Popular Toronto folklore holds that Christie St. is named after William Mellis Christie, the 19th century baker and founder of the Mr. Christie brand of cookies and biscuits.

What a terrific, fanciful story.

However—despite what you may have been taught in school, or read in Wikipedia—recent historical research suggests that the biscuitmaker may not have been the origin of the street name, after all. In 1823, Col. Samuel Smith sold Lot 27 in the 2nd Concession to merchant Peter McDougall, whose wife was named Christy. York land registry documents indicate that Christie St. was named after her, by 1835—over a decade before W.M. Christie’s arrival in Canada.*

The TTC's Christie subway station
I still want some cookies!!

Christie station (whichever Christie it’s named for) is like a battered old cotton t-shirt that went out of fashion a long time ago, and when your girlfriend sees you wearing it she cringes, and tells you to put something else on. But it’s super comfortable, so you keep wearing it anyway when she’s not around. Hey, it fits!

Christie station escalator with stairs
Why does this escalator have stairs? The answer revealed...

You may have noticed that Christie has an escalator with stairs leading up to it. What’s the cause of this strange setup?

At Christie, the escalator was a retrofit, installed well after the construction of the station. The device’s base is located above the track ceiling below. There physically isn’t enough room for the mechanical equipment at the base of the escalator, for it to extend all the way down to the floor of the mezzanine level.

Similar escalators with steps may be found at Broadview and at King.

Christie station platform with TTC worker.
Note the different strap-line colours: burgundy on one section; green on another

The other talking-point with regards to Christie has to do with the two different strap-line colours visible at the platform level. The burgundy (red/brown) tiles were installed after a massive train fire on October 15, 1976 damaged many of the wall surfaces throughout the building. The TTC did not have enough of the matching green tiling for the replacement repairs, and selected a different colour to finish the job. The yellow mezzanine tiling (to the right of the escalator) is another mismatch from the fire’s aftermath.

The fire—which was actually started much further west of the station—gutted three aluminium train cars and sent ten passengers and employees to hospital. Two TTC operators wound up crawling half a mile through blinding smoke on their hands and knees, back down the tunnel to Ossington!

As a result of the fire, the Ontario Fire Marshal made a series of recommendations regarding fire prevention. By 1980 the TTC had implemented all of the recommendations, including the installation of fire retardant Neoprene seat cushions in all subway cars, and the installation of a subway dry-drop standpipe system for fire-fighting purposes.

Christie station was originally called Willowvale in early TTC planning documents, after the adjoining park (commonly known as ‘Christie Pits’). The station opened on February 25, 1966, as part of the Bloor-Danforth-University line. During the Spadina line alignment debates, TTC subway designer Norman D. Wilson preferred for the line to connect at Christie rather than St. George, partly to preserve the option of interlining, but his concept was not ultimately selected. 

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past (including superb photos and news coverage from the 1976 fire) (hint: turn on the captions):

Photo gallery of Christie subway station in Toronto

Transfer for Christie subway station
Christie station transfer

More about Christie

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Christie

* If you believe adamantly that Christie St. was named for Mr. Christie, don’t fret; 99% of Toronto is with you. But it’s not what the records appear to indicate. See Stephanie Lever’s Before the Barns article in The York Pioneer 2014, Vol. 109, and for the original source see the York County Land Registry Office Records Abstract Index Books, City of Toronto and surrounding areas, ca. 1800-1958, at the Ontario Archives. The microfilm number is GSU197276. I would welcome additional input (with citations) on this subject from other historians, so we can settle this once and for all.

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