Friday, 8 June 2012


Second presentation, this time to C.P. reps: March 18, 1982

"A couple of years ago, CP notified the Township of Nipigon that they proposed to replace the existing facility with a modern, suitable shelter that is more economical to heat and maintain than the present station.

Once the new facility was completed in 1982, they would be pleased to sell the old station for a nominal sum, provided it was removed from CP property.

When there was little reaction from its townspeople, CP wrote again to request a Council resolution stating that there were no objections to the demolition of the building. Council gave them that resolution. Reaction was swift then. We wrote immediately, and Council forwarded that letter to you at CP suggesting that any plans to demolish the building should be held off for the time being.

Then we swung into action. As there were so many groups and individuals expressing an interest in the station, we dug in and did some homework on it. We contacted the community groups for their opinion in writing, and we asked the kids of Nipigon to tell us what they thought.

Recently, we had our public works superintendent and a local electrician inspect the building, with CP's cooperation, and they came up with some ballpark figures for making the place habitable.

Meanwhile, on the political front, our federal and provincial MP's were giving us a hand, with Jack Stokes and Jack Masters both supporting our efforts. When Jack Masters contacted CP, Mr. D.C. Colman replied..."It is company policy developed over many years of experience that older, uneconomical-to-maintain railway buildings be removed from the property when they are no longer required. The Nipigon station has become very expensive to maintain and operate, and therefore, must be replaced. Our experience has been that there are no uses of such a facility that are compatible with live railway operation and for the interests of the general public and the Railway, the building must be removed."

So, here we are. And this is our case.

Although Nipigon was settled by Europeans long before the 1679 to be exact, CP has been a major partner in the town's growth. You came along in the late 1880's on your way west. You found a little hamlet here with a commercial district that had grown up along the portage route from the Nipigon River to Lake Helen.

With the CP mainline going right through town along a portion of this old transportation route, the station was in an ideal spot, right across from the stores, hotels and outfitters on our main street.

Then in 1929, you put up a new station just a few yards away from the original one, on the other side of the tracks...and this is the station we are talking about today.

As you can tell from the slides, the station has always been not only the geographic centre of town, but the emotional one as well. That railway construction marked the beginning of modern-day Nipigon, and most people in town looked upon it as a community affair, then and now.

Now we understand that sentimentality is not always good business. Nobody expects CP to put money into an old building that's no longer useful to you, just because people are attached to it. We'd like to take your white elephant off your hands. We'd like you to sell it to Nipigon. If a fence is required to keep people off your tracks, then we'll build a fence - large enough and strong enough to do the job.

Our preliminary estimates of work required to make the place useful for the summer months prove that we can raise the necessary funds in short order. It says every window needs either glazing or new putty...all the doors need attention...plaster panels inside need to be replaced or recovered...we'll have to replace all the plumbing fixtures... and there's more of that sort of thing in the report. All of this we can handle.

There are a dozen groups who are interested in using that space during the summer months ...that we can handle.

And because it looks like a railway station, we'd like to use part of that space to pay tribute to the people who built it - the men who pushed the line through - by incorporating that history into the art and photo displays in the building.

So you see, we're interested not only in taking the station off your hands, but also in using it to celebrate a very big and very important part of the country's heritage: the railway. We figure you could use the place to "toot" your own horn a bit for the benefit of all the summer visitors we have here. You have a history of country-building to be proud of.

You will gather that we have a history to be proud of too...and because we have so few landmarks to remember the past by, we are willing to turn somersaults to work out a compromise with you on the building. We need to know from you what the drawbacks are to keeping the station where it is. You've said through Mr. Coleman's letter that you can see no use compatible with a live railway operation. We can see compatible uses. And CP itself has experience with compatible uses. Here's one of CP's old stations, this one in Banff, operating as a restaurant and bar...and on the other side CP conducts its business as usual.

In Nipigon your trains will continue to travel through town, your waiting room can be constructed and operated for passengers, and the old station can stay there...possibly as an art gallery, photo gallery, meeting rooms, tourist information bureau, craft shop , and maybe even library displays.

Fenced off from the tracks, there will be no danger of people falling out of doors onto the tracks. The two operations can exist side by side...and make everybody happy.

Our inspection of the building showed us that the floor beams are set right into the poured concrete of the foundations. This report tells us that moving it would be a disaster for the main floor, and a considerable expense for the town, not to mention that there is no logical spot for a train station turned community centre. The building by itself is not all that important. The building where it is , is the important thing to us. As the Cuesta Camera Club said in its presentation to our committee, "The fact that the building is , in itself, a landmark, and has historical value, is important enough cause for the decision makers to hesitate and ponder again the seriousness and far-reaching effects that could result. The CPR in Canada has contributed immeasurably to the growth and development of our country. We would like so much to keep a symbol of that historical value within our own boundaries. We want to build on established historical riches, not tear down...we desire to contribute to and enhance our community, not withdraw from it...and last but not least, we need to appreciate more, not eliminate that which we hold dear, emotionally and historically, as an integral part of our lives and our community. What better site to portray this than where the station has always stood, managing to wedge its personality and character into the community and the people's affections. The site and the building together, have become one. Any withdrawal of one will create a dire loss in the other."

CP doesn't want it... the Township of Nipigon does. We'd like to hear your side of it so that the process of compromise and mutual benefit can begin.

The CPR station sign is on display at the Nipigon Historical Museum...2012

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