Friday, February 23, 2024

Toronto Junction Postcard, 1900

Stub switches and the three engines shown suggest that this photograph was perhaps taken at an earlier date. The Valentine postcard serial number indicates a 1905 year of publication.

This poor, battered card seems to have been mailed in 1910 from Harrowsmith, Ontario. Perhaps their western trip began via the CPR's Kingston & Pembroke. Limerick is a small settlement near Watertown, New York. 

There are at least three installations of stub switches - including a dandy 3-position switchstand at the right. The building and platform behind the Erie boxcar at the left have the character of an icing facility. The interlocking tower might or might not mark the location of the junction switch. The pole beside the smoking locomotive seems to be topped with an arc lamp. With the sun at the left, the roundhouse and perhaps a heated watertank can be seen on the north side of the yard at the right.

Generally, in this obsolete field of interest, nobody sits you down and explains the 'junction' term. If you were walking from here - Toronto Junction - it would take you about an hour, walking beside the track, to reach the railway's 'Toronto' station. In modern terms, a junction is like a highway interchange - 'this is the turn-off for Toronto'. In western Canada, there are some junctions which are impressively far from their namesake settlements. 

The extract from the Official Guide from December 1887, below, is here to show the route the CPR once followed to reach downtown Toronto (via Toronto Junction). 

On the Montreal end, you can see the express trains leaving Dalhousie Station and circling counter-clockwise via Mile End, to reach Montreal Junction (later known as Montreal West). There, they head west along the 'lakeshore' of Montreal's 'west island' communities. 

... and 12 hours later, before you know it, you've travelled from Montreal to Toronto!

from: Official Guide; December 1887.

from: City of Toronto Archives, detail from fire insurance plan 1890.

The 1890 fire insurance map (above) shows the CPR yard within its West Toronto Junction neighbourhood. Other sheets show (just to the east) the other railway lines and the future site of the lost, lamented 1911-built Canadian Pacific West Toronto station - which was demolished in 1982.

The industries which developed at The Junction (as the area is known today) included Heintzman & Company. This factory produced the heirloom family upright piano on which I and my siblings received our elementary music training.