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Key Number: HS 38626
Site Name: Canadian Northern Railway Station - Smoky Lake
Other Names:
Site Type: 0803 - Transportation - Rail Facility: Station


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
59 17 4

Town: Smoky Lake
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Superstructure Cover: Composition: Plaster or Stucco
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Environment: N/A
Condition: N/A
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Owner: Owner Date:

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A

HISTORICAL CONTEXT: In 1918, with World War I coming to a close, the Canadian government announced its plans for a Soldiers Settlement Board to help relocate returned veterans on lands in the more remote areas of the province. As a result, the Canadian Northern Railway was moved to extend a branch line to the northeast of Edmonton which, the following year, would pass near the small hamlet of Smoky Lake. Here a store and post office had existed since 1909. A townsite was soon subdivided near the store and a railway station erected next to the track. The station was designed to a standard "third class" Canadian Northern pattern, and built to a plan identified as 100-72, which was typical for smaller communities. Included were a waiting room, two bathrooms and a ticket room/office. A telegraph was installed in the office. A coal bin was attached to the exterior, while the second floor contained living quarters for the station agent and his family.

By the time the station was completed, the Canadian Northern Railway had been taken over by the Canadian government, which also took over the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In 1920, these lines were consolidated into the Canadian National Railway. Though a number of lines were soon abandoned as a result of the merger, and a number of stations closed down, the station a Smoky Lake proceeded to do a good business as so much farm land had been opened up to the north and east of Smoky Lake following the war. The area was largely an extension of the Ukrainian Block, earlier settled to the south.

The Canadian National station at Smoky Lake continued to serve the community and district throughout the prosperous times of the late 1920's, the difficult times of the 1930's, the busy times of the 1940's, and the continuing prosperity of the 1950's. In the late 1930's, along with other CN stations, its siding was replaced with stucco, to give it a more modern appearance. In the 1960's however, despite the more efficient replacement of coal with diesel for fuel, rail transport in the district began to decline, as it did elsewhere in Canada. Improved roads were making motor transport more cost effective. Finally, in the late 1980's, long after passenger traffic had been curtailed, Smoky Lake ceased to be a shipment center for CN altogether. The station therefore became redundant and was scheduled for demolition. A group of local residents however quickly formed the Friends of the Smoky Lake Railway Station, and purchased the structure from CN. It was then located in a block closer to the center of town and restored during the early 1990's. It has since been used as a visitor information booth, with space set aside for museum and art gallery purposes.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The historical significance of the Canadian Northern Railway Station at Smoky Lake lies in its provision of structural evidence of the village, and later town, of Smoky Lake since it was subdivided in 1919. It was the focus of all rail transport, both passenger and freight, in and out of the community until the 1980's. The station is also important as a good example of a standard 3rd class Canadian Northern railway station, which was common throughout western Canada during most of the 20th century.

* * *

The Canadian Northern Railway Station is a 1919, one and one-half storey building situated on one lot on Railway Drive in the Town of Smoky Lake. The site is adjacent to the abandoned railway right-of-way that now serves as a portion of the Iron Horse Trail, a regional recreational corridor. The station is a "Third Class" station, constructed according to Plan 100-72, and features a white stucco exterior with green trim, a hipped roof over the main station area, two gabled wall dormers on the front and back elevations, and a low-pitched gable roof over the baggage area. A wide eave with large brackets extends along the platform.


The heritage value of the Canadian Northern Railway (C.No.R.) Station at Smoky Lake lies in its architectural significance as a fine example of a Third Class, Plan 100-72 railway station and in its symbolic value as an emblem of the central role of railways in opening the province to settlement and agriculture.

In 1918, as World War One neared its conclusion, the federal government established the Soldiers' Settlement Board, an agency designed to assist returning veterans acquire land and reintegrate into civilian life. In response to the initiative, the C.No.R. extended its line northeast of Edmonton to Smoky Lake, a community perceived to be an ideal venue for the repatriated soldiers. In 1919, the C.No.R. built a "Third Class", Plan 100-72 station at Smoky Lake to serve the community. The station was typical of small rural stations constructed at the time. Designed by influential Winnipeg architect, Ralph Benjamin Pratt, the station featured a high hipped roof with gabled dormers - an architectural element that Pratt effectively developed into an instantly recognizable trademark for C.No.R. stations. The main floor included a waiting area and office while the second storey provided living quarters for the station agent. A baggage room to the west offered space for freight storage. When it was initially built, the station's exterior was clad in wood shingling. In 1920, the C.No.R. was amalgamated into the Canadian National Railway (C.N.R.); in 1936, the C.N.R. covered the shingle siding in stucco and added the company's corporate colours of forest green and gold to the building's trim - a standard C.N.R. practice that homogenized the appearance of stations along lines absorbed by the company. The station was closed in the 1980s. The Smoky Lake C.No.R. Station is one of the oldest surviving examples of this particular type of depot in Alberta.

With the gradual disappearance of early train stations from Alberta's communities, buildings like the Smoky Lake C.No.R. Station have gained increased historic significance as potent structural reminders of the essential role that the railways played in establishing settlement and agricultural economy in the province.

Source: Alberta Community Development, Heritage Resource Management Branch (File: Des. 1871)


The character-defining elements of the C.No.R. Station include such features as:
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- cedar-shingled hipped roof over main station area;
- low-pitched, cedar-shingled gable roof over baggage area with very wide, open bracketed eaves;
- corbelled brick chimney;
- forest green and gold colouring of trim;
- square, centrally-located bay on the east side of building;
- gabled wall dormers on the front and back elevations;
- fenestration pattern and style, including nine-over-one double-hung sash units;
- original door pattern and style, including standard five panel interior doors and two freight doors in the baggage room;
- tongue-and-groove wood flooring in main station area;
- rough lumber flooring in baggage area;
- original mouldings, staircases, and fixtures;
- original artifacts associated with the site.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1990/10/26


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-1075
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