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Memories of a grand era – the Maple Grand Trunk Railway station

July 2020

The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) disappeared from the railway landscape 97 years ago, but fortunately, many of the former GTR stations remain standing today; mostly being used for non-railway functions.

In Maple, Ontario, just north of Toronto, one of the former GTR stations is still a very busy railway station.

Currently owned by Canadian National Railway (CN), who bought out the GTR assets when the latter declared bankruptcy in 1923, the historic, small one-storey wooden Queen Anne Revival station, operates as a commuter station for GO Transit, the regional public transit system in southern Ontario.

The Maple station was built in 1903, as a simple timber-frame building, domestic scale, with wood cladding applied in picturesque “Stick Style patterns,” extracting a maximum visual effect from a relatively simple technique.

The current station replaced an earlier station, built in 1853, for the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron Railway, the original owners of the rail line. This is line is now called the Barrie Line, as its northern terminus is the City of Barrie, and is the oldest operating railway line in Ontario.

While the once small village of Maple has been absorbed into the busy, and at times congested, City of Vaughan, the heritage value of the Maple station lies in among other elements mentioned above, how it still evokes a rural train station.

The years took its toll on the small station, and by the 21st Century, the Maple station was in need of some restoration. Completed in January 2014, the interior and exterior were repaired, the floor was replaced and the exterior mobility ramps upgraded. The façade was re-painted, replacing the dull grey, with white trim, with brighter maroon and yellow trim colours.

The parking lot was also greatly expanded to accomodate the increase in commuter traffic using the station.

Over the next several years, GO Transit will be upgrading the facilities at the Maple station, including the addtion of a second track and rail platform, connected to the current one by pedestrian tunnels.

Character-defining elements of the Maple station include (from Canada’s Historic Places):

– the rectangular footprint, one-storey massing, and hipped roof of the station, broken by gables and a chimney,
– the use of large gables to incorporate visual interest in the roofline from three perspectives,
– the simplicity of the station’s original form, symmetrically arranged around its polygonal telegrapher’s bay,
– its Queen Anne Revival proportions,
– the fine balance inherent in its overall vertical definition,
– articulation of its exterior wall surfaces as three horizontal bands or registers, defined by board and batten siding, diagonal V-jointed panels and narrow vertical boarding,
– the rhythmic placement of apertures below a consistent string course,
– its stick-style treatment of applied framing elements and wooden cladding applied in ornamental patterns; brackets, acorn pendants, trellis work, bargeboard, and mileage signage on the bay, the applied framing elements and skeletal braces emphasizing the timber structure of the north and south gables,
– the integrity and legibility of its original materials; wood siding, wood shingle, wood trim and details,
– the station’s platform frame construction technology,
– the richness and integrity of all original fabrics, finishes and furnishings inside the station including: the waiting room entirely sheathed in beaded boarding, elaborate coved wood cornice and flat ceiling, the semicircular moulded surround of the ticket window with its three boxed roundels, the deep Italianate cornice and diagonally-patterned dado in the agent’s office and waiting room, and the simple boarded ceiling, walls, and plain trim of the baggage room,
– the continued legibility of the station’s original functional spaces (waiting room, agent’s office and baggage room), their spatial volumes, and differentiation by level of ornamentation.

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Sources: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=6765, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maple_GO_Station, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Trunk_Railway, https://www.gotransit.com/en/the-future-go/improvements/maple

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/memories-of-a-grand-era-the-maple-grand-trunk-railway-station/

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