|Designed by elusive artist James Sutherland, the TTC’s Dupont Station murals were unveiled in 1978|
I hadn’t intended to continue our TTC Garden Tour so quickly. But there I was at Spadina Station with my camera. It was just a long tunnel trek and a one-stop hop over to Dupont. And no TTC Garden Tour would be complete without a visit to the city’s most spectacular subway station.
The murals are composed of thousands of glass tiles. In fact, that’s one of the few facts you’ll find, over and over, when you try to Google the artist who won the commission for the work, James Sutherland. The details of his life and works must exist in some knowledge bank, but right now they’re mostly outside the reach of the internet. How refreshing. And yet how frustrating.
The tiled murals on either side of the tracks as well as upstairs in the mezzanine are collectively titled A Spadina Summer Under All Seasons. Dupont is on the Spadina line, after all. If you disembark at Dupont and walk up the hill* to Casa Loma (Toronto’s “castle”), you’ll be right next door to Spadina House, with a wonderful early 20th-century period garden that you must visit one day.
While the Avenue and Road are Spa-deye-na, the house and gardens are Spa-dee-na. One of Toronto’s charming quirks. (*The word “spadina” derives from an Ojibway word for a steep hill.)
The Spadina subway line opened in 1978. It’s easy to be nostalgic, perhaps falsely so, about the optimism of those times. The CN Tower, Eaton Centre and Toronto Reference Library were only two years old then. In building the Spadina line, the TTC attempted to bring art underground to enhance the everyday lives of its users. A novel concept these days. Dupont Station is the most lasting, most dramatic exemplar of that time in transit – still beautiful, at least to my eyes, more than 30 years later.