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May 28, 2010
Mayor Miller opens Toronto Railway Heritage Centre and Roundhouse Park
  
Mayor David Miller today officially opened the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre (TRHC) and Roundhouse Park.

The 17 acre/6.8 hectare site (which has several restored heritage railway buildings, three working roundhouse maintenance bays, numerous heritage locomotives, freight and passenger cars, conductor simulators, a functioning turntable and a miniature passenger railway) celebrates Toronto’s railway heritage and the role that the railroad played in the development of the city and in the lives of Torontonians.

“This exceptional new park and railway heritage centre has creatively revitalized a unique National Historic Site in downtown Toronto," said Mayor David Miller. “It reminds and teaches all of us how important the railway and all modes of mass transit were and still are in the development of our city, as well as demonstrating the power of partnerships and adaptive reuse in creating accessible public spaces. I want to thank the Toronto Railway Historical Association for their untiring efforts in making the centre a reality.”

This project is the result of a successful partnership between the City of Toronto and the Toronto Railway Historical Association (TRHA). Dedicated volunteers from the TRHA have donated nearly 20,000 hours of their time and expertise to make the centre a reality.

This exciting new site development will launch free to the public at Doors Open Toronto on May 29 and 30 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day). The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre and Roundhouse Park are adjacent to the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre at 255 Bremner Blvd.

The TRHC occupies bays 15, 16 and 17 of the Roundhouse, which are being transformed into interpretive centres to communicate the history of railways in Toronto and identify, celebrate and facilitate the study of the creative, technological, social and industrial achievements of Torontonians who have contributed to the development of railways in Canada.

The railway village includes: Cabin D (an interlocking tower built in the 1890s that operated until the 1980s); the Don Station building (built in 1896, which served as a passenger station until the 1960s); as well as a typical watchman’s shanty and a tool shed. All structures have been restored by Murison Restoration.

The Coal and Sanding Tower was built in 1930 and originally located in front of the Roundhouse. The 300-tonne capacity tower consists of two circular concrete silos and a brick hoist tower with stairs. Coal tenders were positioned below the silo at the chute locations to load coal for steam engines.

The Roundhouse Park turntable, built in 1929 and restored in 2007, is one of the longest rail turntables ever built in Canada. The Roundhouse Park Miniature Railway is a fully functional passenger-carrying locomotive in miniature that can carry up to 24 people. The track route passes many of the Roundhouse Park exhibits and the collection of historic railcar structures on the site.

The simulation centres will give visitors the opportunity to experience what it is like to operate a diesel locomotive from an actual cab unit. Creative visuals simulate the Toronto of the mid 1950s as the user operates a train through the downtown Toronto railway lands.

“Our goal was to create and foster the pre-eminent centre for Toronto’s railway history. One look at our collection of historical buildings, rail cars and interpretive centres demonstrates that we are well on our way,” said Orin Krivel, President of the TRHA. “This outstanding park and railway heritage centre, is bringing Toronto’s railway history to life and would not have been possible without our partners, especially the tremendous co-operation from the City of Toronto and the collaborative efforts of Glenn Garwood. I’d also like to thank and our dedicated volunteers who have donated nearly 20,000 hours of their time over the past nine years. They deserve the city’s gratitude for their hard work, dedication and commitment.”

Roundhouse Park provides the city with nearly three acres of green space. The open space of the park has been designed to accommodate large gatherings and events, while maintaining much of the original winning park design elements. Interpretive features have been added to engage younger visitors, such as a miniature railway, complete with a miniature steam engine repair and storage facility, as well as a railway themed playground for toddlers.

”It’s easy to think of our railway heritage in terms of massive locomotives, iron bridges and limestone railways stations, but much of the smaller scale railway buildings, structures and stock have been scrapped and forgotten,” said Don Loucks, Principal Architect, IBI. “That’s why it’s so important that the TRHA has amassed such a wonderful collection that showcases the fine carpentry details and reveals the care and outstanding craftsmanship that was applied to these utilitarian structures.”

“The Roundhouse and Roundhouse Park is a welcome and wonderful addition to the ward,” said Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina). “I’d encourage all Torontonians to visit the park, learn about the city’s railway heritage and enjoy these beautiful surroundings. ”

The Toronto Railway Historical Association (TRHA) was established in 2001. It is incorporated and is a federally registered charity. Its primary purpose is to promote the development of the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre, which will communicate the history of railways in Toronto, identify, celebrate and facilitate the study of the creative, technological, social and industrial achievements of Torontonians who have contributed to the development of railways in Canada. The TRHA aims to assemble, conserve and preserve artifacts and objects relating to the development of the railway industry and undertake research to construct and maintain a comprehensive record of Toronto’s railway history.

More information about the railway centre and the TRHA is available at http://www.trha.ca/.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Media contacts:
Shane Gerard, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-397-5711, sgerard@toronto.ca
Michael Forbes, 416-999-3069, mforbes@pwcommunications.ca



 

 

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