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  CN Red Deer station 1955

Forth Junction Project
Canadian National
Railway in Red Deer

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Forth Junction
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Canadian National Railway
operated in downtown Red Deer
from 1920 to 1960

In 1911, the Canadian Northern Western Railway (a subsidiary of the Canadian Northern Railway) built a line west from a point on their newly-built north-south line west of Stettler to connect with the Nordegg coal mines. The line included a spectacular timber bridge (later upgraded and mostly earth-filled) across the Blindman River at Burbank.

Red Deer CNR station 1955A spur line was built from North Junction near Blackfalds and Burbank south to North Red Deer. The spur was planned to be part of a future north-south line connecting Calgary and Edmonton. The intention was to build a bridge across the Red Deer River into Red Deer but due to other priorities, the bridge was delayed.
A recession, financial troubles and the First World War delayed and ultimately nixed the north-south plan.

However, when the newly-created Canadian National Railways absorbed the bankrupt Canadian Northern, the Grand Trunk Pacific and other railways including the CNWR, a bridge was constructed in 1920 over the river near the mouth of Waskasoo Creek south to Ross Street (where the Co-op Shopping Centre now stands).

Red Deer CNR station 1923A small yard and temporary station was built and the proposed line was graded further south up the escarpment along where Spruce Drive is now located as the new railway temporarily revisited the original vision of a north-south rail line through Red Deer.  


A new station was built (Plan 148) in 1923 (at the current site of Albert's Restaurant) replacing the temporary station.

It was a one-of-a-kind hybrid of a Canadian Northern third class station and a yet-to-be-standardized Canadian National Railways third class station.
The station was 62'x24' with a platform 300'x12'. The main floor had a ticket office, waiting rooms, toilets, baggage and express. On the 2nd floor was a residence.

CN Red Deer River bridge at Red Deer washed outWith the bridge over the Red Deer River being washed out in the spring floods a number of times, the railway abandoned the river crossing in 1941. This was due to the poor choice of location at the mouth of Waskasoo Creek and the lower quality bridge, unlike the CPR bridge that withstood ice jams and flooding year after year.

Red Deer CNR station 1954Service to the Red Deer station grounds continued via a new connecting S-link with the CPR yards further west on which CNR trains shared trackage with CP to the north junction south of Blackfalds for the next 20 years.

After 35 years of continuous service, the last passenger train (mixed) and coincidentally the last steam locomotive left the station in 1955.

The ticket office and waiting rooms were closed and replaced with more freight and express space. The new role of the building initiated a new paint scheme from white/light grey with green trim to oxide red with cream trim.

Red Deer CNR station 1955 The station yards continued to be used until they were relocated to the north side of the river in 1960-61. The station and turntable were removed in 1960.

Trackage rights on the Canadian Pacific line between downtown and North Junction continued to be used for freight only until the mid-1970s to serve a few customers which included Macdonalds Consolidated.

Meanwhile, the abandoned CN yards were redeveloped into the Co-op Shopping Centre (1961) and a series of apartment buildings. The S-link land became the sites of the Red Deer Recreation Centre (1964), Red Deer Lodge hotel (1975), Red Deer Museum and Golden Circle seniors centre (1980).

aerial view of CNR Red Deer line
Top of this 1942 aerial photo above is west (north to the right). The CNR line is close to the bottom (parallel to 47 Ave.) with the washed-out bridge piers over the river on the right and the S-curve track to the CPR yards on the left. The east-west road couplet left of centre is 49th and Ross Streets. The north-south road at the top is Gaetz Ave.

Canadian Northern Western Railway Brazeau Sub
Red Deer once had 4 railway stations
Canadian National Railway stations of Central Alberta

Dawe: A look at the Canadian Northern Railway
(Red Deer Express Jan. 2011)

Rail relocation project a first in Western Canada (Red Deer Advocate June 2010)
Dawe: Rotary Recreation Park area a jewel in heart of city (Red Deer Express Aug.2009)

Note: All renderings are the intellectual property of Paul Pettypiece and may only be used for personal or historical use.



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