When the CN Tower was built on railway lands in downtown Toronto, it was surrounded by major facilities used by the railways: Union Station, CP's John Street roundhouse, and CN's Spadina roundhouse and coach yard.
While most visitors to the world's tallest tower (1,815 feet in height) enjoyed views to the horizon from the observation deck (1,136 feet - Hey look! I can see Hamilton!), I preferred the view below, where I could see train movements taking place. The trains could also be viewed from ground level, but it was more interesting to watch and photograph trains wending their way through the terminal trackage, often featured on tourist postcards often featured the tower from various angles and altitudes (above & below):
From the outdoor observation deck (1,122 feet) the tower's shadow falls between the safety bars onto the white skirting that covers satellite dishes. Upper Canada Railway Society's private car Cape Race is next to the steam plant. Stored CP intermodal flats, 40-foot yellow insulated boxcars and Service boarding boxcars line the coach yard tracks nearby in May 1980:
Looking east along Toronto Terminal Railways trackage, the Union Station train shed is visible between the bars. An inbound GO Transit train races past a CP wayfreight beside the Gardiner Expressway, which runs beside the postal terminal near Union Station:
Pointing my Kodak Hawkeye straight down, a VIA F-unit and a yard switcher with coach in tow both head west. Rapido Trains' president Jason Shron will be depicting such scenes on his HO-scale Spadina-CN Kingston Sub layout. That's our school field trip's school bus beside the F-unit:
Looking west from the outdoor deck, a bidirectional GO Transit train slides past Spadina coach yard, while at least two CN switchers drill passenger cars. Compare the view to the third photo in this Canadian Railway Observations article by Walter Pfefferle. Today's view is markedly less-railroady and more Albert Speer-esque, as wide avenues guide condo owners home to their high-priced birdhouses along the lake. In both views, historic Fort York is visible at mid-top of photo:
What a difference a telephoto lens makes. While a scruffy ex-CP VIA F-unit peeks out from the trainshed, an eastbound CP transfer powered by two switchers hauls 13 gons, four covered hoppers, two boxcars and five tank cars in September 1986:
The stainless steel roofs of three RDC's glint in the late afternoon sun:
Farther west, two short F-led VIA passenger consists and a brace of RDC's pass Fort York at Bathurst Street:
Forty-foot CP Rail boxcars, ex-baggage Service car, and two tank-bearing flat cars are stored:
An end-cupola van, piggyback flats and 'roundhouse queens' TH&B 72, 74, 401, 402, 76 and 77 await conversion to CP's 1680-series with chop noses, reposing on CP's trackage:
Rail & transit: A Toronto Transit Commission Peter Witt car is on an afternoon excursion:
You'd never see this while railfanning in the vicinity of the CN Tower: an artist's fanciful conception a four-track (in reality, only two-track) flyunder to be constructed west of Spadina Avenue. A CP F-unit hauling a boxcar meets the LRC prototype, two GO single-level and two double-level consists, a CN RS18 hauling Tempo coaches(?) and the Turbo near Spadina's coaling tower, all in one view from UCRS's November/December 1976 newsletter. Now that's railfanning CN Tower style!
Most modellers just buy models and kitbash, paint and decal them to match a specific prototype. Jason Shron started Rapido Trains to produce the cars he wanted, and oh, to sell a few to fellow modellers in the process. Rapido's recent announcements include MLW's FPA4. Schenectady serendipity and MLW melodrama in all-encompassing ALCo-mania.
How many Torontonians does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, then five more to hold a panel discussion about what a world-class event it was. Why doesn't Hamilton have an NHL team? Because then Toronto would want one too.
Toronto takes a few jabs, but it still features some world-class railfanning opportunities. Be sure to check out the blog partners featured in my sidebar: Chris Mears' Prince Street Terminal features GO Transit among myriad other subjects, and Adam Walker's Walker Express featuresa recent visit to GO's Willowbrook yard.