Pictou Railway Station (Intercolonial) National Historic Site of Canada

Pictou, Nova Scotia
Corner view of the façade of the Pictou Railway Station (Intercolonial) showing the main entrance, 1985. (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.)
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.)
Address : 71 Front Street, Pictou, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1976-06-15
  • 1904 to 1904 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Alexander McDonald  (Builder)
Other Name(s):
  • Pictou Railway Station (Intercolonial)  (Designation Name)
  • Pictou Station  (Plaque name)
Research Report Number: 1976-51E, 1974-C, 1998-A06


Existing plaque: On wall of building next to main door - Northumberland Fisheries Museum 71 Front Street, Pictou, Nova Scotia

A station was first built here in 1867 as a terminus for the Intercolonial Railway. This was a government line, incorporating earlier track, which forged a link between the Maritime provinces and central Canada. It became part of the Canadian National Railways in 1923. This station, company designed, was built in 1904. Combining the standard central pavilion form with some atypical details, the design is an aesthetically pleasing one. Elizabethan style gables and the Palladian window in the main bay reflect the eclectic tendency of the period.

Description of Historic Place

The Pictou Railway Station (Intercolonial) National Historic Site of Canada is a former passenger terminal located in the town of Pictou, Nova Scotia. It is a rectangular, two-storey brick building displaying elements of the Chateau style. Detailing includes ornate stonework, Elizabethan gables and a Palladian window in the main bay. A projecting canopy runs the length of the building on both the platform and street-facing elevations. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.

Heritage Value

Pictou Railway Station was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1976 because it is a company designed station, built in 1904, to replace the 1867 terminus that was built for the Intercolonial Railway, a government line, which forged a link between the Maritime provinces and central Canada.

Pictou Railway Station is associated with the early 20th century expansion and updating of the Intercolonial Railway prior to its incorporation into the Canadian National Railways. The period was one of growth and prosperity for the Intercolonial Railway reflecting a general economic upturn and increased government budgets. The Pictou line serviced the Pictou port facilities, which contained the railhead for traffic bound for Prince Edward Island. Passenger service was discontinued in 1963. The former Pictou Station suffered fire damage in 1996 that has since been repaired. The ground floor now houses a museum, a youth centre and community activity offices.

The heritage value of this site resides in those elements of the building that illustrate its original construction as a “Class One” Intercolonial Railway terminal, notably the surviving design, materials and decoration.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, and June 1976.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: the waterfront setting; those elements illustrating the “Class-One” Intercolonial Railway design, including: the rectangular, two-storey massing under a gabled roof; the brick exterior facing; the exterior’s suggestion of Chateau-style detailing with projecting central pavilions, and gables; the remaining Elizabethan-style gables on the waterfront façade; the original placement of doors and windows, with the use of arched and Palladian windows at the second storey level and surviving original openings at ground level; the use of a projecting canopy running the length of the building on both the platform and the street-facing elevations; surviving original interior materials and finishes.