Canadian Pacific Railway Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Empress, Alberta
Corner view of Canadian Pacific Railway Station, showing both the back and side façades. (© Great Plains Research, B. Potyondi, April 1991.)
General view of the place
(© Great Plains Research, B. Potyondi, April 1991.)
Address : Railway Ave. and Centre Street, Empress, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1991-06-10
  • 1914 to 1914 (Construction)
  • 1914 to 1972 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Thomas G. Shaughnessy  (Person)
  • Canadian Pacific Railway  (Organization)
  • C.W. Sharpe and Son  (Builder)
Research Report Number: RS-051

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian Pacific Railway Station at Empress Alberta is a charming, finely detailed single storey standard plan wooden station built in 1914. The wild rose of Alberta is carved in its roofline to signal train passengers they had crossed the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. This station is prominently located at the foot of the town’s main commercial street.

Heritage Value

An excellent example of a prairie divisional point station built during the heyday of the CPR's competitive branch line expansion led by Thomas G. Shaughnessy, the Empress Canadian Pacific Railway Station is valued for both its historical and its architectural qualities.

It is the only station built to Standard Plan X-12 in Alberta. It employs simple wooden materials in a picturesque design that is well-integrated, carefully executed, and distinguished by large windows, Stick-style features and ornamental pressed metal wild roses at the ends of the roof ridge cap. The layout of the station successfully incorporates the necessary functions of a divisional point station including passenger, freight, and telegraph facilities, as well as office space for the roadmaster.

The station’s location at the foot of the main commercial street is witness to its seminal role in establishing the community. CPR divisional point designation both initiated the development of Empress and assured its early growth.

Heritage Character Statement, Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Empress, Alberta, January 1992. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-051, June 1991.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Empress Canadian Pacific Railway Station include: its rectangular footprint, single storey form and high, dominant rooflines, its simple domestic scale, its picturesque massing: in particular its variable rooflines, wide overhanging eaves supported on exaggerated wooden brackets, track side bay window and overall asymmetrical composition, evidence of Stick Style design principles in the composition of its exterior details: in particular, strong horizontal bands, wide window and door casings, transom lights, grouped windows, and variable surface textures (the contrast of glass and wood, areas where smooth wooden banding delineates textured infill panels of wooden shingles and horizontal clapboard), the integration of fenestration patterns and details as design components: including the height, grouping and location of apertures, and the use of transom lights, double hung and casement windows with muntin bars, its original exterior materials, in particular wooden materials like clapboard and shingle, and metal materials including the rolled metal ridge cap, ornamental spire, and pressed metal roses, features of the interior that witness the original layout of the station according to Standard Plan X-12: in particular the subdivision of functional spaces in the interior, the central high ceiling of the waiting room, the former operator's bay, the former baggage area, its original interior materials and finishes, deployment of the Alberta wild rose as a design element in recognition of the location of the station near the Alberta – Saskatchewan border.