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Confusing Signage

which way? Legible London is an exhibit on now at the New London Architecture centre. Apparently, people take the subway for very short distances over there because the city can be near impossible to navigate: many people use the Tube map to navigate above ground, and the street signs are a confusing mishmash of different fonts and styles, and sometimes contradictory information (see photo, more examples here).
So, Torontonians, we ask of you: should we substitute charm for legibility? Does our city have any examples of such confusion? (perhaps the signs at the corner of Bloor and Borden are still turned around, but maybe they’ve been righted). And and what distance would you forego the subway to walk instead?
(via Worldchanging)


  • Ryan C.

    The most annoying signage I find is on the 501 streetcar going east. Sucks to get on when it’s sign says it goes to Neville Park, but they get a call midway through the ride and short-turn at Kingston, particularly in the winter months. Gah, I say.

  • MightyLambchop

    I didn’t have a problem navigating the city when I visited in June. The problem I had was TTC’s telephone help line. It took me three calls to figure out that I had to choose a specific route before I could actually talk to a live person.
    I could’ve walked from York Mills to Yonge St in less time.
    That said, once I knew how the whole system worked I was good to go.

  • Deekay

    I always get lost at Dundas West station, and get my directions mixed up there, because of the odd cross section of two east-west streets.
    Come to think of it, coming out of most subway stations downtown is pretty confusing the first few times you use them…especially when you can’t find the CN Tower to use as reference. Once that peeps out from behind buildings I’m usually good to go.

  • Marc Lostracco

    The Wellesley subway station has a brass compass inlaid into the sidewalk as you exit. Every single subway station should have this, especially since different exits often plunk you around the corner from some major intersection.

  • Ben

    Let’s say you want to go from Whole Foods in Yorkville to the Boulevard Cafe on Harbord. You just go south down Avenue Road, take a single right turn and, voila, you’re packing away their delicious sea bass aticuchos.
    In the real world of Toronto street nomenclature you have to head south on Avenue, then continue south on Queen’s Park Circle, hang a right on Hoskin, and arrive at your destination on Harbord.
    I really don’t understand why they don’t rename that little stretch of Hoskin.

  • andrew

    When Da Zoque came to play at York University, they proclaimed the Keele campus to have signage even worse than Montreal’s.

  • GMD

    I do get the Museum sign, though. If you’re on foot, go right, otherwise, go left.

  • rek

    Bathurst station also has a brass compass in the sidewalk. What bothers me about some of the (downtown) stations is that some of the signs tell you which direction the streetcars go upstairs, not which side of the street(s) you’ll exit.
    You want bad signage? There’s a sign near one of the exists at York Mills station that’s on a pole, but low enough you can smack your forehead into it.
    Why doesn’t the city have a tourist-friendly signage program in place? Signs relevant to tourists (TTC in particular) should be in English, French, and the languages of a few of the largest tourist groups. When I was in Japan earlier this year I was impressed as all hell to find signs in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. Even the subway announcements were repeated in English.

  • Danielle

    Is it just me, or is there something weird about the signage that tells you which street car is going westbound from Queen Station? I swear, I have lived here four years now and have to do that transfer like twice a year, and end up on the wrong side of the street every time, despite the fact that there is a subway entrance on that side (north-east).
    I mean, I can read! Is it really possible I screw it up everytime?
    (please do not point out the obvious ‘yes’ that should follow the above statement).

  • Lisa R-R

    How about a nomination for the Casa Loma signs at the top of Spadina where it meets Davenport.
    One sign to Casa Loma points up the steep steps, and one points left along Davenport.
    I am guessing one is for pedestrians and one for cars, but both signs say Casa Loma.

  • james

    Did anyone else notice this summer that some helpful soul went around and stencil-painted a “North –>” arrow on the ground at the exit of a lot of subway stations?