The four-story gray limestone structure at the corner of De La Gauchetière and Peel streets is Windsor Station, originally known as the Windsor Street Station, named for its location on Windsor Street (today Peel Street).
The station was built between 1887 and 1889 under William Cornelius Van Horne, who succeeded Lord Mount Stephen as President of Canadian Pacific Railway. The contract was awarded to architect Bruce Price who submitted several designs for Windsor Station before one was accepted. Apparently chairman
Van Horne was difficult to please. Bruce Price built the station in the “Richardson Style”, a Romanesque revival style, named after Henry Hobson Richardson, and popular in North America at the time. The massive stone walls and the semicircular arches of the windows in Windsor Station are typical of this style. Other character-defining elements of Windsor Station include its steep roofs, prominent gables, towers, turrets, and beautifully sculptured floral and animal motifs. Opened in 1889, Windsor Station became the headquarters of CPR from 1889 to 1996.The first train departed on February 4, 1889.
In 1900 a wing designed by the architects firm of Edward and William Maxwell was added, and in 1914 a fifteen-story tower and a glass-roofed passenger concourse. was built by Walter Scott Painter. From 1978 to 1984, CPR performed major renovations on Windsor Station. In 1990 it was declared the first Heritage Railroad Station in Canada.
In 1996 CPR’s headquarters moved to Calgary. Today the structure is no longer used by CP, or connected to its rail network. Once a busy hall where, over the years, millions of people set off on trips or waited for loved ones, Windsor Station has been redeveloped into an office and hotel complex as well as restaurants. The interior concours,is open to the public and connects the metro station with the commuter rail station as well as the Bell Centre. The 13 terminal tracks running into Windsor Station have been removed along with the overhead canopy and now comprise a 25,000 square feet public square that can accommodate venues for over 5,000 guests.
Windsor Station was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1975, and a provincial historic monument in 2009.
Source: historicplaces.ca / CPR / McCord Museum / the Canadian Encyclopedia
by Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca