All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

The Museum

History of the Museum

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The Building

The first St. John's railway station was at the east end of town. Under the 1898 Railway Contract, Reids had agreed to build a new headquarters station in the west end. The west end railway station, also known as the Riverhead station, now the Railway Coastal Museum was built in 1902 with native granite blocks, 2 feet thick. It was occupied in January 1903. It is three stories tall, measures 125 feet x 50 feet, and covers an area of 18,750 square feet. The first train left the station in June of 1903, bound for Port aux Basques, where it arrived almost 28 hours later. The station was built as a result of a contract between the Winter government and Reid family. The construction of the trans-island railway was completed in 1898.

The station itself was designed to reflect the traditional style of other railway stations in Canada at the time.

For many years, the Station was the focal point for the Colony's Railway and Coastal Services. In the mid-1990's, the building became unoccupied. It was purchased and carefully restored to its original appearance by the Johnson Family Foundation, under the guidance of the Museum's Board of Directors, and with financial support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA). Overall investment in the station and museum totals $3 million.

Click for video interviews
Museum Renovations Slideshow
Museum Renovations Slideshow
First railway station in St. John's, c. 1900.
Fort William Railway Station in East End of St. John's, c. 1900. 31.01.046 Coll-47 Archives and Manuscripts, QEII, Memorial University.
St. John's Railway Station view from Water Street, 1903.
Railway Station in West End of St. John's, 1903. CN Pensioners Collection.
Man working on the train diorama.
Working on the train diorama display of the Railway Coastal Museum, 2003. Railway Coastal Museum.