Description of Historic Place
The property at 1 Station Road, known as the Huntsville CNR Station, is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Vernon's Hunter's Bay in the Town of Huntsville. The one-storey, brick clad station with a broad hip roof was designed by the Chief Engineer's office of the Canadian National Railway (CNR) and was constructed in 1924. A wood-frame freight shed constructed in the same year also occupies the property.
The exterior and interior of the station, the exterior of the freight shed, and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (2003).
Located on Station Road, the station's approach by road was originally secondary to its approach by water, due to the adjacent steamship dock. As a result, the orientation of the station's front façade is towards Hunter's Bay rather than towards the street or Town of Huntsville. The elevation that faces the town is unadorned and was without a doorway, until 1947.
The Huntsville Canadian National Railway (CNR) Station was associated with the wave of railway rationalization and revitalization that occurred across Canada in the early 1920s. Built in 1924, the Huntsville CNR Station replaced a wood-frame station, built in 1886, by the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway (N and PJ), which was the first railway to reach Huntsville. In 1923, the federally controlled CNR assumed control of the bankrupt Grand Trunk Railway, successor to the N and PJ, and updated its facilities in Huntsville with the redevelopment of its yards and construction of the depot. At the time, Huntsville was an important regional service centre and a major destination for travellers to the fashionable Muskoka vacation region. With steamships of the Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Lake Simcoe Navigation Company arriving and departing from a dock adjacent to the station, the exchange of passengers made the CNR station a hub of activity. Notably, the station continues to serve its original function as a passenger depot for the Ontario Northland Railway.
The Huntsville CNR Station is an example of a non-standard CNR station. Reflecting the, then newly formed, company's efficient and profit-driven attitude, the station's design by the office of the CNR's Chief Engineer incorporated both the company's desire, to provide practical and economical facilities, with its wish, to construct a suitably substantial main-line station, at an important and affluent tourist destination. Successfully balancing these considerations, the resulting design produced a larger station, than most standard station plans, with an exterior clad in brick, yet unadorned by ornamentation or expensive materials. The broad hip roof with flared, overhanging eaves is emblematic of period stations, though the lack of large braces is a notable departure from the earlier standard practice, in an attempt to project a modern feel. In place of the large braces, the eaves are embellished with scroll-cut rafter ends, characteristic of the contemporary Craftsman style. Like today, the roof was originally covered in green asphalt shingles, exemplifying the company's inclination to incorporate up-to-date materials. Rather than an ornamental embellishment of the station, the design incorporated functional elements, such as, the porte-cochère off the station's north end, supported by thick brick piers. The straightforward brickwork with crisp soldiered lintels and header course contributes to the station's efficient and rational plan. The utilization of industrial style brown paver brick, pressed buff brick and tooled, red coloured mortar joints that display a 'V' profile, attest to the attention to detail expended on the brickwork. Complementing the exterior, the interior is simply finished with a terrazzo floor and plaster walls, detailed with a plain, wood strap dado. The baggage room survives intact with its tongue-and-groove wall and ceiling cladding. Off the south end of the station is a wood-framed, shiplap-clad freight shed that was also built in 1924.
Source: OHT Easement Files
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Huntsville CNR Station include its:
- long, rectangular, one-storey plan
- broad hip roof with flared eaves covered in green asphalt shingles
- broad tongue-and-groove clad eaves with exposed scroll-cut rafter tails
- brick veneer cladding of brown paver bricks laid in stretcher bond comprising the base of the station with buff bricks above laid in Flemish bond, separated by a header course
- V-tooled, red coloured mortar joints
- double-hung, wooden sash, 1 over 1 windows and square, multi-pane windows with soldiered brick lintels
- square sided bay window marking the station agent's office
- waiting room doorways with single-pane sidelights and transom lights
- exterior doorway to the baggage room with wooden, panelled, double doors
- open porte-cochère with a hip roof supported by brick piers
- open character of the waiting room
- plaster walls and ceiling of the waiting room with a plain dado and picture rail
- casing of the doors and windows
- terrazzo floor
- glass globe, hanging light fixtures of the waiting room
- baggage room with its wooden floor and tongue-and-groove clad walls and ceiling
- orientation to face Hunter's Bay, indicative of the historic interconnection of the CNR in Huntsville with water transportation
- placement adjacent to the historic location of the dock used by steamships of the Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Lake Simcoe Navigation Company
- placement relative to the CNR tracks
- concrete passenger platform
- adjacent wood-frame freight shed, with shiplap siding, ribbon windows and large sliding doors