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CPR Steamship Terminal

396 Belleville Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of the CPR Steamship Terminal; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
east and south elevations
Exterior detail view of the CPR Steamship Terminal ; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
Detail of head of Poseidon
Exterior view of the CPR Steamship Terminal; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
east and north elevations

Other Name(s)

CPR Steamship Terminal
CPR Marine Terminal
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/11/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Steamship Terminal is a two-and-one-half storey, Neo-Classical stone and concrete building situated in a prominent waterfront location overlooking Victoria's Inner Harbour. It is articulated by large Ionic columns and Ancient Greek iconography, and creates a significant counterpoint to the historic Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel nearby.

Heritage Value

The CPR Steamship Terminal, constructed in 1924, is valued as one of the most important buildings in Victoria's historic Inner Harbour Precinct. The primary heritage value of this historic place lies in its association with the Canadian Pacific Railway, its monumental architecture and association with prominent British Columbia architects Francis Mawson Rattenbury and Percy Leonard James, and in its locational, spatial, and historic relationships with the nearby British Columbia Legislature, the Empress Hotel, and the Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM).

The association of this building with the Canadian Pacific Railway is significant because it survives as a reminder of the important role of the CPR in Victoria's and British Columbia's history. Having been the portal to western Canada for thousands of visitors and immigrants arriving here on CPR steamships, this historic place is a valuable reflection of the prestigious image of Victoria as the provincial seat of government and centre for tourism in the early twentieth century.

The architecture and construction methods of the CPR Steamship Terminal contribute greatly to its heritage value. As the earliest local example of the use of on-site pre-cast concrete techniques, this building conveys the status of the CPR and the city in the early 1920s through its technologically advanced construction, and almost exaggerated temple-like Neo-Classicism, which is unique in Victoria. It is also significant that architects Rattenbury and James utilized iconographic decorative imagery on the exterior of this prominent landmark to acknowledge both its maritime function, and its direct physical connection to the waterway which was the historic lifeblood of Victoria's economy and development.

The CPR Steamship Terminal holds a key position within the Inner Harbour, and together with the other major works of architecture nearby represents an excellent example of classical city planning. The prominent waterfront location, set back siting, and temple-like massing exemplify Rattenbury's vision for a provincial capital renowned for its imperial modernism and monumental buildings.

Source:City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the CPR Steamship Terminal include:
-Its prominent waterfront location.
-Its juxtaposition to, and relationship with, the B.C. Legislature, the Empress Hotel, and the Royal British Columbia Museum, seen in the axial relationships in plane and proportional relationships in elevation, as laid out by Francis Mawson Rattenbury.
-Its temple-like massing and situation on its waterfront lot, as seen in such elements as the setbacks at the sides and rear, and massive corner piers, and hipped roof.
-The Neo-Classical architectural elements, such as the facades lined with Ionic peristyles, which reinforce the image of grandeur and importance.
-All surviving interior and exterior elements relevant to its 1924 design by F.M. Rattenbury and P.L. James.
-The Ancient Greek iconography, including dolphins, crowns, crosses, and heads of Poseidon, which associate the original function of the building with the sea.
-The association of the building with the Canadian Pacific Railway, as seen in exterior elements such as the CPR cartouche.



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type




Harbour Facility

Architect / Designer

Percy Leonard James


Luney Brothers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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