Motor coach terminal, Bay and Edward streets, Toronto, December 19, 1931. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 9041.
When intercity bus travel arrived in Toronto during the 1920s, passengers had to make due with open air terminals that offered little in terms of comfort. The growth of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Gray Coach Lines division fuelled the need for a permanent structure to provide services to weary travellers. On December 19, 1931, local and provincial dignitaries gathered to officially open the Gray Coach Terminal (now the Toronto Coach Terminal) for passenger service, with a promise that the doors would be open at all hours of the day.
Dundas and Bay, Gray Lines Terminal, June 16, 1928. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 5943.
The terminal was built on the site of an existing open-air depot at the southwest corner of Bay and Edward. Construction appears to have been rapid—the preliminary layout of the building was made on site in April 1931, but pictures taken two months later revealed little progress. By December, the finishing touches were made and photographers were allowed to snap away before the first passengers arrived.
Acting Premier, Attorney-General Price, severing silk tape that officially dispatched the first coach from the Bay St motor coach terminal, December 19, 1931. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 9029.
The official ceremony was held at 12:30 p.m. Attorney-General W.H. Price, standing in for Premier George Stewart Henry, cut the ribbon. Mayor William James Stewart proceeded to buy the first ticket, a return trip from Hamilton. After half-an-hour of speeches, passengers boarded the first bus to the Steel City and were seen off by Price. “It must have been a surprise,” noted the Globe, “to see a gentleman poke his head into the coach and on behalf of the province of Ontario wish all and sundry a Merry Christmas and add that he hoped their lives would be a pleasant as the bus and last as long as the new terminal.”
Mayor William James Stewart purchasing first ticket issued at opening of Bay St motor coach terminal, December 19, 1931. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 9030.
Mayor Stewart and TTC chairman William C. McBrien also poked their heads on the bus. “Then, the wide-eyed and disconcerted passengers were about to comment on this new policy of the Queen City in giving a big send-off to visitors, the bus lurched forward and the crowd of city fathers and leading citizens without burst into a mighty cheer. And the passengers lapsed back into silent awe, wondering if Rudy Vallee was in their midst. He wasn’t. Neither was Babe Ruth.”
Motor coach terminal, Bay and Edward streets, Toronto, North Mezzanine, looking west – December 19, 1931. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 9035.
Dignitaries boarded another bus bound for a roof garden luncheon at the Royal York Hotel. The head table was designed to resemble a miniature highway, complete with buses and road signs. McBrien opened the lunch with a thanks to city council for its support of the project, noting how its development had been free of political rancor—”You have treated us as men and we appreciate it very much.” Stewart noted how proud he was to be McBrien’s friend—”You have given fearless and sane administration. While it has been my privilege to be a friend of yours, you have not endeavoured to use friendship to dictate actions to me.” Price admitted his initial opposition to the TTC’s control of the terminal, due to fears of a monopoly, and urged co-ordination between all agencies running the modes of transportation used in the city (rail, truck, boat, etc).
Sources: the December 19, 1931 edition of The Telegram and the December 21, 1931 editions of The Globe and The Mail and Empire.