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Canadian National Railway Station

Main St. (at Railway Ave.), Smithers, British Columbia, V0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/11/01

Corner view of Canadian Pacific Railway Station, showing both the front and side façades.; Smithers, 1980.
General view of the place
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Other Name(s)

Canadian National Railway Station
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Station
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Station

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1919/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/01/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian National Railways Station at Smithers B.C. is prominently sited at the head of Main St. in the heart of downtown Smithers. It is a 2 ½ storey building with Picturesque features that can be readily identified by its high hipped roof with bellcast edges.

Heritage Value

The Smithers depot was designated a Heritage Railway Station because it is an important and rare example of the custom-designed "special stations" built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP) at several divisional points along its transcontinental line. This small group of specially designed stations represented a departure from the GTP's overall policy of rigid standardization in depot design. The Smithers example was the largest one built in northern British Columbia, and also one of the final depots erected by the GTP before its demise. Smithers station was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1919, just before Canadian National Railways (CNR) assumed control of the GTP line. For virtually all of its history, this building has served as a CNR depot and divisional headquarters.

The Smithers station is a conspicuous link to the inception and growth of its community and surrounding region, and as such illustrates the financial impact of railway development in British Columbia. The station has been a social and economic hub for Smithers since it was built – and it is the oldest building in the community. Its prominent site typifies the standard formula employed by the GTP for new towns: the town was surveyed from the station site, giving the station a dominant architectural presence. In 1925 the provincial government erected a court house and provincial office building of similar design and proportion at the opposite end of the street, making the station one of two dominant landmarks book-ending the traditional commercial district.

The heritage character of the Smithers station resides in its representation of custom designed GTP divisional point stations and its identity within its community.

Source:
Heritage Character Statement, Smithers Canadian National Railways Station, December 22, 1989. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-007, 1989.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Smithers Canadian National Railways Station include:
- its irregular rectangular footprint, 2 ½ storey massing, and medium-pitched, hipped bell-cast roof with projecting dormers and chimney,
- its substantial scale,
- its symmetrical proportions,
- its cottage-like appearance,
- the layered balance in its vertical definition reinforced by the use of contrasting colours, materials and forms,
- the rhythmic but irregular placement of its apertures in single and double forms of similar height,
- the prominence of its roof definition from all four perspectives,
- the smooth aesthetic integration of special railway features such as a projecting telegrapher’s bay and platform canopy to provide passenger shelter,
- the picturesque inspiration of its details: dormers and bellcast eaves, multi-paned windows of varying width, the presence of a platform canopy softening its vertical lines,
- the varying colours and textures of its original materials: concrete foundation, red brick walls, stucco second storey walls and dormers, roof and platform cover shingles, smooth glass windows, wooden doors and trim,
- the station’s platform frame construction,
- any original fabric surviving inside the station,
- continued legibility of its original interior functional and spatial configuration.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act

Recognition Type

Heritage Railway Station

Recognition Date

1989/11/01

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Transport-Rail
Station or Other Rail Facility

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Canadian Inventory of Historic Building Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 525, 25 Eddy Street, Hull, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1988

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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