The Railways of Ottawa

1.15    Canadian National - Bank Street

After the closure of the Canada Atlantic/Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound station at Elgin Street on December 23, 1895 there was pressure from the community to establish a station at Bank Street.

Ottawa Citizen 3 November 1899:

"An effort will be made shortly by the residents of the southern section of the city to have a local station established on the Parry Sound railway at Bank street.  At present the people of this district are put to a great deal of inconvenience by being carried past their destination down to the Central depot.  A station at the Bank street crossing, they feel, would not only be very advantageous as a conserver of time, but it would go a long way towards building up a portion of the city at present only sparsely populated.  They intend, therefore, to petition the Canada Atlantic company at an early date to have a depot erected as indicated."

Ottawa Journal 29 April 1901:

"Will build new station.
"CAR will open an office at Rochester Street crossing.
"On Saturday Ald. Plouffe had an interview with General Manager A.J. Chamberlain of the CAR and secured his sanction to the construction of a fully equipped station at the Rochester Street crossing. The public will be able to buy tickets at the new station for all points on the line.  This will be a decided accommodation for the ratepayers of Dalhousie ward as heretofore they had to come all the way to Central station when they wished to travel by CAR."
(Note - this refers to Rochester Street not Bank Street)

Ottawa Journal 22 May 1906:

"There is a rumour going the rounds which is understood to be well founded that the Grand Trunk Railway will build a suburban station at the Bank Street crossing of the company..."

On 26 Jan 1922 the Board of Railway Commissioners dismissed an application by residents of Ottawa for an order requiring the GTR to stop trains 58 and 52 at the Bank Street Yard Office to allow passengers to detrain.  The application was mainly made by commercial travellers who had to go to Central Station in order to purchase reduced rate tickets.  The BRC felt that Ottawa had a more up to date street car service than any other city on Canada and the Central station was located centrally.  The Board believed it would be a mistake to establish stations elsewhere in the city, especially at such short distance from the Central station.

However the regulator eventually relented for on 18 Nov 1938 CNR was authorized to use Bank Street Yard as a terminal for mixed trains Nos. 205, 206, 445 and 446.  These trains were required to use designated tracks in leaving and arriving in Bank Street Yard; and coaches for these trains were to be spotted at a platform at the Bank Street yard office, when leaving and arriving, for the purpose of allowing passengers to entrain and detrain without first having to pass over any yard tracks.

C. Robert Craig Library, John Frayne Collection

The following is an article written by John Frayne in Branchline. June 1985, page 6

"I suppose few people would remember that a CNR station once stood on the north-west* corner of Isabella and Bank Streets in the Glebe area of Ottawa. To reach the station, one mounted a wooden staircase from Isabella Street up an embankment which now supports the Queensway.  The station was a wooden structure of Canada Atlantic vintage, with a high pitched peaked roof and a centre bay window in the front.

"As a train watcher and an admirer from my earliest days, a favourite pastime on a Saturday was to sit. on a bench in front of the station and watch the activities - and activities there were - with all kinds of train movements, both freight and passenger.  The Bank Street, yard in those days was a very busy place.

"Inside the station, apart from the yard office, was a ticket office where one could buy a ticket to all points west along the line, such as Carp, Kinburn, Galetta, Arnprior, Glasgow, Renfrew, Balden Lake, Killaloe, Wilno, Barry's Bay, Opeongo and Madawaska.  In fact, many years earlier, one could travel on this line to Parry Sound and Georgian Bay.

"An annual event of interest, was the arrival at Bank Street of the World of Mirth Midway Train.  This event would take place in August, a few days before the opening of the Ottawa Exhibition.  The trailers and animals would be unloaded on a siding just east of the station.  The caravan would then parade down O'Connor Street to the Exhibition Grounds.

"In the late 1950s, the CN Bank Street yard activities were gradually relocated to the new Walkley Yard in the south end of Ottawa.  On the last, day that the Bank Street. Station was officially open, Austin Cross, a rail buff journalist, bought the last ticket from Ottawa Union to Bank Street Station. Mr. Cross later wrote an account of this event in the OTTAWA CITIZEN.  A copy of this write-up is now displayed, framed, on the wall of a restaurant on Highway #7 at Actinolite, Ontario.

"A final and almost ironic reminisence is that of the station's marker. This consisted of the three large letters "C.N.R.", painted white, resting in the middle of a small flower garden on the Isabella Street embankment.  When the station closed, these letters were moved and put on display on a mound of earth immediately west of the new Walkley Yard Office, which subsequently became the C.P.R. Walkley Yard Office.  Not long ago these C.N.R. letters were still visible through the overgrown mound."

*  Bruce Chapman comments "In reading John Frayne's story about the Bank Street station, he says it was on the northwest corner of Bank and Isabella. Isabella starts/ends at Bank Street and heads eastward to Elgin Street. 
WEST of Bank Street, it is Chamberlain Avenue, to the south of the Isabella alignment.
NORTH of the Queensway, the street is called Catherine Street.
RECALL the Bank Street station to be on the NORTH-EAST corner of Bank and be on the northwest corner would be at Bank and Catherine Streets.

There is a picture of an OTC 1000-series car climbing the grade southbound on Bank Street at Isabella, and I'm pretty sure that that the CNR Bank Street station is in the background.

Updated February 2008

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