HISTORY OF THE WAREHOUSE
Formerly the site of the Canadian Pacific Railway Express Yard, the Legacy Warehouse and its contents offer a double-barreled delight for visitors. As you enter, the cavernous structure testifies to the enduring value of 19th century industrial construction. At the same time, Legacy presents a meticulously organized inventory of artifacts resplendent with design, materials and craftsmanship found only in the labour-intensive times gone by.
Legacy’s enterprise is housed in a 10,000 square foot post and beam structure on three acres of storage yard, just minutes from the trans-Canada highway, one hour east of Toronto. The structure was built around the end of the nineteenth century to provide a regional express-freight warehouse for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
During its early years Cobourg was perceived as a transportation hub, blessed as it was with a deep harbour directly linked to Rochester New York by ferry and to the rest of the world by sea going vessels. Additionally the ill-fated Cobourg-Peterborough Railway accessed the Kawarthas and the forests of the northern counties. However, Cobourg did not become the capital of Ontario and commerce shifted west in the early 1900’s. In the latter half of the 20th century the stockpiled mountains of coal disappeared from the waterfront. So too did the high-rise oil tanks vanish to make way for a yacht club and residential foreshore development. Trucking and “just in time” deliveries relegated railway transportation to long haul routes. Cobourg’s King Street traffic was no longer stopped to make way for trains jockeying up and down Spring Street to the waterfront. The crossing guard was retired, his shed sold at auction and the railway spur lines were torn up. The CPR Express shed, once a hive of activity on the trans-Canada line survived, but grew slowly quiet as the 20th century wore on.
The CPR Freight Shed- Massive two-foot thick floor timbers underpin posts supporting forty-foot rafters all shipped full length on rail cars from the Douglas fir forests of British Columbia. For over a century the two-inch thick maple floors supported the heavy loads that rolled on and off the railcars sidled up to the north flank of the building. The roof on the north side of the building is cantilevered for ten feet over its entire length allowing the suspended wall sections to be drawn aside, not unlike curtains. This dramatic fourteen-foot tall timberwork system provided unfettered sheltered access to railcars over the entire length of the warehouse. The building was retired from CPR service during the 1970’s due to its inability to accommodate modern materials handling systems or the bulk freight of the burgeoning shipping industry. It sat empty and was soon to be demolished when Legacy took it over in 1996. Legacy repaired the damage caused by years of neglect, vandalism and arson and revived the property as a shelter for goods on the move.