The day Richmond Hill line was born – Rare photos of the first customers gathered for inaugural run

As Metrolinx News continues HistoricGO – a regular series devoted to digging into our files in search of interesting images and nicknacks from the pasts of Metrolinx, GO Transit, PRESTO, and UP Express – we’ve pulled out images of when one of our major routes was so very new.

Every day, the Richmond Hill line sees about 6,000 boardings – GO trains a routine part of many lives as it now stretches 42.3 kilometres from downtown Toronto up to Gormley Station.

But like your own life, there had to be a birth – a start to it all.

Though, fair enough, you likely didn’t have a clown band on hand when you were delivered.

From inside a file box stored away at Metrolinx’s Union Station headquarters, we’ve found a small, white leather photo album, containing images of the April 29, 1978, opening ceremony and inaugural run of the Richmond Hill line.

A train, with 'Welcome Go' on a poster on the front, makes its way across a rail bridge.

A vintage train was used to carry the message that GO was operating on the Richmond Hill line. (Metrolinx photo)

To bring you back to the era – ‘Annie Hall’ was the movie to see, Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle were playing on your family’s car radio and a Trudeau was Canada’s prime minister.

A clown band plays as customers board a GO train.

The first Richmond Hill Line customers walk to the beat of a clown band. (Metrolinx photo)

To bring you back to the Richmond Hill line inauguration, these pictures of the day the ribbon-cutting event took place – celebrating passenger runs at Union Station, Oriole, Old Cummer, Langstaff and stopping at Richmond Hill (Gormley Station was added in 2016) – show a ceremonial, vintage engine with a ‘Welcome GO’ sign proudly affixed to the front.

Crowds gather to see an historic train arrive at the station.

A ceremonial GO train arrives at Langstaff Station. (Metrolinx photo)

As well as excited crowds who showed up on that Saturday, there are undated pictures that appear to show the first regular GO train service on the line, which began on Monday, May 1, 1978.

Officials cut a ribbon.

The ribbon is cut on the Richmond Hill line. (Metrolinx photo)

By all accounts, the birth was a celebration of speeches and souvenir tickets and promises of countless journeys to come.

A souvenir ticket, with a GO train depicted on the front, and 'Richmond Hill Rail Inauguration' written across, is shown.

A souvenir given to day one riders on May 1, 1978. (Metrolinx photo)