Description of Historic Place
The Pugwash Train Station, built circa 1892, is a one-and-one-half storey red brick building located on the main road passing through Pugwash, Nova Scotia. It sits near the Pugwash River surrounded by a large paved parking area shared with a retail store. The building ceased serving as a station in the 1970s, and the tracks were removed in the 1990s. The building currently houses the local branch of the Cumberland Regional Library and the North Cumberland Historical Society. The building and property are included in the municipal designation.
The Pugwash Train Station is valued for its association with Pugwash’s economic and industrial history. Value is also found in its architectural style and features, and because it was designed by Sir Sanford Fleming and built by Rhodes, Curry and Company.
The Pugwash Train Station was commissioned by the Intercolonial Railway, and it has played an important role in the town’s era of industrial and economic growth. The Intercolonial Railway operated in Canada between 1872 and 1918, when it became part of the Canadian National Railway. It had station houses strategically placed along its corridor of rails to meet the growing demand for the efficient transportation of people and goods. By the mid-nineteenth century, Pugwash was a centre for lumber and shipbuilding, and these industries were joined by other successful ventures including coal, quarries, tanneries, fisheries, and a lobster cannery. This industrial expansion brought an influx of people needing accommodation and services. The growth of Pugwash created the necessity of the railway, which arrived in 1890, and the presence of the railway spurred the growth of Pugwash.
The Pugwash Train Station was built by Rhodes, Curry and Co. of Amherst, Nova Scotia, which was a significant business in the industrial, commercial, and architectural history of Nova Scotia. It had a reputation for quality of workmanship and craftsmanship, and was instrumental in the commercial development and expansion of Nova Scotia’s turn-of-the-century economy. The company, which also made bricks, rail cars, and doors and sashes, was the contractor and builder of a number of grand homes and business in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Sir Charles Tupper, Premier of Nova Scotia from 1864 to 1867, Father of Confederation in 1867, Federal Minister of Railways and Canals from 1879 to 1884, and Prime Minister of Canada in 1896, regarded the provincial and national expansion of the rail system as profoundly important and necessary. In 1864, Tupper hired Sir Sanford Fleming to assist in building the rail system in Nova Scotia.
The Pugwash Railway Station was designed by Sir Sanford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Intercolonial Railway, inventor of Standard Time, surveyor, map-maker, and founder of the prestigious Royal Canadian Institute. This station house is a good example of the style of building Fleming typically designed, and of the style commonly used for public buildings in Victorian Nova Scotia. Its most obvious design features were influenced by the Gothic Revival style that was popular at the time of construction, but it also has some other interesting design elements.
The station is a one-and-a-half storey red brick building that is asymmetrical but its front and back are mirror images of each other. A large frontispiece on each side creates a two-storey bay that rises to a large middle gabled dormer creating a cross gable roof. The large dormer is flanked by much smaller dormers that break the eaves line of the steeply-pitched roof. Bargeboard decorates the front and side eave and front dormer edge. The station’s windows are tall and narrow, and the windows and doors have a slightly-curved arch at the top. Some of the windows have protruding corbelled voussoirs creating a hood. A one-storey luggage room is still attached on the west side.
Source: “Heritage Property County, Pugwash Train Station” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of the Pugwash Train Station relate to its original function and include:
- original site, form and massing;
- red brick construction materials, laid out in header fashion;
- wood trim;
- asymmetric, yet mirror imaged;
- frontispiece on each side creating two-storey bay rising to a large middle gabled dormer and creating cross gable roof;
- small dormers with truncated gables;
- front gable decorated with truss;
- protruding corbelled voussoirs create hoods over several windows;
- transom over doors;
- one-storey luggage room attached on west end.
Character-defining Gothic Revival elements of the Pugwash Train Station include:
- one-and-a-half storey;
- steeply-pitched gable roof;
- larger middle dormer flanked by two smaller dormers that break eave line;
- bargeboard on front and side eave and front dormer edge;
- tall, narrow windows;
- slightly-curved arch in top frame of windows and doors.