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Over the past 17 years, the
bulk of the development work for the Toronto Railway Museum has been
done by our volunteer community. Here is a glimpse into the life of members of one of the Volunteer Teams who has and is making this happen.
Day in the Life of a Restoration Volunteer
Most restoration volunteers arrive in the workshop in early
to mid-morning - some by car, some by bike, and some by bus or subway. The museum and workshop are adjacent to some
of Toronto’s other major attractions: the
Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and Steam Whistle Brewery.
After the volunteers sign in they plan the day’s restoration
activities, taking into account the maintenance and operations requirements of
the museum. There may be as few as two or as many as ten volunteers at work on
Thursdays and Saturdays, the days that most volunteers find convenient to come
to the museum.
There is a lot of variety in the volunteer tasks. Some volunteers have chosen to work on continuing
long-term projects while others are more interested in rotating from project to
project, guided by the plan for that day.
On any one day there may be scraping, painting, polishing, sanding, grinding,
sawing, hammering, caulking, greasing re-greasing and de-greasing underway. And
on most days there is a general clean-up at the end of “the shift”.
Work on outdoor restorations might be curtailed due to the
weather or due to the operations of our neighbors, Steam Whistle Brewery and
The Rec Room.
Lunch is a collegial, picnic style affair – outside in the summer
shade of the roundhouse or around the meeting room in “Cape Race”, the former
CP business car now undergoing restoration in the roundhouse. Volunteers with a sweet tooth (most of them,
it would seem) appreciate the frequent donations of fresh baked goods brought
While the plans for each day provide overall guidance there
is often a requirement for problem solving or improvisation on the shop floor
or on the grounds outside. Volunteers
will identify the problems, consult with others on the possible solutions and
decide as a team on how to proceed.
Health and safety come first in the evaluation of any decisions.
The volunteer work day ends about 4:00. Most volunteers stick around for an informal
debriefing session - smiles and laughter about what went well during the day,
and commiseration and shared learnings over any events that didn’t work out as
The museum is always looking for new volunteers to work on
our many restoration projects.
have previous metal shop, woodworking or general home improvement skills? Would
you like to contribute to the museum’s mission of preserving and communicating
Toronto’s railway history?
contact the TRHA Volunteer Coordinator for further information: email@example.com