CN Tower in Edmonton
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  Posted March 12th, 2016 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | 6 comments

Edmonton heritage

Source: C2E Portal

Rail travel in Edmonton
The CN office tower in Edmonton presides over an abandoned rail yard that’s now being converted into yet another one of the many condo developments that are cropping up around the city in its most recent boom.

CN Tower – well known symbol of Edmonton downtown 

My home town is littered with the detritus of the sporadic booms and busts it encountered in the latter half of the twentieth century. When I was growing up, I’d visit my father’s downtown office and look down upon this building and the old city hall (a similarly modern building, since demolished).

At that time, the tower was falling apart. Once western Canada’s tallest building, its white marble facade was falling apart. The building had seen better days, and in the nineties it underwent revitalization, replacing the outer siding with an acrylic substitute.

Edmonton CN Tower was built in the 60’s

CN Tower Edmonton today

While once I viewed the building as a dingy cast off from an earlier era, I think it is one of my favorite buildings in Edmonton today. Unlike the modern condominiums poised to surround it, the Edmonton CN Tower represents a reclaimed architectural heritage.

The CN Tower is an office tower in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It stands at 111 m (364 ft) with 26 floors. The building was designed by Abugov & Sunderland and was completed in 1966. At the time, it was the tallest building in Western Canada. It was also the first skyscraper in Edmonton to exceed the 100-metre limit and its reign as the city’s tallest building lasted from 1966 to 1971. Until 2008, it was owned by the Canadian National Railway Company which occupied 13 floors. It is now owned by Tawa International, Inc..

Built to overlook the old Canadian National rail yard, the tower’s basement once housed Edmonton’s main passenger railway station, until the Canadian National railway tracks leading to Downtown Edmonton were removed in 1998. Since then, passenger trains serving Edmonton have stopped at the Edmonton Railway Station situated near the Edmonton City Centre Airport.

The CN Tower suffered structural damage to the exterior on July 18, 2009 during a violent thunderstorm. Two vehicles were crushed by the falling debris at the base of the building.

The CN Tower, when it was built in 1966, was the tallest office building in Western Canada. It was sold by CN some years ago and the Company has been leasing back space in the building. By the mid-1990s, CN occupied half (13 floors) of the 26-storey tower, but a “change to its business model,” which became evident once American E. Hunter Harrison took control of the Company as President and CEO from Paul Tellier in 2002, has seen downtown-based jobs and departments slowly moving to existing office space at Walker Yard.  Coupled with years of downsizing, by the time 2008 rolled around, CN occupied only a few floors of what was once the heart of its Western Canada operations.

The building was the workplace for thousands of CAW Local 4001/Council 4000. CAW Agreement 5.1 members were employed in various departments that called the CN Tower home over the years, including Car Management; Customer Service; Employee Relations; Engineering; Fleet Management; Human Resources; Mailroom; Revenue and Accounting; Safety and Loss Control; Signals and Communications; Supply Management and Transportation.

The “Tower,” as it was affectionately known by CN Edmonton-based employees, was a railway Mecca in the City of Edmonton. Just below all of CN’s activities was the VIA Rail Station at the base of the tower, once a stopping point for the famous Canadian and Trans-Continental passenger trains that crossed Canada. VIA is also long gone.

The VIA Station is now located adjacent the west-side of the City Centre Airport on 121 Street and just south of CN’s Walker Car Shop.

As in most other Canadian cities, Edmonton’s downtown rail yards, which eastern leg of the yard started at the CN Tower and ran west alongside 104 Avenue, has been converted to commercial developments, apartments, condominiums and Grant MacEwen College, which is Alberta’s largest college.

The City of Edmonton is now a major tenant in the building, with Edmonton’s City Hall conveniently located just across 104 Street from the CN Tower.

Nobody knows whether the large CN logo, which glows off-and-on from all four sides at offsetting times from atop of the tower, lighting up the city’s sky, will be taken down or remain in tact where its been a landmark since 1966.

2500 feet of neon tubing were used in the four original “CN” logos at the top of the tower. The original exterior vertical lined white marble facade began to deteriorate in the 1980s. For safety and aesthetic reasons, it was replaced in 1991 with an acrylic material for $2.1 million.

At the time of completion it was western Canada’s tallest office tower.Prior to construction, CN threatened to cut the building’s size by 13 floors if the City of Edmonton didn’t agree to lease three floors.The design was chosen from a competition of six. CN had intended to construct a CN Tower II tower of 42 floors in 1969.

FROM CORNERSTONE…. to corner gas?

CN Tower 

The new Via rail train station in Edmonton 

…and this is some of what we were apparently tired of…

Here you could buy train tickets to anywhere within Canada

Very spacious front desk area

Baggage check in area

Magazine store in the building

CN Tower was completed in 1966

I was there several times. The pictures look better in black & white, I remember it being dimly lit and kind of yellowish and dingy towards the end. It was in the basement so there were no windows.

It’s an abysmal move for Edmonton to have a Viarail station out in the middle of nowhere and unserviced. Anybody visiting Edmonton via train must wonder what they are getting themselves in for.

The Freight trains had already veered north. The downtown train yards were closed. Viarail was the only train headed downtown and only 3/week in each direction. The likelihood being unless you were looking for it you’d never see it.

As indicated in the thread many people didn’t even know there was a train station there. You had a better chance spotting the Via Rail train driving by it on the Yellowhead.

Trains make a lot of sense for moving large numbers of people, and train travel done right is a true pleasure. Unfortunately I don’t think we have enough large numbers of people all coming and going from the same places in this part of the country to make it work.

Edmonton panorama

Have a good and healthy season.

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6 comments to “CN Tower in Edmonton”

  1. Comment by Fred Schadman:

    Nice post, I definitely love your writing persona. More blogs along the content of this one please!

  2. Comment by Candy:

    Nice article. You forgot to mention the restaurant on the 5th floor that used to be there. I heard it was an upscale one with a nice view. I could’t locate photos however.

  3. Comment by คอนโด:

    The CN Tower is an office tower in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It stands at 111 m (364 ft) with 26 floors.

  4. Comment by Daniel:

    Great blog! I enjoy your website. Extremely great. Will be back again.

  5. Comment by Carmen Magalski:

    Very good! I’m very interested for more info when you can. Cheers…

  6. Comment by Nick Chorney:

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