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Quinte West makes good use of a re-purposed CP Railway roundhouse

September 2023

The building occupied by the municipal offices of the City of Quite West and the Quinte West Library could be considered an odd-shaped building to some. Looking like a circle cut in half, the east side of the building curves a complete 180 degrees. No, the city didn’t intend to build a circular building, only to run out of money half way through construction. This is the former Canadian Pacific Railway’s Trenton roundhouse.

The CRP roundhouse, built between 1912-1913, was a 12-stall concrete roundhouse and an 80 ft. turntable.

When the railways were king, many were known for having buildings featuring impressive and appealing architectural designs. Buildings such as passenger stations, freight stations, roundhouses, engine houses, and hotels represented the opulence befitting of their importance in the transportation of goods and passengers.

Railway roundhouses were very important to the railways in the days of the early steam locomotives. A roundhouse was a building constructed in a circular or semicircular shape, used by railways for the servicing and storage of steam-powered locomotives, usually with an adjacent turntable.

Early steam locomotives were normally restricted to traveling in a forward direction only. While reverse capabilities were added to later model steam locomotives, they still operated more efficiently in forward motion, so reverse operation was minimal. Turntables allowed locomotives or other rolling stock to be turned around for the return journey, and roundhouses, designed to radiate around the turntables, were built for the servicing and storage of locomotives.

With the coming of diesel-powered locomotives in the 1940s and 1950s, roundhouses fell into disuse and abandoned. Most across Canada have long-since been demolished, but a handful, like the former CPR Trenton roundhouse, have been renovated and repurposed for a variety of uses.

The former CPR Trenton roundhouse now houses the Quinte West Municipal Office and Library.

Other Re-Purposed Roundhouses in Ontario

Michigan Central Railway Roundhouse, London

The London Roundhouse, in London, Ontario, is now used as a digital media centre.

London Roundhouse – A piece of London’s railway heritage finds a new purpose – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Canadian Pacific Railway John Street Roundhouse, Toronto

Now called Roundhouse Park, the 17-acre park celebrates the railway history of Toronto. Steam Whistle Brewery, the Toronto Railway Museum and Cineplex’s Rec Room entertainment complex occupy the restored roundhouse.

Old CPR Roundhouse the centrepiece of Toronto’s railway-themed park and museum – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Sources: Railway roundhouse – Wikipedia, Old Time Trains (trainweb.org), Trenton Railway Stations – Ontario Railway Stations (wordpress.com).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/quinte-west-makes-good-use-of-a-re-purposed-cp-railway-roundhouse/

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