Canadian Pacific Railway
North Toronto Subdivision
Street scene is set in 1929 in this limited edition
print by the late Wentworth D. Folkins.
North Toronto Subdivision Mileage .0 Leaside to Mileage 5.9 West Toronto Diamond.
Originally this line was the CPRís entry into Toronto, constructed by the infamous Ontario & Quebec Railway it was completed August 31, 1884 from Perth via Havelock, Peterboro, Agincourt and Leaside through North Toronto to Toronto Junction in West Toronto and reversing down to Parkdale and Toronto. The line had already been opened in sections with passenger service between Toronto via Parkdale and Peterboro commencing June 28th. and opened to Norwood July 30th. The O&Q had already been leased by the CPR on January 4th for 999 years! In the 1980ís this would come back to haunt the CPR when minority shareholders would challenge the lack of reimbursement for assets sold. All the land the CPR used in Toronto legally belonged to the O&Q; this included all the prime downtown real estate, much of it sold off by the CPR. Places such as the King Street Shed on which now stands Roy Thomson (concert) Hall, and the Metro Hall office building. It would go on for years in the courts before it was finally settled and affected many decisions the CPR made. In the end the shareholders lost out. Eventually, it and O&Q leased Toronto, Grey & Bruce were both absorbed into the CPR
Prior to the huge Viaduct project along the Toronto waterfront the North Toronto Grade Separation project took place from 1912 to 1917. It involved ten subways, or underpasses as they were later called, to eliminate level crossings of streets along the North Toronto Subdivision between West Toronto and North Toronto. This very busy four-track line carried all freight trains in and out of Toronto as well as serving local industries, which once were plentiful. Actually, the two middle tracks were the main lines with a north and south service track to gain access to industries and team tracks on both sides of the right-of-way. Note: A second track was first built in 1905 between North Toronto and (West) Toronto Junction.
In addition to the grade separation and double tracking (Completed July 4, 1918 between North Toronto and Leaside), there were other key features involved in North Toronto and Leaside. Canadian Northern, Canadaís third transcontinental railway, was also expanding. The CNoR entered Toronto from the north (Muskoka Sub. from Capreol) built 1906-07 via what is now the CNRís Bala Sub. to Rosedale in the Don Valley (near Bloor Street) where a small yard and rectangular engine house was located. Its east mainline from Ottawa (Orono Sub.) built 1911-13, passed through Scarborough just north of the GTR Danforth yard, to meet with the northern line at Todmorden, just south of Leaside and about 2 miles from Rosedale and nearly 4 miles from Union station. The CNoR had difficulty getting access to the downtown area being the last railway to enter Toronto, but did eventually manage to secure an agreement to get there over the GTR via the old Toronto Belt Line from Rosedale.
The CNoR needed bigger facilities for Toronto so it built new shops (opened 1919) at Leaside including an erecting shop for locomotives, a coach shop and a (freight) car shop. A small yard was also built. In order to get access to this property it had to build a connection from the Bala line south to Leaside. The line up the Don through Rosedale climbs a grade, crossing well below the CPR before reaching higher land near Oriole. Here a connection was built for southward to westward (or east to north) movements to Donlands (2.2 miles) where it connected with the CPR to reach Leaside another 1.3 miles and completed in June 1917 although it did not go into operation until February 1, 1918 likely held up reaching agreement on terms and conditions.
It was intended to connect the Ottawa mainline from near Scarboro Village via a four mile long new connection to Donlands and then to Leaside. It needed at 650 foot long viaduct to cross the Don Valley. Disputes over level crossings delayed work and it all ended with the failure of the Canadian Northern and its take over by the Federal Government. It was not long before most of the mainline between Toronto and Ottawa was abandoned beginning in 1923, there simply wasnít a need for four main lines.
Toronto, Niagara & Western was yet another railway that sought entry into Toronto via North Toronto. It was controlled by MacKenzie and Mann of Canadian Northern fame. This was a proposed electric interurban railway sharing the Hydro right-of-way from Niagara Falls to Toronto.
Entry into Toronto would have been across the Humber River at Lambton parallel to and north of the old Toronto Belt Line to West Toronto (Keele Street just north of St.Clair Avenue West), where it would have dropped into a cut to underpass both the GTRís Stratford line and the CPRís Sudbury line (Mac Tier Sub.) as well as some streets. Just south of St.Clair Avenue it would have entered a 2360 foot long tunnel under the GTRís ex Ontario Simcoe & Huron Railway (Ontarioís first railway) at Davenport and exit at Davenport Road and St.Clarens Avenue. The hydro right of way ended here at the Bridgman transformer station. The radial railway would then run parallel to and north of the CPR North Toronto Subdivision over to North Toronto (Yonge Street).
Joint Section agreement was reached October 1, 1915 permitting the CNoR use of CPRís North Toronto station along with joint tracks and common tracks. Nothing ever came of either the TN&W being built nor CNoR trains entering North Toronto due to the financial failure of Canadian Northern. The CNR did operate over the Oriole spur to Donlands and over CPR into Leaside to reach local industries there as well as the railway shops. It also had use of common tracks from Leaside to North Toronto and over the north service track along with exclusive rights to traffic from local industries on the north side between Avenue Road and Dovercourt Road. It retained this arrangement for many years afterwards. The last CNR employee timetable to refer to these "common tracks" across North Toronto was April 1969. (It was no longer shown in the October 1969 timetable.) The last few industries on what remained of the north service track were thereafter served by the CPR. The one still remaining is the TTC Hillcrest shops, the last use of which was several years ago to ship out several old PCC streetcars to the US. Note: A new siding into the TTC was built late in 2012 a little to the west of the original one to take delivery of a new fleet of streetcars starting with the second one. The first having been trucked in from Lambton Yard before the siding was built.
Once there had been almost continuous private sidings (and Shaw Street team tracks) all along the North Toronto Sub. between West Toronto and North Toronto on both sides. The "North Toronto" was once switched by a 6920 series 0-8-0 steam engine so heavy was the work. Industries included a number of retail coal dealers, Planters Peanuts, Silverwoods Dairy and American Standard manufacturers of porcelain bathtubs, sinks and toilets. At Shaw Street was a 6-track team track. At the Northern Diamond (Northern Railway of Canada) with the CNR Newmarket Sub. was Canada Foundry, that among other things built steam locomotives, mostly for Canadian Northern but including some CPR engines. Built 1901-02 on more than 40 acres straddling Lansdowne Avenue and named Davenport Works. The massive plant was expanded in 1912, and in 1921 CGE electric transformers were made there. Further expansions in 1944 and later brought it to its peak. It was one of the few industries in Toronto to have its own switch engine. First, a steam "dinky", then a battery powered loco and finally, a 25 ton GE diesel-electric. Note: CGE Davenport Works was closed in 1981 and sold in 1985 to Canada Square Development. (In 1987 CGE became General Electric Canada.) For many years not much happened except for some leasing of the old buildings for various uses. The land was heavily contaminated with PCB's etc. and remediation was slow. Eventually, much of the property was redeveloped primarily with townhouses continuing into late 2013.
The CNR finally ended use of the Oriole spur in December 1999. It was primarily used for interchange to and from CPR, being the final consolidated point within the Toronto area for the interchange (exchange) of freight cars between the two railways. CN job KO-165 handled this transfer to and from MacMillan Yard. A new connection was built off the CNR Weston Sub. at Keele mile 5.48 (St.Clair Avenue West) in West Toronto onto the CPR MacTier Sub. at mile 0.58 allowing the CNR to enter CPR West Toronto yard. This happened on December 27th 1999 for the first time in history! (CN 9433 was the lead unit that day on job KO-10). The four remaining industries still using CN are switched by the CPR under a special agreement. There have been no industries on the CPR at Leaside for some years in common with the decline of private sidings everywhere.
North Toronto Station although not very old was replaced by a new station, which officially opened June 14, 1916 although trains had actually been using it for ten days prior. The earlier station was on the west side of Yonge Street on the North Toronto Subdivision. The Town of North Toronto was annexed to the City of Toronto in 1912. It was redesignated as Toronto-Yonge Street Station effective November 21, 1919. (The name reverted to North Toronto in 1926). The new station was intended to be a joint use facility shared by the Canadian Northern Railway. It was owned only by the CPR and thus was not a true Union station. It was the CPRís intention to serve this well-populated residential area with a number of trains that were running into Union station. Only a few trains were originated and terminated at North Toronto and the move was just not popular. The CPR closed it September 28, 1930, but retained ownership until 2001. It was leased out in 1940 (opening July 1st) as a Liquor store and spent all those years in obscurity. It underwent an outstanding historically sensative restoration by Equifund Corp. (Mitchell Cohen, Vice President), reopening in February 2003 as the LCBO's flagship store. The land to the east once contained a large freight shed used for Pool cars and a number of small industries with sidings. An 18 acre site was redeveloped here with townhouses and highrises in 2002. On the west side of Yonge Street were a small freight shed and team tracks which in later years were used by CBM, (Canada Building Materials) for unloading sand and gravel. One unique shipment once handled at North Toronto team track was whale meat! Its popularity didn't catch on.
Note: Following its closure
September 28, 1930 North Toronto station was used for various special
Train Master 8918 operating long hood leading
(backing up) with the Transfer returing from Lambton Yard to Toronto
Yard on the north track at mileage 4.62 Bartlett Ave. South Service
track next and Dufferin Storage tracks at far left. This lightly-used
level crossing east of Dufferin Street is one of only two remaining
on the North Toronto Subdivision. The other is much busier Osler Street
at mileage 5.72 just east of West Toronto diamond.
Bartlett Avenue looking north from Dupont Street February
Back to Leaside
Back to West Toronto