1913 Grand Trunk Pacific "Type E" Station (May 2016)


Between 1905 and 1914, over 350 Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP) Plan 100-152 stations were built in Western Canada.  Commonly referred to as “E type”, over 2/3 of the stations that GTP built used this same blueprint.  There were only a few variations in the plans, and these were likely done on sight by the builders.   
The station at mile 72 (Dunster) was built in 1913 with wood brought in by rail.  Given the number of stations that had already been built along the line using the same design, the building process was likely quite stream-lined by the time the crews had gotten to Dunster.  It took less than a year to build the Dunster Station and within a year the steel was linked.  Stations were built between every 6-10 miles and it was said that the locations were chosen as a realistic walking distance for crews to travel before and after work. 

The town of Dunster built up around the station and was initially settled by many of those early railworkers.  The same day that Britain declared war on Germany (August 4th, 1914), Dunster residents had a different milestone as they saw the first train steam through their little town, opening up a world of possibilities.  Like in the early days of many frontier towns, the train station in Dunster was the center of everything. 

From the beginning, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway did not see the traffic potential that the company had hoped for and it became quickly apparent that the line would not be able to pay for itself.  In 1919, GTP defaulted on its loan for the construction of the line to the federal government and was quickly assimilated by the Canadian National Railway.   Shortly after CN took over GTP, slight alterations were made to the stations along the line, including changes in the colours of the buildings.

In the 1980’s, CN began to demolish old stations along the line.  Many of these stations had, with the completion of a modern highway, ceased to be the center of activity for the town and in most cases were no longer in use.  Encouraged by several locals, the Dunster Community Association bought the station from CN for a dollar with the condition that moving it off the tracks would be the community’s responsibility. Today, there are unfortunately less than 20 of these Type E stations remaining and of those, there are only three known to exist in BC.

This winter the Dunster Station Museum was nominated for and won Heritage BC’s heritage restoration award.  An award that is almost unheard of for projects North of Hope.