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Key Number: HS 64268
Site Name: Saint Mary's Parish Hall
Other Names: CNR Station
Site Type: 0803 - Transportation - Rail Facility: Station
1605 - Religious: Church Hall, Parish Hall or Meeting Hall


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
23 1 5

Address: 141 - 18 Avenue SW
Number: 41
Street: 1 SW
Avenue: 18 SW
Town: Calgary
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular Short Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 2 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Stone
Superstructure: Stone
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Attached, Irregular
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 1 Bay
Number of Bays - Facade: Second Floor, 1 Bay
Wall Design and Detail: Other
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim - Eaves: Brackets
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Metal
Dormer Type: Swept
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Centre
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Side Left
Chimney Location - Front to Rear: Offset Front
Chimney Location - Front to Rear: Offset Rear
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Material: Metal
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Flat Arch, Vertical Joint
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Metal
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Stone
Window - Opening Mechanism: Fixed
Window - Special Types: Semi-Circular
Window - Pane Arrangements: 9 over 1
Main Entrance - Location: Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Moulded Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Moulded
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Flat Transom, Single Light
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 2
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: First or Ground Floor, Closed Railing
Main Stairs - Direction: Straight
Exterior: Foundation: sandstone blocks, high basement.
Structure: sandstone blocks.
Covering: blocks left rock-face exterior.
Roof type: Gambrel - Boomtown Number of Storeys: 2 1/2 plus high basement.
Six dormers on a side, protruding cornice on boomtown front facade, rough stone lintels, four protruding column - like structures on front facade, one semi-circular window on upper front centre.
Foundation: Paskapoo sandstone blocks (main building); 1st addition - concrete; 2nd - concrete Structure: Main building - sandstone, rough cut; 1st addition - brick; 2nd addition - wood.
Covering: main - rough cut Paskapoo sandstone, 1st addition - common bond brick; 2nd addition - wood.
Roof type: Main building - gambrel roof with 12 mansard dormers; 1st and 2nd addition - tin sheets.
Plan Shape: rectangular.
Number of storeys: 3 on main building and 1 on additions.

Main building - 4 engaged smooth dressed sandstone pilasters; large parapet and triangular pediment; corbelling on cornice and pediment; central section has 1 arched window; surrounded by rough cut sandstone blocks; all other windows rectangular with sandstone lintels and sills; 1st addition - brick radiating voussoirs and sandstone sills; 2nd addition - wood frames; all windows on complex boarded over large bracketed wooden awning on east elevation, entire length of building.

This gambrel-roofed structure is constructed of quarry-faced sandstone with a classically-inspired facade. Divided into three bays by pilasters, the facade rises one storey above the eaves-line to conceal the true shape of the roof. A pediment caps the central bay, and the sandstone false-front extends to either side with an exaggerated cornice of pressed metal. Features of this building characteristic of Catholic building include the numerous gables projecting above the roofline and the vertical emphasis of the classically-inspired elevations.
Interior: The interior has been badly destroyed by a recent fire. All railway ties and rails removed. (1980).
Environment: St. Mary's Hall is located in the historic 'mission' area of Calgary on the banks of the Elbow River where Father Lacombe built a mission in the early 1880s. It is close to Sacred Heart Convent St. Mary's Cathedral. Railway yards. Located near Holy Cross Hospital, near Elbow River and Stampede Park.
Condition: Poor (1980) Good (1995)
Alterations: 1951 - extension of one room. 2 building additions on south elevation.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Usage: Usage Date:
C.N.R. Station
St. Mary's Parish Hall / Boy's school / Convent
C.N.R. Offices

Owner: Owner Date:
Catholic Dioscese
The City of Calgary
Architect: O'Gara
Builder: Hodgson
Craftsman: N/A
History: First used as Saint Mary's Hall, later was C.N. Station.
1905 - construction date.
Used as a Boy's School from 1905-10 in association with the convent.
1911 - bought by C.N.R. and used for offices.
1916 - converted into a station.
1951 - extension added.
1971 - abandoned.
Relatively early for sandstone architecture in Calgary and Alberta.

* * *
This building is a three storey sandstone structure constructed in 1905. Originally called St. Mary's Hall, it was purchased by the C.N.R. in 1911 for use as office space, but the austerities forced upon the company by the First World War convinced them to convert the old hall into a station, which opened in 1916. Aside from the extension of one room in 1951, it has remained unaltered since then.
The conversion of such a building into a railway station was without precedent at the time, and it remains unique in the province. It has been abandoned since 1971.

* * *
- The hall is situated on part of the original homestead of Father Lacombe which he acquired in 1884.
- The building was erected by the Oblates in 1905 east of St. Mary's Church.
- From 1907-1910 the basement was used as classrooms by the separate school board under teacher Willim Ryder, the first man to teach in this system.
- In 1911, it was sold to the Canadian Northern Railway for $60,000 and converted into a station.
- Between 1911 and 1912, the company had considered building a larger terminal here but shelved their plans.
- By 1914, Bishop McNally and each Bishop which followed, attempted to rent back the hall.
- During its stint as a R.R. Station, two freight sheds were added to the original structure:
- one 525' x 40' for outgoing freight
- one 600' x 60' for incoming freight
- 30' x 100' express shed
- 30' x 60' baggage room
- Eventually, there were eleven tracks with the roundhouse nearby.
- The building was last used as a train station on July 5, 1971.

* * *
Old CN Station / St. Mary's Parish Hall

The Old Station / St. Mary's Parish Hall is a distinctive Alberta landmark of major historical importance. Originally constructed as a parish hall and later converted into a railway station, this unique sandstone building has experienced a multi-faceted use unprecedented in Alberta's history.

THE EARLY DAYS (1905-1911): The Oblate Fathers were significant pioneers of religious and cultural education in the Calgary area.
Early residents of the Mission area, then known as Rouleauville, and the greater Calgary community benefited from the church's initiative in 1905, when James O'Hara was commissioned to design a parish hall to meet the expanding needs of the church and community. A 'magnificent stone building with sumptuous appointments' was constructed on a site located within Father Lacombe's original homestead of 1884. The contractors, Hodgson and Bates, used Paskapoo sandstone blocks to erect a three-story building which remains characteristic of the period. The parish hall seated 500 people and was used for recitals, concerts, plays and also housed 19 societies and clubs. From 1907 to 1910, the St. Mary's day school used the basement level as their first home and the local Ukrainian community also used the parish hall for worship and social activities.

THE RAILWAY DAYS (1911 - 1971): In 1911, Canadian Northern Railways purchased St. Mary's Parish Hall with the intention of building a Calgary terminal to serve the growing passenger and freight traffic destined for the city. The company used the building as office space from 1911 to 1913. The economic downturn and the commencement of the war prevented the company's expansionary plans for a new station and necessitated that the original parish hall be adapted for commercial rail use. A major conversion was completed in 1916 and remains characteristic of period railway architecture. Included in the conversion was the construction of a brick addition at the south end of the building and an exterior platform and boardwalk. As the station's needs grew, its surrounding track capacity was expanded and a roundhouse was built nearby. A second woodframe addition was constructed in 1951. The CNR terminus was maintained as an essential railway depot servicing the needs of Calgarians up to 1971, at which time operations were discontinued.

THE PERIOD OF NEGLECT (1971 - 1984): The building has been left unused since 1971. Over this period of time, considerable vandalism has occurred throughout the building. In addition, a fire extensively damaged the interior of the building and the east wall canopy. The lack of attention to the building has resulted in exposure to the elements and severe weathering. The City of Calgary acquired the building from CN Rail as part of a larger purchase of CN lands in 1979.

TODAY AND TOMORROW (1984 - ): The Old CN Station / St. Mary's Parish Hall is today designated as a Provincial Historical Resource. The Calgary City Ballet Society has undertaken the task of rehabilitating this significant historic resource with the intention of developing a home for its ballet company and school of ballet. The project contemplates the restoration of the exterior of the building as closely as possible to original conditions in a manner consistent with its railway heritage. The interior of the building will be renovated to provide the necessary facilities for the Calgary City Ballet and will also house Calgary's Urban Studies Centre. Involved in the development of the Urban Studies Centre are the Society for the Preservation of Architectural Resources in Calgary, the Alberta Association of Architects - Southern Chapter, the Alberta Historical Society - Chinook Chapter, the Alberta Association of Landscape Architects, the Licensed Interior Designers Institute of Alberta and the Canadian Railroad Historical Association - Calgary and Southwestern Division.

* * *
Between 1911 and 1912 the Canadian North Railway, one of the major developers of the west, had considered building a larger terminal at this site, but with the bursting of the expansion bubble in 1912 shelved their plans. By 1914 Bishop McNally was attempting to rent the hall back again, an attempt that was unsuccessful, although each Bishop that followed made some effort to regain the building.
This building has therefore considerable historical importance, both from its connection with early Catholic history, and as the CNR station for many years. While it was being used as a station, the railway added two freight sheds to the sandstone structure. One was 525 x 40 ft., for outgoing freight, another 600 x 60 ft for incoming freight, along with a 30 x 100 ft. express shed and a 30 x 60 ft.
baggage room. Eventually there were eleven tracks, with the roundhouse nearby. The building was last used as a train station on July 5, 1971.
* * *

The hall is situated on part of the original homestead of Father Lacombe which he acquired in 1884. From 1907 to 1910 the basement was used as classrooms by the Separate School Board, under teacher William Ryder, the first man to teach in this system. In 1911 it was sold to the Canadian Northern Railway for $60,000, and converted it into a station.

This building was erected by the Oblates in 1905, east of St. Mary's Church, and was designed by James O'Gara, architect, and built by Hodgson and Bates.
* * *

Alberta News Release Government of Alberta
June 3, 1982 Edmonton, Alberta

The former C.N.R. Station located in southwest Calgary has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource, announced Mary J.
LeMessurier, Minister of Culture.

The building was originally constructed in 1905 as a hall for the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Mary's. James O'Gara was the architect and Hodson and Bates the contractors. The Hall is essentially a rectangular three storey sandstone box with one decorated facade and a small brick addition at the rear. The decorated facade is distinguished by its classically inspired details.

In 1911, the Canadian Northern Railway acquired the Hall and used it as an office until 1915. It was then converted to the 17th Avenue Station because wartime austerity prevented construction of a new facility. The large overhanging eave and a waiting room were added to support this new function. Although currently vacant, the structure is a model of the ease with which buildings can be adapted and reused.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Provincial Historic Resource

Register: 06-103
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1993/06/04


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0541
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