Canadian National Railway Station

Heritage Railway Station of Canada

Neepawa, Manitoba
Corner view of the Canadian National Railway Station, showing both the front and side façades, 1996. (© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Murray Peterson, 1996.)
Front elevation
(© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Murray Peterson, 1996.)
Address : 5th Avenue (at Hamilton Street), Neepawa, Manitoba

Recognition Statute: Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 52 (4th Supp.))
Designation Date: 1996-06-05
  • 1902 to 1902 (Construction)
  • 1902 to 1980 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Canadian Northern Railway  (Organization)
  • Canadian National Railways  (Organization)
  • R.B. Pratt  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Canadian Northern Railway Station  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: RS-276

Description of Historic Place

The Canadian National Railway Station at Neepawa is located on Fifth Avenue at the south end of Hamilton St. A picturesque one-and-a-half-storey wooden building with a distinctive roofline, it is now the home of the Beautiful Plains Museum.

Heritage Value

The Canadian National Railway Station at Neepawa was designated a heritage railway station for its historical associations, its architectural design, and its importance within the community and region. It is an early example of the important "Second Class" type of station built by the CNoR in the west.

The Neepawa station was built in 1902 for the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR). Its presence is a testament to the town’s ambitious businessmen who offered the CNoR a lucrative land grant on condition that Neepawa be made a divisional point when the new railway line was constructed. The first regular passenger train came through in November 1902, and within a decade Neepawa had extensive rail yards reflecting its status on the CNoR transcontinental line.

Neepawa’s station represents one of the CNoR's earliest attempts at producing a standard medium-sized depot for use throughout its entire system. Designed for the CNoR by Ralph Benjamin Pratt, a noted Winnipeg architect, this station is distinguished by a striking roofline, prominent gable dormers, and a generous overhang with decorative brackets. Although Neepawa’s Canadian National Railways station closed in the early 1980s, it was quickly renovated for use as the Beautiful Plains Museum. Since then, it has become an important local and regional summer tourist attraction.

The heritage value of the Neepawa station resides in its modest ornamentation and lively roofline, in the vestiges of its interior plan, and in its relationship to town and track.

Heritage Character Statement, Canadian Northern Railway Station, Neepawa, Manitoba, September 1996. Heritage Assessment Report RSR-276,1996.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Canadian National Railway Station at Neepawa include: its irregular rectangular footprint, one-and-a-half-storey massing consisting of a central section with single-storey wings topped with a high pyramidal roof broken by two prominent gable dormers in the centre and three smaller hipped-gable dormers at each end, its irregular symmetry, its modest, almost domestic, proportions, the balance inherent in its vertical definition, the intricacy and prominence of its roof definition from all four perspectives, the rhythmic placement of its apertures and brackets, the smooth aesthetic integration of special railway features such as a projecting telegrapher’s bay and broad eaves to provide passenger shelter, the picturesque inspiration of its details: its varied, layered roof forms, paired windows, ground floor bay windows, small dormer window forms, prominent brackets, broad eaves, varied gable and dormer forms, the varied textures of its original materials: brick ground floor, wood siding on gables, shingle roof, stone sills, wooden doors and trim, all original fabric inside the station, in particular surviving baseboards and wainscotting, the legibility of the building’s original dual function as residence and station, the continued legibility of the station’s original symmetrical functional configuration and spatial volumes, particularly those of the public areas, the continuity of its longstanding access and circulation patterns, the overall integrity of the building’s form, plan, materials and details.