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  CPR park 1919

Forth Junction Project
Michael Dawe

Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society

The history of Red Deer's CPR Station
reprinted from Red Deer Express April 18, 2007

One of the most important public buildings in Red Deer for many years, and an architectural jewel in downtown Red Deer, is the old Canadian Pacific Railway station.

Situated on the west end of Ross St., Red Deer's main east-west thoroughfare, the building is a true landmark.

When the Calgary-Edmonton Railway was first built in 1890-1891 and the townsite of Red Deer was created, the company built a small railroad station in less than three weeks.
While the structure was improved and expanded over the next 15 years, it was never really adequate for handling the traffic coming in and out of Red Deer.

In 1907, the C.P.R., which had taken over the operation of the C.&E. Railway, decided to make Red Deer a major divisional point. An extensive set of improvements were made to the rail yards. A new water tower, coal chutes, a large new roundhouse, stockyards and a steel rail bridge across the Red Deer River were constructed.

As the project came to a climax, the company decided to finish off with a large, new and very impressive station.

Since the railroad station was the major transportation hub for the community, the company decided to place it on the end of Ross St., so that it would be visible from all points along the main street.

This meant that the old station had to be moved to the south, where it was re-used as a freight office.

Fredrick Crossley, the C.P.R. architect in Winnipeg was given the job of drawing the plans for the new building. He decided to pattern the Red Deer station after the one which had been already built in Lethbridge.

The building was to have a central polygonal tower with a conical roof. The projecting eves of the long low roofline were to be supported by large brackets. Sandstone lintels and sills were used around the windows to give the brick structure an even more impressive appearance.

The main floor of the building was to consist of a baggage room on the south end and the Express office on the opposite end. Between these two rooms was to be a large general waiting room with a 14-foot ceiling.

There were to be men's and women's washrooms, with a ladies "retiring room" and a men's "smoking compartment" between the two washrooms. The ticket office to be located at the rear sextagonal window.

There were apartments on the upper floor as many of the train crews needed a place to stay overnight while the trains were assembled and disassembled at the divisional point. The furnace and coal storage area were located in the basement.

Work began on the building in the spring of 1910.

J. McDermid and Company of Winnipeg acted as the general contractors. As the station was being completed, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, made an official visit to Red Deer in August 1910. Pictures of the official party at the station show that many of the window casings had not been installed yet.

By fall, the station was completed and fully operational. The total cost of the new building was $34,050, a very impressive sum in a day when $2 per day was considered a pretty good wage.

Red Deer was very proud of its impressive new station. However, with the city growing very rapidly, it soon proved to be too small. In 1912, a 20-foot addition was added onto the south end to provide space for the Dominion Express Office.

As rail passenger traffic declined in the 1970s, the station was used less and less by the public.

In the late 1980s, work began on moving the rail yards out of the downtown and relocating them to the west side of the city.

There were serious proposals to demolish the station and to extend Ross St. westwards over the old station site and to a new bridge across the Red Deer River.

However, the federal government intervened. The building was designated under the Heritage Railway Station Protection Act in 1990. It was only one of two railroad stations in Alberta to get the federal designation.

In May 1991, the station was designated as a municipal heritage resource by Red Deer City council. The Province of Alberta made it a Provincial Historic Resource in April 1993.

In 1995, the station was purchased, restored and remodelled into architect, law and real estate offices. After a number of years of decline and neglect, the building was restored to its original magnificent appearance.

       An early community landmark - the Michener Fountain
(Red Deer Express June 2011)
       CPR Station Park once shining jewel of Red Deer (Red Deer Express June 2009)
Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge now 100 years old (Red Deer Advocate June 2009) 
       Red Deer's downtown hotels have celebrated history
(Red Deer Express June 2009)
       Red Deer becomes a divisional point for CPR
(Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)
       The Michener Fountain
(Red Deer Express July 2005)

Red Deer once had four railway stations
Canadian Pacific Railway Stations in Central Alberta
Red Deer 1910 CPR station 'jewel' still dominates Ross Street

Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CPR)
Calgary and Edmonton Railway at Red Deer (CPR)

       News article: Arches mark influence of railroad on city
(Red Deer Advocate Oct.2013)
       News article: A new face for the old station
(Red Deer Life July 1996)

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