Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Cobourg, Ontario
Exterior photo (© (M. Carter, Heritage Research Associates, 1993.))
Exterior photo
(© (M. Carter, Heritage Research Associates, 1993.))
Address : 563 George Street, Cobourg, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1994-03-10
  • 1910 to 1911 (Construction)
  • 1896 to 1896 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • J.M. Bearbrook  (Architect)
  • L.M. Watts  (Architect)
Research Report Number: RS-202

Description of Historic Place

The Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station at Cobourg is a one-storey, brick-and-stone railway station, built in 1911 in the Romanesque Revival style. It is located high on a hill, midway between the historic downtown and the suburban commercial area of the city of Cobourg. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.

Heritage Value

The Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station at Cobourg represents the Grand Trunk Railway’s (GTR) efforts to consolidate existing facilities and maintain its dominance in the lucrative Ontario markets, in the face of rising competition from rival railways. The construction of a replacement station at Cobourg helped propel the town’s agricultural and tourism economy during the pre-war period of prosperity.

The Cobourg railway station is a good example of a late, Romanesque Revival railway station. Designed by GTR architect J.M. Bearbrook in 1896, and adapted for use in 1910-11 by GTR architect L.M. Watts, its features are characteristic of late-19th-century Victorian design.

The station retains its relationship to its site, including the adjacent tracks and sidings and the associated adjacent area of industrial and residential development. The building is prominently located and is considered locally significant.

Sources: Heritage Character Statement, VIA Rail Station, Cobourg, Ontario, March 1994; M. Carter, Railway Station Report 202, Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station, Cobourg, Ontario.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station at Cobourg include: its simple and essentially symmetrical massing, consisting of a rectangular, hip- roofed, centre block, flanked by equal; slightly lower and narrower, hip-roofed wings, with central, hip-roofed bays projecting from the centre block on both track and street elevations; features characteristic of late-19th-century Victorian design, including the polychromatic use of materials, the broad, hipped roofs and the wide, arched openings; its Romanesque Revival style, evident in the solid base of battered, rock-faced, coursed ashlar, the distinct separation of gray, granite base and dark-red, brick wall, the wide-arched window and door openings, the proportions of window to wall surface which maintains the dominance of the wall, the strongly fortified corners with hammered-finish, granite quoins and the wide, projecting eaves; its uniformly pitched, hip-roofed form, with a slight bell cast at the eave; the limited range of building materials, including red brick walls, stone base and trim, and wood window units; its cut-stone trim, including keyed door-and-window jambs with arched, moulded tops, a projecting, moulded belt course, corner quoins, lug sills at shorter windows and a rock-faced, coursed base rising to window-sill height; the regular placement and configuration of wide, arched window openings, varied by the incorporation of functionally placed doors within the window units; surviving original wood doors; surviving original wood window units, consisting of a single, double or triple division with one-over-one, double-hung sash and superimposed, leaded-glass transom; surviving original interior woodwork in the waiting room, including: “V”-joint, ceiling boarding, bracketed ceiling cornice, picture moulding, window-and-door trim and elaborate, boarded wainscot; surviving original interior woodwork in the baggage room, including “V”-joint, wall boarding, window-and-door trim and simple, boarded wainscot.