Month: November 2014

Remains Of 140 year old Canadian Pacific Railway Still On NCC Parkway

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Recently the NCC announced their plans to re-route the LRT line away from the original Sir John A MacDonald Parkway (SJAM). The City Of Ottawa favoured this plan, but the NCC wants to have the rail line cross the NCC owned Rochester Field, beside Keg Manor on Richmond Rd. This route option would mean the rail line would have to come along either the Byron Linear path or Richmond Road, crossing over into Rochester Field and connect to the already existing OC transitway trench.

The City Of Ottawa plans used a 1.2km connection stretch from Lincoln Fields to the Transitway trench using a path along the SJAM. The NCC says that area is off-limits unless it is buried underground and does not impede access to the river. The NCC favoured route has the rail line using Rochester Field saying “It would be up to the city to determine if a transit line that extends up from Rochester Field would be a tunnel, buried below grade, or run on grade.”

This means the connection this cross-over would have to use either the Byron Linear Path from Lincoln Fields or Richmond Rd for the rail line.

The City’s approach, and the one favoured for the final plan of the western LRT route uses a 1.2km strip of the SJAM. This strip would be located on the southern edge of the SJAM. After doing some research, it seems this strip was actually already a rail line used by the Canadian Pacific Railway for almost 100 years from 1870 1967.


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Remains of this CP rail route, the line the LRT would run along, are still there if we go and take a closer look.

A Canadian Pacific train like this one would have travelled along the SJAM in 1958. (City Of Ottawa archives photo)

A Canadian Pacific train like this one would have travelled along the SJAM in 1958. (City Of Ottawa archives photo)

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The CP line runs exactly along the same path as the planned LRT line, although now overgrown, the path follows the same route as trains once did 50 years ago. Looking at aerial photos of the area with the old CP line in place and overlaying a current aerial image, we can see where the rail line was. A closer look at old aerial photos reveals a train bridge that CP built at some point. Overlaying that photo over a current aerial image showed the location and so I went there to check it out. Although crumbling and graffiti covered, the leaves have fallen away to reveal this relic of our railway past that still lies on the NCC property exactly the same way it has since 1870.

The CP Rail bridge as it looks today on NCC SJAM Parkway

The CP Rail bridge as it looks today on NCC SJAM Parkway

Crumbling remains of 140 year old CP Rail Line.

Crumbling remains of 140 year old CP Rail Line.

Hidden by trees and bushes in the summer, the old CP line bridge on NCC property where the proposed LRT route is to go on the SJAM parkway would use this exact same old rail line route.

Hidden by trees and bushes in the summer, the old CP line bridge on NCC property where the proposed LRT route is to go on the SJAM parkway would use this exact same old rail line route.

I walked the entire route of the old CP rail line, the route of the old track is still there on the SJAM, unimpeded by trees and a clear stretch right up to where the location of the old Westboro Canadian Pacific train station used to be at the end of Roosevelt St. Built in 1919 and demolished in 1960, the train station is now where the OC Transitway trench is.

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The Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Westboro at the end of Roosevelt St.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Westboro in 1952 at the end of Roosevelt St.

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Where the CP Westboro train station was…as it looks today.

 

This sidewalk follows the exact same railway route of the Canadian Pacific line 1870-1967.

This sidewalk follows the exact same railway route of the Canadian Pacific line 1870-1967.

Both the NCC and the City options have their individual pros and cons, and it seems no one will be happy no matter what route is chosen, but perhaps by looking at our past it can lead us to a solution for the future.

 

SOURCES

http://www.railways.incanada.net

Google Maps

GEO-Ottawa

 

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Spaceships of the 401

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A recent drive back to my hometown along the 401 highway brought back memories of the same trip 30 years earlier with my family in our little Volkswagen Beetle. Like most family road trips in the late 1970s we’d stop in at one of the rest stops along the 401 to go to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat and fuel up the tank. Spending less than few minutes at these rest stops, I now think I took for granted what was a remarkable piece of lost architecture.

My re-collection of these rest stops was of a unique dome shape that I distinctly remember as a 10 year old kid. Of course, the ten year old me could care less about the architecture at the time, my thoughts were more focused on the green Jello in the glass display cases housed underneath this great domed 401 oasis. With fond memories of these restaurants with their vinyl clad fake wood panelled booths and smell of sizzling burgers, I hoped to re-visit one of these places, but unfortunately they have all been recently demolished and replaced with the new, modern “On Route” rest stops.

This new OnRoute rest stop in Port Hope replaces the original domed "spaceship" design that was demolished.

This new OnRoute rest stop in Port Hope replaces the original domed “spaceship” design that was demolished at this location. (photo: Google Streetview)

There is little record of these once grand domed rest stops, but I did manage to find some background info on what I think was an important part of our Canadian culture and a unique architectural icon.

These unusual rest stops, looking somewhat like a landed UFO, were designed by a Toronto architect by the name of Harry B. Kohl. Kohl was one of the premiere architects of the 1960s, having designed cutting edge pre-fab model homes for the National Home Show. After graduating from University of Toronto in 1947 Kohl designed a number of homes, apartment towers and eventually, the Millhaven Maximum Security Penitentiary . Kohl died in 1973, but many of his designs still live on in the Greater Toronto Area.

A 1960s postcard of kohl's rest stop describes locations in Kingston, Port Hope and Woodstock.

A 1960s postcard of a Kohl’s rest stop describes locations in Kingston, Port Hope and Woodstock.

Kohl was into the use of architectural geodesic domes, of which he incorporated into his design for the 401 rest stops that he was awarded in the early 1960s when the newly built 401 highway system was opened. Kohl believed circular shapes accommodated the circulation of people better than square shapes, and his designs, including the 401 rest stops, reflect this theory.

A 1960's postcard of Kohl's spaceship domed rest stop in Woodstock, On

A 1960’s postcard of Kohl’s domed spaceship rest stop in Woodstock, On

 

The same rest stop, drastically altered from the original. Note same farm in background. (photo: Google Streetview)

The same rest stop, drastically altered from the original. Note same farm in background. (photo: Google Streetview)

The same rest stop, drastically altered from the original. Note same farm in background. (photo: Google Streetview)

A closer view of the 2009 version of Kohl’s rest stop. (photo: Google Streetview)

Built of wood and stone in typical mid-century modern fashion, Kohl designed his 401 rest stops in a unique shape with a domed red roof that included a tall spire to catch the attention of passing motorists. Teaming up with the Texaco Oil Company, Kohl’s rest stops were completed in 1962 and usually contained a restaurant that was either an independent diner with typical 1960s decor, or a Scott’s Chicken Villa Kentucky Fried Chicken, as the case was at the Kingston, Port Hope and Woodstock locations.

Detail of stonework on Kohl's rest stop. (photo: Google StreetView)

Detail of stonework on Kohl’s rest stop. (photo: Google StreetView)

 

The decor in 1962 inside the rest stop restaurant was very similar to this.

The decor in 1962 inside the rest stop restaurant was very similar to this.

 

Detail of the exposed  geodesic dome Kohl used for the rest stop roof. (photo: Alan McLeod)

Detail of the exposed geodesic dome Kohl used for the rest stop roof. (photo: Alan McLeod)

I remember vividly pulling up to Kohl’s domed masterpieces as a kid in the back of the car and being in awe of the futuristic space age design and its fascinating exposed geodesic dome above the restaurant as I ate my Jello and greasy burger. As a I grew up and moved to Ottawa, I still stopped into these domed stations on my way home or on road trips, but they evolved over time and were drastically altered to try and keep up with current, more modern design trends. The original spires were removed, the dome was painted brown, the covered breezeway from the gas station removed, and the independent restaurants were replaced with typical fast food chains.

Drastically altered and with fast food chain restaurants, the Kohl rest stop looks nothing like its original 1962 incarnation.

Drastically altered and with fast food chain restaurants, this 2009 photo of the Kohl rest stop looks nothing like its original 1962 incarnation. (photo: Google Streetview)

Location of now demolished Kohl 401 rest stop in Odessa, On.

Location of now demolished Kohl 401 rest stop in Odessa, On.

Eventually, the Kohl stations slowly began to be demolished in the early 2000’s to make way for new “On Route” stations, until all of them eventually disappeared. Google Streetviews still show the Kohl rest stops from their 2009 streetview photo collection, which is possibly the only remaining record of these Ontario icons. None remain, all traces of them wiped off the 401. They will remain for me a valuable part of my childhood memories and continue to be a rest stop in my mind when I daydream of days gone by.

 

SOURCES

GOOGLE STREETVIEW

Delcampe.net

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/a-modern-home-retooled-for-a-new-generation/article9759534/

http://www.genx40.com by Alan McLeod