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A trip back in time: Kids ride mini-trains free at Roundhouse Park

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Stepping into a train built in 1929, and sitting in its solarium, I felt like I was living in another era.

But I wasn’t. I was steps away from CityPlace at Roundhouse Park in downtown Toronto next to the CN Tower.

The tail-end car, embellished with polished brass, has been restored from its golden age.

The car was in service from 1929 until 1966 and has a distinguished history. It served Canadian Pacific and was a lounge where passengers could socialize, read, and relax. Porters served drinks and took care of the passengers’ needs.

Picture series from Autumn 2016

After the Second World War, there were even sleeping compartments on board. There were fresh linens, sheets, and towels; comforting passengers every single day.

Today, the ceiling is still sparkling; the fans are a shiny brass, replicating a style from the 1930s.

The chairs, from the 1950s, reupholstered and restitched, but still rocking their original colour.

The windows in the car’s solarium, which are higher than the other windows in the car, let passengers see more than an 180-degree view of the outdoors.

The car is part of the City of Toronto’s heritage collection and is cared for, restored, and open to the public by the Toronto Railway Museum at Roundhouse Park.  It’s just a small, but significant part of the museum’s educational attractions. Those attractions will be available this July 22 for Kid’s Day at the Roundhouse Park.

The CityPlace Residents’ Association is hosting the event, and Concord Adex is sponsoring free mini-train rides for kids and their parent/guardian. The event’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., special hours just for our event. You can check the CityPlace Toronto Facebook Group page for any weather postponement – however, a few sprinkles of rain will not stop the event.

Visitors can get a kick out of various attractions, like old cabooses and a diesel locomotive dating back to 1944, where kids can climb aboard. An interactive experience which simulates sitting on a train and travelling through Toronto’s rail lands as they were in times gone by will be fun for kids. Other attractions are maps, railway art, posters, memorabilia, artifacts, and information plaques.

“Educating and interpreting what the history is is exciting,” Phil Spencer, President, CEO, and COO of the Toronto Railway Museum said.

“The railway land (which CityPlace sits on) is part of the development of the city and was a significant contributor to employment and commerce of the city,” Spencer added while showing 416 Mag around.

Roundhouse Park contains the Toronto Railway Museum, a self-supported organization which receives no funding from the city. Outside of Kid’s Day, the museum runs the rideable miniature trains from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, weather permitting, between mid-June and Labour Day. When it’s really busy, two mini-train may be in operation. It regularly costs $2.50 for a child and $3.50 an adult to ride the mini train, but on Kid’s Day it will be free!

Plans for a permanent museum are in the works, opening between five and seven years from now, Spencer told 416 Mag.

Until then, there are still a tonne of ways to go back into the old world on this historic site, just steps away from the modern CityPlace neighbourhood.

Diana Pereira

Diana Pereira is a journalist, a university journalism teacher, a world traveller, a fair-weather kayaker, and a frequent bruncher. She's working on her mermaid status, travelling to as many countries as she can that include a body of water and when she's home in Toronto, you can find her in a kayak on Lake Ontario.