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Vintage messages on TTC etiquette posters still resonate

TTC etiquette posters City of Toronto Archives

City of Toronto Archives

Have you ever thought, mid-commute, that public transit vehicles should have prominent signs instructing fellow passengers on etiquette?

The Toronto Transit Commission did, according to a stack of vintage advertisements uncovered this week in the depths of the City of Toronto Archives.

Chris Bateman, a regular in the records room, found the ads and posted them over at news and culture website blogTO. Surprisingly, Mr. Bateman found, the Great Depression-era messages have a lot of relevance decades later.

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"It's pretty relatable I think," he said. "Ninety-nine per cent of the issues that they're trying to deal with are the exact same today."

The posters depict people boarding through the wrong door of the street car, crowding the front half of the car, blocking exits, fumbling with change, and failing to pull the stop signal on time.

But the ads are clearly from a different era, and much more colourful than the current batch of TTC ads that implore riders to pick up their trash or offer their seats to people who may be in need of one.

One vintage poster shows a man exiting a streetcar through the front doors, while a passenger waiting to board remarks: "Another 'wrong way' Corrigan!" The ad is in reference to an American pilot who, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, famously flew east from Brooklyn to Dublin in 1938, having intended to fly west to California.

Another depicts a well-dressed woman with an armful of groceries and a screaming kid. Behind her is a man who comments to another male passenger: "My wife never goes home in rush hours."

Others implore readers to buy victory bonds, or instruct riders to remember the ails of soldiers in overseas combat before they complain about service issues.

Overall, they're a charming look into the past experience of TTC riders.

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Mr. Bateman said he didn't expect to find such an entertaining haul, but thought they would resonate with riders.

"It's one of the older institutions of the city," he said. "People kind of have a fondness for it."

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