Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Train of Thought

June 2017 - Toronto ON

I was in the area of the CN Tower and on impulse went over to Roundhouse Park.

I found the information below at the Roundhouse Park website.
This great mural is hidden away in an unused area.

Roundhouse Park was created in 1997 on top of the southern expansion of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Encompassing some of the most valuable real estate in Canada, the park once saw little public use other than as a pedestrian shortcut between the Skydome and Lakeshore Boulevard. 

Today there is entertainment all around you. There is the CN Tower, Rogers Centre which hosts concerts and Blue Jays baseball, Ripley's Aquarium, Metro Convention Centre and numerous restaurants.

There is even the Steam Whistle brewery where you can get a beer and sit outside.

And of yesterday, The Rec Room opened. Cineplex Entertainment is opening its second the Rec Room location this summer, in the historic John St. Roundhouse, right next to the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Rogers Centre. The 40,000-square-foot space will fuse multiple types of entertainment with food and is geared toward millennials and baby boomers.

The Toronto Railway Historical Association is using the park as a permanent home for a live steam miniature railway and other outdoor exhibits illustrating Toronto's railway heritage. 

The western portion of the park closest to the Roundhouse features the original, fully restored and operational 120-foot long locomotive turntable. Immediately north of this is a carefully chosen collection of full-sized railway equipment. 

John Street Roundhouse could maintain 32 locomotives at a time. 32 bay doors make up the inner rounded facade of the building and face the 120 foot turntable. This turntable was the largest used by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and was constructed by the Canadian Bridge Company. The exterior and interior of the building is mostly composed of brick and glazing. Each of the bay doors is of wood construction and can be left open to reveal a floor to ceiling glass wall with a regular sized man door inset. Natural light floods the interior space from the curved loft space and all exterior facades. Refurbished wooden columns also stand within the interior of the structure.

In its prime, the John Street locomotive facilities contained 43 structures and several miles of track and covered nearly 16 acres of property. 

The John Street Roundhouse was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1929-31 by Anglin-Norcross to replace the earlier John Street roundhouse built in 1897. Trains were so properly maintained at this location that railroaders recognized them by their "John Street polish." When diesel run trains began being used, business was slowed at the Roundhouse and the building was last used for its original purpose in 1986. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company donated the roundhouse to the City of Toronto. It is the only remaining roundhouse in downtown Toronto (the CNR Spadina Roundhouse was demolished to make way for construction of the SkyDome now called the Rogers Centre). One third of the original structure was dismantled, to allow construction of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, then reconstructed (1995) by Hotson Bakker Architects and is now home to Steam Whistle Brewing.

Only two auxiliary structures from the days when the Roundhouse was in operation still exist in the park: the 60,000-gallon water tower adjacent to the brewery and the 650-ton concrete locomotive coaling tower near the intersection of Bremner & Rees streets. The water tower is in its original location while the coaling tower was moved at great expense prior to the construction of the Convention Centre parking garage upon which the park is built. Both structures feature interpretive signage and exhibits to explain their past functions. 

Moving to the east of the Roundhouse, the park visitor finds several items from the City of Toronto's collection of historic buildings, including the Don station and Cabin D. 

The Don Station was built in 1896 by Canadian Pacific Railway and was originally located at the Don River and Queen Street East along the western bank of the river. In 1969 it was moved to Todmorden Mills. For many years while it was there the station was boarded up and not open to the public. Upon its relocation to the Roundhouse park, it was repainted and repaired and opened to the public to purchase tickets for the Roundhouse Park Miniature Railway as well as a small gift shop.

Cabin D is a wooden interlocking tower built by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1896. For almost a hundred years the tower was located at the railway junction west of Bathurst Street and was used to coordinate the track switches and signal lights controlling the junction. In 1984, Cabin D, along with some other smaller auxiliary buildings, was relocated to the Roundhouse where they received restoration.

I decided to check out the Railway Museum. It isn't big but it only charges a nominal fee and is worthwhile.
The Toronto Railway Historical Association (TRHA) was established in 2001 and is now incorporated as a federally registered charity. Its primary focus is the development of the Toronto Railway Museum (TRM).

In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada, arriving at Wolfe's Cove, Quebec, on 17 May 1939. This was the first time that a reigning monarch had visited Canada. The King and Queen took a tour of the country by rail. The CPR and the Canadian National Railways (CNR) shared the honours of transporting the royal train across the country, with the CPR undertaking the westbound journey, from Quebec City to Vancouver. The steam locomotive that the CPR used to pull the train was numbered 2850, a 4-6-4 built by Montreal Locomotive works. Specially painted in silver and blue, the locomotive ran 3,224 mi (5,189 km) across Canada, through 25 changes of crew, without engine failure. The King, somewhat of a rail buff, rode in the cab when possible. The King was so impressed with the performance of 2850 and her class, that after the tour, the King gave the CPR permission to use the term "Royal Hudson" for the semi-streamlined locomotives of the class (numbered 2820-2859, 2860-2864 were built one year later as Royal Hudsons) and to display Royal Crowns on the running boards. This was the first, and last time a locomotive outside of the United Kingdom was given royal status by the reigning monarch

This building is now an LCBO, Liquor Control Board of Ontario store which pays homage to its heritage.

Some photos I had from that LCBO.

Back to the museum.

First class travelers on C.P.R. steamships and railways ate off of distinctive lines of china and silverware, and had the opportunity to purchase C.P.R. souvenirs, such as dishware, picture frames and diaries to fill in the memories of their journeys.


  1. I would enjoy this! Thanks for sharing, Jackie!

  2. I wish we had more time and were able to see the roundhouse and museum.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. ...and who doesn't love trains.


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