The York Street Train Station carries the honor of being a designated Local Historic Place, recognized for its significant contribution to the expansion of Fredericton’s railway industry. This railway station, set on York Street, signified a pivotal moment in the city’s passenger transportation history, eventually transforming into the nucleus of an industrial zone at the city’s periphery.
Under the supervision of the Fredericton Railway Company, the city seized its connection to the Western Extension of the European and North American Railway, marking a substantial step towards advancement. This railway link aimed at enabling easier communication between the province and the global community, providing constant access to the primary shipping port in Saint John. Originally planned to be positioned near the Court House on lower Queen Street, Mayor William Needham was instrumental in shifting the location to the York Street extension, adjacent to the Alms House and Isolation Hospital. The first railway station, a bi-level wooden structure, came into existence at the crossroads of Victoria and Northumberland Streets in 1869.
Fast forward three decades, the Hartt Boot & Shoe Company launched its footwear manufacturing process in its newly constructed factory opposite the CPR train station. By the 1910s, the station had grown into the epicenter of a bustling industrial park, hosting four manufacturing units that served national and international markets. The railway station was a critical component of these industrial ventures’ success.
In 1923, CPR officials hired the Rhodes-Curry Company from Amherst, Nova Scotia, to erect a new brick railway station near the original wooden structure’s location. The older building was torn down to create a courtyard in front of the new station, making room for the smooth arrival and departure of passengers and vehicles.
The design of the York Street Train Station, showcasing a tapestry brick pattern, stood out among Fredericton’s architectural landscape. This station represented a transition in construction materials, since most New Brunswick CPR railway stations were constructed using wood. While some design elements were unique to Fredericton, the station’s look aligned with other CPR stations. The new structure mirrored the designs of the Sherbrooke station in Québec and the divisional station in Woodstock.
Before World War II, the York Street Train Station served both the CPR and the Canadian National Railway, earning it the Union Station moniker. The station underwent its only significant structural alteration in 1945 when the canopy on the building’s eastern end was taken down and a freight shed was introduced to manage surplus luggage and express shipments.
Following the discontinuation of passenger traffic in the 1960s, the York Street Train Station predominantly functioned as a freight service. The CPR ended its remaining operations in the building in 1990.
A photograph from the 1940s depicts the York Street Train Station with rolling stock and cars parked in the railway yard. Photo courtesy HistoricPlaces.ca.
In 1951, Princess Elizabeth, the Duchess of Edinburgh, and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, toured several provinces on behalf of her ailing father. As part of their New Brunswick tour, they arrived at Fredericton’s Union Station on November 6, where Lieutenant Governor David Laurence MacLaren and numerous well-wishers greeted them. Their visit included tours of the University of New Brunswick, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Legislative Assembly Building. A photograph taken on that significant day has immortalized the event.
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Looks pretty good now doesn’t it? You’re welcome. :)