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Old Harris CNR Water Tower

208 Railway Avenue N, Harris, Saskatchewan, S0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/04/01

Looking southeast at water tower, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Jennifer Bisson, 2004.
View from NW
Looking west with view of original cast-iron mast and float, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Jennifer Bisson, 2004
East Elevation
Looking up at original 40,000 gallon cedar water tank, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Jennifer Bisson, 2004.
Interior view

Other Name(s)

Old Harris CNR Water Tower
CNR Water Tower

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1934/01/01 to 1934/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/12/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Harris CNR Water Tower is a Municipal Heritage Property located on a 290 square-metre parcel of land across from the railway tracks in the Town of Harris. The property features an octagonal-shaped wooden water tower that was constructed in 1934.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Old Harris CNR Water Tower resides in its unique railway architecture. Built by the CNR (Canadian National Railway) to plan 150-99 and designed to hold 40,000 gallons of water, this eight-sided, wooden structure is an excellent example of the more than 500 railway water towers that were erected during the seventy year period (1880-1950) when steam engines crossed the prairies. Constructed to serve steam locomotives, water towers were a fundamental part of the steam-operated rail system because of the need to fill the locomotives' boilers at regular intervals. A key element in the filling process was the tower's water-level indicator – a float and ball on a mast that rose with the water level in the tub – which signalled to the engineer of an approaching train the amount of water available at that stop. With the shift to diesel in the mid-1950s, however, water towers quickly disappeared from the landscape. Once a common feature at many railway stations throughout the West, the water tower at Harris is one of only nine octagonal-shaped railway water towers in Saskatchewan.

Heritage value also lies in the structure's importance to the local community, whose farmers once used the tower as their main source of water. In 1991, in order to prevent its demolition, the water tower was moved from its original location along the railway tracks to a new location across the street. It remains an important landmark in the community and represents what was once a central part of a group of structures that defined the railway yards of many small towns in Saskatchewan.


Village of Harris Bylaw No. 77/92.

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the Old Harris CNR Water Tower resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those elements that speak to its railway architecture, such as its octagonal shape, its materials and forms (wooden construction, original interior cedar water tank, windows, water-level indicator which includes the original cast-iron mast and float);
-its siting directly across the street from its original location on the railway tracks.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (SK)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act, s. 11(1)(a)

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type




Station or Other Rail Facility

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Department of Culture Youth and Recreation Heritage Resources Branch 1919 Saskatchewan Drive Regina, SK File: MHP 901

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

MHP 901



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