Canadian National Railways/VIA Rail Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Chatham, Ontario
Exterior photo (© Historica Research Limited, August 1992.)
Exterior photo
(© Historica Research Limited, August 1992.)
Address : Queen & William Streets, Chatham, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1995-11-24
  • 1879 to 1879 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Joseph Hobson  (Architect)
Research Report Number: RS-261

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian National Railways/VIA Rail Station at Chatham is a one-and-a-half-storey, brick railway station, built in 1879. It is located in a mixed commercial area, south of the city centre of Chatham-Kent . The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.

Heritage Value

Built by the Great Western Railway (GWR) just before its takeover by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), the Canadian National Railways/VIA Rail Station at Chatham represents the 1870-90 phase of railway expansion in Ontario. Located on the shortest route between the American east and Midwest, Chatham served as a key railway transfer point. The station’s location on the outskirts of town impacted the development of the local business area and transport systems.

The Chatham station is a good example of a standard GWR station of its time. One of nine surviving stations designed by Joseph Hobson as chief engineer for the GWR and later the GTR, its Gothic Revival design and brick construction typify Hobson’s work for the GWR.

The station retains its relationship with an adjacent freight shed of similar Gothic design and brick construction.

Sources: Heritage Character Statement, VIA Rail (former Canadian National Railways) Station, Chatham, Ontario, March 26, 1996; Anne M. de Fort-Menares, Railway Station Report 261, Canadian National Railways/VIA Rail Station (Former Great Western Railway), Chatham, Ontario.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Canadian National Railways/VIA Rail Station at Chatham include: its massing, consisting of: a long, low rectangular block; capped by a steeply sloping hip roof with three, large transverse gables the continuous sheltering platform canopy on all sides of the station, sitting separate from the roof and below eave level; its bargeboard edging; and the large wood brackets with scroll-sawn detailing supporting the canopy at regular intervals the linearity of the design, emphasized by the brick banding, strong canopy line and symmetrical placement of the gables its Gothic Revival design, evident in: the steeply pitched roof; polychromatic brick walls; projecting banding; window voussoirs; decorative limestone accents; lancet-arch windows; trefoil dormers; canopy bargeboard; and bracket detailing its distinctive roof, consisting of a steeply pitched hip roof intersected by a central transverse gable; and by hipped gables at either end of the main roof; and enlivened by small trefoil dormers on the street (south) elevation features typical of Joseph Hobson’s work, including: Gothic Revival design; brick construction; distinctive roofline; projecting operator’s bay, sheltering canopy and hierarchy of passenger and business doors any interior early finishes that could survive beneath later layers.