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. The physical stack is made up of substacks for each station. The presentation galleries are also divided by station and may be accessed through the section menu. The transfers at the bottom of a substack are at the top left of each gallery, with transfers closer to the top being toward the bottom right. This is on the off chance that the substacks were arranged in roughly chronological order with the oldest on the bottom; I no longer remember.

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.

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