Not a One-Horse Town: 125 Years of Toronto and Its Streetcars


150 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 0-920668-77-1
DDC 388.4'6'09713541






Reviewed by John H. Gryfe

John H. Gryfe is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon practicing in


Henry Williams, an English-born Toronto upholsterer and cabinetmaker
introduced public transportation into his adopted city (population
21,000) in 1849. His single-horse-drawn omnibus was replaced, in 1861,
by the Toronto Street Railway Company’s steel-track-directed utility,
creating a system that remains to this day an object of love for the
Queen City’s environmentalists, history buffs, and commuters.

Filey, a well-known Torontophile, has used the history of the “Red
Rocket” as the theme for yet another of his numerous entertaining
recollections of Ontario’s capital. His prose, while light and
unpretentious, imparts surprisingly large amounts of history to the
uninformed reader. The photographs, as in most of Filey’s previous
books, are the highlight of the endeavor.

To native-born people like me, the pictures are a reminder of the
dynamic city we’ve grown up in and continue to be part of. Like
Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton and Metropolitan Toronto Chairman Dennis
Flynn (both of whom provide introductory comments), I too have nostalgic
recollections of streetcar adventures, from winter rides up Bay Street
in the wood-stove-warmed Witt cars to bent pennies manufactured on the
tracks of the St. Clair Streamliner.

The pictures span a hundred years of Toronto history, detailing the
growth, sophistication, and multicultured flavor that have given Toronto
the great international reputation it enjoys today. And there—large
and small, singular or in groups—they appear in each shot: streetcars,
Toronto’s common thread.


Filey, Mike., “Not a One-Horse Town: 125 Years of Toronto and Its Streetcars,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,