Description of Historic Place
The former Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station at Virden is a rare Manitoba fieldstone station. It is a substantial picturesque building with surrounding eaves and a distinctive roofline located on 6th Ave, consisting of a two-storey central block flanked on the east and west by single storey wings, just east of Nelson St.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway station at Virden was designated a heritage railway station because of its historical, architectural and local significance.
The second station to occupy this site, it was built by the CPR in 1900 at a time when the railway was emerging from a period of economic depression to begin nearly two decades of tremendous growth and expansion. This substantial and attractive stone station proclaimed the CPR’s permanence and improved fortunes in a highly competitive railway environment.
The Virden station is a very attractive example of a standard plan station designed for the CPR by architect Ralph Benjamin Pratt in 1899. The simplicity of its detailing, in combination with the sturdy rusticity of its masonry materials and the long, low slope of the roofline, gives the building a dignity and solidity which reflect the turn-of-the-century importance of the CPR. While it illustrates an established construction technique and preferred building material for the Virden area, the use of roughly-dressed fieldstone makes it rare, if not unique, within the context of Manitoba railway stations. The Virden station has been altered little since its construction and continues to exhibit the features of Pratt’s standard plan which combined all ground level functions into a neat, full rectangle. The broad, overhanging eaves encircling the building slope up to form part of a distinctive roof shape characteristic of the five stations built to this Pratt design.
Although the station’s original gardens have disappeared, there has been little encroachment on the property, and the site is still defined much as it originally was, by the street, tracks, and related buildings. In 1987 the building, platform, and lands were transferred from the CPR to VIA and in January 1989 the building was closed.
Heritage value of the Virden station resides in its exterior form, materials of construction, the separation and expression of its operational and residential functions, and in the high level of historic integrity retained by the building. The station also retains several important environmental relationships.
Heritage Character Statement, Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Virden, Manitoba, 1989. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-012,1989.
Character-defining elements of the Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Virden, Manitoba include:
- its rectangular footprint and symmetrical massing as a central 2 storey cube and flanking 1 storey wings under a complex roofline,
- its substantial proportions and substantive presence,
- its carefully balanced vertical and horizontal definition,
- the intricacy and prominence of its roofline from all four perspectives: its steeply pitched hip, half gables, vents, broken eaves, hipped gable dormers and unifying slightly bellcast eave,
- the smooth aesthetic integration of functional railway features such as a projecting telegrapher’s bay, identifying brackets and broad surrounding eaves to provide passenger shelter,
- its picturesque features: variable wall surfaces, dominant and distinctive roofline, massive wooden brackets, continuous deep overhanging eaves, large stone lintels, corbels and sills,
- its exterior materials, coursed, roughly-dressed fieldstone at the ground floor, wood shingles at the second floor, and wood shingle roofing,
- the use of varied detail materials: wood for windows, plain panelled and glazed doors, and brackets, and stone for lintels, sills, and corbels
- the craftsmanship evident in its composition, particularly its masonry,
- the integrity of all early materials, finishes and furnishings inside the station,
- continued legibility of the hierarchy of materials and finishes used in different functional areas of the station as indicated by the "V" joint wainscot and plaster for the main rooms and "V" joint boarding and plaster for the baggage area,
- the station’s dual function as a railway station and stationmaster’s residence,
- continued legibility of its original interior functional configuration and spatial volumes, in particular the separation between a ground floor station and a second storey residence, and the distribution of ground floor functions with a central general waiting room and office, and flanking private waiting rooms and baggage room,
- continued use of longstanding patterns of access, egress and circulation.