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Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto Division

Islington, Queensway, Dixie and Cooksville

R.L.Kennedy

Islington Mileage 8.7

Extra 5305 West passing Islington Station enroute to Hamilton on April 4, 1954. Dick George
Note the immaculate right-of-way!

The area under Islington began on the west bank of the Humber River, past Islington Station at Islington Avenue, past Obico where the cut-off was, to Summerville at Dixie Road, to Dixie at Cathraw Road, and Cooksville. Only a few industries, starting with a lumberyard just past the Humber, were located along here, none very significant except for CP Express at Obico, and Cooksville Rail Transfer. The station (built 1922) at Islington faded in importance and was closed for passenger service in 1958 remaining as a freight agency for some years longer.

Area H is a newer (c.1950's) industrial area off the south side of the Galt Sub. between Islington Avenue and Kipling Avenue (Obico), and south to Jutland Avenue. It was under the Islington station agency. A number of industries were located on this spur including the huge Dominion Glass plant which opened in 1954, (later Consumers Glass and more recently Owens-Illinois) and some still remain.

7100-7107 a pair of MLW S-4's equipped for road service, on the Ham Way Freight February 1956.
Note the early paint scheme. Al Paterson

A north service track ran from Islington Avenue to past Highway 27 serving more lumber yards and small industries including Lake Simcoe Ice, A&P and Dominion Stores. A south service track ran from Obico to east of Dixie serving many small industries plus the CP Express 4 track shed.

Obico Mileage 9.6 Junction with the Canpa Subdivision See Canpa cut-off below
Original limit of Toronto Terminals.

Obico, looking west, Galt Sub. westward track, north service track at right. Crossovers to eastward main line and to Canpa Sub. westward track. Far left track is Canpa eastward track. 1960 R.L.Kennedy

Map of Obico Yard 1971

Obico pronounced oh-bee-co, it is short for Etobicoke Township, pronounced e-toe-bee-co (silent k). Located west of Lambton yard on the Galt Sub. at the junction of the Canpa Sub. It was once a small storage yard with a large OCS coal dump in the middle of the wye. It was here a new roundhouse was proposed in 1950. Additional land was acquired for a new large freight yard, however it was never built and much of the land was sold to Ontario Hydro.

A number of small industries were located (some still remain) below the bottom of the yard at North Queen Street, not far from Canpa.

It became a major piggyback yard after additional land was bought back from Hydro, only a small amount of land that cost much more than the whole sold to Hydro! Obico Piggyback replaced both Queensway as well as John Street Piggyback, which had outgrown the available land in downtown Toronto.

Eventually, Obico converted to containers and the end ramps used for trailers were removed. Again, lack of sufficient land to expand caused CP to look for a new location. They settled on a large tract of land next to the Mac Tier Subdivision not far beyond Metropolitan Toronto. Originally intended to replace Obico, it has continued to expand as has traffic, thus Obico remains open and busy. Since Vaughan Intermodal Terminal opened all traffic to and from the northwest has used Vaughan, while the one remaining Montreal train uses Obico. This train is expected to move to Vaughan to allow for expansion of New York traffic. For a while the volume of traffic required some trains from Vancouver to go to Obico to relieve congestion. Thus the latest expansion of Vaughan Intermodal Facility, was completed in November 2001, providing a major capacity boost.

Obico is not likely to be closed, as more and more freight is going by rail in both containers, and now once again in traditional highway trailers, this time using dedicated terminals and trains that were originally known as Iron Highway and now known as Expressway. Obico IMS (Inter-Modal Service) eventually took over all of Obico Yard for its needs. The facility is 61 acres, with 12,900 feet of truck-rail track and another 20,000 feet for storage.

Just to the west, off the Galt Sub. was a major shed for CP Express, located on 23 acres, the 99,000 sq.ft. shed could spot 24 box cars, 56 trailer doors and 73 pick-up and delivery doors. Built by Dominion Bridge it was similar to another new facility in Lachine (Montreal), opened at the same time, January 1969. It operated until box car traffic ended in the 1980's. Some years following creation of CP Express & Transport, deregulation of trucking came and eventually it went out of business. It was the last LCL highway carrier that operated across Canada, CN Express had already ceased to exist.

Summerville Mileage 10.8 at Highway 27. Long-gone shelter-sized station shows up again!

Queensway Mileage 11.4

Queenway Piggyback Yard under construction 1958 Looking west R.L.Kennedy

Queensway Piggyback Yard had a 4 ramp facility (4 tracks of 10 cars each) at the end of North Queen Street in Etobicoke, opened January 1959. Queensway Pig Yard relieved John Street, dispatching a Montreal piggyback train at 8.15 p.m. It also handled western Canada traffic on a fast freight out of Parkdale. It had a 40'x50' six room office building and 4 tracks of 10 cars each. When Obico Pig Yard was opened in October 1971, John Street was closed and no east traffic was loaded at the Queensway, only north traffic. When it was closed, a small shed was put there for Interline Forwarders, a pool car operator that relocated from Parkdale shed. TNT Railfast a small forwarder, also relocated from Parkdale. Following the demise of this operation the property remained in use to store empty containers for Obico and was known as the Empty Annex. It closed June 30, 2005 and after being vacant for several years was finally sold off for non-rail transportation purposes.

Dixie Mileage 12.6

 

Cooksville Mileage 14.2

Cooksville, summer 1938. Gord Billinghurst Collection

Another view of Cooksville station taken in March 1965 after CTC installed in the Terminal.

A number of industries were located along both sides of the Galt Sub. as far as Cooksville at Highway 5. Cooksville Steel, (operated by the CPR) later, independently reorganized as Cooksville Rail Transfer, a rail-to-truck transfer facility for steel was located at Cawthra Road just before the station for several years until replaced in November 2000 by a bigger facility in Aberdeen Yard in Hamilton. A small team track was located at both Dixie and Cooksville.

Toronto Terminals Division Limit: Mileage 15.0


Mimico Cut-Off (later, Canpa Subdivision)

"Canpa Cutoff"

Canpa Subdivision Obico Mileage .0 to Canpa Mileage 2.6

The Cut-Off to Canpa, was built in 1910 as a short cut for freight trains operating between Lambton Yard and Hamilton. Prior to this trains had to back via Parkdale and Bathurst Street to reach the GTR mainline where the CPR had secured special rights as a Joint Section in an agreement dated May 13,1896. It was originally single track, later double-tracked as far as Evans Avenue. Prior to September 1951 double track was extended the remainder of the cutoff. Use of the track was governed by an Electric Staff Block System, likely until May 1, 1952. Such systems were also used on steep grades (as required by Board of Transport) such as down the Don, from King Street down to Bathurst Street.

Passenger trains were not regularly operated over the cut-off except for a few years when a Montreal-Buffalo service operated through Toronto stopping at North Toronto. There were also special Race trains operated from Union Station to Long Branch Race Track near Canpa. This race track operated from September 6,1924 until October 21,1955 after which it was sold for industrial development and was then owned by Goodyear.

Canpa

Often incorrectly pronounced "Campa", it was a tower located at the west end of the CNR's Mimico freight yard, named by the GTR for CANadian PAcific railway! This tower was staffed by an operator around-the-clock, it controlled GTR/CNR trains in and out of Mimico as well as CPR trains to and from the cut-off. The original wooden tower was replaced by a modern brick structure (on the opposite side of the mainline), effective May 1, 1952 at which time CNR employees replaced the CPR ones. It controlled the area between the Humber River and 30th Street in Long Branch.

A few industries located around here were/are in a joint area. Some others on the south east of the main line were once served from Parkdale. CN-CP Interchange was carried out in Mimico Yard, in later years restricted to local traffic only. See also; Swansea.


Road and Yard Crews

While the cut-off is actually within yard limits, the area has traditionally belonged to the Hamilton Subdivision, which was the CPR's name for the Joint Section. (CN calls it the Oakville Sub.) It was considered part of the Bruce Division and train crews of District 3 as it was known, manned the trains. There were two assignments, Obico Industrial and Canpa Industrial, paid yard rates to switch industries but manned by road crews. Beyond there it was the Hamilton Wayfreight that switched the Joint Section mainline.

In later years changes allowed the Canpa to be re-assigned to work the Galt Sub. beyond Obico to the switching limits at Cooksville, Mile 15, and beyond there with extra pay.


EPILOGUE

What you have just read and looked at is only part of more than a century of railway history stretching from the late 19th Century throughout the 20th Century and into the beginning of the 21st Century! During that time many changes took place. Steam locomotives gave way to diesels, and cabooses were replaced by little boxes. Telegraph and telephones were replaced by radio, fax machines and cell phones. Passenger trains were discontinued, first from branchlines and then the main lines, except for some taken over by a new federal government body, VIA Rail. While eventually many of the branch lines themselves to small communities everywhere were abandoned.

Just as the railways themselves were responsible for changing the way people lived and acquired goods by providing easy access to bigger markets and conversely bringing a wider range of goods to outlying communities previously dependent upon local products, so too did better highways change things. Small local businesses lost out to bigger ones in larger cities.Those that remained wanted to buy a small truck load frequently, rather than a large box car load infrequently. LCL freight was eliminated in favour of pool car operators. Box cars were largely replaced by containers. Livestock movements ended, first when Western Canada cattle were slaughtered in the west and shipped east in refrigerated box cars. Other livestock, changed over to trucks. Private sidings into industries were largely eliminated in favour of either containers or rail-truck reload facilities. In the late 20th Century a new threat to local industries came along. Free trade (NAFTA). It shut down the Canadian branch plants of American companies, with finished products being shipped from the U.S.A. One of the biggest gains in traffic has been in containers, especially imports arriving on the west coast from the Orient and in the east from Europe. While there had always been freight delivered by ship, it had to be transhipped, largely by hand. Containers changed all that and none too soon as expanding world markets brought more and more imports, from traditional things like tea and coffee, to new things like automobiles and electronics.An explosion in container traffic has meant a continuing struggle to increase intermodal terminals to bigger and bigger facilities.

Manned stations all along railway lines everywhere were eliminated in favour of first, mobile agents, later, toll free 800 telephone numbers to several centralized agencies and then just one location! Sectionmen maintaining small "sections" of track about seven miles long were replaced by larger and larger and fewer and fewer gangs riding in trucks. Five-man train crews became two! All the while becoming more and more efficient as fewer and fewer employees moved more and more freight.

The many changes over the decades have left the railway a much changed place, nevertheless the railways are still playing an important role in the commerce of Canada. They are the answer to the growing highway conjestion which continues to increase as the country grows and Free Trade and world trade expands.

To be continued ....

 

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