Members of the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) regiment lined up at the Vernon CPR train station circa 1915. Behind them are crowds of well-wishers lining the station platform.

S & O Spur Line

The former CPR station in Vernon, located on 29th Street, is a testament to an era when trains ruled the transportation landscape.

Between 1890 and 1892, a spur line off the main C.P.R railway was built between Sicamous and Okanagan Landing. During construction, a station emerged in Vernon, sparking rapid urban expansion and solidifying the City’s role as a commercial hub of the Okanagan Valley. The station welcomed its inaugural passenger train in October 1891, with Lord and Lady Aberdeen on board.

A new Station is built

In 1911, the original station, then two decades old, was replaced by a new brick building with a fieldstone foundation and granite embellishments, a strategic move by the C.P.R to counter the burgeoning competition from other railways like Canadian Northern. Designed to be cutting-edge, the new station boasted separate offices, a central waiting area, an upstairs telegraph room, and a baggage room.

With its distinctive towers and dormers, the station exuded a landmark presence. Its architectural style, often described as “alpine” or “Swiss,” aimed to evoke a sense of the picturesque and inspire wanderlust. Operating as both a passenger and freight terminal, the station also served as the departure point for troops during both World Wars. However, by the 1960s, passenger services ceased, and the station transitioned into a freight office. By 1973, it was leased to commercial ventures following a fire in 1981 that inflicted damage to its roof and interior.

Commercial interests

After 1981, when the building was damaged by a fire, the CPR sold it to a private investor who undertook its restoration, returning it to its former grandeur. Designated as a heritage site since 2000, the building presently accommodates several private businesses, including the Station BBQ Smokehouse, Impressions Salon, and Ratio Coffee & Restaurant.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Gwyneth Evans, Archives Manager