The history of Red Deer's
reprinted from Red Deer Express April 18, 2007
One of the most important public buildings in Red
Deer for many years, and an architectural jewel in downtown Red
Deer, is the old Canadian Pacific Railway station.
Situated on the west end of Ross St., Red Deer's main east-west
thoroughfare, the building is a true landmark.
When the Calgary-Edmonton Railway was first built in 1890-1891 and
the townsite of Red Deer was created, the company built a small
railroad station in less than three weeks.
While the structure was improved and expanded over the next 15
years, it was never really adequate for handling the traffic coming
in and out of Red Deer.
In 1907, the C.P.R., which had taken over the operation of the C.&E.
Railway, decided to make Red Deer a major divisional point. An
extensive set of improvements were made to the rail yards. A new
water tower, coal chutes, a large new roundhouse, stockyards and a
steel rail bridge across the Red Deer River were constructed.
As the project came to a climax, the company decided to finish off
with a large, new and very impressive station.
Since the railroad station was the major transportation hub for the
community, the company decided to place it on the end of Ross St.,
so that it would be visible from all points along the main street.
This meant that the old station had to be moved to the south, where
it was re-used as a freight office.
Fredrick Crossley, the C.P.R. architect in Winnipeg was given the
job of drawing the plans for the new building. He decided to pattern
the Red Deer station after the one which had been already built in
The building was to have a central polygonal tower with a conical
roof. The projecting eves of the long low roofline were to be
supported by large brackets. Sandstone lintels and sills were used
around the windows to give the brick structure an even more
The main floor of the building was to consist of a baggage room on
the south end and the Express office on the opposite end. Between
these two rooms was to be a large general waiting room with a
There were to be men's and women's washrooms, with a ladies
"retiring room" and a men's "smoking compartment" between the two
washrooms. The ticket office to be located at the rear sextagonal
There were apartments on the upper floor as many of the train crews
needed a place to stay overnight while the trains were assembled and
disassembled at the divisional point. The furnace and coal storage
area were located in the basement.
Work began on the building in the spring of 1910.
J. McDermid and Company of Winnipeg acted as the general
contractors. As the station was being completed, the Prime Minister
of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, made an official visit to Red Deer
in August 1910. Pictures of the official party at the station show
that many of the window casings had not been installed yet.
By fall, the station was completed and fully operational. The total
cost of the new building was $34,050, a very impressive sum in a day
when $2 per day was considered a pretty good wage.
Red Deer was very proud of its impressive new station. However, with
the city growing very rapidly, it soon proved to be too small. In
1912, a 20-foot addition was added onto the south end to provide
space for the Dominion Express Office.
As rail passenger traffic declined in the 1970s, the station was
used less and less by the public.
In the late 1980s, work began on moving the rail yards out of the
downtown and relocating them to the west side of the city.
There were serious proposals to demolish the station and to extend
Ross St. westwards over the old station site and to a new bridge
across the Red Deer River.
However, the federal government intervened. The building was
designated under the Heritage Railway Station Protection Act in
1990. It was only one of two railroad stations in Alberta to get the
In May 1991, the station was designated as a municipal heritage
resource by Red Deer City council. The Province of Alberta made it a
Provincial Historic Resource in April 1993.
In 1995, the station was purchased, restored and remodelled into
architect, law and real estate offices. After a number of years of
decline and neglect, the building was restored to its original
CPR Stations built
in Central Alberta page
Station and Transit Heritage Resort page