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Canadian Northern Railway Station

Fort Saskatchewan

Other Names:
C. N. R. Station
Canadian National Railway Station
CNR Station
Fort Saskatchewan Railway Station
Fort Saskatchewan C N Station

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Northern Railway Station is a one and one half-storey building situated on a single lot near downtown Fort Saskatchewan. Built in 1905, the station features a hip roof with bellcast eaves supported by brackets, dormers on the south and north elevations, and a series of nine-over-one windows. The section of the building that formerly comprised the freight shed features large doors surmounted by transoms. A platform extends along the south elevation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Canadian Northern Railway Station lies in its association with the early twentieth-century development of Fort Saskatchewan, its fine representation of a standard third class railway station, and its value as an icon of the central role of railways in opening the province to settlement and agriculture.

Fort Saskatchewan is one of Alberta's oldest Euro-Canadian communities, founded in 1875 as a North-West Mounted Police post. Although the growth of settlement in the area in the 1880s and 1890s helped to establish Fort Saskatchewan as a local distribution centre, further expansion was hampered by the lack of railway service. In 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway extended its line west through Fort Saskatchewan and on to Edmonton. The large scale of the railway station constructed at the time embodied the optimistic appraisals of the community's future. Built near the centre of town and amidst several grain elevators and a stockyard, the station served as a transportation hub for a rich farming district. The Canadian Northern Railway Station continued to serve Fort Saskatchewan until the late 1980s, when declining rail traffic warranted its closure.

The Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan is a standard third class station. Like other railway companies, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) employed a series of standard plans for its stations. At Fort Saskatchewan, the railway company opted for a plan 100-19 station. Introduced in 1904, plan 100-19 was a "special station" design employed at only the most significant points along the line. Considerably longer than other third class stations, plan 100-19 stations were distinguished by an exterior design that featured hip roofs on either end of the building and a spacious interior that included a vestibule, kitchen, living room, large general waiting room, separate ladies' waiting room, office and a small freight shed. This station is the only extant example of a railway facility constructed according to CNoR plan 100-19 in Alberta. In 1911, an addition was built on the building's west side, a reflection of the growth of population and rail traffic in Fort Saskatchewan.

With the gradual disappearance of early train stations from Alberta's communities, buildings like the Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan have gained increased significance as structural reminders of the essential role that the railways played in establishing settlement and agricultural economy in the province. The laying of track to Fort Saskatchewan and the construction of an impressive railway station in the community were indispensable in attracting business and swelling the local population. The railway established Fort Saskatchewan as the heart of a thriving agricultural district and remained vital to community interests for decades.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1544)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Canadian Northern Railway Station in Fort Saskatchewan include:
- features of third class station plan 100-19, including the mass, form, and scale of the building, roofline configuration with hip roofs at either end of the station and pyramidal roofed central half-storey, roof finials, corbelled chimney, wall dormers, nine-over-one wood, single-hung windows with wood storm sashes, extended bellcast eaves and brackets, original horizontal wood siding on the exterior and narrower siding profile on west baggage shed addition, shingling on the second storey, original freight doors with transoms, four-panel exterior doors with transoms, interior layout;
- features of the site that express its role as a transportation hub for the region, including its location near the historic centre of the community, platform on the south elevation, and its spatial relationship to historic railbed and a remnant of the railway line;
- features of the building that evoke its historic character and the nature of materials and craftsmanship common at the time, including original hardware, semaphore and hardware, fir flooring, original second floor hallway doors and trim, and original artifacts associated with the site.


Street Address: 10030 - 99 Avenue
Community: Fort Saskatchewan
Boundaries: Lot 1MR, Plan 9020082
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

1 MR

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.709816 -113.214482 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2008/09/30

Historical Information

Built: 1905 to 1905
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Communications and Transportation
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Transport - Rail : Station or Other Rail Facility
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building

The settlement of Fort Saskatchewan originated in 1875 with the establishment of a North West Mounted Police (NWMP) fort at the site. The location was seen as the most likely place for the anticipated transcontinental railroad to cross the North Saskatchewan and thus the logical site for a town to develop. Because the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was ultimately constructed in the 1880s following a southern route, railway service to Fort Saskatchewan was delayed until 1905 and the arrival of the Canadian Northern. In the intervening years the land surrounding the Fort was settled, and the town arose and developed as an agricultural service centre. It was the vibrancy with which the town played this role and its location at a prime site for the necessary river crossing that led the Canadian Northern to build through it, assuring that it would continue to grow and develop rather than to languish as did those settled communities that were bypassed. The station was built in 1905, while the railway was under construction. The Fort Saskatchewan station is an example of Canadian Northern Railway station plan No. 100-19. Plan 100-19 was one of a series of standard third class station plans developed by the Canadian Northern for use in its lines throughout Canada. It was introduced in 1904 and featured a specialized floor layout that made it appropriate for use at only more important points in the system.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0701
Designation File: DES 1544
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 34621
Website Link: N/A
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1544)
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