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Road trip Part 1: Toronto Railway Museum

By August 10, 2018Features

By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor

A family vacation took me to Vermont via Canada, so naturally some stops at railway museums were in order. The Toronto Railway Museum occupies a portion of the city-owned former Canadian Pacific 1931 John Street roundhouse. The rest of the building is shared by a micro brewery and an enormous game arcade.

The John Street roundhouse when it was still active.

The setting is jarring, surrounded on all sides by high density downtown development. Behind the roundhouse are high rise apartments and cross the street are three huge tourist attractions, the CN Tower, Rogers Centre baseball stadium and the Ripley’s Aquarium. The track connection is gone. The public is free to wander through the outdoor displays of buildings and rolling stock that surround the turnable, and the area teems with people. Admission is charged to view the exhibits inside the museum’s three roundhouse stalls, and about 40,000 annually do so. They can also purchase rides on the mini-rail that circles the property.

The rolling stock collection isn’t large, 15 pieces in all, but it’s representative. Together with the preserved buildings and interior displays, it gives a good picture of local railroading.

Canadian National 4-8-4 #6213 (Montreal 1942) sits next to a concrete coaling tower, as the Rogers Centre baseball stadium looms behind it.

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. In 1984, Cabin D, along with some other smaller auxiliary buildings, was relocated to the Roundhouse and restored.

On display left to right are original GO Transit coach 104 (Hawker Siddeley 1967), CN GP7 4803 (GMD 1953), CN caboose 79144 (London Shops 1957), Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo caboose 70 (ACF 1913), Canadian Pacific solarium-lounge Cape Race (National Steel Car 1929), and, on the turntable, Limestone Products 50 tonner #1 (Whitcomb 1950).

The mini-rail boards at the 1896 Canadian Pacific suburban Don Station.

This six-ton 40.5-inch gauge compressed air locomotive (H. K. Porter 1906) was built for the Plymouth Cordage Company in Welland, Ontario. That’s the CN Tower rising beyond it.

Dominion Atlantic business car Nova Scotia (Pullman 1896) is a long term restoration project.

Bonus trip photos

This scoop car and dump car from the Macissac Mining & Tunneling Company are displayed outside a visitor center near Sudbury, ON.

Recently restored Canadian Pacific 4-6-0 1095 (Canadian Locomotive Co. 1913) sits in a park on the Kingston, ON waterfront.

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