Description of Historic Place
The Canadian National Railway Station at Leamington was built in 1887. Its long narrow proportions and simple single-storey pitched roof form are characteristic of small 19th-century wood railway stations but almost unique today. It is located beside the CN track where it is visible from Talbot Street (Highway 3).
The Leamington station was designated a heritage railway station for its historical associations, functional qualities, importance to community identity and site relationships.
This station was designed in the offices of the Canada Southern Railway (CSR) and built in 1887 when the CSR constructed a Leamington & St. Clair branch line from its main southwestern Ontario route between Detroit and Buffalo.
The building is associated with two overlapping themes in Canadian railway history: the complicated history of ownership of the various rail lines constructed in southwestern Ontario during the second half of the 19th century; and the impact of these railways on local development. Railway development in southwestern Ontario was driven by geography. The route through this area was the shortest path linking upper New York State and the eastern seaboard with Michigan and the west. To feed its network, the CSR constructed the Leamington & St. Clair Railway, connecting the Port of Leamington directly to export markets, causing rapid development of local industry and agriculture and culminating in the arrival of the H.J. Heinz Company in 1911. This secondary station represents that development.
The Leamington station is one of the last remaining examples of modest wood-framed railway stations constructed by the CSR in Ontario and Michigan from the 1870s to the 1890s, and is remarkably intact. It exhibits many of the functional features which would later be recommended by pattern books of station design.
The station is situated beside the tracks and near Talbot Street, which remains the main artery into Leamington from Windsor. Canadian National Railways have used it as a storage structure for track maintenance activities. The building and its setting permit an understanding of the importance of this relationship at the time of the station's construction, as well as the importance of the station to the early growth of Leamington.
The heritage value of the Leamington station resides in its rigorous proportions, simple design, decorative wood detailing, and site relationships.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, Canadian Southern Railway Station, Leamington, Ontario, April 1996; Heritage Assessment Report RSR-266, 1995.
Character-defining elements of the Canadian National Railway Station at Leamington include:
- its rectangular footprint, simple one-storey massing under a shallow gable roof,
- its modest scale,
- its long, narrow, high proportions,
- its fine, balanced definition,
- the distinctive placement of its brackets as roof-end features,
- its use of pattern to create simple carpenter’s details: carefully executed brackets, wide boards to define the corners of the main walls, gables decorated so the trim pattern creates a three-dimensional effect, carefully detailed trim around openings, the simple but elegant blocks found under window sills,
- its use of simple materials of varying texture: brick foundation, framed board and batten walls, wood brackets, shingle roofing and wooden doors and trim,
- the high quality workmanship evident in its composition,
- the composition, form and finish of all original fabric and furnishing inside the station, in particular the original wood stove, horizontal V-groove wood panelling, hardwood floors and partitioned baggage area, and the raised floor of the freight shed,
- continued legibility of the station’s original functional configuration and spatial volumes,
- the continuity of longstanding access and circulation patterns,
- the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, materials, and details.