Canadian Northern Railway Station-1905

This elegant Prairie railway station heralded the beginning of Edmonton’s connection to the world by rail in 1905.

Standing on the northwest corner of First Street and Mackenzie Avenue, the Canadian Northern Railway (C.No.R.) station was a picturesque Edmonton landmark. The red-brick and Tyndall stone structure stood two-and-one-half storeys tall and measured 138 feet by 33 feet (42 metres by 10 metres). Its steel-sheeted hipped roof was proudly gabled and featured bull’s-eye windows with keystone detailing. Entering the building under a veranda with projecting eaves, typical of the Prairie style of architecture, passengers found a ladies’ waiting room, general waiting room, ticket offices, baggage room, and dining car department stores. The second floor accommodated offices and the living quarters for the station agent. Although striking, what this station represented overshadowed its architecture.

Edmontonians had been anticipating their own railway since the first train steamed into Strathcona in 1891. In 1903, when it became evident that their dream was becoming a reality, town council eagerly provided $15,000 toward the purchase of railway lands for the C.No.R. Company. The newspapers recorded the railway fervour of the day, noting every mile of track laid down from Kamsack, Saskatchewan to Edmonton beginning in the spring of 1905, and reporting on every sale by land speculators who cashed in on the subsequent boom in real estate. When the day finally came, thousands of citizens attended the last spike ceremony on November 24, 1905, which represented the completion of the line and the transcontinental connection between the city and the east. Passengers were coming and going within two weeks, but it took another two months to finally complete the construction of the station. The station was completed at a cost of $35,000 and was heralded as one of the largest stations west of Winnipeg.

The C.No.R. shared the station with the Grand Trunk Pacific (G.T.P.) Railway beginning in 1909. Both railways experienced financial troubles however, and within ten years the government took over their operation, forming the Canadian National Railway (C.N.R.). Demand for rail service in Edmonton grew despite the changes, and in 1928 a new C.N.R. station was built. The 1905 station was then used for office space and a bunkhouse for trainmen, before it was demolished to make way for a modern freight terminal building in 1952.

Details

Type

Commercial

Designation Status

Demolished

Neighbourhood

Downtown

Year Built

1905

Architectural Styles

Prairie

Character Defining Elements

Brick structure , Bull's eye window , Corbelling , Exposed rafters , Finial , Gable dormer , Gabled parapet , Hipped roof , Keystone , Mansard roof , Projecting eaves , Pyramidal roof , Quoins , Rectangular footprint , Rusticated stone , String course , Two & a half storeys , Veranda

Gallery

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