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Railway Heritage Footprints in the West Donlands – Part 6 of 6

Click on each image for a closer look!

As the West Donlands are redeveloped in the next few years, our primary concern should be the preservation of the Cherry Street interlocking tower (Cabin A) after it's taken out of service (IMAGES #31 and #32). This is one of three towers currently operated by the Toronto Terminals Railway on behalf of GO Transit. The John Street tower (Cabin C), just north of the roundhouse, is scheduled to be demolished and has already been architecturally compromised since it had its roof removed in 1989 to make way for the pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks connecting Skydome and Front Street (IMAGES #33 and #34). The Scott Street tower (Cabin B) just east of Union Station is apparently being kept in service by GO as a back-up to its new interlocking system. Pedestrian access to that tower would be difficult due to its location adjacent to the Gardiner Expressway off-ramp (IMAGES #35 and #36).

The Cherry Street tower is a primary candidate for restoration and preservation. As an interpretive display, it's primary value would be relating the story of the Union Station Rail Corridor and the electro-mechanical interlocking that continues to make possible the 235 passenger trains that operate along the corridor every weekday. The Distillery District, now one of the city's most popular tourist attractions is right across the street and the tower would provide a rare opportunity to view passenger train activity between Union Station and the Don River, currently very difficult to achieve without either trespassing on GO property or having access to one of the condo towers near the tracks.

Sometime in 2012, a new Heritage Toronto plaque will be unveiled at the new Don River Park, now nearing completion in the West Donlands. The plaque will commemorate the railway bridge that first spanned the river in 1856, the disassembled pier of which will form a decorative element in the park.

Click here to return to the first posting in this series.

Posting by Derek Boles, TRHA Historian

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