Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station in North Bay, Ontario is a deceptively simple two-storey building with a monumental presence located at 100 Ferguson St. Its distinctive stonework draws attention to its prominent site on the edge of extensive rail yards on the waterfront in the centre of town.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station at North Bay, Ontario has been designated a heritage railway station for its historic, architectural, and environmental importance.
Built in 1903 at a critical hub on the CPR’s trans-national rail system, this station’s monumental presence is a proclamation of the railway’s intent to consolidate its lead in east-west transportation. As the west expanded, the CPR up-graded its passenger and freight service to retain an edge against new competitors. Construction of this enlarged facility at North Bay both expanded the company’s handling capacity and reinforced its market share on the border of east/ west traffic. As home to the district divisional offices between 1901 and 1959, this station occupied a critical transitional role in the CPR system.
The monumentally imposing architecture of this station is unique in North Bay and unusual among CPR stations. Built of random-coursed limestone and sandstone, it has a bold, sophisticated, visual and structural organization that defines separate elements of the design by colour. Its large windows reflect new and changing standards in contemporary fenestration: its bracket-supported canopy recalls an earlier era in architectural design. Although the original station was considerably expanded in 1943-44, this change was sympathetically executed.
The central role of North Bay’s CPR station within its community is well supported by its arresting presence. The station is the focus of the town's road network and commercial district, underlining the CPR’s central role in North Bay’s creation and subsequent prosperity. The station’s substantial yards also dominate North Bay’s waterfront, witnessing the city’s steadily increasing importance within CPR trans-national network operations in the first half of the 20th century. There is a longstanding symbiotic relationship between North Bay and the CPR that is evident on the landscape even today.
The heritage value of the North Bay CPR station resides in its robust massing, rich colours and textures, and its striking presence in its environment.
· Heritage Character Statement, Canadian Pacific Railway Station, North Bay, Ontario, March 1994. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-190,1993.
Character-defining elements of the North Bay Canadian Pacific Railway Station include:
- the regular rectangular footprint and sturdy 2 storey massing of the station under a recessed hipped roof with slightly bell-cast ends,
- its simple form and substantial proportions,
- its prominent vertical definition by an encircling platform canopy supported by graceful struts,
- its prominent horizontal articulation as a series of balanced bays on the second storey, and a series of three arches containing apertures on the main facades of the ground storey,
- its extravagant use of colour and texture as a dominant design feature,
- its elegant details distinguished by simplicity of form, texture and rational use of colour, i.e. the rhythmic definition of second storey bays by repetitive aperture form, smooth and rough surfaces as exaggerated quoins in dressed dark sandstone boldly outline smooth glass window and door openings, separated by fields of paler variegated limestone with a rock-faced finish,
- the colours, textures and patina of its original materials: random-coursed limestone and sandstone, wood windows and doors,
- the fine craftsmanship evident in its exterior details, particularly its masonry,
- the high quality of the materials themselves,
- any and all original fabric inside the station, in particular surviving light fixtures, window trim, varnished boarded walls, maroon paint, and a cast iron scale in the north end baggage room,
- the integrity of 1940s lobby renovation materials such as terrazzo floors and dados and a charcoal, green and beige colour scheme,
- legibility of the station’s original functional configuration and spatial volumes,
- continued use of longstanding access and circulation patterns,
- the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, material, and detail.