Print this Post

When railways ruled the world and their passenger stations showed it

April 2023

Before motor vehicles and paved highways made transportation of people and goods easier, railways were the fastest and most efficient method of land transportation. Every city, town and village along the railway lines had a station where the trains would stop to load and off-load passengers, mail and goods. Some were proper buildings, but in remote areas, they could be anything from a small, one-room hut, to a lean-to, to just a flag on a pole.

Many commercial buildings today, especially public buildings, are rather architecturally boring; a lot of straight lines and plain walls, and just generally lacking character.

In the glory days of the railway stations, whether big or small, would generally provide a ticket sales office, waiting rooms, luggage storage areas and office space for railway workers. Larger stations might have other amenities like a restaurant, but all were architecturally impressive buildings.

Urban railway stations were built in an opulent style reflecting popular architectural styles of the day, such as Victorian Romanesque, Greek Revival or Art Deco. Many former urban stations are still standing, repurposed to serve a variety of functions, although a small number may still be in use as train stations.

Rural stations were smaller and generally less grandiose, but still architecturally impressive buildings. Generally built from frame or brick, they were frequently adorned with Victorian gingerbread, small turrets, or other decorative elements from the period. The turrets not only added design and visual appeal to the station, but also provided a reference point for the locomotive engineer.

Some of the historic former railway stations in Ontario, and one in Michigan, that are still standing. Some are still in their original location, but others needed to be re-located in order to save them from demolition.

For this article, I’ve highlighted the original railway that operated the stations and the dates that they were used as a passenger station. Some of the former stations remained in use by railways for maintenance or storage purposes.

Historic railway stations that are still in use as railway stations and a few replica historic stations:

Some railway stations that have been demolished that have special meaning to me:


Also read these other articles that I’ve written, profiling individual stations:

Hamilton’s grand Canadian National Railway Station now a banquet centre – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Allandale Train Station – From the era of the grand railway stations – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Restored train station the lone reminder of the forgotten hamlet of Vine – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Historic railway station preserved at King Township Museum – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Restored Freeman-Burlington Junction Station opens to the public – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Restored Grand Trunk Railway station in Caledonia a local treasure – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Havelock CPR Station – The “Golden Age” of the railways in Canada kept alive in the village – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Hamilton’s historic TH&B Railway Station given a fitting new life – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Former Whitby Junction Station lives on as an art gallery – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Barry’s Bay railway station – A remnant of the long-vanished OA&PS Railway – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Orillia’s former Grand Trunk Railway station faces an uncertain future – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Orillia’s Rotary Train has entertained generations at Couchiching Beach Park – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Restoring the past – the Canadian National Railway station in Jarvis – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Historic CP Railway station a remains a part of North Bay’s railway heritage – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Take a scenic ride on the historic Port Stanley Terminal Railway – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Abandoned generating sub-station a remnant of a forgotten public transit system – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Michigan Central Station rises from neglect and ruin to become an important part of Detroit again – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

CNR Park – Maintaining Palmerston’s railway heritage – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

The Powerhouse – Remnant of a long-vanished electric railway – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Memories of a grand era – The Maple Grand Trunk Railway station – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Halton County Radial Railway Museum brings public transit history to life – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Old station is one of the few remnants of the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)


Sources: 6697-Highway-35-Heritage-Evaluation-Report.pdf (kawarthalakes.ca), About the Station – Station on the Green (creemorestation.com, End of the line: Why Ontario will regret ripping up this rail corridor | TVO Today, The Station | Palmerston Railway Heritage Museum (palmerstonrailwaymuseum.ca), Huntsville Train Station, a year later – Huntsville Doppler (doppleronline.ca), Passenger rail is slated to return to Huntsville, but the station is now privately owned (muskokaregion.com), Home Page – Toronto Railway Historical Association (trha.ca), Milton Station (Grand Trunk Railway) – Toronto Railway Historical Association (trha.ca), New display tells the story behind Station replica – The Creemore Echo, Port Dover Railway Stations – Ontario Railway Stations (wordpress.com), Remember This? How the railway almost didn’t happen – Sault Ste. Marie News (sootoday.com), Neustadt Railway Stations – Ontario Railway Stations (wordpress.com), Neustadt Railway Stations – Ontario Railway Stations (wordpress.com), The Railways of Durham – Durham Homecoming, Georgetown GO Station – Wikipedia, HistoricPlaces.ca – HistoricPlaces.ca, A Faded Glory – Jerseyville – Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway (1895-1954) – Alex Luyckx | Blog, The Historic Railway Station – in Barry’s Bay, Home of the StationKeepers MV (therailwaystation.ca), Our History | Beach Street Station | Goderich, Newmarket had longtime romance with the train – Newmarket News (newmarkettoday.ca), The Railways of Durham – Durham Homecoming, Did you know Orillia’s Legion was once a CPR train station? – Orillia News (orilliamatters.com), Old Time Trains (trainweb.org), Port Dover Railway Stations – Ontario Railway Stations (wordpress.com), The last train has left Orangeville, marking the end of a long rail line history | FM101 Orangeville Today, Origins of the L&PS Line – St. Thomas Ontario (railwaycitytourism.com), Visiting the train station (simcoe.com).

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/when-railways-ruled-the-world-and-their-passenger-stations-showed-it/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>