The Toronto Street Railway was a privately-owned transit company that solidified its operations in 1886-87 with the building of a horse barn in the Front Street and Sherbourne Street area. When, in 1886, the company refused to recognize the Knights of Labor as the workers’ union, thousands of citizens boycotted streetcars driven by scabs.
It was the city’s first big streetcar strike. The employer fired union supporters, refused to negotiate, and forced workers to join a company union. In response, a core of 13 activists forged Local 113 (the number honours the 13) of the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Workers of America, in 1899. On January 26, 1920, after 30 years of lobbying by the Toronto labour council, Toronto voters chose to make the transit system a public enterprise and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was created. Now the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, the local represents about 10,000 workers at the TTC, North America’s third largest public transit system.