Every-day I’m Dufferin! 

For years, that musical malapropism has been the silent mantra for stressed-out passengers jostling for the southbound 29 bus (a.k.a. The Sufferin’ Dufferin) at Dufferin station.

Something Happens Here, public art at Dufferin Station
No matter how much you squint, the pixellated splotches on the concourse walls never quite resolve...

But their transfer has finally begun to improve—both qualitatively and quantitatively—thanks to a thorough station renovation and expansion, coupled with some judicious (and long-overdue) route management.

The $30 million upgrade project, which went waaaaaay over schedule, started in 2008, began construction in 2010, and was completed in 2014. Major features included a significantly enlarged, new western entrance, secondary exits, public art, and elevators.

Dufferin station, west side entrance
The completely new west side entrance: a boon for southbound transfers

As with Pape, the upgrade controversially involved breaking the established rhythm of the Bloor-Danforth line’s historical tiling colour sequence, at the platform level. Emboldened by the 2008 vanity sacking of Museum, then-TTC Chair Adam Giambrone launched a long-term Station Modernization Program that mandated “visually modern” and “unique” station designs. The sole concession to the past was the retention of the standard Bloor-Yonge typeface for the platform signage: as if anything else would be acceptable!

Out with the old, in with the new: heritage has rarely been a priority for the TTC, when it comes to station appearance (High Park, Keele, Coxwell and Woodbine were to be spared from the carnage).

Wistful preservationist instincts aside, what’s funny to me is that the lone area in the entire station that really needed a colourful makeover—the pedestrian tunnel crossing beneath Dufferin—looks just as depressing as it did before. We gleefully erased the past, for this?

Passenger walkway beneath Dufferin street
The bleak tunnel beneath Dufferin Street: not appreciably improved.

For the public art, Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanksi created Something Happens Here, described as: “a collection of images of the human experiences, environments, and urbanscapes from the neighbourhood, bringing a sense of place to the interior of the station and creating a distinctive experience for TTC customers.”

Large, feature art walls—abstracted from photos taken in the Bloor and Dufferin area—initially draw the attention, with strong and vibrant tones.

Tile at Dufferin station.
Yours to discover: one hundred inset stainless steel and bronze ‘memorial pixels’, distributed around the station

But it’s the scattered individual ‘memorial pixels’ that keep the piece engaging and immersive. These small, square, celebratory plaques show non-repeating images and text referencing the local neighbourhood and its identity. There are enough of them so that discovering new ones at every visit is possible.

As far as killing time goes while you’re waiting for the train, that counts as a minor win.

Dufferin station platform view
A few flecks of the old green acknowledge the past. 

Dufferin opened February 25, 1966 as part of the original Bloor line. The station is named for the third Governor General of Canada (1872-78), Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood (i.e. Lord Dufferin).

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:
(hint: turn on the captions)

A photographic tour of the TTC's Dufferin subway station.

Paper station transfer for Dufferin
Dufferin station transfer

More about Dufferin

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Dufferin
Alternate unofficial Dufferin musical theme (as above, just substitute in ‘Dufferin’).

Afterthought: Don’t get the wrong impression—I’m not against modernizing stations. We need accessibility, safety upgrades, improved passenger flows, and more comfortable waiting areas. But the dismissive insensitivity to the original station aesthetic rankles my curmudgeonly, retrograde heart.

My next stop: Davisville
Previous station: Victoria Park

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