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An aerial view of the downtown railyards in Toronto from 1953 yields a very different picture than today. Taken from the air looking east near Bathurst Street, Spadina Avenue is visible crossing over the railway yards. Steam is still dominant, and one can count the white puffs of smoke from many of the steam engines working around the yards. Notable former railway landmarks are CN's Spadina Coachyards, CN's Spadina Roundhouse, CP's John Street Roundhouse, the "High Line" freight byoass running south of both roundhouses (on the right), Union Station, and the CN & CP freight sheds north of Front Street.The steam era ended on Canadian railways at the end of the 1950's, but the steam era facilities in downtown Toronto continued servicing passenger equipment and locomotives here until they were either closed down or moved to more modern facilities in the 1980's, clearing the way for redevelopment of the old downtown "railway lands" in the following decades.  Some more downtown Toronto photos:Alternate angle in 1953: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=23318Looking east from Spadina Avenue: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=28556Steam at Spadina Roundhouse: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=24444John Street roundhouse, Union Station & the Royal York Hotel: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=38504Spadina Roundhouse in 1980: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=32212Bathurst St. in 1987: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=41906
Copyright Notice: This image ©Bill Thomson all rights reserved.



Caption: An aerial view of the downtown railyards in Toronto from 1953 yields a very different picture than today. Taken from the air looking east near Bathurst Street, Spadina Avenue is visible crossing over the railway yards. Steam is still dominant, and one can count the white puffs of smoke from many of the steam engines working around the yards. Notable former railway landmarks are CN's Spadina Coachyards, CN's Spadina Roundhouse, CP's John Street Roundhouse, the "High Line" freight bypass running south of both roundhouses (on the right), Union Station, and the CN & CP freight sheds north of Front Street.

The downtown location of the railway yards was to be in close proxility to busy Union Station, back when train travel was a very prominent and important mode of transportation across the country. Passenger cars would be cleaned, serviced, stocked, and assembled into trains, while the locomotives that pulled them would be coaled, watered and serviced at the roundhouses between runs. The steam era ended on Canadian railways at the end of the 1950's, but the steam era facilities in downtown Toronto continued servicing passenger equipment and diesel locomotives here until they were either closed down or moved to more modern facilities in the 1980's, clearing the way for redevelopment of the old downtown "railway lands" in the following decades.

Some more downtown Toronto photos:
Alternate angle in 1953: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=23318
Looking east from Spadina Avenue: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=28556
Steam at Spadina Roundhouse: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=24444
John Street roundhouse, Union Station & the Royal York Hotel: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=38504
Spadina Roundhouse in 1980: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=32212
Bathurst St. in 1987: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=41906

Photographer:
Bill Thomson [700] (more) (contact)
Date: 1953 (search)
Railway: Toronto Terminals Railway (search)
Reporting Marks: Not Provided
Train Symbol: Not Provided
Subdivision/SNS: CN Spadina Roundhouse & Coachyards (search)
City/Town: Toronto (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
Share Link: http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=42485
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Photo ID: 41271

Map courtesy of Open Street Map

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3 Comments
  1. Awesome photo. This picture brings back memories of my pre CN engineer days.
    In 1977 I had a summer job in the dining car on the Super Continental.
    I had to report to the CN Spadina coach yard and help load the fresh produce, meat and fish. The yard engines shoved the train through the “wash rack” near Spadina to Union Station. We departed around 11:30pm. Our first stop was St. Clair station on the Newmarket Sub and then northward to Washago joining the Bala Sub there. The train met with the Montreal/Ottawa section and combined the cars for the trip west to Winnipeg.
    I think I made about 10 trips that summer.
    Thanks for those memories Bill :-)

  2. Imagine how much that railway land would be worth today? Marvelous photo.

  3. Wow. What a scene. And to think it was probably a thrill to be up in the plane too. Thank you Bill for sharing.

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