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Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) National Historic Site of Canada

90 William Street West, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/11/18

Corner view of Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern), 1988.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1988.
Corner view
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Other Name(s)

Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) National Historic Site of Canada
Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern)
Gare du Canadian Northern à Smiths Falls
Canadian Northern Railway Station

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1912/01/01 to 1914/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) National Historic Site of Canada is located on the west edge of Smiths Falls off William West. It is a custom-designed brick station with a Chateauesque flavor that features a distinctive turret and polygonal waiting room. It operated as a railway station from 1914 to 1979. In 1983, it became the Smiths Falls Railway Museum. The official recognition refers to the railway station building on its footprint as of 1983, including the Express Room.

Heritage Value

Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1983 because:
- this station reflects the western-based Canadian Northern’s ambition to compete directly with the established Canadian Pacific Railway in populous Ontario in an attempt to achieve transcontinental status; and
- its decorative turret, individualized styling and substantial construction were a signal departure from the Canadian Northern’s usual practice of building cheaply from standard plans.

Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) National Historic Site was built on the Canadian Northern Railway’s new Toronto-Ottawa line in 1912-1914. Its individualized design, likely created by the company's architect, R.B. Pratt, is evidence of the Canadian Northern’s determination to compete for transcontinental business in the central Canadian market.

The heritage value of Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern) National Historic Site resides in its presence as a symbol of the Canadian Northern Railway’s determination and practices in the highly competitive railway environment of early 20th-century Ontario as illustrated by the station’s custom design and substantial form, its composition, siting and most especially in the unique decorative turret that renders it a local landmark.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1983 and 1985.

Character-Defining Elements

Features defining the heritage character of this site include:

- its irregular elongated massing and footprint;
- evidence of its original plan with express room linked to the main body of the building under a covered “breezeway” and interior layout of the station building with baggage room, main waiting room, operators bay and polygonal ladies waiting room;
- its Chateauesque features, notably its picturesque conical rooflines with 1 ½-storey polygonal tower;
- its surviving original doors and paired wooden windows with overlights;
- its broad, protective eaves supported by prominent brackets;
- its brick cladding on a stone foundation brackets;
- surviving original interior finishes;
- its setting on the west edge of town in a former railway enclave;
- its siting beside the railway track, set back from the road.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1914/01/01 to 1979/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type


Public Art or Furnishings


Station or Other Rail Facility

Architect / Designer

R.B. Pratt



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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