HANNA’S CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY ROUNDHOUSE DESIGNATED A PROVINCIAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

A recent Government of Alberta information bulletin announced a new Provincial Historic Resource. Check it out:

In August, 2015, a rare and important piece of Alberta’s railroading and transportation heritage has been designated as a provincial historic resource.

Exterior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, showing the large, double doors, which provide access to the locomotive stalls. The turntable and bridge are in the foreground, September 2014. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

Exterior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, showing the large, double doors, which provide access to the locomotive stalls. The turntable and bridge are in the foreground, September 2014. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

The Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse is located within the former railyard on Hanna’s south side. Once roundhouses were an integral part of railroad operations. This roundhouse in Hanna is one of the few remaining, intact examples remaining in Canada.

Roundhouses were used by most railways in Canada. Typically used at important junctions and divisional points, roundhouses were used for sheltering and maintaining locomotives. Their fan-shape and orientation, wrapping around turntables, allowed for economic use of space in often severely constricted railyards. The Canadian Northern Railway constructed a line between Saskatoon and Calgary from 1912 to 1914. Hanna, named for Canadian Northern president David Hanna, was selected to be a divisional point. In 1913, the ten-stall roundhouse was built. It was expanded to 15 stalls in 1922 and, in 1943, had its roof raised to accommodate large locomotives. Evolving locomotive technology and changing economics of the post-war period led the railway to decommission the roundhouse in 1961. After many years of use by other businesses, the roundhouse was abandoned in the 1990s and began to deteriorate, resulting in the partial collapse and demolition of part of the structure in 2012. The building has been recently acquired by the Hanna Roundhouse Society, which has begun to restore and revitalize the structure. The designation includes the roundhouse and turntable, as well as a significant portion of the former railyard containing the remains of other railyard elements. Together these elements comprise one of the most significant sites of Alberta’s railroading heritage.

“The conservation of local heritage landmarks like the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse helps to preserve our past while creating new opportunities for the future,” said Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister David Eggen. “Thanks to the dedication and commitment of the members of the Hanna Roundhouse Society, this amazing site will continue as a source of local pride and a destination for railroad enthusiasts from across Alberta and beyond.”

Interior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, December 2013. The fan-shape of the building is evident in the curvature of the rear wall (to the left), the clerestory windows (at the right) and the arrangement of the ceiling supports and beams. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

Interior of the Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse, December 2013. The fan-shape of the building is evident in the curvature of the rear wall (to the left), the clerestory windows (at the right) and the arrangement of the ceiling supports and beams. Alberta Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta.

The Canadian Northern Railway Roundhouse in Hanna is listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Other current and some historic photographs of the roundhouse can be viewed on the Alberta Culture and Tourism Flickr page.

For more information on the Provincial Historic Resource Designation program, click here.

Visit the Alberta Culture Newsroom to read additional releases.

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