Sunday, May 1, 1960, is a date that will not be soon forgotten in the annals of Canadian steam railroading. On that day railfans and the general public rode the first and last tripleheaded steam excursion in the Dominion. The trip ran out of Toronto over the Canadian Pacific Railway along the Galt and Orangeville Subdivisions as far as Orangeville. It was a spectacular way to mark the end of the steam era, both for the 1,100 on the train and the many thousands who watched its passage.
This event was heavily promoted to the general public, unlike the excursions operated by the existing rail enthusiast groups. The result was an unheard of sellout three weeks in advance, with many turned away. The official C.P.R. ticket count was 1,057, matching engine number 1057, but children under five did not require a ticket. Add in press passes and Railfans Unlimited staff and guests, plus C.P.R. employees, the total on board was about 1,100.
after the scheduled 10:45 a.m. departure time, the Special is leaving
Union Station with the Royal York Hotel in the background.
People had been riding behind steam locomotives out of Toronto for more than 100 years, starting with that historic day, May 16, 1853, when the first train left Toronto for Machell's Corners (Aurora). Millions had travelled on steam-hauled trains across Canada, from the early settlers, harvesters, soldiers going to war and those that returned, to weary depression-era men seeking work, tourists and other travellers from both near and far. All had taken the steam locomotive for granted. Steam had served Canada well in opening up the vast land, shrinking distances and bringing all kinds of goods to market.
Street Tower controls all movements through the "Plant" of the
Toronto Terminal Railway. Note the red dwarf or pot signals.
Now it was time for the steam locomotive to step aside and let a newer, more efficient, machine take over, namely Dr. Rudolph Diesel's invention that itself has now come to be taken for granted. As Doris Day sang in the famous song immortalized by Les Brown and "His Band of Renown", this was indeed to be a "Sentimental Journey". It was a time to "renew old memories" and to hear that "All Aboard" said one last time in the presence of a steam locomotive.
photo by Jim Hawk, collection of R.L.Kennedy
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