VIA Rail - Canadian National Railway Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Churchill, Manitoba
View of the back of the train station, 1991. (© Murray Peterson, 1991.)
Rear elevation
(© Murray Peterson, 1991.)
Address : Kelsey Blvd., Churchill, Manitoba

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1992-06-04
  • 1929 to 1930 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Canadian National Railways  (Organization)
  • Hudson Bay Railway  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Hudson Bay Railway Station  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: RS-086

Description of Historic Place

The VIA Rail - Canadian National Railway Station at Churchill Manitoba is a substantial, picturesque station with a dominant central tower. Situated at the corner of First St. and Railway Avenue, it is one of the oldest and most important buildings in the community.

Heritage Value

The VIA Rail - Canadian National Railway Station at Churchill Manitoba has been designated a heritage railway station primarily for its historical, but also for its environmental significance.

It was built in 1929-30 to serve as the terminus of the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), and operated by Canadian National Railways (CNR) and VIA Rail for many years. Its history illustrates the HBR’s crucial role in the development of northern Manitoba. Not only did the railway spawn numerous towns along its right-of-way, but it also stimulated development of an international seaport at Churchill to move western grain to European markets. Construction of this station in conjunction with the port and the railway initiated development of the modern community of Churchill.

Churchill, like so many western Canadian towns, began with railway construction that included building a station. The community’s roads were surveyed, named or numbered starting at the station. Typically, the Churchill station is situated at the intersection of First Street and Railway Avenue.

Today the station is the last structure remaining from Churchill’s original period of HBR construction. It has always been adequate to serve the community’s needs because it was larger and more ornate than the size of the community warranted when it was built. Its appearance is a testament to the belief of the railway’s sponsor, the CNR, in the potential of both the HBR and its terminal port.

The heritage value of the Churchill station resides in those aspects of its design that relate to its role as the terminus station on the Hudson Bay Railway, its period of construction, and its place in the Churchill environment.

Heritage Character Statement, Canadian National Railways Station, Churchill, Manitoba, April 1992. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-086, 1991.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Churchill VIA Rail - Canadian National Railway Station include: its rectangular footprint that becomes modestly cruciform where blunt shallow bays project on both the track and town sides, its dominant 2 storey cube-like massing under a recessed medium-pitched roof cut by gables and an off-centre tower with a high pitched cross-gable roof peak, and a 1-storey south end express shed with a hipped roof and bellcast eaves, its substantial proportions, its layered vertical definition supported by its rooflines, its projecting ground storey platform canopy, and its prominent wainscot / wear strip definition, the counterbalance inherent in the placement of its off-centre tower and single express extension, the rhythmic horizontal placement of its second storey gables, 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, a projecting entrance and ticket office, a broad canopy to provide passenger shelter, the picturesque inspiration of its details: its irregular roof forms, its irregular windows forms (different on 1st and 2nd storeys), its broad bellcast eaves, its gables and tower, the integrity of its original materials: asbestos-cement shingle walls with wood details, false half-timber and stucco second storey bay materials, its platform wood-frame construction technology, any and all original fabric and furnishings inside the station, in particular those of the surviving manager's office, ticket counter, and the building’s second storey trim, its dual railroad depot / residential function, continued legibility of its original functional sub-division into passenger, crew, freight, express, and residential stationmaster and crew areas, continued legibility of the spatial volumes originally associated with specific functional configurations, the continuity of longstanding circulation patterns, the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, material, and detail.