VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station
Heritage Railway Station of Canada
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1992.
Fisher Avenue East, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
1908 to 1908
Event, Person, Organization:
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Midland Railway of Manitoba
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company Chief Engineer's Office, Montréal
Portage la Prairie Union Depot
Portage la Prairie Union Railway Station
Portage la Prairie Railway Station
Research Report Number:
Description of Historic Place
The VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station at Portage la Prairie is an imposing one-storey brick railway station built in 1908 according to the design of the Chief Engineer’s Office of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company (GTPR). It is located in the City of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, approximately 90 kilometres west of Winnipeg. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.
Built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company and the Midland Railway of Manitoba (MRM), the VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station at Portage la Prairie illustrates the contemporary movement toward shared facilities to reduce the cost and impact of railway development on urban spaces. As the third major railway station in Portage la Prairie, it reflected the optimism of the two railway companies regarding their own future and that of western Canada, representing the key role of the railway in spurring economic development in the city.
The station at Portage la Prairie is typical of early 20th century railway architecture in its simple design and limited use of ornamentation, demonstrating the shift away from more complex designs of earlier Canadian railway stations. It shares common features with other western GTPR stations, but it is larger and unusually elongated, in keeping with its status as a union station. The station retains its relationship with the railway tracks and with a number of rail-dependent industries and older structures in the vicinity, including the nearby Canadian Pacific Railway station.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, CNR/VIA Rail Station, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, May 1993; Murray Peterson, Railway Station Report 132, VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.
Character-defining elements of the VIA Rail/Canadian National Railways Station at Portage la Prairie include: its simple, horizontal massing, consisting of a large, very long one-storey block; its prominent roofline, consisting of a low-pitched, slightly bellcast hip roof that extends to form wide, overhanging eaves on all four sides of the building with two large cross gables at either end; the use of simple materials and detailing to emphasize its horizontal lines, including: the smooth-cut Tyndall-stone base, the red-brick cladding above the base, and a continuous belt course in buff brick at window sill level; the window and door openings with segmented arched heads executed in radiating brick voussoirs; the external expression of original interior functions, including domestic-scale doors leading into the original waiting areas, a large tripartite window in the operator’s bay, and large panel doors indicating the location of baggage and freight areas.