On October 27th,1856, the first train connecting Toronto and Montreal started its journey. This train took about 14 hours to cut the distance between Toronto and Montreal with an average speed of 48 kmph. Can’t stop mentioning and comparing this with latest technology of Hyperloop -promoted by Elon Musk- which can connect these two cities in just 39 minutes!! That 14 hours in those days would have given similar excitement to people for what we now feel by hearing 39 minutes of travel time!
The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada was incorporated in 1852 to build this rail route. It took about 4 years to build it. This train project laid the seed of first Union Station of Toronto (The Premier Gateway to Toronto).
The first Union Station was a wood structure built on the west side (York St and Simcoe St) of the present Union Station. It was opened on June 21st, 1858 by Grand Trunk Railway.
The first Union Station was built on a reclaimed land. There is a reason behind calling this as first union station as the current one is the fourth one after latest revitalization.
Toronto got total 4 structures (almost same location) for our Union Station so far.
The second Union Station was built at the same place to replace the first station on July 01,1873. It was designed by the Architect Thomas Seaton Scott who also designed the Bonaventure station in Montreal.
In the year 1884, the train traffic drastically increased due to Canadian Pacific Railway and that created a need for expansion of the station. A new shed was built in 1892. The most eye-catching part of this expansion was a new seven storey office building on Front Street which was designed by Toronto architectural firm of Strickland & Symons.
The great Toronto Fire in 1904 laid the seed of third Union Station. Grand Trunk Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway jointly started the planning of the third Union Station in 1905 and acquired the land adjacent to then existing station.
Toronto’s third Union Station was constructed between 1914–1920. Prince Edward, Prince of Wales officially opened it to the public on August 6, 1927. The third Union Station was designed by architects Ross and Macdonald (Montreal), Hugh G. Jones and John M. Lyle (Toronto). The design was influenced by “Beaux Arts” style which is a French classical architectural style.
In early 1920’s Grand Trunk was taken over by Canadian National (CN). In 1933 CN and CP (Canadian Pacific) collaborated and ran the show for about 30 years. After 1965 CP decided to terminate services on this route and CN continued their services.
Union Station became National Historic Site of Canada in 1975. It became Heritage Railway Station in 1989. In 1999, Union Station became part of the North America Railway Hall of Fame. After enactment of Ontario Heritage Act by Toronto City Council on July 27, 2006– Union Station is recognized as part of the Union Station Heritage Conservation District.
The fourth and latest project is on verge of completion. This revitalization project for our Union Station will greatly impact and improve commute and comfort. With the improvement in Bay Concourse, this busiest transportation hub will increase its capacity by almost three times as compared to the old station. This latest project will cost over $800 M at completion.