The Canadian Pacific Railway Section House in Coronation is the latest addition to the Alberta Register of Historic Places. The building was previously designated as a Registered Historic Resource in 2002. The resource was revaluated and its designation was upgraded to Provincial Historic Resource on August 27, 2012. The building, also known as the Section Foreman’s or Roadmaster’s House is significant as it is representational of CPR divisional point architecture and demonstrates the type of housing provided by the railway to essential railway employees.
Coronation, which is located about 120 km east of Stettler, became the divisional point for the CPR’s Lorraine subdivision, which eventually connected Youngstown in the south and the coal mines at Halkirk in the north to the main line. The Section Foreman was responsible for track maintenance on the subdivision. The CPR believed that men with established families were better qualified for positions of responsibility and housing was often provided for them as a way of attracting and retaining such people. At one point Coronation had three section houses in a line adjacent to the town’s rail yard. These houses were built according to a CPR standard plan, and were utilitarian in nature and featured simple ornamentation and were constructed of low-maintenance materials.
With changing technology, the use of divisional points evolved and many section houses were either abandoned, lifted and moved or simply torn down. The Coronation section house, which is now used as a local museum, remains on its original site and effectively communicates its provenance as an essential, and often over-looked, element of railway infrastructure.
More information on the Canadian Pacific Railway Section House in Coronation can be found on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.
Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator