They're "Only" Paper Strips

As a child in the late-80s and early-90s I collected Toronto Transit Commission transfers issued from the automated dispensers typically found in subway and RT stations. This design of transfer was replaced by a technically superior design in the mid-90s (1997?), a design that continues to be used. Granted, as a matter of habit I started collecting the new ones too, but it wasn't the same after that. The collection presented here is of the pre-1997 design.

Time, and the poor method which I used to store them in earlier years, has visibly taken a toll. They were finally scanned in March 2011; I should have done this sooner. There are approximately 500 transfers from 43 stations.

For a long time, the transfers were stored in a single stack held together by a rubber band. The stack was organized by station. The Bloor-Danforth stations (starting at Kipling) were at the top, with the Yonge-University-Spadina stations (starting at Wilson) in the middle, and the CNE transfers at the bottom. The rubber band helps to explain the particularly poor condition of the first Kipling transfer. The order of the stack is preserved in the gallery; within each station's "substack" I believe older transfers were closer to the top.

I cannot remember visiting more than a handful of the stations represented. In hindsight it is apparent how much of the collection I owe to doting relatives, who understood these simple strips of paper and small joys went hand in hand.

Indeed, the collection was not even started by me. That honour goes to my maternal grandfather. He, and sometimes with my maternal grandmother for good measure, frequently escorted a littler me from the suburbs to the downtown core and back again on public transit. It seems fitting that in the early years the collection was kept safe at their apartment where many of those trips started and ended.

Transfer Dispensers

The old dispensers were small stamping machines; the spiffy red machines that followed produced transfers by printing. Each machine was loaded with a large paper roll preprinted with the basic transfer design (columns of small TTC logos, maybe a stripe or stripes down the middle.)

When a transfer was requested, a slip was cut from the roll and stamped before being pushed out the slot. The mechanical operation produced a characteristic sound: two loud “thumps” in quick succession. I'm sure there were those who could tell, purely from the sound, when a transfer was about to be botched.

If there are any other photos of the old transfer dispensers on the Web, I would be grateful if somebody would direct me to them.