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Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto Division

Parkdale Yard



Galt Subdivision Toronto Mileage 0.0 to Bloor Street Mileage 3.8

Former Cabin D Area 2013
4/04/2013 Clayton Langstaff

There is a lot to see in this view taken from Bathurst Street bridge looking west. The yard engine is on the King Street Shed lead (which once required a staff to use it) and is crossing the double tracked CNR Weston Subdivision. Note the dwarf signals. Hidden to the left behind TTR Cabin D Interlocking tower (Mile 1.2) is the Tecumseh Street interlocking tower (staffed by CPR) at Mile 1.3 (TTR ended just west of here. Currently it ends on the west side of Strachan Avenue) of the double track Galt Subdivision which curves behind Cabin D. (It begins at the center of Union Station). Orange automobile is on Strachan Avenue level crossing where the CNR gate tower divides the CPR and CNR rights-of-way. Note CP Rail van with yellow ends sitting in Parkdale Yard. Yard Office is out of sight in the distance. High rise apartment building is on Dufferin Street south of King Street. Large industry to left of CPR floodlight tower is the John Inglis plant. Huge mound of earth behind signal seen over the roof of Cabin D is the "dump" where runaway cars were stopped. Tecumseh Tower only lined the track when a movement was imminent. Cars sometimes tipped over to the warehouse next to it!


This aerial view shows just how small Parkdale Yard was. The top yard is mostly out of view.
Massive Massey-Ferguson agricultural implement plant in the center of photo covers a bigger area.

Aerial view of Parkdale and Circle Old, undated view, pre-1935.

Views of Strachan Avenue level crossing area during GO expansion.

Views Strachan Avenue area and Parkdale Yard after work finished: 1986 Recent views: 2005

What Strachan Avenue might look like when grade separated as part of GO expansion plans.

Redevelopment of Yard also John Inglis plant.

Parkdale has the some earliest CPR history in Toronto, for it was through here the Toronto, Grey & Bruce ran in 1871 from the Great Western station at Simcoe Street in downtown Toronto parallel to the GWR crossing it in Parkdale and then running over the GTR to Weston where it took to its own right-of-way. The TG&B was narrow gauge (3'6"), necessitating laying a third rail between the standard (4' 8 1/2") rails. At the same time they leased from the GTR the former Northern Railway of Canada (originally Ontario, Simcoe & Huron), engine house (with an enclosed turntable) and freight shed at Queen's Wharf near what is now Bathurst & Fleet Streets just south of Fort York. It ran west past Fort York up the wharf lead crossing the broad gauge (5'6") GWR. This narrow and broad gauge diamond was possibly the only such crossing there was; certainly it was rare. It continued through Parkdale where it later (November 1,1875) had its own right-of-way next to (east side) the Northern Railway's (CNR Newmarket Sub.), on its way to Weston, Bolton, Orangeville and eventually Owen Sound, reached in 1873.

While the old Northern Railway facilities were soon given up, the Wharf Lead remained in use for many decades. See Fez City for its later history. Old aerial view of Fez City area.

Map of Toronto, Grey & Bruce in Toronto

Parkdale was lightly populated before finally reaching the minimal 750 residents to qualify for incorporation as a village January 1, 1879. CVR passenger trains provided service beginning September 1st. TG&B passenger trains began stopping at North Parkdale station by January 1883.

In December 1881 the TG&B was standard gauged. July 26,1883 it was leased by the Ontario & Quebec, which was in turn taken over in January 1884 by the CPR.

Queen Street looking west 1897-1898

Dufferin Street looking south,
shops and roundhouse in background
including original Parkdale Yard.

Working on streetcar track. Gladstone Hotel in background built 1889.
1214 Queen Street West. Modernized renovation 2008.

Newly completed subway
Dufferin Street looking north to Queen Street.

Former CVR Parkdale station

North Parkdale station later renamed Parkdale following closing of the GTR South Parkdale station as a result of a grade separation project (1910-12) which eliminated 13 level crossings. Sunnyside station, a little farther to the west replaced South Parkdale.

In the 1950's the TG&B track north from Parkdale was a CNR service track that served Compressed Metals (a scrap dealer) immediately south of Dundas Street bridge as a Joint Siding, exiting the property to the north as CPR trackage. For more, see Lambton page, two pages ahead.

GTR Exhibition One other GTR station was located along the Joint Section west of Bathurst Street and east of Sunnyside. It served the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1912 it was replaced by a platform on the north side of the tracks at Dufferin Street and used only during the CNE. Many years later a GO station was located back on the south side east of Dufferin Street and again used only during the CNE or other major events. It has been rebuilt and more recently its use has been expanded for use by more trains.

M-235 a 1929 Packard seven-passenger limousine at Parkdale station (Toronto) 1944
with none other than the famous N.R. "Buck" Crump, General Superintendent driving.
Old Time Trains Archives

Credit Valley

Far more significant was the coming of the Credit Valley, first surveyed in 1873, with Parkdale to Milton being opened in 1877. CVR built its yard, shops and station on the eastside of Dufferin Street between King and Queen Streets including a roundhouse, 190' three track car shop, 132' paint shop and 61' x 51' blacksmith shop.Its mainline with 56lb. rail ran from Parkdale 119 miles to St.Thomas via Streetsville Junction where a branchline ran northward 35 miles to Orangeville with a further branch off at Church's Falls (Cataract) to Elora, 29 miles. Passenger service between Parkdale and Orangeville began September 1,1879. CVR got access to the GTR station in downtown Toronto May 17,1880.

CVR Roundhouse It closed as a locomotive shop November 13, 1897 when its machinery and even the turntable were relocated to the newly constructed John Street roundhouse. It may have been utilized for other purposes afterwards since the car shop remained in use.


Parkdale yard, which at that time only existed above King Street, was too small for the growing traffic, especially the shops. Following lengthy negotiations and dispute with the Town of West Toronto Junction over terms of relocating the shops from Parkdale (actually in the City of Toronto since Dufferin Street was the boundary), agreement was reached November 18th 1889. While West Toronto shops were opened in 1890 Parkdale shops didn't finally close until 1907-09.

Traffic growth resulted in a second track being added between Parkdale and (West) Toronto Junction in 1904. This traffic included Hamilton trains backing in both directions between Bathurst Street and Lambton. This came about as a result of an agreement with the GTR May 13,1896 for a Joint Section of trackage between Toronto and Hamilton. A move made by the GTR to prevent the TH&B from building its own track in GTR territory. Matters were improved when in 1910 a short cut was created between Mimico and Lambton yards.

Caption and additional photographs.

Construction of the massive Waterfront Viaduct in downtown Toronto caused great disruption to operations and facilities including the coach yard. A new temporary coach yard was needed and Parkdale yard was expanded (15 tracks, 294 cars) southeast from King Street to Strachan Avenue taking over land of the former Central Prison. The prison once occupied all of the land between the GWR and GTR from Strachan westward towards Dufferin and operated from 1874-1915. It was on this property that railway freight cars were built by inmates working for the Canada Car & Manufacturing Company 1874-75 one of many Toronto companies that once built rolling stock or locomotives. The GWR and GTR placed orders for platform (flat) and box cars, the latter at an average cost of $525, a competitive price at the time. The enterprise wasn't too successful despite using prison labour (260 men) at 40 and 50 cents per day, and soon ended.

7027 switching beside CNR 8037 (built 8/1955) Parkdale Yard looking northwest.
Yard Office at right rear. Note water tank. It fed nearby water column for steam engines.
White building in background is Massey-Harris-Ferguson new plant on King Street West.
Ed Helmich Collection.


The Canada Car & Manufacturing works on Strachan Avenue were sold in 1881 to Inglis & Hunter of Guelph Ontario who relocated to Toronto and became John Inglis & Sons. In 1903 the business was incorporated as The John Inglis Company Limited. A major employer for decades producing boilers and heavy equipment, expanding until it took over much of the former prison; in its final years, household washers and dryers were produced. Next to them was Dr.Ballard's (dog food).

The remainder of the prison was sold to the CPR, which left some buildings standing and leased them out as warehouses. The open area became the main portion of Parkdale yard where for many years the most important Toronto merchandise trains were marshalled. A final extension of yard trackage took place in 1951 with the addition of tracks 13-15 and 16 the scale track. None of these tracks were long enough to hold an outbound train therefore, it was necessary to build trains on the main line. North trains would have their van just west of Strachan Avenue level crossing with the head end up near the top yard, often as far as Queen Street bridge.

910 handled shed, pool cars and other rush traffic to Montreal. 965 handled similar traffic to Vancouver and undoubtedly was the most profitable train the CPR operated. 955 to Sudbury handled traffic to northern Ontario destinations including North Bay and Sault Ste.Marie, White River etc. As priority traffic grew more trains were added including 901 and 921 a "hot" auto traffic (multi-levels) train to western lines. All trains departed in the evening making the 3-11 PM shift very busy as the many local jobs arrived with cars from all over Toronto. 965 had to be moved to midnights (3-4 AM) to handle the new northwest trains. The Esplanade job brought in pool cars from Cherry Street. The Shed Transfer brought the LCL cars from King Street. The Swansea Transfer brought in from the New Toronto joint area other types of manufactured goods from Goodyear Tire, Campbell's Soup, Christie Biscuits, Gilbey Distillery, Anaconda Brass, Continental Can and others. The Ash Bay, Wharf, East Wharf and Circle jobs all contributed as well. The time frame to switch out these many local jobs and marshal the outbound train was tight and required precision work in a small yard.

A unique aspect of the Parkdale local industrial yard jobs is that they were better known by the name of the Yard Foreman (conductor) and would be referred to as "Howes transfer" for Ray Howes, or Raycroft's Transfer for Tommy Raycroft. Some jobs made more than one run into the yard and as most came from another yard they were called "transfers" even though they were not true transfers. Even the officially named Swansea Transfer wasn't that. A true transfer moves a train from one yard to another and does not do any other switching, certainly not industrial sidings. When a Yard Foreman changed assignments, the job was effectively re-named! This naming practice was a hold over from very early days, possibly dating back to the Credit Valley Railway!

Other old terms used at Parkdale was to refer to the CNR as the GTR, at least as it applied to Bathurst Street yard the main place to interchange cars. This was to distinguish it from CNR Cherry Street interchange.

Another unusual aspect of Parkdale was that some hand and lamp signals differed from Lambton. The backup signal was clockwise to back towards me, but counter-clockwise to back away from me. Lambton it was always clockwise. Some signals for track numbers were different too. Switchmen were once on separate seniority lists, one for Lambton and one for Parkdale, and John Street.. Enginemen, on the other hand worked all locations and thus spare men had to contend with these differences.

The CPR at Parkdale was often referred to by the CNR as the "narrow gauge". This was not because of the TG&B heritage, but rather the GWR's broad gauge! For a funny story about this see The Narrow Gauge.

Complicating matters was the fact the yard was on a downgrade and cars had to be ridden and hand-braked to prevent them from running out over Strachan Avenue and into the dump. If a car got away and was not lined into the CNR Bathurst Street yard it would go all the way into Union Station, and did on at least one occasion! To prevent this all tracks at the south end of the yard were leads that ran into a dead end stub track ending in a high pile of dirt. On occasion cars going in the dump would tip towards a CNR-served warehouse platform providing a surprise! Tecumseh Street Tower controlled the switch into the dump and only lined it when there was movement in or out of the yard. An additional yardman known as a Rider worked afternoons and nights to assist the Lead crew with this hand braking.

1222 drifting to a stop at Parkdale. Likely this train came from Owen Sound.
A.C.Kalmbach/Bud Laws Colection
Note the CNR passenger train at their Parkdale station both on south side of Queen Street West
between Dufferin Street (CPR) and Gladstone Avenue (CNR) to the east.

Station (built 1910) and
Express Building (built 1913).
Former Express building

Freight office and shed.
(Built 1900-1910)

Interline Forwarders Ltd. used old wooden equipment, coach 1034 as office, box and flat cars as shed.

Top Yard, at top crossovers, look west. Galt. Sub.Westward main line on right. Team tracks and shed. Station far right in background.

Top yard, look east, 26/27 switch and crossover from Eastward to Westward main line. CNR main lines on far left. White buildIng is Canada Colours, large building in the background is Toronto Carpet, at King & Atlantic where the Wharf Lead begins.

Main part of Parkdale Yard at Strachan Ave. Eastward main line in foreground, Westward to right. First lead, tracks 1-8. Second lead (far left) 9-16. Building at left, John Inglis plant. Background, old prison.

Above photos all taken 1959 by R.L.Kennedy.

Map Parkdale Top Yard 1910

Following closure and demolition of the former CVR roundhouse and shops the Top Yard was built with a series of about two dozen dead end tracks against Dufferin Street. In later years these tracks were switched by the Circle job and contained mostly Hold cars (In Bond cars waiting to clear customs, etc.) and cars for local industries. Towards Queen Street was a freight shed and team tracks and finally, a new station and Express building.

Pool car operator Interline Forwarders (see photo above right) worked out of the Top Yard at first using a coach, box car and two flat cars for their facilities. Later, they took over the shed from CPR and later still moved to North Queen Street where a small shed was built when Queensway Piggyback was closed. TNT Railfast also started up at Parkdale and likewise moved to North Queen Street.

FastFrate a new pool car operator started up in the top yard with a minimal operation for some years and then suddenly grew into a "BTO" (Big Time Operator) requiring a big new shed being built in 1971 in the south area removing most top yard tracks. A new entrance was created off King Street West. It was thought the CPR backed their bank loans when they suddenly acquired a fleet of new tractor trailers. They later moved again, in 1983 to Lambton Shed when Tormon (from North Toronto) exchanged places. Later still Tormon moved to the new Conship shed in Scarborough at the east end of Toronto Yard. The "new" shed at Parkdale remained vacant (under 24 hour guard) for some years in the late 1980's before finally being demolished. The site remains undeveloped. Lambton was expanded and improved providing covered loading. Finally, after having taken over a number of other companies, as Consolidated Fastfrate, in September 2000 they moved again to a vast new terminal next toVaughan Intermodal Facility.

Cars were "doored" in the top yard. Box cars used for grain had wooden slats fitted across the doorway about halfway up. Later very sturdy paper "doors" were used for this. This work was done by shed men, and when they were gone, I think section men did it.

The elevators on the waterfront used these cars. Dominion Malting on the Wharf at Bathurst Street, Maple Leaf Milling (Toronto Elevators), near Spadina and Victory Mills on the East Wharf at Parliament Street. When they stopped using box cars, going to covered hoppers, there was only one customer left, Molson's brewery at Fez City. Finally, in the end the CPR stopped dooring cars and gave all the supplies and tools they had left stored in an old box car to Molson's. End of an era!

Interchange was carried out in the yard and at CN Bathurst Street yard rather than on designated interchange tracks as would normally be done. On midnights, after 965 had gone, the Lead engine would run cars down to Bathurst Street Yard, and return light. Likewise, a CN crew would bring our cars to us into any available track. It was agreed to show the time as before midnight (11.59 p.m.) in both cases. Normally, after midnight, another day of per diem would be owed to the owner by the railway that still had the cars in their possession. A unique aspect was that this was still referred to as being the GTR, not CNR. Cars and switch lists were so marked to differentiate between interchange at Cherry Street. For switching marks used see Chalk It Up!


A number of industries were located in what was known as the Circle, a maze of trackage reached off the wharf lead along Liberty Street, an area also served by the CNR, however very few had both CNR & CPR sidings. Hinde & Dauch Paper on the wharf lead was one, Central Warehousing was another, this latter place gave the CNR its local nickname, "The Leaky Roof"! The Circle was south of King Street between the Wharf lead and Dufferin Street. CNR access was from Strachan Ave. yard, a few tracks west of Cabin E along the Oakville Sub., opposite the CNE.

Map Hill Queen-Dundas 1958

A service track ran from Queen Street on the west of the Galt Sub., all the way to West Toronto and was sometimes used by the Transfer. Industries (inc. Gutta Percha) were located all along this service track but jurisdiction was divided between Parkdale and Lambton with Bloor Street being the boundary. Parkdale referred to this as the Hill area as it was all up hill! Great care had to be used when switching these sidings.
At Bloor and Dundas Streets was a team track area known as Bloor Street Yard, as well as some industries including a large lumber company. At one time a single 12 hour shift yard job worked the Hill. Sidings to the north of Bloor were switched by a Lambton local job.

Parkdale had a Sub-Agent (under the General Freight Agent at Simcoe Street Shed) located in the station, who was also over the yard office clerks. The Yardmaster was under a General YM at the Coach Yard. CP Express closed its building next to the station, however it remained in use by the Maintenance of Way dept. for many more years before finally being demolished. The station was closed October 1968 and soon demolished.

The opening of Toronto Yard in April 1964 brought with it a grand plan to close Parkdale, at least as far as train operations were concerned. Whereas four north (901, 955, 921, 965) and one east (910) train that previously started from Lambton with engines, van and a few cars, would now depart Toronto Yard it was decided to have the north and northwest trains lift at Leaside. Cars from the downtown area were to be taken up the Don, switched in Leaside and be lifted there. Great plan! However, it was impossible to get the work done in time and all trains left late (1 hour and a half was common). The Parkdale men sat around doing little, just biding our time! Two weeks later the grand plan collapsed as the officials at Union Station grew tired of explaining to Montreal why they couldn't get these hot trains out of Toronto on time. The trains from Toronto Yard came down the Don to lift at Parkdale and the boys swung into action! Officials couldn't make hide nor hair out of what was happening in the yard and one befuddled official stood watching as 901 pulled out on time and asked what marshalling move were they making now? Stunned when he got his answer, he and the rest left, obviously realizing the men at Parkdale didn't need their help!

It took many more years before things changed, but eventually there were few industries remaining, FastFrate moved to Lambton Shed, so Parkdale began to close. The three remaining industrial jobs, 56A & 69B Ashbridges Bay and 64A Queens Wharf, were changed to start at Lambton Yard effective October 27,1985. Finally, Parkdale was closed when the night lead (77C Parkdale Lead) with 7064, ordered 2230 March 16th worked its last shift. 405 (old 965) had last operated via Parkdale on March 4, 1986. The main part of the yard was turned into a small intermodal facility for Marine containers to replace a temporary facility at Pier 35 (closed June 1987) handling CAST container traffic formerly handled on CN. This required a two shift East Wharf (15A & 15B) effective October 15,1985 to transfer this traffic. It didn't last long before Obico IMS facilities were improved and Parkdale was closed for good in October 1990. All the land east of King & Atlantic Streets was sold off to a developer who bid it up to a great height (said to be $36 Million!). Just in time for the 1980's real estate flop. He went bust. It lay vacant, as did the former site of Massey-Ferguson on the south side of King Street where streets had been paved and lighting put up, with only the CPR and CNR mainlines between the two big pieces of property. Years later the Inglis plant was closed and demolished, also lying vacant until only very recently, now all is being redeveloped. The FastFrate shed lay vacant for years (under 24-hour guard!) until it too was demolished and all tracks taken up. Today, nothing railway remains at Parkdale except for the double track main line, used only by GO Transit for their Milton service.

Diesels were originally maintained at West Toronto while steam engines were maintained by John Street.
Later, Parkdale steam and Alco/MLW diesel engines were maintained at John Street roundhouse.
In later years GMD diesels were maintained at Toronto Yard and refueled by a CPR fuel truck.



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