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  CN Red Deer station 1955 - Red Deer Archives

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operated in downtown Red Deer
from 1920 to 1960
Revised May 2022
CNWR Burbank Bridge under construction Blindman River 1911 - Red Deer Archives
Photo descriptions and credits at bottom of page.

In 1911, the Canadian Northern Western Railway (a subsidiary of the Canadian Northern Railway) built a line west from a point on their newly-built north-south line west of Stettler to connect with the Nordegg coal mines. The line included a spectacular timber bridge (later upgraded and mostly earth-filled) across the Blindman River at Burbank.

A spur line was built from North Junction near Blackfalds and Burbank south to North Red Deer. The spur was planned to be part of a future north-south line connecting Calgary and Edmonton. The intention was to build a bridge across the Red Deer River into Red Deer but due to other priorities, the bridge was delayed.
A recession, financial troubles and the First World War delayed and ultimately nixed the north-south plan.

However, when the newly-created Canadian National Railways absorbed the bankrupt Canadian Northern, the Grand Trunk Pacific and other railways including the CNWR, a bridge was constructed in 1920 over the river near the mouth of Waskasoo Creek south to Ross Street (where the Co-op Shopping Centre now stands).

Red Deer CNR station 1923 - Pettypiece graphicA small yard and temporary station was built and the proposed line was graded further south up the escarpment along where Spruce Drive is now located as the new railway temporarily revisited the original vision of a north-south rail line through Red Deer.  


A new station was built (Plan 148) in 1923 (at the current site of Albert's Restaurant) replacing the temporary station.

It was a one-of-a-kind hybrid of a Canadian Northern third class station and a yet-to-be-standardized Canadian National Railways third class station.
The station was 62'x24' with a platform 300'x12'. The main floor had a ticket office, waiting rooms, toilets, baggage and express. On the 2nd floor was a residence.

Aerial view 1942 of CNR downtown rail yard (north on left, south right) that includes small turntable, station (far right of photo),
grain elevator (opposite and above station), freight house (left of station)

CN Red Deer River bridge at Red Deer washed out 1941 - Red Deer ArchivesWith the bridge over the Red Deer River being washed out in the spring floods a number of times, the railway abandoned the river crossing in 1941. This was due to the poor choice of location at the mouth of Waskasoo Creek and the lower quality bridge, unlike the CPR bridge that withstood ice jams and flooding year after year.

aerial view of CNR Red Deer line - Red Deer Archives
Top of this 1942 aerial photo above is west (north to the right). The CNR line is close to the bottom (parallel to 47 Ave.) with the washed-out bridge piers over the river on the right and the S-curve track to the CPR yards on the left. The east-west road couplet left of centre is 49th and Ross Streets. The north-south road at the top is Gaetz Ave.

Red Deer CNR station 1954 - Pettypiece graphicService to the Red Deer station grounds continued via a new connecting S-link with the CPR yards further west on which CNR trains shared trackage with CP to the north junction south of Blackfalds for the next 20 years.

Red Deer CNR station 1955 - Red Deer Archives

After 35 years of continuous service, the last passenger train (mixed) and coincidentally the last steam locomotive left the station in 1955.

The ticket office and waiting rooms were closed and replaced with more freight and express space. The new role of the building initiated a new paint scheme from white/light grey with green trim to oxide red with cream trim.

Red Deer CNR downtown yard ca 1956 shows station (above and behind church), opposite National grain elevator, freight shed (left centre)

Red Deer CNR station 1955 - Pettypiece graphicThe station yards continued to be used until they were relocated to the north side of the river in 1960-61. The station and turntable were removed in 1960.

Trackage rights on the Canadian Pacific line between downtown and North Junction continued to be used for freight only until the mid-1970s to serve a few customers which included Macdonalds Consolidated.

Meanwhile, the abandoned CN yards were redeveloped into the Co-op Shopping Centre (1961) and a series of apartment buildings. The S-link land became the sites of the Red Deer Recreation Centre (1964), Red Deer Lodge hotel (1975), Red Deer Museum and Golden Circle seniors centre (1980).

Canadian Northern Western Railway Brazeau Sub
Red Deer once had 4 railway stations
Canadian National Railway stations of Central Alberta

Photo descriptions and credits:
Header: Red Deer 1923 Canadian National Railways modified 3rd class station 1955 (Red Deer Archives P7009);
CNWR Burbank bridge over Blindman River under construction 1911 (Red Deer Archives P7028);
Rendering of 1923 CNR station Red Deer 1923 (Paul Pettypiece);
Aerial photo of CNR downtown yard 1942 showing turntable, station, elevator (Red Deer Archives P11648 crop);
CNR bridge washout over Red Deer River at Red Deer 1941 (Red Deer Archives P3407);
Aerial photo of CNR line in Red Deer 1942 showing CPR link (left), bridge washout (Red Deer Archives P11648);
Rendering of 1923 CNR station Red Deer 1954 white siding (Paul Pettypiece);
CNR downtown station and National grain elevator 1946 (Red Deer Archives P10006);
Last passenger train & last steam locomotive at Red Deer CNR station 1955 (Red Deer Archives P7009);
Red Deer CNR downtown yard ca 1956 (Red Deer Archives P4449);
Rendering of 1923 CNR station Red Deer 1956 oxide red siding (Paul Pettypiece)

All renderings are the intellectual property of Paul Pettypiece and may only be used for personal or historical use.
Photos courtesy of Red Deer Archives.



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