As for the railways, New Toronto is historically noted for being a railway community, with much of the housing development plans designed specifically for the railway employees. In 1855, the Great Western Railway (GWR) constructed the Hamilton-Toronto route and had lines running through Etobicoke Township. Many of the routes for the GWR were constructed in conjunction with the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), and on August 12th, 1882, the GWR amalgamated with the GTR. In the maps shown in the Early History page, you can see the railway lines with their distinctive names during those years.

In 1906, the Grand Trunk Railway opened the Mimico Yards in New Toronto. To the left is a photograph of the Mimico Yards in 1955 looking west from the Mimico Train Station.

A line ran south over New Toronto and Birmingham Streets with several tracks near 8th Street to reach the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. On November 5th, 1919, legislation passed for the Canadian Government to take over the GTR, and on May 21st, 1920, the GTR operations were handed over to Canadian National Railway. On January 30th, 1923, the GTR was officially amalgamated with CNR and today the old Mimico Yards is the maintenance building for CNR, ViaRail and the Go Train.

In the 1890 Mimico map (see the Early History page), there is an indication of a line of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway running through New Toronto less than a kilometre south of the GTR, but I have yet to confirm the historical details on that line. The Old Time Trains Website tells us that:

"Mimico Switch Line Railway was Ontario incorporated in 1891 " to build an industrial spur over lands of the Mimico Real Estate Security Co. Ltd. in Etobicoke Township, from a point on the Grand Trunk Railway to Lake Ontario; no powers to expropriate private lands; authority to arrange for operation by the Grand Trunk Railway Co. Of Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway Co., or the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Ry. Co." This unique "railway" is believed to be the long spur in New Toronto, running south over New Toronto Street, and Birmingham Street parallel to 8th Street, to reach several industries including the 8 tracks at Goodyear Tire & Rubber. A distance of about one mile. How long it legally existed before being sold to the GTR or CNR is unknown. It must be remembered that in the 1890's the railway did not have to build any tracks to serve industries. They preferred for you to bring it to a team track. Some had to take different types of action to get service.

What's interesting is the cross between the records that show that the GTR crossed Birmingham Street, and the 1890 map that shows that the TH&B crossed Birmingham Street (or what was to become Birmingham Street). From the street names on the map, I would have to say that the GTR only crossed what is now New Toronto Street; it doesn't look like the line reached as far south as what is now Birmingham. What's also interesting is trying to correlate the railway tracks that can be seen today.
Douglas May of the TTC was able to tell me that:

"CNR "main line" used to "bypass" the yard around the north side of the yard (about where the GO Maintenance facility is now). When GO Transit was being "developed" in 1966 or 67 (?), CN re-routed the main line straight through the yard (after CN opened up the new yard in Concord (I think it was in 1963), most of Mimico Yard was basically made "inactive"). The "straight through" routing allows for higher speeds."

John Picur, an ex-New Toronto resident tells us:

"The TH&B was a subsidiary of the New York Central System (73%) and Canadian Pacific (17%) at that time, and until entirely sold to the CPR in the early 1980s. Those two carriers wanted a more direct and less steeply-graded line between Hamilton and Toronto than CP's existing route up steep Waterdown Hill to Guelph Jct., and from there to Toronto via West Toronto. Through their subsidiary, they surveyed a route south and parallel to the GTR along the lake shore, as indicated in part in the map in question. It was essentially a form of corporate blackmail -- it would have been a very costly line to build, even then.

Nevertheless, the blackmail worked. The GTR entered into a trackage rights agreement with the TH&B, allowing access to the GTR at Bayview Junction, near Hamilton, and thence over the main line to downtown Toronto. These rights still exist, although exercised solely by CPR since Conrail sold its share of the TH&B to CP and the TH&B was absorbed into CP. There was a regular passenger service via this route to the end of CP passenger operations.

The rights also included the privilege of switching local industries, so you would find CPR switch engines servicing Goodyear, for example.

During the steam era, NYC and TH&B steam power often hauled the passenger trains into Union Station. In terms of freight, this trackage rights agreement was the reason for the building of CPR's connection from Obico to Canpa Jct., just west of Mimico Yard -- a connection still much used by CP.

Two references that I can recommend are Norman Helms's "In the Shadow of Giants", a history of the TH&B, and the Paterson & George book "Steam at Oakville", which is a lavishly illustrated look at a typical day's operations on the Toronto/Hamilton line in the days of steam. Both were originally published by Boston Mills Press. Although out of print, they should be accessible through local libraries."

Another interesting historical change in the railways is how they used to provide the switches for private industry railway sidings. The Old Time Trains Website has the following account on private railway sidings:
Private sidings came into being whereby the industry owned the trackage on their own property. The switch leading into the industry and a short piece of track to the clearance point was owned by the railway and its maintenance paid for annually by the industry. This ownership of switch and siding and its maintenance varied railway by railway. In later years private contractors installed the siding while the railway installed the switch.
Some industries became so large they required their own locomotive to switch cars often from track to track. Very small steam engines often referred to as "dinky" engines such as small (20-ton) saddle tank engines were used. Later, tiny gas-mechanical and even battery locomotives came along then diesels. A few very large industries such as steel mills required a fleet of locomotives to switch numerous tracks totaling many miles. In later years trackmobiles were invented as a cheaper alternative for small switching tasks, even front end loaders and similar "road" vehicles were used to move cars along a siding. For simpler tasks of pulling cars through a loading/unloading area a cable and capstan were used.
A reversal came about whereby private sidings were largely eliminated due to changes in methods of doing business in that small shipments by truck (including containers) mostly replaced boxcar loads of freight. Relocation of industries from city centres on account of high taxes and lack of land to expand to suburban areas not served by rail also brought about big changes. By the end of the 20th Century very few private sidings remained.

The following sidings were present in New Toronto in the early to mid 1900's (some of the actual tracks still exist):

Asylum Farm Mimico
601 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Canada Ltd New Toronto Lake Shore Rd.
603 A.A.Scully Ltd. (contractors supply) New Toronto St.
Reg.N.Boxer Co.Ltd (Wallpaper) Birmingham St.
Anaconda American Brass Ltd Eighth St. & Birmingham
Ritchie & Ramsey Ltd (coated paper) 114 Lake Shore Rd.
611 .....................
613 Canadian Fabrikoid Ltd.(artificial leather) Fifteenth St.
615 Elliott Lumber Co. 201 Ninth St.
617 Jas.Dunn (coal & wood) e.s.Ninth St.
619 Patterson Lumber Co. 201 Ninth St.
621 Barnet Lumber Co. e.s.Ninth St.
623 Donnell, Carman & Mudge Canada Ltd. Eighth St (sheepskin leather)
623 Etobicoke Coal Supply Co.
623 W.F.Johnston Coal & Wood
623 Lunnes Siding
623 C. McFarlane

One of the current remaining icons of the Mimico Yards is the dilapidated Mimico Train Station. In November 2002, CN Rail sold the 1.5-acre property at the corner of Judson Street and Royal York Road to a Mississauga building supplies company. The sale drew the attention of Toronto Preservation Services, who reported the building was 'listed'-but not designated-in its inventory of heritage properties.
In April 2004, a Conservation Review Board hearing resulted in a requirement for interested parties to find funds to restore the building and a location to which it could be moved. At around the same time, Toronto West councilors approved a staff report recommending authority be granted to designate 15 Judson St. as a property of "architectural and historical value or interest" under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. What happens from here remains to be seen, but this website will be updated as details become known.