If you think taking the TTC is a pain now you should have seen how Torontonians were getting around in the late 1800s! Over 150 years ago streetcars were used in Toronto however, they were pulled by horses.

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toronto archives
Image via City of Toronto

According to The City of Toronto’s Archives, the first two streetcar routes pulled by horse ran all the way back in 1861.

One of the routes went along Yonge Street between Scollard (near Davenport) and King Streets, with a side trip through Yorkville.

The second went along Queen Street West from downtown to what is now the well-known and very populated Ossington Avenue. The last horse-drawn streetcar was reported to have operated on McCaul Street!

The Toronto Archive also mentions the regular electrified streetcar service was introduced to Toronto on September 1st, 1890. It notes the first electric streetcar “ran north along Yonge Street, from the CPR cross-town tracks near Summerhill Avenue to Glen Grove Park near Lawrence Avenue, in what was then suburban Toronto. The service was provided by the Metropolitan Street Railway, which had its own steam-generated electrical power plant on Yonge Street, south of Davisville Avenue.”

Although the horse-drawn service seemed to work well, electricity was essential for the continued expansion of the Metropolitan’s line up Yonge Street as it would have been pretty hard for horse-drawn streetcars to negotiate ravines such as Hogg’s Hollow near York Mills.

So next time you’re standing outside waiting for the streetcar, just be thankful it isn’t a horse-drawn one!