Nov. 22, 2002: The Sheppard subway line opens its doors
On Nov. 22, 2002 at 11 a.m., a train carrying Ontario premier Ernie Eves, Toronto mayor Mel Lastman, Transport Canada minister David Collenette and TTC chair Betty Disero broke through a banner across the track at Don Mills station, officially opening the Sheppard subway line.
Following the inaugural ride, there was a public open house, and the public was able to ride the new Line 4 free of charge while enjoying entertainment provided by bands and performing arts students.
There were also gifts handed out, including complimentary tote bags.
Toronto’s first new subway line since 1966, the Sheppard line cost almost $100 million to construct and took seven-and-a-half years to build.
It was the city’s first fully accessible subway line with elevators at every station, and it was the first subway in Canada constructed by tunnel boring machines. While it was criticized as “the line that goes nowhere,” it ushered in new thinking about infrastructure including public art.
Each of the five stations on the line features a unique work of art, which range from murals to trompe-l’oeuil sketches; at the time of the subway opening, Bessarion station was heralded by the public for its colour scheme (burgundy and cream) and Yonge-Sheppard for its tiled walls.
“Artists managed to create works that engage riders, turning travellers into audience members along the way,” Star columnist Christopher Hume wrote.
“It’s the art that humanizes the subway and helps remind us that getting around underground doesn’t have to be dreary, dull and dirty.”
Fourteen years later, there is talk of expanding the Sheppard line.