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 remains in its original location near the Pugwash River, although its surrounding and function have changed. The building is currently used for the local branch of the Cumberland Regional Library and the North Cumberland Historical Society. The building and property are included in the provincial heritage designation.
The Pugwash Train Station is valued for its association with the province’s industrial history, its architectural style and association with various historical figures.
The Pugwash Train Station was built by the Intercolonial Railway which operated in Canada between 1872 and 1918, when it became part of the Canadian National Railway. It is one of the station houses that was built along the rail corridor that service this area’s industrial and economic growth. 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. The town’s growth supported the presence of the railway, which arrived in 1890, which in turn created growth for this area of Nova Scotia. The building ended its service to the rail industry in the 1970s, and the tracks were removed in the 1990s.
The Pugwash Railway Station was built in the Gothic Revival style and was designed by Sir Sanford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Intercolonial Railway. This station house is a good example of the style of building that Fleming typically designed, and of the style commonly used for public buildings in Victorian era Nova Scotia.
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.
As previously noted, the architect for the Pugwash Train Station was Sir Sanford Fleming, inventor of Standard Time, surveyor, map-maker, and founder of the prestigious Royal Canadian Institute. It 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 commercial buildings 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, it was Tupper who hired Sir Sanford Fleming to assist in building the rail system in Nova Scotia.
Finally, Cyrus Eaton would use the Pugwash Train Station and its lands to transport and house persons attending the ‘Thinkers Conference’ since 1957. Eaton was born in Pugwash and became a tycoon and captain of industry in the United States, and established the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs. With the loss of the village hotels during the devastating fires in 1926 and 1929, luxury rail cars were parked at the stations and used as accommodations for some attending the conference.
The Pugwash Train Station is one of the two remaining brick railway stations designed by Fleming; the other is the Tatamagouche Railway Station.
Source: Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Property Program file #279.
Character-defining elements of the Pugwash Train Station include:
- original site, form and one-and-a-half storey massing;
- red-brick construction materials;
- bargeboard on front and side eave and front dormer edge; wood trim;
- steeply-pitched gable roof;
- small dormers with truncated gables;
- front gable decorated with truss;
- fenestration including its tall, narrow windows and transom over doors with slightly-curved arch in top frame of windows and doors;
- protruding corbelled voussoirs create hoods over several windows and transom over doors;
- one-storey luggage room attached on west end.