Former Grand Trunk Railway Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

St. Marys, Ontario
Corner view of the Former Grand Trunk Railway Station, showing both the back and side façades, 1992. (© M. Carter, 1992.)
General view of the place
(© M. Carter, 1992.)
Address : Glass St., St. Marys, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1992-11-06
  • 1858 to 1858 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Thomas Edison  (Person)
  • Grand Trunk Railway  (Organization)
  • Francis Thompson  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • St. Mary’s Junction Station  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: RS-143

Description of Historic Place

The former Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) station at St. Mary's Junction expresses the design of the initial GTR stations. It was built in 1858, and its mid 19th century Georgian form, stone walls and distinctive roof brackets still distinguish it from its surroundings today. This single storey station stands isolated in a field beside the track at the early railroad junction north of the town of St. Mary’s.

Heritage Value

The station at St. Mary's Junction has been designated a heritage railway station because of its historical, architectural and environmental significance.

The former Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) station at St. Mary's Junction was built in 1858 and is one of the largest and most original surviving GTR stations. Designed as a First Class Way Side Station by British architect Francis Thompson, it follows the modest Italianate style typical of contemporary British station design. It was constructed to the north of the town of St. Mary’s as a (manual) control point for the junction of rail lines from Toronto to Sarnia and to London. Young Thomas Edison worked here as a controller during the early days of the station. By that time St. Mary’s was already an established community, although it subsequently prospered from the nation-wide market the GTR provided for its local limestone.

The heritage value of the St. Mary's Junction Station resides in both its rarity and in the clarity with which it witnesses the design, composition, materials, and setting of original GTR stations. Value resides in its balanced massing and proportions, and in the elements of its design which express the standard early GTR Italianate style, form and detailing.

Source: Heritage Character Statement, former St. Mary’s Grand Trunk Railway Station, May 1993. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-143, 1992.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Former Grand Trunk Railway Station include:
the rectangular footprint and block-like single storey massing of the station under a shallow pitched gable roof, its simple symmetrical composition, balanced proportions, and handsome aspect, the regular definition of its arcaded apertures, its Italianate details: arched openings, deep overhanging eaves, ornate end chimneys, circular gable window vents, the integrity of its exterior materials, particularly its local limestone and wood, the skilled craftsmanship with which its stonework is executed visible in regular stone courses, stone surrounds, arcades and chimneys, its solid wall construction, the integrity of its surviving early interior furnishings and fittings, their (primarily wood) materials, early form, composition, craftsmanship and finishes: including but not exclusive to the station’s tongue-and-groove wainscot, wooden baseboards and picture rails and plaster walls and ceilings, continued legibility of the volumes and functions of specific spaces within the building.