TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the benefits of spending time volunteering at the John Street Roundhouse in Toronto is that the building contains a brewery. Stalls one through fourteen of the thirty-two stall roundhouse contain the Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery gives out free samples, so after a hard day of physical work it is possible to stop in at Steam Whistle and grab a half-pint of pilsner before heading home on the subway.
Last summer, while building the bulk of the miniature railway in Roundhouse Park around the building scheduled to open next year, the routine was especially refreshing. After a hot day of tamping railway ballast in the sun, a cold beer was very satisfying, especially since many at the brewery knew what we were working on and were quite supportive of the effort, which is expected to bring even more people to the park and thus to the front door of brewery.
In fact, unless one really dislikes beer or alcohol, it's hard to develop some degree of fondness for Steam Whistle. Besides being a local company, offering free samples, and occupying a historic roundhouse building, they are known for a fleet of eclectic historic vehicles that they actually use to deliver beer. Some of those vehicles are often found in the parking lot behind the roundhouse. As a whole section of their web site is labeled, they are fundamentally about whimsy and enjoying life.
Today, the volunteers of the Toronto Railway Historical Association laid the final significant stretch of outdoor track, on roadbed not prepared by the city's contractor until this week. The miniature railway is essentially complete; my job as a member of the track construction crew is done. Thus, after doing some leveling and ballasting on this final section of track, a lead to a storage building, it was time for one last Steam Whistle beer.
With temperatures right around freezing, it was a far cry from the summer. However, one last Steam Whistle sample was really the only way to end the last day of track laying.