I came across this fantastic mural today underneath a train bridge near the intersection of St. Clair Avenue West and Caledonia Road.
The artwork depicts a street scene with an old-fashioned steam train arriving at Union Station here in Toronto.
So how long have trains been running in Ontario (and specifically Toronto?)
“1853, May 16 – The first train in Ontario runs between Toronto and Aurora on the Ontario Simcoe and Huron Railroad Union Company.” (1)
However, in 1836, seventeen years prior, “a turning point in Canada’s history occurred… when the first public train began running between Saint Jean sur Richelieu and La Prairie near Montréal.
The event triggered an extraordinary boom in every dimension of Canada’s growth. Trains took passengers and large quantities of merchandise all over the continent. Towns grew around railway stations. Factories and industries sprang up in cities such as Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. Canada was bustling!” (2)
It was quite a change…
“From the 1600s to early 1800s, the inhabitants of New France travelled by boat, sleigh and calèche. Roads were bumpy, muddy and usually in very poor condition. In winter, rivers froze over and put an end to navigation. Deep snow isolated communities.
Construction of the transcontinental railway spurred the birth of Canada; in fact, all of North America was undergoing change in the 19th century. Immigrants, especially Europeans, poured in to settle the land. Cities sprang up everywhere. With trains, a day’s trip overland was no longer measured in kilometres but in tens and hundreds of kilometres. Locomotives replaced horses, while coaches gradually gave way to automobiles and train cars. Suddenly everything became possible.” (2)
Below is the mural’s depiction of some of the railway workers who helped make the impossible possible.
Union remains Canada’s primary passenger train hub to this day.
“Union Station is the busiest public transportation structure of any kind in Canada, including air travel. It handles 65 million passengers annually, with an average of 200,000 passengers each day.” (3)
Approximately two-thirds of those passengers are GO train or GO bus commuters, while another 20 million take the subway. The remainder are intercity travellers between other cities in Canada and the United States.”  (3)
The old steamers may be gone, but Union Station, the railway, and its passengers live on!
Here is Union as it appears today:
The artists and supporters of the mural are: