Red Deer station 'jewel'
dominates Ross Street
After taking over the Calgary & Edmonton Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway determined
in 1907 that Red Deer would be the
division point between Calgary and Edmonton. Several improvements
were made to the yard and plant that included a new water tower,
elevated gravity-fed coal chutes, additions to the roundhouse and
stockyards, and a new steel bridge across the Red Deer River to
replace the wooden one built in 1891.
It was fitting and timely that the
company decided to build a new brick station to replace the existing
1891 combination station and freight house under the direction of
CPR architect Fredrick Crossley in a style that was
unique but similar to other major stations built in Western Canada.
Similar stations, but each architecturally unique, had been built at Lethbridge in 1905, Medicine Hat in 1906, Strathcona
in 1907 and Saskatoon in 1907. Characteristics of these
stations included a chateau-style with a central polygonal tower
topped by a conical roof and dormer windows. Local sandstone and
brick added to the impressiveness of the building. Dimensions for
the Red Deer station were 112'x32' for the foundation, 126'x36'
roofline, and inside, a 14' waiting room ceiling.
began in the spring of 1910 using plan X-20B with J. McDermid and
Company of Winnipeg acting as general contractors. It was completed
at a cost of $34,050 in the fall of the same year. It stands at the
head of Ross Street dominating the downtown streetscape even today.
It was/is a 'jewel' for both the CPR and the community.
Photo shows both the new station and the old station on the
north side prior to it being relocated to the south side and rotated
to face the opposite direction (see photo below).
beautiful ornamental park with a fountain was created in 1910
complementing the new station.
Once operational, the 1891 combination station was relocated from
north of the new station to south of it and turned 180 degrees for
use as a freight house until the mid-1960s.
The main floor included a baggage room on the south end and an
express office on the north end with the large waiting room,
washrooms, station operator's office and ticket sales located
between the two. The upper floor contained apartments for overnight
Within a few months of its completion, the new station was getting
crowded and a 20-foot extension was built on the south end for use
as the Dominion Express Office.
(Roof colour is by conjecture as there are no
colour photos of the period although there is a hand-painted b&w
photo showing a green roof)
At some point before 1941, a number of cosmetic changes occurred as
part of its ongoing maintenance that included painting the shingled
upper storey white, a change in roof colour, an additional door on
the streetside, a new chimney on the south end and some changes in
door and trim colour.
In 1969, a major renovation occurred which brought about several
internal and external changes that included a new heating system,
main doors relocated to the bay section both front and back, freight
doors downsized, new windows on the upper floor, cream trim, new
roof and, on the trackside, the addition of an outside door to the
upper floor and repositioning of doors on the lower floor.
By the time passenger rail service ended in 1985, the station was
starting to show its age.
Furthermore, plans were underway to close the station and relocate
the railyards to the west side of the city. That relocation occurred
Also, by this time, the bricks had been painted a number of times,
the most recent a dark red.
relocation of the railyards, plans were also under way to connect
Ross Street with Taylor Drive, initially involving the demolition of
to some fast and intensive work by a few individuals, the station
was federally designated a protected historic site in 1990, mere
days before its scheduled demolition resulting in new plans to route
Ross Street around the station. A few months later it was designated
a municipal historic site and in 1993, a provincial historic
It sat empty for a few years waiting for someone to propose a use
for it. In 1996, it was purchased by architect John Murray and
restored to much of its former glory on the outside and renovated to
office space on the inside.
This restoration included taking the paint off the bricks to reveal
its original salmon colour. The railyards themselves were
redeveloped into commercial and residential use and Taylor Drive was
constructed along the CPR right of way south.
Note: All renderings are the
intellectual property of Paul Pettypiece and may only be used for
personal or historical use. Photos courtesy of Red Deer Archives and