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Old Time Trains

Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto Division

Cherry Street, George Street and the Esplanade

Howell Forwarders Cherry Street 1959 R.L.Kennedy

The Esplanade, pronounced es-pla-nade by CPR railroaders, others say es-pla-nawd!

Once intended to be a grand esplanade or promenade 100 feet wide, along the waterfront when it was built in 1854, it soon turned into a mass of railway tracks as more and more railways fought for entrances into the City. Railway roundhouses, shops, stations, industries and wharves all filled the waterfront. Up to 7 tracks wide, it ran from the Don River all the way to Simcoe Street changing at Yonge Street from The Esplanade East to The Esplanade West.

Early years along the waterfront was all wharves to dock sailing vessels delivering coal and other cargo much of it for local use or delivery to other communities. Coal docks: 1893 photos.

Construction of the Viaduct grade separation changed all this when it raised the main lines of the CNR and CPR up 18 feet to the High Level. The new (present) Union Station brought about the demolition of the previous union station and the elimination of the Esplanade West. It also turned the Esplanade East trackage into dead end tracks stopping at Yonge Street, serving local sidings and team tracks for the large amount of perishable traffic. The old 1866 GWR four broad gauge track station with its unique arched roof train shed which had closed August 28, 1882 following the August 12th. amalgamation with the GTR. It continued in use effective August 31st. for bonded freight until new sheds were opened in 1904 at Simcoe and Front Streets at which time it became part of the Toronto Wholesale Fruit Terminal, until it was destroyed by fire May 17,1952.

The Ontario Food Terminal was opened in 1954 as a replacement for the destroyed and inadequate facilities. Located on the north side of the CNR Oakville Subdivision east of Mimico yard it was a joint area that could be switched by both railways. See a later page for Swansea and Ontario Food Terminal.

CPR tracks were cut back to the east side of Jarvis Street prior to 1972, still leaving access to George Street, but by 1986 it was all gone. So too was most everything at Cherry Street, the Pool Car operators all long gone, although the lead still ran as far west as Mill Paper in this mostly desolate and abandoned area of the city. All of this area, both CNR and CPR was in the 1980's the location of an ill-conceived City of Toronto residential redevelopment called "Ataratiri". After wasting millions of dollars expropriating businesses and acquiring land at this contaminated industrial area, it was abandoned as being hopelessly expensive to clean up and lays vacant.

The Esplanade Jobs out of Parkdale Yard switched these areas 3 shifts a day, 6 and 7 days a week in the 1950's and 60's, gradually declining as industry left the area.

Cherry Street, located on Cherry Street between Front Street East and Mill Street, was for many decades the site of freight sheds and team tracks. It was accessed off the Don branch just before it turned west towards Union Station. A lead served a few industries, including Mill Paper, and once crossed Parliament Street. The south shed was built in 1900, and the north shed in 1913. By the 1950's one 4 track shed was used by Howell Forwarders a pool car operator. The other shed was rented out to Kreaver Paper. The CPR Freight Office had a small staff and was under the General Freight Agent at Simcoe Street Freight Office. Howell employees worked the shed.

CN Interchange to and from local industries was handled at Cherry Street. The traditional two tracks, one to and one from, were located in the CNR Cherry Street yard to the north of the CPR facilities, between Front St.E. and Eastern Avenue. CN Cherry Street also contained a freight office, shed and team tracks. In later years the CNR also had another pool car operation south of the CPR up against the High Level.

George Street was a small team track area with a freight office for local customers, located along the south side of the Esplanade.




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