John Street Roundhouse is a historical locomotive Roundhouse built by Anglin Norcross Architects in 1929. Its purpose was to maintain the hard working Canadian Railway Trains coming in and out of Union Station.
The semi circular building is centred around the 120 foot turntable where locomotives were loaded and spun to a vacant bay entrance. Trains that were serviced at John Street Roundhouse were recognized by railroaders by their impressive “John Street Polish”. With advances in technology and changes to diesel run locomotives, business slowed for the John Street Roundhouse and in 1986 it was closed down completely and donated to the City of Toronto.
Now one of Toronto’s most impressive and beautiful brownfield sites, the Roundhouse is the proud home of Steam Whistle brewery, the Toronto Railway Historical Association museum and Leons furniture showroom. Very few changes have been made to the exterior of the structure therefore it stands the same way as it did in 1929. The two main facades face north and are identical with their seven large windows and brick cladding. Each window has a concrete lintel and the same square grilling pattern is set in each. Dark wood panelling is used on each of the bay entrance doors. Large floor to ceiling glazing is inset into each of the bay door openings. This glazing also contains a regular sized glass door so that the bay doors can be left open to bring natural light into the space. A loft space runs the entire length of the building and each side is made of glazing, giving the upper interior spaces a heaven like glow. Natural light floods the interior space from all facades. Brick and refurbished wooden columns and ceiling panels are used throughout.
Roundhouse park is the home of the Roundhouse with its 17 acres of beautiful green landscape and cobblestone pathways. A 24 seater train brings visitors around the park where they can learn more about its structure and history. 4 full sized locomotives, 3 freight cars, 2 passenger trains, Don Station, Cabin D, the coaling tower and water tank are also all on display throughout the park. Don Station and Cabin D were moved to the site from the city’s collection of historic buildings and the coaling tower and water tank are left from the original use of the Roundhouse.
John Street Roundhouse has become a very interesting and popular place to visit. The amazing and historical architecture allows people to enjoy the past and the present all at the same time.
TRHA. “CPR John Street Roundhouse.” Toronto Railway Historical Association. 2006. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://www.trha.ca/>
“Still Hip: National Historic Sites.” Parcs Canada | Parks Canada. 22 May 2008. Web. 19 Sept. 2010. <http://www.pc.gc.ca/culture/proj/urbain/circuits-walks/index_e.asp? walkid=6&loopid=1&buildingid=16#building>.
Kennedy, R.L. “Old Time Trains: Canadian Pacific Railway.” TrainWeb for Train Travel, Model Railroading, Railfans and the Railroad Industry. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. <http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/CPR_Toronto/ JOHN_ST_LOCOMOTIVE.htm>.