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Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto Division

John Street Locomotive Department


1271 and a Royal Hudson on the shop track in the late1950's Collection of Gord Billinghurst

Detailed description of above scene

Track plan 1910

Track plan 1932

Construction photographs

The John Street Locomotive Department facilities were entirely replaced as part of the Viaduct project and included a 32 stall roundhouse with a 120 foot turntable, the largest size table on the CPR. It was the most modern roundhouse in Canada, featuring a direct steaming system to reduce smoke, and replaced the original 1897 roundhouse, (opened November 13, 1897 with machinery and 70' turntable from ex CVR Parkdale roundhouse) which had been expanded in 1919. (In 1911 an 80 foot turntable was installed and in 1918 an 85' one as larger locomotives came along.) Only the first 28 stalls could be opened in October 1929, then the old lower level roundhouse was demolished, following which the remainder was completed. A 350 ton mechanical coaling plant and a 60,000 gallon steel water tank were part of the engine facilities. A large building, (361 ft. long, 40 ft. wide at the west end and 30 ft wide at the east end), known as the stores building, contained not only the Stores Dept. but also ancillary shops for both the Locomotive Department and the Car Department as well as office space. A Car Forman's office was located at the east end and the Locomotive Forman's offices at the west end. In 1955 a single level extension was built on the west end with a stores truck platform, and offices which included the Booking In Room for engine crews.

Diesels first came to John Street in the early 1950's, initially on the transcontinental trains, The Canadian and The Dominion, as well as Montreal-Windsor trains #21 and #22; gradually replacing all steam locomotives. Yard diesels began to work in the downtown area beginning with 7020 at King Street in October 1944, however these diesel units were maintained at the old West Toronto roundhouse. Modifications, (primarily steel catwalks etc.), including concrete block firewalls were later made inside John Street roundhouse to service diesels.

Gallery of John Street Steam Engines

Gallery of John Street Diesels and RDC's

Gradual dieselization reduced the amount of space needed inside the roundhouse at the same time as piggyback began. Pits 7, 8, 9 and 10 were turned over to the repair of pig flat cars. Later yet, the reduction of passenger trains permitted use of the coach shop for the growing piggyback fleet.

VIA Rail took over passenger train service in 1976 gradually ending the need for which John Street was built. By this time only the Canadian and two RDC runs, the Havelock and the Buffalo remained operating out of Toronto on the CPR. Eventually they were relocated to the VIA TMC in Mimico yard. The last run out of John Street was #188 to Havelock on September 6,1982 with VIA 6211-6135 engineer Ross Ostrander. The coach yard was turned into a storage yard for work train service equipment wintering between work seasons. The roundhouse was used for maintenance of yard diesels, self-propelled cranes, business cars etc. Truly, just a skeleton of its former self.

It was decided to dispose of the land and consequently operations were shut down in July of 1986. Marathon Realty, Canadian Pacific's real estate arm proposed a development to the east of Simcoe Street called Southtown just in time for the real estate decline of the early 1980's. The very last train left the former coach yard at 1.30 pm April 28, 1988 (8743 with 29 OCS cars). Later that afternoon a closing ceremony (first spike removal) was held by the CPR.

The roundhouse, stores building, water tank, coal tower and about 14 acres of prime downtown real estate were all given to the city for public purposes. A railway museum was the primary hope for the site. It was not to be. After 20 years of delay and destruction the historic value of the site was largely lost when the City of Toronto leased out most of the roundhouse, the only building remaining, for a brewery and later a furniture store leaving a tiny portion for a railway museum which finally opened in 2009. Isolated from the railway system the cost of moving locomotives over land greatly inhibits its importance and viability.

The end is near but, work continues on 7061 7020 7043 February 20,1985 Scott R. Snell

John Street in its latter years
Gallery of photographs

Steam locomotives assigned
Shop chalkboard

Protect Engines


Lambton Locomotive Department Staff 1953

Note: The smaller number of locomotives assigned to John Street
compared to Lambton meant a smaller staff of similar jobs.

Diesel refueler truck
Shown at West Toronto


Next: John Street Piggyback Yard

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