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Hamilton CNR Station

360, James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, L8L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/06/29

View of main (south) façade of station showing landscaped grounds along Murray Street – c. 2000; liunastation.com, 2001
View of main (south) façade of station – c. 2000
View of the restored grand lobby with picture of main building façade inset at top left – c. 2000; liunastation.com, 2001
View of the grand lobby – c. 2000
Historic view of station complex showing concourse at right and express wing at near left – c. 1930; John Boyd, 1930
Historic view of station complex from the east – c

Other Name(s)

Hamilton CNR Station
LIUNA Station

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1929/01/01 to 1931/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/12/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 360 James Street North, commonly referred to as the Hamilton CNR Station, is situated at the intersection between James and Murray Streets in downtown Hamilton. The three-building complex was designed by former Canadian National Railway architect John Schofield and was constructed by Pigott Construction Company from 1929 to 1931.

All exterior elements of the station complex and select interior spaces are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement 1999. The property is also a National Historic Site and has been designated under the Federal Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act and Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (City of Hamilton By-law 95-115).

Heritage Value

The station's relationship to its surroundings has changed very little since it was built, remaining a highly visible feature within downtown Hamilton. Located at the northeast corner of the intersection of James and Murray Streets, the station provides a physical segregation between the historic James Street North business district to the south and the North End residential neighbourhood to the north. Contextually, the lawn and open space to the south of the building forms a forecourt which frames and accentuates the grandeur of the main facade.

The building was erected between 1929 and 1931 along Hamilton's oldest rail corridor in an effort by Canadian National Railways (CNR) to provide the city with a large and efficient central station. After the formation of the CNR in 1919, the late 1920s were a period of great economic success and despite the severe economic depression of the time, the Hamilton station rose as a symbol of the company's early prosperity and optimism. Guided by CNR corporate policy that mandated the nearly exclusive use of Canadian materials and local labour, the construction of the station served to boost the economy in Hamilton while also demonstrating the company's commitment to the Canadian public. In the early 1930s, the CNR employed, directly or indirectly, over 10,000 people in Hamilton, which equated to approximately eight percent of the city's residents. Passenger service to the station ended in 1993; today the station is operated by the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) as a banquet facility. The station stands as a reminder of the importance of the railway in the growth of Hamilton as an industrial city.

Designed by CNR corporate architect John Schofield, the station complex consists of three main building masses, each distinct in its form and materials. The first and most striking component is the two-storey main station building that fronts onto Murray Street and articulates a Beaux Arts Classicism design. The south facade of this building is dominated by a central entrance portico with four massive columns and contains various iconographical bas-relief stone panels carved by Dutch-Canadian artist William Oosterhoff. The second building component is the one-storey concourse structure, which extends perpendicular to the main structure and is suspended above the station tracks at the rear of the property. The third component is the one-storey express wing, which extends at track level nearly 270 feet east of the main building. Although the sprawling composition of the station's components seems peculiar, the system of an elevated concourse over depressed railway tracks has been documented as one of only three railway configurations of the time. The station's composition and tripartite layout is also significant in that it was designed at the height of the railway age to effectively accommodate both massive passenger traffic and the equally important freight and baggage services.

Source: Conservation Easement Files, Ontario Heritage Trust

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Hamilton CNR Station include the:
- location on the fringe of downtown Hamilton and as a separation point between the James Street North business district and the North End residential community
- unique topographical setting between the manicured lawns and gardens of the southern edge of the property and the lowered rail lines of the northern edge
- representation of the structure as an economic success of Canadian National Railways during the time of the Great Depression
- Queenston limestone composition of the main station building and the brown brick with stone trimming to clad the concourse section and express wing
- frontispiece on the main (south) façade of the main station building which contains a central entrance portico with four massive Doric columns supporting an entablature and pediment
- three main entrances beneath the pediment with each characterized by ornamental bronze grills and iconographical bas relief stone panels representative of 1920s corporate art
- incised panels with stylized images of transportation modes on the southern elevations of the intermediate wings
- projecting pavilions that cap the wings of the south façade and echo the classical treatment of the portico with pedimented doorways, flanking pilasters and tripartite windows
- simple squared pillars that support the concourse section of the building above the railway tracks
- original steel staircases used to gain access to and from the track level at the most northern edge of the concourse
- trackside entrances and projecting stone stringcourse of the express wing
- strong visual axis exhibited through the interior main entrance lobby to the concourse
- bright and open character of the main lobby enhanced by its double-height, clerestory windows, skylights and two hanging bronze lanterns
- Ionic half-columns and Doric pilasters that support the main cornice in the main lobby
- second-floor level frieze of alternating triglyphs and metopes in the main lobby
- marble dadoes and terrazzo floor of the main lobby
- woodworking of the former magazine concession and the bronze work on grilles, ticket windows and light fixtures
- ceiling of the main lobby which is divided by beams into three panels with the centre of each having a bronze ceiling light surrounded by a border of shallow square coffers
- glazed brick dadoes, sand-finished walls, exposed steel trusses, unobstructed floor space and tripartite clerestories of the concourse level




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1999/01/01 to 1999/01/01
1993/01/01 to 1993/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type


Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub


Station or Other Rail Facility

Architect / Designer

John Schofield


Pigott Construction Company

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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