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Journal: Royal Conservatory of Music

Royal Conservatory of Music (early March 2003): When it was completed in 1881, the building that is now called the Royal Conservatory of Music was the tallest building in Toronto. The impressive looking castle doesn't seem very tall these days, but I was still eager to check out its tower and see if it was perhaps connected to the University of Toronto's steam tunnel system.

Pipes Engineering room
The door that might have led from the RCM's engineering room to the steam tunnels was locked.
       After taking a look at the empty concert theatre, where I decided not to play the grand piano set up on stage, I headed to the basement, where I found an unlocked engineering room. This room was filled with shelves full of old equipment, tools and pipes. On a table beside a full ashtray and a pack of cigarettes, there was also a half-face-mask, and I wondered if the mask might be a sign that the door in the corner of the room was full of the asbestosy goodness of steam tunnels. Unfortunately, this door was locked.
Spiral staircase bottom Spiral staircase
Whatever was once at the bottom of the spiral staircase has now been bricked off; several barricades block one's progress up the rest of the staircase as well.
       Heading up, I focussed my attention on the spiral staircase in the tower in the centre of the building. This was probably one of the building's regular staircases once upon a time, but its use now seems to be discouraged by several walls and barricades that have been built at various points along its course. One must go through an unmarked door in order to reach the bottom half of the staircase, the very bottom of which has been cinderblocked shut forever. It's not much easier to take the staircase up — one must duck under a barricade on the third storey, only to come to a solid wall blocking all further progress before one gets to the fourth. There's only one way up to the top of the tower, and the door at the bottom of that staircase is kept locked when the library is closed.
Ladder up Trapdoor
The attic at the top of the school can be accessed through a ladder leading to a trapdoor.
       Well, I say there is only one way, but there are actually two. In a little-trafficked area of the fourth floor of the school, there is a metal ladder that leads up to a trapdoor set into the ceiling. This trapdoor leads up to the school's attic, where its music library is kept — in fact, one emerges right behind where the attendant would sit, if an attendant were on duty, so be sure you don't use this entrance while the library is open. I had the music library to myself when I popped up, and was able to spend a while poking into the various little crawlspaces around the attic before leaving, by the regular door, and finally getting to visit the top of the tower, which, unfortunately, has no city view.
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