught fire, forcing the evacuation of over 2,000 passengers and sending 50 to hospital.

Check out the news photos of the fire in the gallery! p.s. fans of historical TTC bureaucratic ineptitude will enjoy reading about the Commission’s bungled attempts to install a 2nd exit for the station, also covered in the gallery.

* In 2010, a study by Craigslist declared Bathurst ‘The Most Romantic Station’ in the city (based on the # of Missed Connections postings). Davisville came in second; Scarborough Centre apparently came in last. No mention of where Donlands fit in...

Photo Gallery

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

Photo gallery for the Donlands TTC subway station

Transfer from Donlands station
Donlands station transfer

More about Donlands

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Donlands

My next stop: Jane
Previous station: Wellesley

Alphabetical Station Selector