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Canadian Pacific Railway Section House


Other Names:
C. P. R. Residence
Canadian Pacific Railway Residence
Roadmaster's House
Section Foreman's House
Section Foremans House
CPR Section Foreman's / Roadmaster's House, The

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Canadian Pacific Railway Section House in the Town of Coronation was built circa 1911. It is a one-and-a-half storey, wood frame house built on a T-shaped plan with gable ends facing north, south and west. The house is clad mainly in red Insulbrick with shingles in the gable ends. The house is situated on a small urban lot alongside the former Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way on the town’s south side, a short distance to the west of the remnants of the town’s former rail yard.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Section House in Coronation lies in its association with railway divisional point infrastructure, particularly the type of housing provided by the company for certain essential railway employees.

The CPR, like most other railway companies, organized their rail networks by centralizing services and staff at certain points along the line. The townsites selected as divisional points were often situated at important locations or at key junctions and generally rose to become the dominant urban centres of the surrounding region. While most railway employees stationed at divisional points would be provided with bunkhouses or expected to find their own lodging in town, better housing was often provided for higher level employees like Section Foremen and Roadmasters. For these higher level positions, married men with families were preferred by the company as they were viewed as being more stable and reliable than single men. Consequently, the residences provided for them, known as Section Houses, were designed with adequate room for a family.

Between 1910 and 1914, the CPR opened a new line from Stettler into Saskatchewan. Approximately 120 kilometres east of Stettler a townsite named Coronation was surveyed and selected to be a divisional point. From Coronation, CPR staff managed the line eastward to Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, which was reached by 1914. Eventually, this line expanded to cover the Lorraine Subdivision, between Youngstown in the south and Berkinshaw (near Alliance) in the north, as well as a short spur north from Halkirk to the coal mines near Forestburg. In about 1911, soon after the arrival of the CPR at the Coronation townsite, three section houses were built, one of which was used by the Section Foreman and later by the Roadmaster.

The CPR section houses were basic and utilitarian in construction, lacking any ornamentation or unnecessary amenities, which demonstrates the dwelling’s institutional nature and the scarce attention paid by the company to aspects of the operation only tangentially related to its primary business operations. The Coronation Section House is similar in design and layout to CPR Standard Plan Section House No. 4, the plans for which are dated 1914. Like other section houses of this era, the Coronation building is a one-and-a-half story, wood frame building with T-shaped plan and shingle-clad gable ends facing north, south and west. Exterior and interior construction materials are simple and easy to maintain. The exterior was clad in wood siding, which was eventually replaced with low-maintenance, asphalt-based Insulbrick. The interior of the home features a kitchen, dining room and living room on the main floor and three approximately equal-sized bedrooms on the upper floor. A small, square basement is located beneath the kitchen and a crawl space is underneath the rest of the house. Interior detailing is minimal, consisting of basic five-panel doors; single hung, one-over-one sash windows; and plain wooden baseboards, window frames and door frames. The house is situated in a transitional zone between the rail yard and the townsite. The front entryway on the north side of the house opens to the roadway and town while the rear entry at the southwest corner, gives easy access to the rail yard, reflecting the building’s dual role as a family residence and as a home for a key, local railway employee.

Source: Alberta Culture, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2033)

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of Coronation’s Canadian Pacific Railway Section House include such elements as:

- mass and form of the one and one-half storey, T-shaped building;
- gable roof with gable ends facing north, south and west and a longer sloping roof on the south elevation;
- fenestration pattern of mostly one-over-one, single hung sash windows with basic, wood trim;
- two entryways, one facing the townsite to the north and the other at the southwest corner opening to the former rail yards to the south, speaking to the domestic and corporate uses of the building;
- exterior walls clad in red Insulbrick;
- shingle-clad gable ends with plain wood plank fascia;
- ventilation openings in the south and west facing gable ends;
- central, brick chimney protruding through the ridgepole;
- partial concrete foundation, with a wood timber foundation under the south porch area.

- floor plan and arrangement of rooms, with a kitchen, dining room and living room on the main floor and three approximately equal-sized bed rooms on the upper floor;
- small, square basement located under the kitchen and a crawl space under the rest of the house;
- extant historic wood strip floors;
- plain wooden baseboards, door frames and window frames,
- extant historic five-panel doors;
- extant historic window and door hardware, heating vents and light fixtures;
- extant historic lath and plaster walls and ceilings.

- location of the house on the south edge of town alongside the former CPR rail yards and right-of-way.


Street Address: 5200 Railway Avenue
Community: Coronation
Boundaries: Portion of Block A, Plan 8149AH
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
12 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
8149 AH

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.092623 -111.454588 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2012/08/27

Historical Information

Built: 1911 to 1911
Period of Significance:
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Communications and Transportation
Historic Function(s): Transport - Rail : Station or Other Rail Facility
Current Function(s):

In southern Alberta around the turn of this century, the railway was like a lottery. As it crept along tie-by-tie, ordinary citizens dreamed grand dreams, all the while devising schemes to increase their chances of winning the railway sweepstakes. Coronation did better than many. Although not on the site of the original settlement (of course), the railway saw fit to set down a section foreman's house and a round house when it did choose the town's location.

The section foreman's house dates form 1911, the year the railway arrived. It first housed a section crew, then the section foreman, and finally in 1927 it became the road master’s house. Each position came with a bit more status, a bit more responsibility for a longer section of track.

The building is still on its original site and is one of the few structures from this era that has survived in Coronation. It will be the centrepiece of a Heritage Park being developed by the Coronation and District Historical and Museum Society. The building derives its historical significance from its association with Alberta's railway history.

This residence was built in 1911, originally to house a section crew, then as a home for the foreman, and only in 1927 did it become the road master’s house. It is a wood frame building that is still sheathed in its original red insulbrick siding. Constructed according to a standard plan, the one and one-half-storey house has intersecting gable roofs over a T-shaped footprint. The Coronation Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Road master’s house is a typical example of the kind of building erected by the various railways across western Canada. Its design is both simple and well considered, resulting in a functional yet pleasing structure. Such buildings are becoming increasingly rare, especially ones which are unaltered and on their original site.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0808
Designation File: DES 2033
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 25965
Website Link:
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. 2033)
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