TLTV Ep 104 – John St Roundhouse

The John Street Roundhouse is a preserved locomotive roundhouse in downtown Toronto, just steps from the CN Tower and the Skydome. It is the largest roundhouse in Canada.

Built for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1929 to replace the earlier roundhouse built in 1897, the building was last used for its original purpose in 1986. It is now the only remaining roundhouse in downtown Toronto. One third of the original structure was dismantled, to allow construction of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre below, then reconstructed in 1995 and is now home to The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre (TRHC), Leon’s Furniture and Steam Whistle Brewing.

The roundhouse originally had stalls for 32 locomotives that were moved in and out of the structure on a massive 120-foot rotating turntable designed by the Canadian Bridge Company. Locomotives were driven onto the turntable and rotated for positioning into one of the stalls for servicing and light repairs. In its prime, the John Street engine facility contained 43 structures, several miles of track and covered nearly 16 acres of property. Up to 150 men worked in the facility 24 hours a day.

The 17-acre park includes four full-sized locomotives dating back to 1944 as well as Toronto’s own car, No. 1, built in Kingston, Ontario in 1950. There are also three freight cars and two passenger cars in the park. The roundhouse has been cleaned up and bays 15, 16, and 17 have been set up by the Toronto Railway Historical Association as a simulation of what it’s like to drive a real diesel train. Another interactive component of the Heritage Centre is the Roundhouse Park Miniature Railway. A fully operational miniature train can carry up to 24 people around the park.

In this episode we’ll watch as hundreds of people enjoy the roundhouse on a beautiful summer day. You’ll see people riding the roundtable that used to turn locomotives around. You’ll also see kids working an old pushchair. We’ll head inside to take a look at a few of the engines that are preserved by the TRHC, and then go back outside to get a good look at the families enjoying the trip through the park on the miniature train. This is definitely a great place for families, historians, and train lovers!

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