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Newmarket street car service? It's been done before

Newmarket street car service? It's been done before

In 1899 a set of electric railway tracks came up Yonge Street and curved over towards Newmarket's Main Street via what would today be Cane Parkway.

By Sean Pearce

(Originally published on YorkRegion.com on October 15, 2007.)

It's perhaps a little ironic, seeing how many commuters are forced to crawl along highways or cram into buses on a daily basis, that Newmarket once possessed a streetcar route into Toronto.

No, that's not a misprint. According to the town's own website, in 1899 a set of electric railway tracks came up Yonge Street and curved over towards Newmarket's Main Street via what would today be Cane Parkway.

The terminal for Newmmarket was at the Railroad Hotel, later known as the King George Hotel, at Timothy and Main Streets, although later on it did move a little west and a new terminal was built on Botsford Street across from the Old Town Hall. Amazingly, the tracks then continued northward up to Sutton West.

It can be problematic at times these days to even catch a bus up that far.

The so-called radial was quite the phenomenon for tourists from the big city of Toronto to the south.

Many Torontonians came up for the popular Newmarket Farmers' Market held each Saturday in the town and, according to the town of Newmarket's website, a North York Agricultural Fair was held here each September that also brought a great number of weary urbanites out for a bit of country charm.

The streetcar line also had other uses and was sometimes utilized to ship freight, such as fresh produce, down from the area and into Toronto.

The line was at first operated by the Metropolitan Railway Company from 1897 to 1904, before being acquired by the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company.

The TYRRC operated the service for a further 18 years until it was acquired by the City of Toronto and operated by Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario as the Hydro Electric Railways: Toronto and York Division in 1922.

As the automobile continued to gain traction as the faster way for folks who could afford it to get around the fortunes of the streetcar line began to sour.

A better network of roads and highways and cheaper automobiles also contributed to a sharp decline in the service's usage.

Ultimately service beyond Richmond Hill was discontinued in the early 1930s and in 1947 the tracks running from North Toronto to Richmond Hill were torn up as the automobile was clearly ruling the road.

Remember that the next time, when you're caught in traffic, and you're wondering if there isn't a better way to get to the city.