The former Canadian National Railway station is a monument to Hamilton’s long association with the railway. The Great Western Railway (GWR) was the city’s first railway. Around 1850, prominent merchants and politicians led by local lawyer and businessman Allan MacNab raised money for the GWR.
The City of Hamilton purchased stock in the new venture. The colonial government guaranteed many of its loans. The city bustled with new economic activity even before the railway opened. Construction activity provided jobs for hundreds of workers. By the time the GWR officially opened in 1854, it had made Hamilton a boomtown.
As a Canadian route linking New York and Michigan, the GWR gave ambitious Hamiltonians access to important new markets. The GWR was absorbed by the larger Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) in 1882. The GTR became part of the Canadian National Railway (CN) in 1923.
From 1854 until CN opened its James Street Station in 1931, Hamilton’s main passenger station was located on the north side of Stuart Street near the foot of Caroline Street.
In contrast to the “Moderne”-style TH&B Station (1933), the classical-style CN Station (1931) was more typical of Canadian railway station architecture of the period. However, the two buildings do share some important similarities, such as sparse ornamentation, clean lines and simplified geometry.