Union Station | A Sweeping Beaux-Arts Style Gem in Toronto

by Denise Marie

Union Station is located at 65 Front St West and bounded by Bay and York Streets, in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The History & Architecture

Union Station as we know it today, opened in 1927. It was Toronto’s third. The previous two Union Stations were still located on Front St however they were between York and Simcoe Streets and faced the water. Planners turned the entrance of the new station towards the city since the downtown was growing.

Union Station

Union Station in the 1920’s (Photo Credit: Toronto Archives)

The station was a shared terminal of Canadian Pacific Railway and Grand Trunk Railway. The collaboration of architects who designed the sweeping Beaux-Arts style gem included Ross & MacDonald, Hugh Jones and John Lyle. Construction began in 1913 but was delayed due to WWI.

The exterior is clad with limestone, rising the equivalent of 7 stories from the base. In the centre block, there’s a raised attic covered by a hipped roof and the main entrances are behind 22 limestone columns. The adjoining wings have flat-headed window openings decreasing in height each storey. The end pavilions have hipped roofs and oversized round-arched entrances.

The walls of Union Station are faced with Zumbro stone

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On the interior, the Great Hall features vaulted, tiled and coffered ceilings, barrel-vaulted windows, marble floors, huge round-arched openings and carved in the stone walls are the names of the cites once serviced by the railways. There are also stairs and a ramp leading to the concourses.

Throughout the building, there’s original finishes, fixtures and hardware.

The beautiful ceilings and arched windows in Union Station

The beautiful ceilings and arched windows in Union Station

This iconic jewel became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1975. The City acquired the property in 2000.

On a regular day, more than 300,000 people pass through Union Station to commute on GO trains, busses, the TTC subway and the UP Express.

Visit www.torontounion.ca for more history and details on the now glass-covered moat (2019), the beautiful West Wing waiting area with the oversized skylight, the SkyWalk, the train shed, shops, food vendors and more.


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