Torontonians may have noticed that some of the city’s streetcars and buses are looking a little more colourful this month. In celebration of the Lunar New Year and the year of the tiger, the TTC has wrapped some of its vehicles in an artistic new design.
Toronto resident Felicity Tse took to Facebook last week to share a heartfelt shoutout to her mother, Brenda Tong, who created the new look for the TTC.
"The TTC had its first Lunar New Year-themed wrap this year, designed by my mom! A Chinese immigrant working in the Canadian graphic design industry for 25+ years," she wrote in a post that now has more than 15 thousand likes.
Tse and Tong spoke to Narcity about the project.
“I wanted my mom to get the credit she deserved! I've watched her work so hard over the years, but she's always been very humble, keeping her awards and accomplishments within our immediate family and some coworkers,” Tse told Narcity.
“I was honoured and proud to create a design to represent and share my culture, and this one is being showcased all around the city on streetcars and buses during the New Year,” Tong told Narcity via email.
Tong, who works as a TTC employee in the Design and Wayfinding Department, said the designs were meant to convey emotions of joy and happiness during the New Year celebrations, and bring a message of new beginnings that are full of hope and prosperity.
"The wrap also draws attention from the public, encouraging them to take the TTC, which can help save the environment and bring support to the front line workers during this difficult time," she said.
"It’s also [been] really rewarding to hear from people that they intend to take the TTC just so they can see my designs, or that they wish they had something like this in their city. It is very exciting to be part of a 'first.'"
Tong immigrated to Toronto from Hong Kong in 1988 and was on her own for a year before reuniting with her husband and son. During her year apart from her family, she said she needed to learn to quickly adapt to life in Canada.
"Like every new immigrant, I needed to look for a place to stay, a job, a way to travel around, and most of all, to learn about the Canadian culture," she said.
Tong said she was the only Asian person working at a design office that coordinated Canada Post stamps two decades ago. From there, she had the opportunity to design Canada Post’s first Lunar New Year postage designs.
"This was the first time I had a chance to promote and let Canadians know more about Asian culture, their traditions and how they celebrate," Tong said.
Since then, she’s worked on the design team for Toronto’s SkyDome, which is now the Rogers Centre, and the Air Canada Centre, which is now the Scotiabank Arena. Tong said she's done several award-winning projects in the U.S., which even made it to the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Tse said "traditional" Asian parents tend to discourage their kids from having careers in creative fields because they’re not always seen as jobs that earn enough money. But her parents chose to encourage their passions, no matter what.
“They've given me the confidence over the years to pursue what I'm passionate about and to improve no matter what. There's always something to learn, and always something new to experience,” she said.
Here’s where Torontonians can catch a glimpse of the following routes:
- 510 Spadina streetcar
- 506 Carlton
- 25 Don Mills
- 39 Finch East
- 53 Steeles East
The buses and streetcars will be running throughout the 6ix for the duration of the Lunar New Year.