Photos from the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre

A few weeks (months!) ago I began going through all of my yet-unposted photographs, and presented some shots from the old roundhouse in Toronto. That roundhouse is currently occupied by three different organizations, the brewery which I previously featured, a furniture store, and the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. The TRHC is a relatively young organization, and the first part of their museum proper, in Roundhouse Park, opened in May of last year. I got a chance to visit the place at the start of their opening season, and took a ride on their mini railway. I also took lots of pictures – and procrastinated in posting them. So a few months shy of a year, here they are.

Volunteers are still working hard to make Roundhouse Park a great museum devoted to rail history in Canada. The significant feature of the park, the John Street Roundhouse, was completed in 1931, and used by the Canadian Pacific Railway up until 1986. It was eventually donated to the city of Toronto. A 60,000-gallon water tower exists in its original location (the water tower had to be moved during construction of the parking garage for the Convention Centre, which is underneath Roundhouse Park. Portions of the roundhouse were also dismantled and then reconstructed), now painted with the Steamwhistle Brewing logo.

Also located in the park are Don Station and Cabin D. Don Station was constructed in 1896 and was originally located alongside the Don River. The station was relocated to Roundhouse Park, and serves as a point to purchase tickets for the 7.25″ gauge miniature railway. Cabin D was also originally built in 1896, by the Grand Trunk Railway, and it coordinated track switches and signal lights. It was also relocated to Roundhouse Park.

All of these facilities in the park are beginning to look amazing, and the miniature railway serves as a fun way to tour the grounds. Don Station once again serves as a station, as opposed to the boarded up shell it once was before being moved to the park. Writing about places like the Railway Heritage Centre, the Milton on Hudson station, and even the Danbury Railway Museum, I’m always amazed by the sheer determination of rail-interested volunteers. The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is certainly shaping up to be quite a wonderful place, and if you ever happen to be in the Toronto area, I highly recommend it.

 
  
   
  
 
  
   
 
  
   
   
 
   

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The Brewery in the Roundhouse: Steam Whistle Brewing

Beer-loving railfans, rejoice! I’ve found the perfect place for you to visit… It has been quite a few months since I’ve come back from Canada (I went in June), and I have such a backlog of photos that I had intended on posting, but never got around to. Some of my Toronto photos managed to get up here a bit ago, but so far I’ve left out one of the nicer places I visited there, including the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre.

The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is a relatively young organization, and the first part of their museum proper, in Roundhouse Park, opened in May of this year. I got a chance to visit the place at the start of their opening season, and took a ride on their mini railway. I’ll be posting up some pictures of the actual Heritage Centre a bit later, and today focusing on another resident in Roundhouse Park: Steam Whistle Brewing.

The John Street Roundhouse in Toronto was completed in 1931, and used by the Canadian Pacific Railway up until 1986. The 32-bay roundhouse was later donated by the railroad to the city of Toronto. The grounds around the roundhouse building became known as Roundhouse Park, and it is just adjacent to the Rogers Centre, and practically underneath the enormous CN Tower. Underneath the park and roundhouse is a parking garage, and part of the Convention Centre – when these were constructed, a portion of the roundhouse had to be dismantled. It was later put back together, and has been nicely restored.

Steam Whistle Brewing has taken up residence in bays 1 through 14 in the old roundhouse. Although the name of the beer sounds perfect for a business in an old steam engine roundhouse, it isn’t related to trains. The steam whistle it refers to is the 5 o’clock whistle – marking the end of the work day.

If you ever get the chance to visit Toronto, you can take a tour of the factory, see where the beer is made, and see the old restored roundhouse. And of course, get some free samples of beer (my brother thoroughly enjoyed this – being 20 he can legally drink in Canada, but not here in the States).

 
  
   
 
   
   
   
   

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Riding the TTC: Toronto’s Streetcars

Across the country there were once many streetcar systems, even in New York. Many of those have over the years been removed, in a few cases because the streetcars added to the difficult traffic conditions in the cities. Though Manhattan’s trains were moved underground, the streetcar systems in San Francisco and New Orleans have still survived. New Orleans’ system has been forever written into the public consciousness by Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire, and is one of the two North American streetcar systems that has operated with little changes in route. The other is Toronto Transit Commission’s streetcar system, which is the largest in North America.

I’ve gotten the chance to ride on all three of the mentioned streetcar systems, though most recently Toronto’s system. The TTC operates 11 streetcar lines, and has an averages 285,600 riders daily. Although mostly operating above ground, there are several underground connections, like the one I photographed below, at Union Station.




I didn’t really travel very far on the streetcar. I pretty much wanted to be able to say I rode it, and get some photos :D

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Canadian Adventures: Toronto’s Union Station & Skywalk

While I was in Toronto I had the chance to visit the busiest train station in Canada, Union Station. It is a great example of the Beaux-arts style (like Grand Central) in Canada. Via Rail, Amtrak, Ontario Northland, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) all operate trains out of the station (and in the case of the TTC, Streetcars as well). Construction on Union Station was completed in 1920. It was designed by Ross and Macdonald, HG Jones and JM Lyle, and opened in 1927.

The central area of the station is called the Great Hall, and is quite beautiful. I must admit, though, I am biased… it pales in comparison to Grand Central. I would have loved to take more photos of the station, but with the G20 Summit approaching security was being heightened, and I was asked to not photograph any more. The first photo is the one that I got in trouble for. Though I think it turned out pretty nicely, so it was worth it. In hindsight, I was rather dense to start taking photos right in front of the security office.






Stretching above the streets from Union Station is a Skywalk, which extends to the convention center, and close to the CN Tower and Toronto Railway Heritage Center (which I’ll be posting pictures of soon). Other than being a pretty cool looking walk way, the Skywalk also extends over the railroad tracks, so it is a nice vantage point for photography. All in all I really enjoyed Toronto, and I’d highly recommend visiting Union Station and the Railway Heritage Center for anyone in the area. And once the Summit is over, I’m sure the cops will not be quite as strict regarding photography.

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NY’s Decorated Train: A Bronx Zoo themed S Train

After coming back from Japan I posted a bunch of pictures of some of Japan’s decorated trains. Although they seem far more common there, we do get some decorated trains here in New York City every once and a while. One of my recent favorites is the adorably cute Bronx Zoo themed train. I caught up with the train several weeks ago in Grand Central, it was running as the shuttle between there and Times Square.








If you happen to take a ride on one of these trains, be sure to look up at the ceiling. It just might make you smile. I nearly missed it myself, guess I wasn’t too observant that night. But look up, a giraffe will be staring back at you. After seeing this train I totally want to go to the zoo!

In other news, I am totally getting my act together with the rest of my pictures from Japan, and the more recent ones from Toronto. I got in trouble taking pictures in Toronto’s Union Station, but also had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre, which was great fun (well, not the part with the cops, or as my brother called them, Canadian Bacon). I liked the trains, my brother liked the beer. The old railway roundhouse now serves as a beer brewery, and of course they have samples for visitors. It helps if I tell you that my brother is only twenty – not quite drinking age in the US, but old enough to drink in Canada.

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