For a long time, I have always been curious about the old CPR station that sat on the waterfront across from where CBC is located today. There are postcards of the station, but little else seems to be be around about it.
Designed by Edward Colonna, the CPR staff architect, the station opened in 1887 at Crawford & Riverside Drive. It had a relatively short life span, having ceased to operate as a passenger station about 1917. During prohibition, the Low Brothers (including Harry Low) leased it for use as a warehouse for their export business. Once prohibition ended, the station went back to being vacant, and was demolished in 1935.
I recently came across the photo above, in an article from 1935. The text the story is below:
To Demolish Old Station
Abandoned by C.P.R. About Ten Years Ago
Built in 1887
Was Used as Warehouse
In Roaring Days Of
One of the most interesting landmarks of the Windsor area will be effaced next week when the Border Cities House Wrecking Company will start the demolition of the old C. P. R. station on the riverfront at the foot of Crawford avenue.
Having long outlived its usefulness, the building, which was erected in 1887, is being removed despite the fact that, as far as can be learned. no plans have been made for any other use of the site. The C. P. R. abandoned it as a station about 18 years ago. Subsequently the Low brothers used it as an export warehouse, but since they vacated it some five years ago, it has stood empty.
The site of the station is of considerable historic interest. It was here that Robert Gowie, a dominant figure in the fur trade when this part of Canada was a wilderness. maintained his trading post. He erected a group of stone buildings there. In the war of 1812. these buildings, collectively known as Fort Gowie, became the last outpost of the American general, Hull, during his invasion of Canada. Hull, as history relates, hastily evacuated the fort on the approach of Sir Isaac Brock and the British redcoats. who then overcame the American troops in the Battle of Detroit.
BRINGS BACK MEMORIES
George F. Macdonald, president of the Canadian Historical Society, leaned on a counter at the Bartlet, Macdonald and Gow store this morning and recalled to The Star his memories of going swimming off this property as a boy. Considerable shipbuilding was done there at that time. Mr. Macdonald witnessed the launching there 50 years ago of the lake steamer Lakeside.
Later Mr. Macdonald saw the excavation work for the C. P. R. station. The station was opened in 1887, but was never a very busy depot. The Grand Trunk had come into Windsor In 1854 and took an early business lead which the other railway was unable to overcome. Still, it was from this station that Windsor’s quota of troops for the Canadian contingent entrained for the Boer War. The station was again the scene of wartime partings between 1914 and 1918. when any of the troops from this district passed through its dingy portals en route to France.
It was abandoned by the C. P. R. when that railway began to use the facilities of the Michigan Central here. For some time the building stood vacant. Then it had its last fling when the Low brothers took it over as a warehouse in the roaring days of the liquor export trade. Somehow the Victorian primness of the old station never seemed to accommodate itself to its part in the quenching of the Great American Thirst. Though ruin impended, the halls which once resounded to the peculiar intonations of the train announcer, appeared to welcome with something like relief he Liberal “good will gesture” which cut off the rum trade.