Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Pacific Railway Station, built in 1904-05, is a four-storey steel, brick and stone structure on the northern edge of downtown Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the following interior elements: rotunda and brass doors leading to the concourse.
The Canadian Pacific Railway Station, an elegant monument to the railway's nation-building mandate and Winnipeg's associated role as gateway to the developing West, is a functional, aesthetic and historic landmark in Manitoba. The building, an early Canadian example of the Beaux-Arts Classical style designed by the prominent Montreal partnership of Edward and W.S. Maxwell, was intended to create a solid impression and sense of occasion for the thousands of travellers who passed through its bustling confines in the early twentieth century, including waves of immigrants seeking to establish new lives in the West. The station's great size, dramatic portico, richly ornamented facades and substantive materials clearly expressed its functional and symbolic importance and also reflected the Canadian Pacific Railway's wealth and high expectations for future prosperity as the West's population and economy grew. No less impressive were the interior features of a grand rotunda, adjoining service rooms, offices for local and regional personnel, and other operational facilities. Passenger traffic ceased in 1978 and the building was closed a decade later. Subsequently restored, it is now the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg.
Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, March 2, 1993
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station site include:
- the building's location in Winnipeg's historic Point Douglas district, set well back from Higgins Avenue on a modestly treed lot and flanked on the north by Canadian Pacific Railway tracks
Key elements that define the station's monumental form and Beaux-Arts Classical style include:
- the expansive L-shaped mass, four storeys high, including an elaborately ornamented station and more subdued office wing, all of steel frame construction on a concrete foundation with facades of red brick and Manitoba limestone and a flat roof save for the gabled section over the station's rotunda
- the striking tripartite ordering of the station's facades, executed through a bold interplay of brick, stone and heavily articulated banding elements, window surrounds and other details
- the grandiose raised stone portico dominated by two sets of thick limestone columns supporting a frieze engraved with 'A.D. CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY 1904', a heavy cornice of alternating modillions and spheres, and a gabled parapet holding an ornate centred clock flanked by blocks of carved stone draped in garlands, fruits, scrolls, etc.
- the recessed main entrance containing three sets of wooden doors, each emphasized with canopies, eyebrow-shaped transoms, stone pediments, screened windows, decorative spandrels, etc.
- the large, symmetrically aligned windows throughout, including segmental-arched and rectangular openings, largest on the main floor, smallest on the fourth, with varied and impressive detailing
- the wealth of details, including elaborate stone ornamentation throughout, the portico's mosaic tile flooring and coffered ceiling, the metal-canopied secondary south entrance, etc.
Key elements that define the station's sumptuous interior layout, finishes and details include:
- the formal plan featuring wide corridors and grandiose spaces, including waiting rooms, a restaurant, enquiry wicket and service areas
- the double-height entrance lobby with a carved wooden walkway on the second level incorporating balconets on each end
- the majestic raised rotunda with a barrel vault ceiling atop a modillioned and dentilled cornice, fretwork frieze and massive columns; also the staircases and marble pony walls with brass railings, white marble terrazzo floors, wood-panelled walls with windows and coffered ceilings on the second level, etc.
- the embellished stairs with wooden handrails and cast-iron balustrades
- the rich details and finishes, including ornamental plasterwork throughout, the wood and marble trim and wainscotting throughout, the historically accurate colour palette, the brass doors, arched doors, etc.