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L.C.L. Shed Cars

Less than Carload Lot (LCL) shipments were long an important part of railway operations all over Canada. These shipments tended to be bigger, heavier and less valuable than those sent by Express. Freight sheds in major cities were large facilities loading dozens of cars per day, while small locations had daily except Sunday cars received and shipped to and from different locations. Smaller locations received LCL service by way freights or mixed trains, with transhipping taking place at bigger locations, completing the network all across Canada.

LCL or "shed" cars, as they were known, were loaded by an army of men and sent to their destination on scheduled fast freight trains. Pick up and delivery service was also offered at most locations. Canadian Pacific Express was often the "agent" for the railway's LCL at many places including Toronto. While the CPX trucks were red, those used by the freight Cartage service were green.

Crossing gateman's shanty on John Street. (King Street Shed to the right.)
Elizabeth A. Willmot

The main shed in Toronto for many decades was Simcoe Street Shed (62 Simcoe St.) filling much of the block of King Street West and Wellington Street West between Simcoe Street and Peter Street. There was a separate building for Canadian Pacific Express on Simcoe Street at King Street. In addition, there was also the paper shed on the west side of Peter Street at Wellington and used for rolls of newsprint for the daily papers. On the east side of Wellington was an overhead crane. South and west were the auto platform and horse platform. There was also a small building for yard crews, on the south of Mercer St. between Peter and John Streets. This entire area was referred to as King Street by the Operating Department.

Traffic figures in 1947 for King Street showed an average of 164 cars per day, totally 59,660 for the year.

Gradually, beginning in the 1960's the LCL business began to decline as LTL truck service grew as well as that of Pool Car operators. Pool cars were LCL cars shipped by private companies on behalf of bigger shippers to major cities. These cars were a good source of revenue for the railways as they were paid for a minimum of 15 tons per car moved, while they often avoided the costs of union wages for employees since many pool car operators were non-union. The CPR encouraged pool car companies and helped them grow by providing sheds, offices etc. Fastfrate, which went onto become one of the biggest in Canada, was one of those companies.

Finally, the CPR got out of the LCL business entirely, closing sheds at King Street and West Toronto, while others around Toronto remained in use by various pool car operators. King Street being on old Ontario & Quebec land, was a very valuable site, which now includes Roy Thomson (concert) Hall (opened 1982), Metro Hall (offices) and others.

Pool Cars

Pool cars were box car loads of "pooled" LCL (Less than Carload Lot) freight similar to that handled at the railway’s own LCL sheds. Pool cars were loaded by freight forwarders, companies that specialized in assembling LCL shipments to distant major cities in Canada. Department stores were major customers. Railways on the other hand were obliged to handle the smallest shipment to the smallest community on their railway.

In the 1950’s the about only pool car companies in Toronto were Howell Forwarding and Muirhead Forwarding at Cherry Street. Later came Interline Forwarding at Parkdale, then Fast Frate. Similar pool car operations were handled on behalf of their own customers by Tormon Assembly Agency at North Toronto and Montreal. (TORonto-MONtreal). Later known as Montor Shippers Association it served certain major chain stores.

Tormon used a sizeable shed at North Toronto for a number of years before out growing it. A new shed was built by the CPR using the site of the Lambton Locomotive Dept. at Runnymede & St.Clair. It opened in February 1967 at a cost of $2 million, it could handle 100 box cars on its 3 tracks, and had 101 vehicle doors. It was staffed entirely by CPR employees.

Fast Frate started up in 1966 at Parkdale using the old freight shed. It soon grew to the point where a brand new shed was built in 1971, with an entrance off King Street, taking up much of the Top Yard at Parkdale. They became Consolidated Fastfrate, following acquisitions of other companies. Later still they relocated to Lambton Shed in 1983, changing places with Tormon, expanding it and covering in the box car loading area. In the end, the shed totalled 146,729 square feet. A vast new 200 car (indoor) shed was built by the CPR for Conship, off the east end of Toronto Yard in Scarborough, on Markham Road north of Sheppard Avenue. Conship handled the former Tormon and other traffic. Eventually in September 2000 Fastfrate relocated once again, this time to a vast new facility at Vaughan Intermodal Facility, this one having no tracks at all! It is entirely containerized and was the last freight forwarder to utilize box cars.

Interline Forwarders Ltd. used old wooden equipment, coach 1034 as office, box and flat cars as shed.
Photo 1959. R.L.Kennedy

Interline Forwarders located in the Top Yard at Parkdale using temporary facilities consisting of box and flat cars. They later moved to the old Queensway Piggyback terminal when it was closed. In March 1985 they returned to Parkdale! This time into the former Fast Frate "new" shed, under the name TNT Railfast, which was a merger of Interline and TNT. They later moved out. (Early in 1991 TNT Railfast was acquired by Clarke Transport, becoming Clarke Railfast and relocated to the CNR.) The "new" shed at Parkdale remained closed and the land for sale through the late 1980’s before finally being demolished, but a proposed redevelopment has yet to happen.

The sheds at Cherry Street, Parkdale and North Toronto were all eventually demolished. Lambton is to be redeveloped in 2002, replacing the shed with a so-called "Big Box" store. (The Building Box), while the office building will be retained for their Ontario headquarters.

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