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NORTHERN ALBERTA RAILWAY STATION

Main Street and Railway Avenue, Sexsmith, Alberta, T0H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/01/19

Northern Alberta Railway Station Provincial Historic Resource, Sexsmith  (May 2005); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2005
South and east elevations
Trackside view of the Northern Alberta Railway Station Provincial Historic Resource, Sexsmith  (May 2005); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2005
North and west elevations
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Other Name(s)

NORTHERN ALBERTA RAILWAY STATION
Sexsmith N. A. R. Station
NAR Station Building
Sexsmith Train Station

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1928/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/03/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Northern Alberta Railway Station is a one and one-half storey building situated on a single lot on Main Street in the Town of Sexsmith. Constructed in 1928, it is a 'Type B' station distinguished by its bell-cast roof, shed dormers and maroon-coloured exterior.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Northern Alberta Railway Station lies in its association with the development of transportation and agriculture in Sexsmith, a significant regional service centre in Northern Alberta and one of the province's most productive farming areas. It also possesses heritage value as an excellent example of typical railway architecture and as a symbol of the centrality of railways in the settlement and agricultural development of Alberta.

In 1916, the Edmonton-Dunvegan and British Columbia (ED and BC) railway company was nearing completion of a spur line between Rycroft and Grande Prairie. The new railway line stimulated the creation of the townsite of Benville, located along the track just north of Grande Prairie. Renamed Sexsmith shortly after its establishment, this new settlement was soon the centre of a thriving farming community, but because of the volatility of company finances, it did not get a proper railway station immediately. Between 1919 and 1928, Sexsmith was serviced by a basic, inexpensive railway office and a warehouse. It was not until 1928 that this railway station was built. A year after the station's construction, the ED and BC line was taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Canadian National Railway (CNR), who operated it jointly under a subsidiary company called Northern Alberta Railways (NAR). Over the succeeding decades, this new station handled the storage and shipping of grain from one of the most productive agricultural regions in North America. The real boom years of Sexsmith and area began during World War Two, when wartime prices and demand for grain resulted in massive agricultural exports. During this period, the community often led all inland terminals in the British Empire in grain shipments. By the mid-1950s, Sexsmith had nine elevators. However, at the same time that the community's agricultural production was surging, its railway business was diminishing because of improvements to highways. The Northern Alberta Railway Station closed in the early 1970s and was sold to a local farm implements dealer, who relocated and partially restored it.

One of the few remaining NAR structures still extant in the province, the station is a 'Type B' design, constructed by Kezer and Loven of Grande Prairie for the ED and BC. This type of design is distinguished by its bell-cast roof and shed dormers. The maroon paint, added in 1929, marks it as an NAR building. The interior consisted of an office, waiting room, freight room, and washroom facilities on the main floor and living quarters for the station agent and his family on the upper level. The main-floor office also accommodated the district telegraph. In the 1980s, the station was relocated close its original site and restoration work was carried out. The building is a powerful symbol of the significance of railways in the settlement of Alberta and the development of agricultural economy.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1744)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Northern Alberta Railway Station include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- wooden-shingled bellcast roof with shed dormers and chimney;
- wide eaves support with brackets on the track side;
- horizontal drop-siding painted maroon, and "SEXSMITH" painted in white on opposite ends of building;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- door arrangement and style;
- track side platform;
- original interior elements of the station, including fir flooring, V-joint tongue-and-groove wall and ceiling coverings, wide baseboards with quarter-round trim, tablature-like window and door trim, and the five-panel doors;
- original interior elements of the freight shed, including plank flooring, exposed interior wall sheathing, exterior siding of the northwest wall, and the exposed joists of rafters in the freight area;
- spatial relationship to the railway tracks and grain elevators.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

2007/01/19

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

Kezer and Loven

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1744)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0767

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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