Description of Historic Place
The Canadian National Railway Station at 135 Wellington St. Aurora was built by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) in 1900, and operated by Canadian National Railways (CN) for most of the 20th century. It is a picturesque one-storey standard design station intended for commuter use, and it continues to serve as a GO Transit station today.
The Canadian National Railway Station was designated a heritage railway station because of its historical associations with the development of regional railways and for its architectural and environmental qualities.
The Canadian National Railway Station was designed to be a suburban station when it was built by the GTR in 1900. Constructed as part of an 1890-1923 GTR initiative to consolidate the company’s image and up-grade facilities on existing lines, it is the third railway station to occupy its location. Initially part of the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron Railway line which was which was acquired by the GTR in the late 19th century, the site with its new station was acquired by CN when it assumed control of the GTR in the 1920s. CN still occupies part of the station for storage while the north half is leased to GO Transit as a commuter stop, with ticket and waiting facilities. Today this is, and has always been, a commuter station.
The design of this station deliberately identifies it as a GTR facility. It is a “signature station” built to a standard plan as part of the GTR’s competitive strategy for marketing company services. Its standard design with its low profile, domestic scale, effective use of bracketing, and attractive porte cochere is nonetheless charming. The station’s materials and craftsmanship, features left to local discretion, are high in quality. The station’s location in the historic core of Aurora attests to its importance in the community. Its longstanding proximity to the Railway Hotel is evidence of its influence on its immediate environment.
The heritage character of the Canadian National Railway Station is defined by its standard plan, its domestic scale and proportions, its detailing and architectural woodwork (both interior and exterior), the quality of its materials and craftsmanship, and by its existing contextual relationship with the neighbouring commercial and residential streetscape.
Heritage Character Statement, Grand Trunk Railway Station, Aurora, Ontario, 12 April 1990. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-013, 1989.
Character-defining elements of the Canadian National Railway Station include:
- its rectangular footprint, 1 storey massing, and steeply-pitched hipped roof cut by gables on the trackside and north end,
- its domestic scale and delicate proportions,
- its vertical orientation and balanced definition,
- the presence of a porte-cochere to provide exterior shelter for high volumes of commuter traffic,
- the rhythmic placement of its apertures,
- its roof feature from track and “in-coming” perspectives,
- the smooth aesthetic integration of special railway features such as a projecting telegrapher’s bay and broad eaves to expedite passenger shelter,
- the picturesque inspiration of its details: its gables, their decorative bracketing, its porte-cochere, the steep pitch and stacked quality of its featured rooflines,
- its original brick and wood materials (including wood doors and windows),
- integrity of the nature, composition, and finish of any and all original “Stick Style” features and any early furnishings, both interior and exterior,
- the craftsmanship evident in the building’s construction,
- the station’s platform frame construction,
- continued legibility of its original functional configuration and spatial volumes from both the interior and the exterior,
- the continuity of longstanding circulation patterns,
- the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, material, and detail.