“Yes, we’re gonna have a subway in Toronto;we’ve got to get the working man home pronto…”
“Canada’s First Subway” was completed in Toronto in 1954, after 4 long years of construction. The cost for that groundbreaking transit system was around $60 million (source).
It was an immediate hit with the people; 250,000 rode it on the first day. Its opening established it as an icon for the booming economy that lay ahead for post-war Toronto (source).
Now if you have been following my blog for some time you know that I have a thing for fun history and sometimes history that is a bit kitschy and there is nothing more kitschy then a song written about the making of the Toronto Subway.
**Originally recorded in 1950, the Toronto Subway Song was written by Mel Hamill. Betty Carr and Charles Baldour performed the vocals, backed by the Ozzie Williams Band (Source).
**When the Toronto Subway Song‘s singers mention “bearing the noise” and the inconvenience caused by construction, they weren’t exaggerating. As crews were excavating one downtown section, for instance, they ran into solid rock that stretched from Front Street to Queen Street. This meant that for much of the excavation period, workers had to use dynamite twice each day — at noon and at 4:30 p.m. — which caused quite a noise disturbance for the city (Source).
Can’t hear the song? Here are the words:
Now have you heard what’s going on in Toronto?
They’re digging deeper, deeper, deeper every day.
Though proprietors are raving while they’re tearing up the paving,
The racket is nerve-wracking, so they say.
And though the noise may be distressing, so construction is progressing,
And we can’t afford a further delay
So with the help of you and me and the blessed T.T.C.
We’ll soon have a real subway.
Yes, we’re gonna have a subway in Toronto.
We gotta get the working man home pronto.
So bear the noise with a smile and in a little while
We’ll be riding in a new subway.
Now it’s generally conceded that a subway here is needed
For the people have to get to work each day.
We have men in Deseronto, girls who live in North Toronto
And to all of them we have just this to say:
Modern history’s in the making with this hallowed undertaking
And Rome wasn’t built in a day.
You may find it’s aggravating, but be sure it’s worth the waiting
For we’ll soon have a real subway.
Now with modern engineering dear old Yonge Street’s disappearing
By the truckload they are hauling it away (INTERJECTION: Stay away!)
Excavation so extensive will doubtless be expensive
But who cares about expenses anyway? (INTERJECTION: anyway)
Though we may have open Sundays there are plenty of blue Mondays
When the pile drivers start every day
The workmen do the swearing while the public do the staring
And we’ll soon have a real subway. (INTERJECTION: Yes, sir!)
Repeat CHORUS, then:
Don’t take the streetcar,
Riding in a new subway!
To end this post I will leave you with a poem which was written about the bystanders who watched this historic subway being built.
Do you have a Kitschy song about your city?