CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY STATION
Canadian National Railway Station
Fort Saskatchewan Railway Station
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Northern Railway Station is a one and one half-storey building situated on a single lot near downtown Fort Saskatchewan. Built in 1905, the station features a hip roof with bellcast eaves supported by brackets, dormers on the south and north elevations, and a series of nine-over-one windows. The section of the building that formerly comprised the freight shed features large doors surmounted by transoms. A platform extends along the south elevation.
The heritage value of the Canadian Northern Railway Station lies in its association with the early twentieth-century development of Fort Saskatchewan, its fine representation of a standard third class railway station, and its value as an icon of the central role of railways in opening the province to settlement and agriculture.
Fort Saskatchewan is one of Alberta's oldest Euro-Canadian communities, founded in 1875 as a North-West Mounted Police post. Although the growth of settlement in the area in the 1880s and 1890s helped to establish Fort Saskatchewan as a local distribution centre, further expansion was hampered by the lack of railway service. In 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway extended its line west through Fort Saskatchewan and on to Edmonton. The large scale of the railway station constructed at the time embodied the optimistic appraisals of the community's future. Built near the centre of town and amidst several grain elevators and a stockyard, the station served as a transportation hub for a rich farming district. The Canadian Northern Railway Station continued to serve Fort Saskatchewan until the late 1980s, when declining rail traffic warranted its closure.
The Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan is a standard third class station. Like other railway companies, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) employed a series of standard plans for its stations. At Fort Saskatchewan, the railway company opted for a plan 100-19 station. Introduced in 1904, plan 100-19 was a "special station" design employed at only the most significant points along the line. Considerably longer than other third class stations, plan 100-19 stations were distinguished by an exterior design that featured hip roofs on either end of the building and a spacious interior that included a vestibule, kitchen, living room, large general waiting room, separate ladies' waiting room, office and a small freight shed. This station is the only extant example of a railway facility constructed according to CNoR plan 100-19 in Alberta. In 1911, an addition was built on the building's west side, a reflection of the growth of population and rail traffic in Fort Saskatchewan.
With the gradual disappearance of early train stations from Alberta's communities, buildings like the Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan have gained increased significance as structural reminders of the essential role that the railways played in establishing settlement and agricultural economy in the province. The laying of track to Fort Saskatchewan and the construction of an impressive railway station in the community were indispensable in attracting business and swelling the local population. The railway established Fort Saskatchewan as the heart of a thriving agricultural district and remained vital to community interests for decades.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1544)
The character-defining elements of the Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan include:
- features of third class station plan 100-19, including the mass, form, and scale of the building, roofline configuration with hip roofs at either end of the station and pyramidal roofed central half-storey, roof finials, corbelled chimney, wall dormers, nine-over-one wood, single-hung windows with wood storm sashes, extended bellcast eaves and brackets, original horizontal wood siding on the exterior and narrower siding profile on west baggage shed addition, shingling on the second storey, original freight doors with transoms, four-panel exterior doors with transoms, interior layout;
- features of the site that express its role as a transportation hub for the region, including its location near the historic centre of the community, platform on the south elevation, and its spatial relationship to historic railbed and a remnant of the railway line;
- features of the building that evoke its historic character and the nature of materials and craftsmanship common at the time, including original hardware, semaphore and hardware, fir flooring, original second floor hallway doors and trim, and original artifacts associated with the site.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Station or Other Rail Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1544)
Cross-Reference to Collection