VIEW-1947.1 | Windsor Station, Montreal, QC, 1889

Windsor Station, Montreal, QC, 1889
Wm. Notman & Son
1889, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Cityscape (3948) , Photograph (77678) , Train (185) , transport (150)
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Keys to History

Windsor Station was built between 1887 and 1889 at a cost of $300,000. Designed by the New York architect Bruce Price, like the mansions of the company's Scottish directors it reflected the company's power and wealth. It was built in the "Richardson Style" of public building that was popular in North America in that era. The station housed the company's headquarters and was the city's passenger terminal and freight depot. In 1900 and 1909 the building was enlarged, and the impressive tower was built in 1914. When new, the station dominated Montreal's skyline. In 1990 it was named the first heritage railway station in Canada. The company's headquarters are in Calgary since 1996, when Robert Jamieson Ritchie orchestrated the successful CPR headquarters move from Montreal to Calgary, the largest corporate relocation ever in Canada.

Windsor Station looks like a bank, or even the cloisters of a mediaeval church. The interior of the station was filled with arches and marble pillars; the effect on the public of this majestic architecture was intentional. In the 19th century the railway was one of the most important civil institutions in Canada. Without the CPR, Confederation would probably not have been as successful, and the present-day borders of Canada might not have extended from coast to coast.

  • What

    The massive stone walls and the semicircular arches of the windows in Windsor Station are typical of the "Richardson style", named after Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). It was a revival style based on French and Spanish Romanesque precedents of the 11th century.

  • Where

    Windsor Station is now the home of the eastern offices; it houses the CPR archives and is used for civic events.

  • When

    At the opening of Windsor Station in 1889, huge posters hung on the walls asserted, "Beats all creation, the new CPR Station", a quote from William Van Horne, chairman of the CPR.

  • Who

    The architect Bruce Price submitted several designs for Windsor Station before one was accepted. Apparently chairman William Van Horne was a hard man to please.