Description of Historic Place
The VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station at Niagara Falls is a Gothic Revival railway station built in 1879. It is prominently located in the core of the city of Niagara Falls. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building.
The VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways (CNR) Station at Niagara Falls represents the role of the Niagara peninsula as a strategic link in the North American railway system. The station reflects the intense competition between railway companies in Ontario in the 1870s and 1880s. Built by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1879, the Niagara Falls station became a Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) station after the 1882 amalgamation of GWR by GTR. The improvement of railway facilities supported the growth of Niagara Falls’ vital agriculture and tourism industries.
The Niagara Falls railway station is an unusual example of a Gothic Revival railway station and an exemplary example of the design work of Joseph Hobson, GWR Chief Engineer. Its large and imposing design and brick construction reflect its position as the eastern terminal and international entrance to the GWR system.
The station retains its prominent location at the core of the city, within a district that developed primarily because of the railway.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station, Niagara Falls, Ontario, August 1994; Anne M. de Fort-Menares, Railway Station Report 217, VIA Rail Station/Canadian National Railways Station, Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Character-defining elements of the VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station at Niagara Falls include:
- its imposing form, comprised of a large, two-storey main block with a hipped-gable roof and flanked by long, one-storey wings with hipped-gable roofs;
- its Gothic Revival style, evident in its asymmetrical massing, prominent roofline, vertically oriented elements and Gothic detailing;
- its vertical emphasis, evident in the steep, hipped-gable roofs, the steep, central gable on each of track and street sides, the tall, narrow, Gothic-arched window and door openings and the cut-stone voussoirs accenting the openings;
- the horizontal elements which balance the vertical, including the exceptional length of the building and the distinctive horizontal banding comprised of a base course and decorative brick courses;
- its high-quality masonry, composed of warm-red brick laid in a Flemish, cross bond, fine, recessed joints in a buff-grey mortar and hammered-stone accents;
- its masonry detailing, including a projecting, bevelled base course, brick courses at window-sill level at the spring of the arches, at the second-storey floor line and under the eaves, quoined, brick corner-piers, raised, brick borders around openings and hammered-stone keystones, springer voussoirs and window sills;
- its fenestration, including the regular, balanced pattern of Gothic-arched openings along track and street facades and bull’s-eye window openings in both north and south gables;
- the surviving original window and door units;
- the surviving wooden decorative features, including narrow, boarded soffits, heavy, scrolled brackets with trefoils and sections of moulded fascia;
- the surviving original interior door and window trim.