Toronto Union Station Part 2

The Union Station we know and love today is in fact the 3rd Union Station Toronto has seen in her brief 180 years of history.

The wonderful City of Toronto, Center of Canada, and Union Station viewed from the former Canadian Pacific, now Fairmont Royal York Hotel across Front Street
The thought of a even more grand union passenger depot was first contemplated by the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1905. One year later, the Toronto Terminals Railway was incorporated by the Government of Canada and jointly owned by the GTR and CPR for the sole purpose of constructing and operating such a station. In 1914, the breathtaking Beaux-Arts head house of the new Union Station finally broke ground on land acquired by the GTR after the Great Toronto Fire of 1904.

A modern photograph of the Great Hall inside the station head house
Entrance to the station concourse from Great Hall
The construction was the station was no smooth sailing, plagued by wartime shortage and financial troubles of the GTR. The head house of the station took until 1920 to complete, however, the there was no track or train shed adjacent to the building. It took another 7 years of mostly arguing, some constructing until the grand opening of the new Union Station as a passenger station and some more. It was not until 1930 the station had finally had a train shed sheltering her platforms and tracks. By then, the Grand Trunk Railway had gone completely bankrupt and was replaced by the fairly newly formed Canadian National Railways.

The Toronto Transit Commission opened its Union Subway Station adjacent to the train station in the 1950s. The GO Transit brought the station some new life during the downfall of passenger rail in North America in the 1960s. By the late 1970s, patrons of the Union Station, except for GO, had significantly changed and went by the fresh, government owned, names of Via Rail Canada, Amtrak, and Ontario Northland Railway. The TTR however remained relatively unchanged, still belonging to its Class 1 Railroad owners.

Photograph from 1973 of what is now the ACC, Rogers Center, etc.
Also in the 1970s, the CN and CPR proposed the CityPlace re-development, which would turn Union Station with ugly 70s skyscrapers housing both railroads' headquarters and other commercial entities. But our beloved grand railway station survived, and was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1975, avoiding ever a chance of a similar fate to the Pennsylvania Station in New York.

Even with almost a complete annihilation of passenger rail in Canada, trains still come in and out of Union Station at all hours of the day, including this Amtrak Maple Leaf service to New York
Pages I've linked last week will give you more historical details and a bit of a spoiler for next week.


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