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.
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.”