Now to continue the story of our stay at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Ontario. As I mentioned yesterday, during our weekend in the big city we did a lot of walking to show the boys the sites around that area of downtown Toronto. Right across the street from the Royal York is a very impressive architectural feat – Union Station. Union Station is the central hub for all inter-city transit in Toronto. It is also the busiest train station in Canada, handling approximately 250,000 passengers each day!
What I found interesting in the history of this station is that it came into existence as the result of a disaster. In 1904 there was a huge fire in Toronto which destroyed 14 acres of the downtown manufacturing and warehouse district. The Canadian Pacific (CPR) and Grand Trunk Railways saw the need for a larger station and negotiated with the City of Toronto for control of some of this land. The City leased the land to the Grand Trunk Railway in 1905. Construction began in 1914 but delays caused by material shortages in WWI and various legal problems meant that the station didn’t actually open for operation until 1927.
Union Station is an incredible piece of architecture. The structure is considered a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture, in particular for its colonnaded front where each of the 22 Bedford limestone columns weighs 75 tons and is 40 feet high, and the Grand Hall which is 76 metres long and 27 metres high. The hall is paved in marble and has a soaring vault ceiling of Gustavino tiles and four-storey high windows at each end.
When Edward, the Prince of Wales, official opened Union Station on August 6, 1927 he stated, “You build your stations like we build our cathedrals”. This is a photo outside the front doors of the station where you can see the limestone columns mentioned above. If you look at the door at the end of the walkway, you will get an idea of how enormous this building really is. Union Station is quite something to see, that’s for sure!! By the way, I did try to Photoshop out the garbage can as it is kind of an eyesore, but my attempt was not very successful so I had to leave it in :).