Description of Historic Place
The Canadian National Railway (CNR) station at Prince Rupert is a very early Modern classical structure built in 1921-22. It is located on the waterfront adjacent to the centre of town, and continues to serve both passenger and freight traffic today.
The Canadian National Railway (CNR) station at Prince Rupert has been designated a heritage railway station because of its historical, architectural and environmental significance.
Built in 1921-22 to designs prepared by the CNR Architectural Division in Winnipeg, it is significant as a very early example of a public building in the Modern Classical style. Executed in brick and trimmed with Tyndall limestone, the station design combines traditional composition with simple, stripped-down classical detailing.
Historically, Prince Rupert originated as the west coast terminus of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR)’s transcontinental line. Built to challenge to the Canadian Pacific’s popular route to Vancouver, this line never assumed the grandiose expectations of its originators. The present station was built after the GTPR became part of the CNR system and represents a major CNR commitment to the community's future. Today, the station is an important component in the much larger railway landscape that traces its origins to the founding of Prince Rupert.
The heritage value of the Canadian National Railway station at Prince Rupert resides in its Modern Classical design, certain elements of its interior layout and finishes, and its setting.
Heritage Character Statement, Canadian National Railways Station, Prince Rupert, B.C., March 1993. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-122, 1991.
Character-defining elements of the Prince Rupert Canadian National Railway Station include:
- its rectangular footprint, its massing as a central flat-roofed 2 storey cube with single storey flat-roofed wings,
- its formal composition and balanced symmetrical proportions,
- its six-bay definition,
- the rhythmic, aligned placement of its apertures,
- the smooth aesthetic integration of a projecting trackside railway canopy,
- the station’s restrained classically inspired details: formal symmetrical massing and definition, its prominent entablature and plinth, the prominent chamfered brackets supporting its canopy,
- the varying textures of its original materials: red brick with cut Tyndall limestone trim wood frame east wing, tar and gravel roof, metalwork, original wood doors and windows,
- all original fabric inside the station, in particular surviving first floor light sconces and vertical boarding, second floor plaster, hardwood floors, and modest trim,
- continued legibility of the station’s original functional configuration, particularly its orientation towards a now-absent pedestrian bridge,
- legibility of its original spatial volumes,
- the continuity of longstanding circulation patterns,
- the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, material, and detail.