Toronto, Part II - The following post is the second of four I have put together to chronicle the various trains I saw on a recent trip to Toronto with my family in mid-March. You can read the first part here.
I was like a moth to a flame when I saw the roundhouse. When my family was recently in Toronto, I was able to find a few minutes to go for a walk along the tracks downtown. The official purpose was to make my way to the Ripley's Aquarium and check out the line before my family visited the attraction. I knew the Toronto Railway Museum was across the road, but not having been to the area in years, I forgot that the museum had all its artifacts spread throughout Roundhouse Park for anyone to see for free. So, after checking out the line at the aquarium, I figured I had about five minutes to check out the trains before heading back to our rented condo where my family would be waking up from their naps.
I was able to pack a lot into five minutes.
This was my favourite piece in the park. This is a 1953-built GP7 that was used throughout Canada on the CN. It was retired in 1984 and donated to the City of Toronto to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Given that it was retired in 1984, this unit obviously wore the red and black wet-noodle scheme when it was pulled from service, but the museum chose to apply CN's green and yellow scheme, which was used until the wet noodle scheme began to be rolled out in 1961. That means this unit was in this green and yellow scheme for a relatively short time.
When you pass by the roundhouse on Bremner Boulevard, the first thing you see is wooden Canadian National caboose 79144 and the maroon Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo caboose 70. The TH&B caboose was built in 1921 as a wooden caboose. The car was sheeted in steel in the 1950s and was painted yellow and black, which was meant to honour Hamilton's Canadian Football League team, the Tiger-Cats. The TH&B, formed in 1892, operated until 1987. Its corporate parents were the Canadian Pacific and CSX (successor to original TH&B partner New York Central).
The CN caboose was actually a wooden boxcar built in 1920, which was transformed into a caboose in 1957. The caboose is a recent addition to the museum, having been donated in 2014. The car was in recent years used as an office at a garden supply centre and nursery in the Toronto area. The interior of the caboose is still a work in progress, according to the museum's website.
Here's a better shot, above, of the TH&B caboose's façade and trucks. You can see that the window beneath the cupola was sheeted over at one point. Despite that, the caboose is still a striking piece of rail history, especially in the maroon paint and the classic TH&B logo. I have a beloved TH&B wooden boxcar as part of my HO scale trains (currently boxed up, sadly), so this road has always been one of my favourite fallen flags.
I like that this museum has an old Alco S2 switcher in the CP Rail multimark scheme. Despite its more modern colour scheme, this unit was built in 1944. This unit weighs 120 tonnes. It was powered by an inline six-cylinder, 1000-horsepower engine. CP soon began replacing its S2s with the lighter S3s. You can read about the S3 in this previous post
. This unit was retired from service as a local switcher in Toronto in 1986. You will notice in the photo that this switcher is coupled to another switcher. Given its position behind those cement columns and fencing (not seen in photo), I was unable to get any useful shots of the maroon and grey switcher.
This is Canadian Pacific 411281, a 1931-built heavyweight sleeper, which was converted to maintenance of way service at some point, hence the CP Rail script. From what I could find, this sleeper was once called Jackman. It spent a good deal of time at the downtown CP Yard and at the John Street roundhouse before it was officially retired and donated to the museum.
This old CP station, the Don Station
, has perhaps the most interesting history of any of the artifacts at the old John Street roundhouse. The station was built by the Canadian Pacific in 1896 near Queen Street as a suburban station to serve the needs of passengers who didn't want to go all the way to Union Station. This type of suburban station was quite common in big cities for decades until the development of better roads and highways eliminated the need for them.
In the case of this station, it remained operational until 1967, mainly as a stopover for passenger trains arriving from Peterborough or Havelock. After it was closed, the station was moved to the Todmorden Mills historic village in the Don Valley in 1969, where it housed a railway display. After a while, it was used for storage. It was recently moved to Roundhouse Park, where it has become a centerpiece.
It is the last remaining example of this style of turn-of-the-century station that existed all around Toronto. One note to the fine folks at the railway museum: it's time to powerwash the decking surrounding the station. I nearly slipped and fell as did a few other people.
This regal looking car is Canadian Pacific Cape Race
, which was built in 1929 as River Liard. The interior was finished at CP's Angus Shops in Montreal. Typical of the heavyweight lounge cars of the time, this car had both men's and women's showers, smoking rooms and a women's lounge. These cars were not initially revenue producing, as they were placed in the consist for the exclusive use of passengers using sleeping cars. In the 1940s, the car was converted into a revenue-generating sleeper and was renamed Cape Race. The car was then used as a business car before it was acquired by a rail history society for use on railfanning trips. The years have been kind to this car. It's still a looker.
Cabin D, above, served as an interlocking tower at the rail junction just west of Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto, until it was moved to the roundhouse in 1984 and refurbished. The museum posted photos several years ago of the tower's move to its spot in the park
One final shot of Cabin D and an adjacent rail structure located right beside the CNR GP9 and just across the tracks from the old Don Station. Next time I'm in Toronto, I will have to splurge and spend a full 10 minutes in the park to take in all this rail history. As it stands, I was happy to squeeze in this time.