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Heritage Site

Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station

Site 4:
Former Canadian Pacific Railway Station
100 Ferguson Street
Date Originally Built:
Present Use:
North Bay Area Museum (Discovery North Bay)
Evaluation Score:
Priority One

Entry of British Columbia into Confederation in 1871 led to the establishment of the CPR as the initial continental railway linking the country’s east and west coasts, completed in 1885. In 1881 the railway located their divisional services and regional headquarters on the shore of Lake Nipissing, where the City of North Bay subsequently sprang up. The first CPR station became the centerpiece of the new community, with McIntyre and Worthington Streets named after prominent officials of the CPR at that time. The present building, a successor of two simpler structures, was constructed in 1903. It was one of a string of admirable buildings erected in the railway’s Ottawa Valley corridor. The stone masonry was hauled from Arnprior for the main wall facings, which is of a variegated light beige colour. The corner and intermittent piers and window surrounds are of a uniform darker brown tone. The former is of split-faced finish, laid in a random-coursed pattern. The latter is of flat-faced finish, laid in a level course pattern.

Initially the building was a 4x2 window bay, 2-storey element with a one storey wing protruding to the southeast. In the 1940s the 2-storey structure was extended, producing the 7x2 window bay configuration now in place, with a single hipped roof completing the unified form. Most openings at ground floor level are of the Romanesque round-head arched style. A wide bracketed canopy projects on all sides at the second floor level, offering protection from the weather to passengers, their luggage, and accompanying freight.

Prize-winning gardens provided a park-like setting for the new building, and a large staging yard grew toward the lakeshore, with many service structures occupying a major portion of the site.

Over time many operational changes came about, including the conversion to diesel from steam locomotion, which prompted the relocation of all CPR regional services to Sudbury in 1960. Eventually, all the yard tracks and service buildings, including a stone roundhouse, were removed. All CPR operations were abandoned and the station closed, with only a single line now remaining active under the control of the Ottawa Valley Railroad.

The City of North Bay purchased the portion of the unused rail lands occupied by the station from the CPR in 2001. Plans had re-surfaced to develop most of the property as a waterfront park linking the downtown area to the previously landscaped shoreline off Memorial Drive. The CPR Station would remain the focal point of the city at the westerly end of Ferguson Street. After federal designation of the former station as a heritage structure, restoration of the building was undertaken to house the North Bay and Area Museum and a Discovery Centre. Fittingly, this evolution has preserved and conserved the station, which effectively commemorates the birth place of the City of North Bay.