Canadian Pacific Railway Station (Winnipeg) National Historic Site of Canada
© Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Sean Marshall, 2003
181 Higgins Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1904 to 1906
1904 to 1978
Event, Person, Organization:
Canadian Pacific Railway
W.S. & E. Maxwell
Canadian Pacific Railway Station (Winnipeg)
Research Report Number:
1982-14, 1991-47A, RSR-002
Existing plaque: 181 Higgins Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
This, the fourth railway station on the site, was erected in 1904-1905 as part of a new administrative, hotel and passenger complex for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Designed by the prominent Montréal architectural firm of Edward and W.S. Maxwell, and enlarged in 1915, it continued in use as a rail passenger terminal until 1978. Its monumental Beaux-Arts facade, elaborate Tyndall stone decoration and extensive facilities reflected both the aspirations of the railway and Winnipeg's place as the centre of transportation and commerce in early 20th century Western Canada.
Description of Historic Place
Winnipeg Railway Station National Historic Site of Canada is the former Canadian Pacific Railway Station situated at 181 Higgins Avenue, Winnipeg. It is a grand, four-storey Beaux-Arts building of contrasting red brick and Tyndall limestone detailing. The designation refers to the building on its footprint.
Winnipeg Railway Station was designated a national historic site in 1982 because its monumental Beaux-Arts facade, elaborate Tyndall stone decoration, and extensive facilities reflected both the aspirations of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Winnipeg's place as the centre of transportation and commerce in early 20th century Western Canada.
The heritage value of Winnipeg (Canadian Pacific) Railway Station National Historic Site lies in impact as a grand 20th century urban railway station. It is embodied in the Winnipeg station's Beaux-Arts style, its monumental proportions, its efficient and expansive interior, fine materials and workmanship. It is also reflected in the building's layout and siting.
This was the fourth railway station constructed by Canadian Pacific Railway in Winnipeg. It was built in 1904-06 as part of a monumental three part complex which included a luxury hotel, the station and an administrative wing arranged in a U-shaped configuration. Designed by Montreal architects W.S. and E. Maxwell, the station was the first Beaux-Arts building constructed in Canada. Its facilities were expanded in 1915 to include six additional main lines, elevation of the road bed, a larger second-class waiting room and baggage handling facilities. This building continued to operate as a railway station until 1978, and Canadian Pacific still uses its administrative wing although the Royal Alexandra Hotel associated with the complex was demolished in 1971.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1987.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of the site include: the ordering and detailing of the exterior and interior as early expression of the principle of Beaux-Arts design, including the building's monumental scale, the symmetrically organized facade with a dramatic articulation of the main entry under a giant portico, the use of classical orders and details both on the exterior and for the principal interior public spaces; the functional layout of the station expressed as three main areas, namely the main block, the set-back baggage/office wing, and the sub-grade service tunnels and in their spatial inter-relationships; its L-shaped footprint, providing a subtle subdivision into public and administrative wings; the dramatically contrasting textures and colours of the Wisconsin red brick and Manitoba Tyndall limestone materials for the exterior; the high quality of craftsmanship evident in its composition and details (belt courses, quoins, cornice lintels, and sculpted ornaments); the use of more restrained exterior detail for the administrative wing; the monumental interior public spaces, notably the four- storey barrel-vaulted public rotunda supported by massive columns; the use of classical details in the public areas of the station interior (vaulted ceilings in the rotunda and north vestibule, the rotunda entablature, columns, galleries and applied rosettes); the use of rich materials in the interior public areas of the station (oak and glass in the vestibule, marble terrazzo tiles in the rotunda, dark stained oak trim); the axial layout of the station interior as a progression from the entrance vestibule to the passenger concourse through the central rotunda; the use of classical galleries as a medium for stacking facilities and directing circulation along both sides of the rotunda (offices on the upper storeys, and public facilities below); viewscapes to the tracks from the terminal building and to the former site of the Royal Alexandra Hotel.