OTD: Canada’s first steam locomotive built in Toronto

On today’s date in 1853, the first steam locomotive built in present-day Canada was completed by Toronto Locomotive Works (TLW).

Previously, locomotives were imported to the pre-Canadian colonies from Europe or the United States; however, with railroads opening across the colonies, Canada was aiming to produce a build of its own.

Without the tender (also known as the coal car), the engine of the aptly named Toronto weighed 29 tons and stretched eight metres in length. While it’s small by today’s standards, the engine was considered gigantic at the time. After completion, the Toronto was on public display on Queen Street for two days before moving down to Front Street, where the closest railroad was located.

Temporary tracks were laid west on Queen Street and south on York Street, and the giant locomotive was moved slowly using crowbars. The same tracks the Toronto passed over were then taken up and relaid in front of the engine. The laborious process took five days, but the engine finally arrived at a real railroad on April 26, 1853.

The Toronto’s tender was moved separately on a horse-drawn float.

In 1881, the Toronto was scrapped, and the last remnants of the TLW disappeared in 1909.


In 2000, the Royal Canadian Mint featured the Toronto on a $20 silver hologram coin as part of its “Transportation” series.

The coin, whose design features a hologram depicting the iconic train, has a weight of 31.1 grams, a diameter of 38 millimetres and a mintage of 44,367.

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