Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (VIA Rail)
Heritage Railway Station of Canada
Duncan, British Columbia
© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada
120 Canada Avenue, Duncan, British Columbia
Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
1912 to 1912
Event, Person, Organization:
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
R.A. Bainbridge, Divisional Engineer, CPR
VIA Rail - Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Station
Duncan Railway Station
Canadian Pacific Railway Station
Duncan VIA Rail Station
Research Report Number:
Description of Historic Place
The former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (VIA Rail) is a two-storey, wooden railway station with a station agent’s living quarters above, built in 1912. It is located in the city of Duncan, in British Columbia. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (VIA Rail) at Duncan reflects the Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CPR) commitment to sustaining the pivotal role of its subsidiary, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (E&N), in the economy of Vancouver Island. This station ensured access to products in the timber, mining and agricultural markets of the Cowichan Valley, and facilitated the expansion of tourism in the area.
Designed by CPR Divisional Engineer R.A. Bainbridge, the generous size and distinctive appearance of this Station reflects the CPR’s optimistic view of Duncan’s prospects as a key stop on the E&N main line.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (VIA Rail) at Duncan serves as a focal point for the downtown area. It has been renovated twice by the community and houses the Cowichan Valley Museum. The station retains its relationship with the tracks and with the generous lawn formerly used as a station garden.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, VIA Rail Station, Duncan, British Columbia, September 1993; and Analytica Associates, Railway Station Report 149, VIA Rail (former Canadian Pacific Railway) Station, Duncan, British Columbia.
Character-defining elements of the former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (VIA Rail) at Duncan include: its rectangular plan, exceptionally long and wide for a CPR station of this era; its low, horizontal form and massing, consisting of a central, two-storey block with flanking one-storey wings all covered by broad, hip roofs; the roof form, consisting of a low, hip roof with deep, overhanging eaves, intersected by a pyramidal, hip roof over the two-storey block, and enlivened by three brick chimneys and two skylights; the use of different materials to provide textural contrast, including shiplap siding with corner boards on the first storey; cedar shingles on the second storey walls; and cedar shingles on the roof; the exterior detailing, including unusually large and detailed, wooden canopy brackets, and a wide finish board at the building’s base; the irregular but balanced arrangement of windows and doors; its surviving original fenestration, including paired six-over-one windows on the first storey, and tripled windows on the second storey, both topped by multi-paned transoms, and two passenger entrances on the track side, framed by side windows and fixed transoms; the surviving original panelled baggage doors on both main elevations; the surviving original interior finishes on the main floor, including traditional wood floors, plaster-on-lath walls covered in burlap, moulded skirting, and crown moulding; the surviving original interior features on the second floor, including wall partitions, room dimensions, wood floors, door and window casings, baseboards and period light fixtures.