How Union Station was saved from becoming a parking lot for tour buses

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In 1966 the last train pulled out of Union Station because the sordid freight yards crowding the Rideau Canal were to become parklands for people to enjoy. There remained the noble pile built in 1912 to be a sort of cathedral in an age when railways were religion. It was modeled on the Roman baths of Caracalla to soar above the ordinary, to lift the spirit, to praise the steam train. What would happen to it?

Government planners had settled that question. It was to be bulldozed into dust to make a parking lot for buses bringing tourists to Centennial celebrations. Some public-spirited Ottawans, notably the Committee for the Beautification of Ottawa, thought that was a curious way to celebrate the Centennial. They wrote letters, bullied editors, got on radio and television and chased politicians down the corridors of power.

To celebrate the organization’s 50th birthday, Heritage Ottawa has launched a new series called “50 years | 50 stories”.

The first instalment in the series is about Union Station – now the Government Conference Centre – on Rideau Street across from the Chateau Laurier. It’s a great look back at the history of the building, including volunteer efforts to save it back in the 1960s.  Great photos too.

You can read the full story here…

 

 


OttawaStart Staff

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