Architecture responds to local needs – Reflective of Hamilton’s past and present, this former C.N. railway station stands as a reminder of the importance of the railway in the early prosperity of this industrial city, while acting as a beacon of new economic opportunities in the adaptive reuse of our heritage.
Erected along the city’s oldest rail corridor in an effort to provide Hamilton with a large and efficient station, and built at a time of great economic need in Canada, the Hamilton C.N. railway station rose as symbol of economic success and optimism. Its classical, stoic facade is reflective of the pervasive style for civic architecture of the time – grand in scale but restrained in detailing.
With the rise of the highway, and the consolidation of GO Transit and VIA Rail to alternate transit nodes, the station suffered a steady decline of passengers which ended with its official closure in 1993. However, like many other buildings in Hamilton, the abandoned train station quickly found new use – first as a movie set and now as LIUNA Station, an events centre.
Guided by C.N.R. policy mandating the use of Canadian materials and local labour, the construction served to boost the local economy. In the early 1930s, CNR employed directly and indirectly over 10,000 people in Hamilton – roughly 8% of the population. Its construction also supported the local limestone quarry at Queenston, Ontario, brick manufacturers, and artists who added bas-relief stone panels to the building’s facade.