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August 2, 2002
Seventy-five years of Union Station
On Tuesday, August 6, Union Station, which serves more than 120,000 people on
each business day, will mark its 75th anniversary.

Since opening in 1927, Union Station has been one of the most significant hubs
in Canada's transportation network. Over the last 35 years, the station has
become increasingly important in the Toronto area as the terminal for commuter
rail services and as a vital link in the Toronto subway system.

Many events that have helped to shape the nation have taken place at Union
Station. It was the scene of tearful good-byes and joyful reunions during the
Second World War and was also a gateway for many immigrants arriving in
Toronto. Today, the station is a national icon of the railway industry.

The opportunity to build Union Station arose after the great fire of 1904 that
demolished 14 acres of Toronto's manufacturing and warehouse district. In the
early 1900s, several railway stations were operating throughout the city. Two
of the largest rail companies would combine forces to begin developing the one
central station. In 1905, two of the largest railway companies, the Canadian
Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Grand Trunk Railway, leased the Front Street
property to develop one central railway station.

Construction of Union Station began in 1914, a time when railway stations were
viewed as the gateway to a city. Material shortages during the First World War,
and the collapse of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1919, delayed completion of the
station. Finished in 1921, it then remained unused until outstanding issues
concerning grade separations were resolved between the Harbour Commission, the
City and the railways over grade separations. In 1924, a final plan was
approved by the Board of Railway Commissioners and work on the necessary
viaduct, bridge, grading, platforms and trackage commenced.

Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, Union Station was the largest and most
opulent station erected in Canada. The familiar Bedford limestone columns and
the coffered ceiling of the Great Hall were the result of a consortium of
architects: the Montreal firm of G. A. Ross and R. H. Macdonald, Hugh Jones of
the CPR and John M. Lyle of Toronto.

A related Web site with further information will be available on Tuesday,
August 6.

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