22 Doric limestone columns line the impressive Front Street face of Toronto’s Union Station.
I’m working on the opening of “The Girl In the Blue Flame Cafe,” which is set in Toronto’s landmark Union Station.
Since I no longer live in Toronto, when I started writing I had to rely on my memory of the station’s internal geography. That was when I realized just how spotty memory can be. For instance, I don’t remember the parts I didn’t actually look at. I wish I had taken photographs there through the years.
Since then I’ve taken a couple of photographic expeditions to the station, which was just beginning the massive renovation it is currently undergoing. I think some of the station will be unrecognizable when they are done, but fortunately that won’t include the old part of the station where the action in my story takes place. Thankfully that part is only being restored.
I have decided to keep the story set in the Union Station I knew, rather than making an attempt to get my mind around the new version. The problem with this is that the renovations dominate the Internet, and so far I have yet to find any floor plans of the original version of the building.
Every time I do online research, I invariably discover more interesting bits of information about Union Station.
The columns were shaped on an enormous lathe, the largest in North America, built in Sarnia expressly for this ambitious project in 1917. Each forty foot column weighs 75 tons.
It would be a lot easier to write a scene set at Union Station if I was certain what the different parts were called. For instance, I’m still not entirely sure if this is what they call the moat.
While not as sunny and warm as yesterday, it’s far too nice to be stuck writing indoors, so I’m going to set up my laptop on the front porch (in case the forcast rain should fall), hook any interested cats to their leashes, and get out there and work on “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe”
My second novel, “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe,” opens opens with the train from Montreal pulling into Toronto’s Union Station. These are the tracks running between the platforms in the covered area at the rear of Union Station.
Getting the station’s geography right will lay a foundation of veracity that will help “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe” feel credible and ensure its action will work.
This is part of the deteriorating facade of Toronto’s Union Station. Although I was well acquainted with the station at one time, I’ve not had much cause to visit it in recent years, so I’ve made a point of visiting with a camera. My photographs have helped me with the lay of the land, and a photo compilation may form the basis of a book trailer.
Toronto’s transit terminus has been lately undergoing major renovations.
The present incarnation of Toronto’s Union Station has stood for nearly a century. Although built to last, it has been looking the worse for wear for quite some time.
The major part of the work being done is underground, as they excavate and construct an additional platform for the adjacent Union Subway Station. This is a very big job indeed.
But the station has remained open for business through it all. On the lower level, you can see commuters travelling between the Union Train Station and the Toronto Transit Union Subway Station.
When this building was constructed in the early part of the 20th century, the previous incarnation of Union Station building (featured in the architectural drawing) adjacent to this site remained in use. When the new station was complete, rail service was shut down for only one day to allow for shifting the train tracks to the new train shed at the rear of this building.
The exciting opening of “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe” set in Toronto’s Union Station is not likely to change in editing. I’ve always loved Union Station, so I was quite tickled to stumble across this very cool look at the earlier incarnation of the 19th Century Cathedral of Transportation.
Architectural drawing for the Union Railway Depot, Toronto, Canada that was to be built in 1896
Strickland & Symons, Architects, Toronto
Vol VII. Canadian Architect And Builder No. 9. September, 1894
“The history of the current Union Station can be traced to 1858, when Toronto’s first Union Station was opened by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), just west of the present Union Station. The wooden structure was shared with the Northern Railway and the Great Western Railway. This structure was replaced by a second Union Station on the same site, opening in 1873. As both the Northern Railway and Great Western Railway had been acquired by the GTR, this was not a true Union station. However, the Canadian Pacific Railway began using the facility in 1884 and it was completely rebuilt, opening in 1896.”