May 18th, 2022
Beaches Living Guide - Fall & Winter 2016-2017

Toronto's 76 Railway Stations

Railway companies built their own stations. Large companies even had a set "template for the design". Depending on where the station was located, it could be a wooden hut that served only as a "whistle stop" (that is, the train stopped if someone needed to be picked up) or as grand as Union Station.

Between 1853 and 1966, there existed about 76 railway stations within the boundaries of what is now the city of Toronto. Today, only one exists in its original location aside from Union Station, North Toronto Station at Summerhill and Yonge, and Te former Don Mills Station, recently relocated to the Toronto Railway Museum in Roundhouse Park, just south of the CN Tower.

A Typical "Picture Perfect" Station

If you've seen a model train set, you've probably know what a Canadian railway station looks like. A typical, small railway station in Toronto was built out of brick or wood, with a deep overhanging roof (kind of like a hat) and often a turret at one end. Te grander ones had more than one turret, like Moore Park.

Such stations had a side entrance hall off the road or square where the station was located. Tere was a ticket counter, ticket machines, or both, near the entrance, one or more waiting rooms.

But the larger stations were much more grand.

Let's Walk Through A Few That We Know About

NORTH TORONTO (SUMMERHILL) – 10 Scrivener Square, today home of LCBO's flagship store

Te only station that remains in its original location is the old North Toronto CPR Station near Yonge and Summerhill. It ofcially opened for passenger service on June 14, 1916. Today it is the LCBO's flagship location since a full-scale restoration in 2004. Unlike the stations described above, this station was designed with its own, unique style.

Te frst thing you notice driving or walking up to it is the clock tower. When it was in operation, the four clock faces, each 2.4 metres (8 feet) in diameter, were always illuminated at night. Te tower is modeled after the Campanile di San Marco in Saint Mark's Square in Venice.

Inside you can hear your shoes clicking on the floor and your voice echoes. Sitting 3 stories high, the station was the frst building in the city to be constructed of Tyndall limestone from Manitoba. If you look carefully, you can see fossils embedded in the beautiful stone. Te style is Beaux Arts, recognizable by the slightly overscaled details, flat roof, arched windows and doors.

Te main terminal (where people would have waited for trains and bought tickets) has an 11.6-metre (38-foot) high ceiling supported by marble walls and with elegant bronze suspended light fxtures.

When restoration began at this station, the frst order of business during the restoration of the tower was the removal of approximately 4,000 kg (approximately 9,000 lb) of pigeon droppings.

Don Railway Stations – Formerly located where Queen Street crossed the Don River, now located at the Toronto Railway Museum

If you were travelling in the early 1900s from Vancouver, Ottawa or Montreal, you would arrive at Te Don station, and as the train pulled into the station you might have caught a glimpse of its circular turret and steep roof. Or perhaps you had travelled on the Canadian Northern Railway all the way from Parry Sound on Georgian Bay to the "big" city. Instead of being downtown, where train passengers typically arrived, you were in "the suburbs"!

Te Don Station, opened in 1896, was one of the frst suburban railway stops for the city. When it frst opened, the station was located on the west side of the Don, where Queen Street was carried over the water via a simple metal bridge.

Built as a branch line of the Canadian Pacifc Railway, the rail line travelled through the Don Valley to Leaside. Once it was opened, inter city commuters no longer had to travel to and from downtown to Union Station.

Te Don is the only other authentic station remaining in Toronto, but you have to visit the new Roundhouse Museum to see it. (Many may remember the old Don Mills station at Todmorden Mills, where it was moved in 1969 to preserve the structure).

Te building's distinctive turret was typical of hundreds of stations across Canada. Only a handful of these buildings survive.

Connecting People "One Community And Village At A Time"

Railways in Toronto also connected the various communities with the city core, and the new "suburbs". Te Beaches, for example, would not have been built up if it wasn't for the Grand Trunk Railway. Te railway boom also prompted a housing boom for many neighbourhoods because of all the railway workers required for the large railway facilities.

Tis was the case for East Toronto, a community that owed its entire existence to the railways. In the area's early days, there were a few cottages and homes and very small businesses on Queen Street. But when the Grand Trunk set up its major yards and operations in East Toronto, the little village of Coleman's Corners became a bustling neighbourhood.

Tere were dozens and dozens of rail lines, which over time, amalgamated with larger ones, changed names, or went out of business. Te main ones that were part of Toronto's history included Te Grand Trunk (which combined several smaller rail companies), the Great Western Railway (that operated in the western part of the province), the Ontario Simcoe and Huron Railway, the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway, and the Nipissing Railway. Eventually, however, they all came under either the Canadian Pacifc Railway (CPR) or the Canadian National Railway (CNR), two of the country's richest, most influential corporations at the time.

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