Cochrane Union Station

The northern railway venture

The Cochrane union station has been part of the community’s landscape since its construction in 1909-10. 

Northern Terminus

The first train pulled into Cochrane on 28 December 1908. The line was used to bring construction supplies to the area from southern Ontario. As with other railway centres, Cochrane was totally relied  on the railway to bring jobs and provide a link to the outside world.  

For years, the town was the northern terminus of the Ontario government’s very successful northern railway venture. The construction of a large station recognized the importance of the location and the town soon became the headquarters for much of the construction of the line throughout northeastern Ontario.

Retail businesses of every description—banks, pool halls, hotels, a barber shop, boarding houses, a bakery, and restaurants—all located along the rough, muddy streets of the town.

Rising from the Ashes

In 1910, 1911 and 1916, fires destroyed most or all of Cochrane.

Safe haven

The railways, their employees, and the union station, all figured prominently in the response to these disasters. Citizens took refuge from the flames inside the brick walls of the station and were taken to safety by train.

Cochrane’s dependency on the railways began to decline during the 1950s with the conversion to diesel locomotives, the highway expansions, and later with the reorganization of the railway business.  

Station Inn

The popularity of tourist trains along the ONR obliged the company to refurbish the station and add new amenities.

Old and New

The station’s extensive renovations are a unique mix of the old and the new: exterior ornamentation once removed has been returned, the waiting room/ticket counter area has been renewed, a second-floor hotel and meeting rooms were added, and the restaurant was remodeled with glass extensions and walkways.

Though extensively renovated, the station still represents the work of an important Toronto architect, John M. Lyle. 

Albert Hotel

Now the Best Western Swan Castle, the Albert hotel was conveniently situated just across the road from the Cochrane Union Station. By far the most luxurious accommodations it is said that the Albert had a restaurant, a bar and even a bowling alley!  

It is said that after he sold it, the owner of the Albert, M. Albert Boivert, would drive by everyday to monitor the changes being made to his former property but unfortunately he passed away prior to seeing the final product. 

Today the property boasts many amenities such as an exercise facility, steam room, dry sauna room, and meeting facilities. Last renovated in 2019, it is situated within walking distance of Cochrane’s downtown area and many historical sites.

The Best Western Swan Castle Inn named one of its meeting rooms in his honor.  

Extract of
Cochrane, Ontario Wonderfully Unexpected

Cochrane, Ontario Wonderfully Unexpected image circuit

Presented by : Destination Northern Ontario

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