Niagara Falls historic train station still standing after 143 years


Published October 14, 2022 at 10:01 am

With the news that Niagara Region has purchased the historic train stations in both Niagara Falls and St. Catharines and plans on sinking $40 million into revitalizing both, it might be time to look back on the history of one.

Originally built in 1879, the style of the Niagara Falls Train Station at 4267 Bridge St. has been described as “Victorian Gothic Revival,” though the architect remains unknown to this day.

Federally designated in 1995 and by Niagara Falls Council in 1999, the heritage building is rich in historical value.

After the original wood station, built by wealthy industrialist Samuel Zimmerman, was destroyed in a fire, the heritage committee noted, “A magnificent new building was constructed of brick and still stands today.”

They continued, “Deemed as the busiest and most prestigious terminal of the Great Western and Grand Trunk Railroads, the station became the heart of a developing Niagara Falls and was a hub for transportation and community events.”

It’s seen a few famous people land in the past. “Complete with a new Grand Western Restaurant, the impressive new station played host to many prominent citizens and travelers, the most notable being King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who arrived on the royal train in 1939 to a beautified station.”

Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier (Canada’s first French Canadian PM) giving
a talk in 1908 off the back of a train at the CN Station on Bridge Street. (Photo:
Niagara Falls Public Library)

The heritage committee says the current Via Railway Station “stands as a reminder of the vital role of railway transportation in the economic development of Canadian cities, and has been both municipally and nationally designated for its heritage value.”

“The Via Railway Station is a municipal and national icon, dominating the downtown of Niagara Falls as one of its largest and most recognizable buildings. It serves as a symbol of the City’s and wider region’s early economic development.”

They believe the station’s presence “helped shape the landscape of the downtown, with a boom of commercial activity and settlement following its construction. The station serves as part of a collection of railway depots across Canada facilitating in the movement of goods and people throughout the country, and is one of few surviving railroad depots of its age, scale and design in the Niagara Region.”

The 143 year old train station as it looks today.

After the region created their station development strategy back in 2016 to be a catalyst for GO expansion, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati is enthusiastic about what the future holds in store for the refurbished station, believing it to be an example of the past adapting to the future.

“This project will completely change the way people travel to and from Niagara Falls and spur major upgrades in our downtown core,” said Diodati.

“The scope spans from underground updates to prioritizing safe traffic flow and modernizing the VIA/GO Rail Station into a warm, welcoming hub for travelers. We can’t wait to see it all come together!”

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