CP Rail: Scarborough Industrial Spur

(Peter Newman shot this photo of a CP crew working the Scarborough Industrial Spur in 1975. This is an ideal prototype for an achievable layout. Click on the image to see a larger version, with Peter’s story, on the Railpictures.ca photo site.)

My friend Regan Johnson recently asked me for ideas for an HO scale layout to fit around the walls of his home office. He wanted something based – or at least inspired by – a prototype. He wanted space for lots of structures. And he wanted it to fit existing benchwork for a layout that he has now outgrown.

About the same time, the Toronto Railway Historical Association published a track map and customer list on its Facebook page for CP Rail’s Scarborough Industrial Spur. These can also be found on the Old Time Trains website, so I’ve reproduced them here, along with a Google Earth view overlaid with the track maps from the Southern Ontario Railway Map project:

 photo CPRail-ScarboroughIndTrack-Map_zpskum7rqpn.jpg

 photo CPRail-ScarboroughIndTrack-Legend_zpseng73rwn.jpg

 photo CPRail-ScarboroughIndTrack-GoogleEarth_zpsz7cplnwb.jpg
(CP Rail in Red, CNR in Green)

This short (3.4 mile) spur in Scarborough – now the east end of the amalgamated Toronto – served a number of small industries, a couple of larger customers and a small team track facility.

I shared the track map with Regan and he thought it would make a suitable prototype. We exchanged several emails and as a result, I developed a plan to give us a starting point for a discussion over dinner. Turns out he liked the plan, so we’ve moved directly to plans to build this in his home office.

 photo CP-SID-Plan-01-Labelled_zpsv3dwuq0e.jpeg

Given how modest the space is, the layout plan is “inspired by” the Scarborough Industrial Track, rather than a faithful reproduction of it. The idea was to capture some of the typical operations of a suburban switching spur, along the lines of those advocated by Lance Mindheim, but with a southern Ontario aesthetic.

In the plan above, the structures are pencilled in as the final positions would depend on the kits or plans Regan wants to build. And since he requested it, I swapped out IBM for a brewery.

Regan wanted the option of continuous run so he could have a train circle the home office as he worked, so I’ve accommodated that by including a lift-out section to bridge the entryway. At other times – including during formal operating sessions – this would be removed and the track along the right wall would become a spur serving Warden Lumber. An extension could be fitted, as shown, to provide more room for spotting cars.

In normal operations, a train would start staged on the main at lower right. It would enter the scene and then use the main and storage track to sort its cars. Rather than switch everything at once, it would work in zones – perhaps working the lumber yard, then the brewery, and then returning any lifts to the storage track to exchange for cars destined for the warehouses at 351, 353 and 361. Finally, cars for the facing point spurs – the scrap dealer (344) and team yard (356, 358) – would be handled in a third trip along the spur.

With the benchwork already in place, construction should start early in the new year with a turnout-building party, using a Fast Tracks Code 70 #6 fixture. The turnout to 344 is in the street, and will be fun to build. We’ll likely start with most of a turnout built in the Fast Tracks fixture then add longer guard rails to represent trackage in the pavement, finishing off with a single point switch.

Even in a modest space that’s used for other purposes in addition to the layout, it’s possible to develop a plan that’s at least inspired by a prototype and without overcrowding, that will offer a couple of hours of entertaining switching. I look forward to operating sessions on this layout!

7 thoughts on “CP Rail: Scarborough Industrial Spur

  1. Terrific plan and a neat concept. Designers, such as Lance Mindheim, Greg Amer, and Jack Hill, have popularized these urban designs so it’s terrific to see that style of railroading based on a Canadian prototype – something I think we could stand to see more of. You’re on a real roll here with Robin Talukdar’s work on his two Canadian urban layouts and now this one too. Congratulations!

    I guess, in theory, one could make multiple passes around the loop to increase the distance between industries, such that:

    Pass 1 is when the train arrives “on scene”. Any offspot cars to or from 334 could be handled here. In addition one other customers sidings could be handled on this trip.

    Pass 2. We’ve circumnavigated the layout once and arrive at the next group of customers.

    I’m looking forward to seeing updates on this project.


    • Hi Chris:
      One could make multiple passes as you suggest, although the prototype line is so short and the speed limit would’ve been so low that I think a single pass would be sufficient – especially if, as I suggest, the layout is switched in “zones” to ensure that a longer train isn’t plugging streets or causing an undue hazard to automotive and pedestrian navigation.

  2. Love this plan and the subject, Trevor.

    I lived, until 1966 ,where CN’s operations south of this, the GECO Spur left the Kingston Sub. There was a daily switching job travelling up this spur. I remember it was served by a diesel switcher that I could see clearly from my bedroom window. This is before GM built their van plant on Eglinton Ave.. The largest customer on the line was Pilkington Glass. It was originally built to serve a Munitions plant that sat empty in my time but became Centennial College. There was a Becker’s Dairy plant and a battery factory on Warden served by the spur and a Wrigley’s Plant that threw away gum in a dumpster that many of us raided nearer the CN Kingston Sub. There was a freight house and team tracks north of St. Clair where the line reached other industries west of Warden. Some of these were still served by CN the last time I drove through there but are accessed from the Uxbridge Sub. as the line south of St. Clair is now abandoned. There was always a yard west of Kennedy Road on the former CNoR ROW that crossed the Uxbridge Sub and was later connected to it. Roots Motors was located at the corner of Warden and Eglinton. Many car loads of UK cars made there way to and from there. Very interesting idea/subject that I had never really thought about as a modelling subject. This is a great idea and a great subject to model.

  3. Love the track plan! i’m looking to do something similar for my next N-Scale layout.

    I’ve considered many ideas but plans based on places i know and now a little more importantly based on reality for operations are a lot more attractive.

    Based on available space and time I’ll be taking a module approach i think and this type of industrial switching looks like it would lend itself to that approach.

    I lived in scarborough in the mid 2000’s and in fact took my motorcycle license course at centennial college ashtonbee some reminders or the rails were still there in 2005 but the redevelopment has been so aggressive in the area possibly not any more.

    Thanks for giving me so many ideas!

    In the last few year I’ve moved west and am not to far from CP’s area H Industrial Spur. there a couple of Plastics factories that take covered hoppers still and there were other live industries a decade ago including consumers glass. as well there is an intermodal / car shipment yard just west and connections to CN , Go transit and Via to the south. Using ideas i’ve gained looking at your plan I an thinking that area h might make a good basis for me.

  4. I am so glad to see the map of the spur line. I grew up on the west side and my grandparents lived on the east side. Every time we went to visit I would hope to see a train crossing Lawrence Ave.

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