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Old Time Trains

Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto Yard

Part II

Train-Yard Co-ordinator Al "Chrome Dome" Smith in GYO Tower. Canadian Pacific

7403-7404 on crest of the hump. Note special signals, hump shack for yard foreman and GYO.
Sunday, February 1, 1970 David M. More

Initially, yard switching was supervised by a Train-Yard Co-ordinator (Co-ordinator), who controlled movements in and out of the yard in conjunction with train Dispatchers and the Operator, as well as co-ordinating work by the Hump Yardmaster, Retarder Operator, and Pulldown Supervisor. The TYC and Hump Yardmaster worked in a tower attached to the General Yard Office (GYO) and located right at the hump. The retarder operator worked in a separate smaller tower part way down the hump nearer the classification (class) yard. A third tower known as the Pulldown, near the far northeast end of the yard was where the Pulldown Supervisor worked. The Pulldown Supervisor was a promotion for Yard Foremen with the Company selecting the man. The job was higher paid than a Yard Master, but less than a Co-Ordinator. Eventually, the Supervisor was eliminated with the work being handled at the GYO tower with the aid of remote cameras.


The yard in June 1972. R. L. Kennedy

550254 among a cut of tri-levels loaded with new automobiles.

Aerial view circa 1982

A major $12-million (almost as much as the original cost!) modernization occurred in late 1982 when the hump retarder was rebuilt into an automatic one, computer controlled using General Railway Signal (GRS) Class-Matic Mark III Automatic Classification Control. Included was a weigh-in-motion scale that could be used for legal (customer) purposes rather than using a standard type of track scale located at the Pulldown, which required additional switching and consequent delays. This modernization eliminated the need for a Retarder Operator to control the retarding function resulting in better production. This position had required special training with the Company selecting the men qualified to work it. It was a higher paid position than a Yard Foreman but lower than a Yardmaster.

This new system was designed to interface with YARDS, Yard Activity and Reporting System, a central computer system for the clerical inventory of each individual freight car which was scheduled for start-up in 1984.

Yard jobs were located at the hump and the pulldown. Normally, two hump jobs worked each shift with a Yard Foreman and Helper (plus an engineer) using two yard units in m.u. Later, a third unit would be added to one job. These units were equipped with a cab signal system as well as a slow speed rheostat to control speed down to 2 ½ mph. The pulldown was normally assigned two jobs per shift each with two m.u. yard units.

Pulldown tower c.1987 Hans Boldt


The pulldown initially had normal three-man ground crews (switchmen/yardmen). It soon became common practice for the men to take turns with one man staying inside the lunchroom much of the time. One particular yardman gained the nickname "Horizontal Joe" for his frequent relaxing in the lunchroom! This finally resulted in the elimination of one position and the 2-man yard crew began. In 1967 it became standard everywhere.

The hump jobs initially also had normal three-man crews with the Foreman spending his time in the shelter transferring information to/from the Retarder Operator. These jobs also became two-man crews and eventually, with the coming of remote control, one man, without even an engineer! Remote control eliminated the engineer on yard jobs with two yardmen (one, a foreman) using the "Pitch and Catch" system made by Canac.

Changes to the track layout occurred over the years. Yard B was built with crossovers mid-way to handle short local trains. Yard C, the Classification yard, which has a total of 72 tracks, had one group of nine tracks (46-54) in the bowl left un-built for future expansion. These were eventually added when a futile attempt was made to close Lambton Yard.

Original track map of Toronto Yard

Track Map 2000

A Yard west departure and receiving yard.

Tracks A-1 to A-4 capacity 150 cars. future expansion. ADDED
Tracks A-5 to A-10 capacity 102-112 cars.

B Yard local yard departure and receiving.
Tracks B-1 to B-5 future expansion 54-67 car capacity
Tracks B-6 to B-10 west and east (10 tracks) 24-53 car capacity

C Yard Classification Yard 8 groups of 9 tracks each.
Tracks C-1 to C-18
Tracks C-19 to C-36
Tracks C-37 to C-45
Tracks C-46 to C-54 future expansion ADDED
Tracks C-55 to C-63
Tracks C-64 to C-72

ADDED C-16A, scrapping wrecked cars.
C-17A, C-18A cleanout tracks (Lauderdale car cleaners, contractor).

F Yard West Receiving and East Departure Yard
Tracks F-1 to F-5 and F-8 to F-10
Tracks F-6 to F-7 and F-11 to F-14 future expansion ADDED F-11 F-12 F-13
NOTE: F-2 and F-4 removed to allow motorized car inspection of through trains.

G Yard East Receiving Yard
Tracks G-1 to G-3
Tracks G-4 to G-6 future expansion ADDED F-4


ADDED Both hump leads extended westward. Later, both dead-ended for remote controlled locomotive use.

Shove lights were added in July 1995 to tracks A1 to A10, B1 to B10, F1, F3, F5, F7 to F13 and L4. These lights were used to indicate when a cut of cars reached the end of a track without the need for a yardman to ride the point. They white light would extinguish when the end reached it, the crew would then reverse and pull the cut back slightly until the light relit. Air connection could then be made by carmen.

Piggyback yard A small two-track facility (with provision for 6 more tracks that were never added), was located at the edge of the yard just off Markham Road (Highway 48) near Finch Avenue East. It was closed in 1970 and dismantled in June 1972.

Cows rest in the field at Browns Corners while hundreds of VW's rest in the new Compound.
June 1972 R. L. Kennedy

Auto Compound used to unload new imported automobiles from multi-level flatcars. This facility was first located off Markham Road on the south side of Oshawa Sub. mainline with a wye into it. (A massive freight shed was later built on this site.) A small amount of used automobiles were also loaded here for shipment to western Canada. The Old compound was abandoned January 1972 following the opening in 1971 on the north side of Finch Avenue just west of Markham Road of the new much larger compound needed to handle the big increase in automobiles (especially Volkswagen and Toyota but also Mazda and Volvo) being moved by rail. It was located on newly-acquired adjacent land on the north side of Finch Avenue just west of Markham Road. This corner was where there once was a small shelter on the Peterboro Subdivision named Browns Corners.

Originally budgeted at $15 million Toronto Yard came in at $17 ½ million even with shortcuts. It eventually became too valuable for a railway yard. By the 1980's real estate boom it was worth $500 million! The value declined by 1998 to $250 Million. Yet the cost to remediate the land for residential use would be astronomical. Otherwise, it would be possible to build a new yard "for free" by relocating far out of Toronto, possibly on the Pickering Airport land reserve. NOTE: 20 acres on the north side of the yard near the pulldown were sold c.1990 for $22 Million, more than the entire yard cost in 1964!


Diesel shop A five-track enclosed structure of 34,000 square feet to provide for running repairs to over 200 units was first built. Expansion of the shop resulted in the following (north to south): 2 long through tracks into shop; 1short dead end track that does not enter the building; 3 long through tracks into the shop; 4 long tracks outside the building; 1 short dead end track towards the turntable.

Sand for diesel units was delivered in OCS covered hopper cars such as 416011 and 416012.

Sanding towers on shop tracks.

Stores Department built onto the west end of the diesel shop it has a depressed track for unloading cars.

Car Department

Car shop A 49,200 sq.ft. eight track structure built for 40,000 major and minor repairs annually. Adjacent is a building containing (east to west) the General Car Foreman's office, Car Dept. office, time clock area, and the ancilliary shops which included; electricians, upholstery, plumbers, painters, tinsmith, a 2 bay garage, air brake shop and finally the dope room (for journal lubrication pads). A three track heavy repair shop was later added to the north side of the one-spot. More recently (1999.) the one-spot had its walls removed and the facility changed to service diesel units. Car repairs once again being done in the open as in the last century at West Toronto.

Upgrading truck used for minor interior repairs to box cars etc. 1976

Caboose shop A 9,900 sq.ft. structure with two tracks was added to handle local and run-through cabooses.
This shop was later shut down with the end of the use of cabooses (vans) on most freight trains.
Maintenance of Way (Engineering Department) shared and later took over building.

OCS equipment. On Company Service



402867 two views


Service 415384 Water Car part of OCS fire fighting equipment used for
right-of-way fires caused primarily by old diesels on freight trains east of the yard.

415847 OCS flat car for work train with potable water (drinking) with its own generator (far left end) to pump with.

416387 Service flat car to deliver new wheels from manufacturer to car shops.

Dormitory and Cafeteria a.k.a. the "beanery"

This facility was used by London and Smiths Falls train crews as their away from home facility. Tail end crews no longer slept in their vans. Originally, by Agreement there was one daily hot meal special at 75 cents! It was later raised and finally eliminated, however prices remained low and vending machine pop and snacks were low priced because the CPR did not take any commission on the sales. In the early years there was not much in the area and the good hot food and low prices attracted a lot of outsiders (although the 75 cent special was not available to them,) Bell Telephone repairmen, even CFTO TV people! Gradually, things declined and it was finally closed in the early 1990's sometime after the dorm part was closed November 1, 1992 due to its deteriorated condition, with crews being taken by crew bus to a hotel (originally Relax Inn, now Travelodge) on Markham Road at Highway 401. Another form of contracting out.

Radio shop This building was added, located right at the hump between the GYO and the Dormitory building. It houses the radio repair facility as well as the Signals Dept. facilities for signals and crossing protection lights and gates etc.

Transfer Power

8909 Transfer power at the pulldown. Single RDC may be westbound from Havelock or the employee shuttle.
Note the talk back loudspeaker connecting to the Pulldown Supervisor in tower beyond van.
November 28, 1965 L.B.Chapman Collection

Fairbanks-Morse Train Masters were never common on the Ontario District with not more than two or three at a time and almost always single unit trains. Their stay was brief, just a few years at most. Prior to the opening of Toronto Yard they worked Hamilton trains from West Toronto Yard. They were ahead of their time at 2400 hp.and 50% higher tonnage rating.
8919 (second to last H-24-66 CLC 2940 10/1956) shown here just six months after Toronto Yard opened.

Shop track, February 3, 1974 David M. More

Empress of Agincourt is the unofficial name for this one-of-a-kind unit long used on the Transfer, a three shift yard job between Toronto Yard-Parkdale Yard-West Toronto/Lambton Yard. 8921 is a MLW RSD-17 DL-624 2400 hp unit. (#81603 5/1957) Rated at 69,800 t.e. compared to 46,500 for an RS-18. It was later given a chop nose in December 1988. Retired 5/30/1995, its uniqueness was recognized and it has been preserved (minus its prime mover). Intended for the proposed Toronto Railway Museum which never materialized, it went instead to St.Thomas at the Elgin County Railway Museum. Demonstrator photographs.

8921 in fresh paint. October 23, 1987


Sperry Rail Service detector car seeks out defects on main tracks.

Employee Shuttle

Second car laying over near the shops. March 1965. D. Hately

Due to its remote location and the lack of public transportation an employee shuttle passenger train using RDC's was operated between Keele Street (West Toronto Yard) and Toronto Yard with a flag stop at Leaside. At shift changes the 2 car train ran through the yard to the Car and Diesel Shops and to the Pulldown. At other times 1 car stopped at the GYO. Tickets were sold in strips of 8 for $1 and could be purchased only at West Toronto, Leaside and Agincourt Stations. Scheduled for a 40 minute trip, trains arriving at shift change did so on time, but when taking off-duty employees home it frequently ran into dispatching problems and delays.

9060 leaving Keele Street (West Toronto) June 1965
Collection of Derek Boles

TTC 7381 GMC "New Look" sits in CPR loop at the end of it route while CP Rail's Crew Bus heads off
towards the tunnel for the GYO. It also made stops at the Beanery (Dormitory), Diesel/Car Shops
and Pulldown Yard Tower. Circa 1973 Dan Dell'Unto Collection

Declining ridership and improved public transit caused the CPR to end this service effective October 29, 1972 with the last run from Toronto Yard at 2335 on the 28th. (An attempt had been made to end it November 28, 1971 but this was put off.) Since February 1971 the TTC had been operating a bus from the Warden subway station and looping off McCowan at the yard entrance. A yard crew bus service was instituted to meet these buses and move employees to their place of work. A five hour gap between 1.15 a.m. and 6.25 a.m. was filled by use of taxi (East End Taxi) service from Main Subway Station. Only train crews normally had to use this service.

At one time the second car used at shift changes was a lightweight coach used to save an RDC. The eastbound stop at Leaside at the foot a helper grade finally did in the RDC and the unpowered coach was replaced with a second RDC.

Yard Engine Gallery Part 1

Yard Engine Gallery Part 2

Yard Engine Gallery Part 3

Locomotive Gallery Other Hump Yards

Road Engine Gallery

Leased Engine Gallery

Train Gallery

Wanted: Photos and Info

Photographs for locomotive galleries: "Rockets" (RS-23 8000's) for pulldown also any yard units nose-to-nose working the pulldown. RDC's on employee shuttle arriving/departing or loading/unloading and especially two car train. Also, trains arriving/departing over the years.

Diesel and car shops, shed, dorm, radio building, old compound, pig yard.

Information: Dates; 3 track heavy repair addition to car shop? Expansion of diesel shop? Construction of van shop? Radio building? Cafeteria "beanery" closed?

Your contribution is solicited Please contact me

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