Claresholm’s Canadian Pacific Railway Station
The Canadian Pacific Railway station at Claresholm has been an important part of our community for over 100 years! The station was originally part of Calgary’s 9th Avenue and Center Street CPR depot, which was built in 1886. In 1910 the CPR decided that Calgary needed a larger station so the 9th Ave. sandstone station was carefully dismantled, block by block, and half of the reclaimed blocks were used to build our station here in Claresholm (and the other blocks were used to build a station in High River which is now the Museum of the Highwood). The station opened in May of 1912 and operated as a train station until it closed in 1965. Several uses were proposed for the building, including conversion to a public library, but in 1969 the Claresholm & District Museum was formed and took up residence in the station. Today it still houses the Museum as well as the Visitor Information Centre.
This impressive structure has not lost any of its former grandeur and we remain dedicated to its preservation. To acknowledge its special history and to preserve the character of its distinctive sandstone architecture, the station was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in November 2004.
For more than five decades our railway station supported the residents of Claresholm and the surrounding district. Thousands of people depended on the station, including early settlers, business people and travellers. Locals who served in the First World War and the Second World War were wished their farewells from the station platform. Upon their return they arrived at the station to be welcomed by the local band and friends and family. Between 1941 and 1945, as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, groups of young people from England, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada arrived at the station to train as pilots at the airport five kilometres west of Claresholm (No. 15 Service Flying Training School). Every few weeks a new cohort arrived as the graduating cohort left. The station also provided permanent air force personnel with a link to family and friends in others parts of Canada. With the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945, the activity at the station decreased and the station closed. Activity at the station increased again in 1951 when the airport was put into service as a training school for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations, including England, France, Holland and Canada. Once again the station was a very busy place and this level of activity lasted until the airport closed in 1958. By that time cars and trucks had changed the way that people travelled, leading to decreased reliance on the train. In 1965 the CPR decided to close the station. It was a sombre day for the residents of Claresholm and the surrounding region; the station had become an institution that was central to the community.