Description of Historic Place
The complex of structures located at 285 Bradford Street, commonly known as the Allandale CNR Station, is situated on the southwest shoreline of Kempenfeldt Bay, Lake Simcoe, in Barrie. Two of the three buildings were designed in the Italianate style by the Detroit firm of Spier and Rohns in 1904. The complex is also located upon the site of a late twelfth century Iroquoian fishing station.
The exterior and interior features of the complex are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement, as are the lands surrounding the Station. The station was also designated federally under the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act.
The Allandale Station is associated with the development of a rail network throughout northern Ontario and is an example of station architecture designed by the American firm of Spier and Rohns. The Ontario Simcoe and Huron was the first significant rail system constructed in Upper Canada and reached the shores of Lake Simcoe in 1853. Allandale was selected as a divisional point rather than nearby Barrie where surrounding hills posed greater engineering challenges. Five separate rail lines, which would eventually be amalgamated by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), led to and from Allandale. Trains transported cut trees to the lumber mills of Beeton, harvested ice from Kempenfeldt Bay south to Toronto and took wealthy cottagers to Muskoka.
In 1904 the GTR replaced the small existing depot as part of its national upgrading plan. Although railway companies did utilize standard plans for many locations, Allandale was to stand as a 'flag ship' station during this competitive period of railway development. High profile terminals were often designed by leading architects who imported the latest American styles, as is the case at Allandale. The Detroit firm of Spier and Rohns, well known for its towered stations, designed an extravagant complex that would become Ontario's largest wooden railway station.
The dominant characteristics of modern railway architecture were combined with the Italianate style to produce a visually distinctive station. This enabled the architects to integrate the new depot and restaurant into the existing office building, c.1900. Prairie School influences can also be seen in the deep overhanging eaves, low-pitched roofs and the horizontality of the design. Two breezeways with vaulted wooden ceilings connected the three structures and an arcaded loggia on the central restaurant facade helped balance the picturesque depot with the plainer office structure. The compound-angled soffits were clad in horizontal bands of wood and articulated by ornate bracketing common to Italianate villa design. The overall result was a type of pavilion architecture that was popularly used on beach front and summer properties at the time. The depot observation tower provided a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal grouping of structures. The entire complex was painted in the GTR corporate colours of cream and red and the roofs were covered with matching red roof tiles. Custom plaster capitals carved with a GTR insignia sat atop coupled columnettes in the restaurant to further establish the railway's authority and the station's significance. The complex has undergone many alterations in the intervening years due to changes in rail transportation but plans for its revitalization are underway.
Materials excavated from the Allandale site confirm that this was the location of a late 12th to early 13th century fishing station related to the Uren substage of the Middle Ontario Iroquoian period. This site is considered rare as only a handful of contemporary sites are known for the Uren period and no other fishing sites have been documented. It is an excellent example of the beginnings of intensified occupation in a frontier area.
The functions of the railway station are met by the design of three separate buildings - the depot, restaurant and office building. The separation and linking by breezeways allowed the complex to follow the shoreline and to be accommodated within the narrow confines of crossing rail lines. The round, elevated waiting room and corner observation tower were strategically located at the eastern end of the site so that travelers could see advancing trains and enjoy the view of the water. The somewhat challenging site creates a scenic setting for the visually eclectic Allandale Station on the shores of Kempenfeldt Bay.
Sources: Conservation Easement Files, Ontario Heritage Trust
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Allandale Station include its:
- landmark status as a flag ship station for The Grand Trunk Railway Line (GTR)
- unique design forming a complex of linked wood constructed buildings and thus becoming Ontario's largest wooden railroad station
- location on and orientation to the shoreline of Kempenfeldt Bay
- location within and adaptation to a 'V' junction of two railway lines
- heritage landmark status as a component of the scenic landscape for both rail, steamship and boat travellers
- office building
- two breezeways
- material artifacts from the archaeological excavations related to the Uren substage of the Middle Ontario Iroquoian period ( late twelfth to early thirteenth centuries)
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Allandale Station depot include its:
- elevated, circular waiting room window bay on the east end, topped with a coronet type of crenulations
- north entrance with side lights and gothic tripartite glass transom
- pillared breezeway with wooden canopy connecting depot to restaurant
- waiting room window bay framed by two Doric columnettes
- wood paneling below waiting room windows with a recessed classical dado design
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Allandale Station restaurant include its:
- arcaded loggia on the northeast facade with four sets of coupled columnettes
- patio of coloured mosaic tiles
- north entrance to the restaurant with side lights and a tripartite glass transom with gothic tracery
- deep eaves with horizontal wooden cladding on the compound-angled soffits, articulated with ornate bracketing
- double band of dentil detailing running horizontally beneath the clerestory level
- custom plaster GTR capitals atop coupled columnettes throughout the interior space
- door with inset herringbone patterned panels and original hardware
- wooden paneling with gothic design
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Allandale Station office building include its:
- brick parapets on the east and west elevations
- stone window sills and brick lintels
- double course of horizontal banding of decorative brickwork to delineate the second storey
- decorative, metal, first floor ceiling vent covers
- arched entrance ways of the interior spaces