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a tour of toronto’s union station

August 23

My travel destination of preference is Europe. And my favourite way to travel while visiting that continent is by train. It is such a leisurely, easy, and scenic way to get where you want to go, not to mention an historic, romantic mode of transportation that simply cannot be matched.

Now and then I get nostalgic for Europe’s expansive and magnificently grand train stations and find that a wander through Toronto’s Union Station is a good fix. But have you ever wondered about the history of this impressive structure? Have you wondered about its design, construction, and what plans there are for its future? I have and I found out one weekend on the Toronto Railway Historical Association’s monthly public Union Station tour.

The tour is held every last Saturday of the month at 11am (the next tour is this coming weekend, Saturday August 28). Although I was one of the younger people on the tour, and one of the few females, this comprehensive tour is definitely not only for train buffs. The tour leader is a member of the TRHA and is well versed in all details about the history and the future of the complex in terms of transportation, architecture, and how it fits into the fabric of the city and the lives of commuters and travellers alike. Although photos are only permitted to be taken in the public areas, the group is led into normally off-limits areas including: the railway president’s former office that is stuck in time; the lower service levels with the original rechargeable luggage carts from the 1920s (and their original electricity generating station);  along the glass-floored catwalks behind the massive windows at the end of the great hall.

After the tour, be sure to wander down to The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre (TRHC) which opened to the public earlier this year in the historic CP Roundhouse. The Centre includes a miniature railway ride and an operational 120-foot long turntable that helped to move the locomotives into the bays of the roundhouse for repair.

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