The Horse Revolution of 1884

A Tale of Toronto’s Transit

The Horse Revolution of 1884


In the early days of public transit in Toronto, streetcars ruled the roads. The Toronto Street Railway Company operated horse-drawn streetcars along the city’s muddy streets. The rails kept the vehicles out of the mud, and reduced rolling resistance, so a horse could pull a larger load. Where the 262 horsecars couldn’t go, they had 100 omnibuses & 100 sleighs to back them up.

The TSR employed over 1,350 horses to keep the service moving. Harry the Horse was a proud member of the TSR’s team, and had been working there since the company opened in 1861. 2_horse_jack

Toronto’s Industrial Fair & Semi-Centennial Exposition of 1884 

Swarms of Torontonians and outside visitors would come to the City’s yearly Industrial Exhibition to see what wonderful new technology it had to display. That years main attraction was Toronto’s first electric railway, built by Charles Van Depoele and J.J. Wright.

dsc_0002When the hard-working horses of the TSR discovered that the city was planning on phasing out their jobs with electric streetcars in the coming decade, they were OUTRAGED!

The horses revolted!4_horse_rebelA riot broke out, led by Harry the Horse, as they trashed the exhibition and over turned the streetcars.

The horses took the human’s top hats and whips, and took over the city.

7_overthrowing_transitPublic transit was overthrown!6_horses_enslave

…and the humans were enslaved. The horses forced the streetcar’s drivers to pull the vehicles around. 

Toronto’s streets were filled with these “human-drawn horsecars.” The City officials were not happy.9_human_drawing


The City Council negotiated with the horses to let the humans go. In exchange the horses got huge severances and free rides on transit forever.


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