In 1899, William Mackenzie and Donald Mann secured the Federal incorporation of the Canadian Northern Railway as a subsidiary of their partnership. They began building the CNoR main line to Edmonton, from Winnipeg, in 1903. The construction train reached the City on November 24, 1905. The first outgoing eastbound scheduled passenger train left Edmonton on November 30, 1905.
The line entered Edmonton from Fort Saskatchewan and ran along the northwest side of the present LRT tracks, and then turned west at about 96th Street. It then ran along the north boundary of the Queen’s Avenue School into the divisional point yard between 101st and 116th Streets and 104th and 105th Avenues. This land had been purchased by the City and given to the railway, on the condition that a divisional point be built.
This implied that there would be a substantial pasenger station, freight and baggage sheds, a roundhouse, water tank, coaling and sanding facilities, and repair shops for locomotives, and passenger and freight cars. Most of these facilities were completed by 1908. When construction started this railway yard was more or less at the northern extremity of buildings in the City.
The station was built where the Baccarat Casino is today, and the roundhouse was on the south side of 105th Avenue at about 113th Street. Numerous spur tracks crossed 104th Avenue and ran southwards in the lanes between 101st and 109th Streets. This area became Edmonton’s warehouse district. The CNR also built a station in Strathcona, at 10335-80th Avenue, which was completed in 1913. The first scheduled passenger train departed on June 20, 1915, and the last one in January 1929. Service was to Camrose, Calgary and Alliance. The station was sold in 1956 and was demolished shortly thereafter. The site of the station and the associated yard is now a shopping centre and parking lot.
The CNoR got into financial difficulties and was taken over by the Federal Government in stages around 1916. It became the nucleus of the Canadian National Railways (CNR). The railway claimed it was responsible for the creation of over 500 communities in the prairie provinces.
Written by Dr. Alan Vanterpool