Description of Historic Place
The VIA Rail Station at St. Catharines is a one-storey, brick-clad railway station built in 1917. It is located within a commuter parking lot in the southwest part of the city of St. Catharines. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.
The VIA Rail Station at St. Catharines reflects the period of railway expansion and optimism that ended with World War I. The St. Catharines station was one of the last constructed by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) prior to its collapse and subsequent amalgamation by Canadian National Railways (CNR). The St. Catharines station reflects the railway’s ongoing importance in the commercial, industrial and private sectors of the city.
The St. Catharines station is typical of GTR pre-war stations in its massing, its linking of passenger and express buildings under a single roof line, and its deep porte-cochère. It is exceptional among GTR stations for its well-detailed materials and extensive office and freight spaces.
The station retains some elements of its relationship to its site, including the railway tracks, a long platform of Saginaw brick paving in a herringbone pattern and arched bridges over the tracks.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station, St. Catharines, Ontario, August 1994; Anne M. de Fort-Menares, Railway Station Report 233, VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station, St. Catharines, Ontario.
Character-defining elements of the VIA Rail Station at St. Catharines include:
-its long, low massing and prominent roof line,
-its linear composition of functional components differentiated by form and detailing,
-the passenger block, distinguished by its high, hipped roof, prominent, projecting bay on the track (south) side and symmetry around the projecting bay,
-the detailing of the passenger block, including the semi-circular pediment between square pilasters which crowns the projecting bay, and the brick pilasters framing spandrel panels with corbelled bases, which mark each bay,
-the fenestration of the passenger block, consisting of grouped triplets of eight-light pivot windows over large, fixed single sash, or over doors framed by highly textured sandstone mullions, lintels and sills,
-a porte-cochère extending from the east wall of the passenger block, distinguished by its hipped roof, slightly lower and narrower than that of the passenger block; fine, board ceilings and soffits; and elegant, cast-iron columns,
-the baggage room, consisting of two bays defined by wide, brick pilasters, with high, tripled windows in each bay,
-the former express building, discernable on the track side only as multiple bays defined by wide, brick pilasters, with high, tripled, eight-light, pivot windows in each bay,
-the long, hipped roof which extends west from the passenger block, covering the baggage room, the express building, and the former platform area (now enclosed) between them,
-the overhanging eaves, exposed rafter ends, and narrow, boarded soffits common to all sections of the building,
-its materials, consisting of brick masonry, fine, dark-red, “struck,” mortar joints and sandstone mullions, lintels and sills,
-surviving original interior finishes, including curved plaster ceilings, painted-burlap dados, wood trim and hardwood floors.