Canadian National Railway Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Sherbrooke, Quebec
Corner view of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, showing both the back and side façades, 1991. (© Photographie Jacqueline hallé, 1991.)
General view of the place
(© Photographie Jacqueline hallé, 1991.)
Address : 50-80 Depot Street, Sherbrooke, Quebec

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1991-11-22
  • 1890 to 1890 (Construction)
  • 1907 to 1907 (Addition)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Canadian National Railways  (Organization)
  • Grand Trunk Railway  (Organization)
  • E.P. Hannaford  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Grand Trunk Railway Station  (Other Name)
  • VIA Rail Railway Station  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: RS-069

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian National Railway (CNR) station in Sherbrooke Quebec is located at 50-80 Depot St. (rue du Dépot) in the centre of the city. It is a substantial two one-storey gambrel roofed wings on either side of a 1 ½ storey central pavillion Victorian station, with elegant picturesque details that incorporates both the main passenger terminal (built in 1890) and an express annex (built in 1907).

Heritage Value

The CNR station in Sherbrooke Quebec has been designated a heritage railway station for interest in its historical and architectural plan and for its importance in its milieu.

The Sherbrooke station was constructed by the GTR in 1890 during a period of rationalizing its facilities in a competitive railway environment. By 1890 the GTR had absorbed many small railway companies in central Canada: one of them was the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway line, on which Sherbrooke was located. In 1890, Sherbrooke became a major GTR depot. Not only did this new role bring considerable railway employment to Sherbrooke, it also provided a stable base of transportation that allowed Sherbrooke to develop the textile and pulp and paper industries that made it a major regional economic centre. This impetus continued to 1950, long after Canadian National Railways absorbed the GTR in 1923.

The Sherbrooke station was designed by E.P. Hannaford, Chief Engineer of the GTR, as a symbol of company presence. The main building, constructed in 1890, was an elegant Victorian brick structure with an imposing roof rich in ornamental detail as was typical of important railway stations of the time. A separate express building was added in 1907. The station is situated in the centre of Sherbrooke close to the commercial area in the heart of a significant railway maintenance yard.

Heritage value of the Sherbrooke CNR station resides in the overall composition of its design including its scale, roof form, aperture disposition, window configuration, exterior cladding and decorative details. It also lies in the station’s relationship to its railway yard and its community.

· Heritage Character Statement, Grand Trunk Railway Station, Sherbrooke, Quebec, February 1992. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-069, 1991.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Sherbrooke Canadian National Station include:
its two-part footprint consisting of a large rectangular form for the main station and a smaller one to the south for the express building, massing of the main section of the building as two one-storey gambrel roofed wings on either side of a 1 ½ storey central pavillion with a pitched roof and a high central transverse gable, and massing of the express building as a single storey building under a high pitched roof, the presence of a porte-cochere joining the two structures, the generous scale and substantial proportions of both the main building and the annex, the balance inherent in their vertical and horizontal definition, the rhythmic placement of its arcaded apertures and brackets of the main building, the intricacy and prominence of its roof definition from all four perspectives, the smooth aesthetic integration of special railway features such as a projecting telegrapher’s bay and broad eaves to provide passenger shelter, the Victorian inspiration of its picturesque details: multi-levelled roof forms, arcaded multi-paned paired windows, prominent brackets, broad eaves, distinctive gable with its medallion shaped datestone, the presence of a porte cochere, the use of wooden lattice as a decorative feature on windows and the telegrapher’s bay, the varying textures of matching original materials on both the main building and the annex: stone foundations, polychromatic brick walls, arcading and creation of a bay pedestal in contrasting brick, wood brackets, decorative details, doors and windows, any and all original fabric still surviving inside the station, any and all indications of its original functional and spatial configuration, the integrity of longstanding patterns of circulation and access, including the integrity of the porte-cochere and platform joining the two station buildings, the overall integrity of the form, plan, material, and detail of the station’s two-part building.