Dorreen Store and Railway Station
Dorreen General Store and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Station Site
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Dorreen general store is a one and one half-storey wood framed gable-roofed structure with a signature wooden parapet. The original Dorreen Grand Trunk Pacific railway station site is located adjacent to the CNR railway tracks, with traces of the original garden and wooden fence. The two related features are located in the community of Dorreen, in District Lot 2500 at railway mile 125.5 from Prince Rupert, about 48 km northeast of Terrace, in northwestern British Columbia.
The Dorreen store and the site of the former Grand Trunk Pacific railway station are valued for their historical and cultural significance as links to a surviving settlement associated with the Grand Trunk Pacific railway, and for the relationship between the railway station site, the store, and the general layout of the community of Dorreen.
Constructed between 1908 and 1914, the British Columbia portion of the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) connecting the Canadian Prairies to the west coast at Prince Rupert, is considered to be the single most important influence on the opening up and development of central British Columbia. In 1923, as a result of financial difficulties, the GTP was absorbed by the Canadian National Railway.
The general store and railway station site are valued as part of one of the few remaining GTP settlements along the Skeena River. District Lot 2500 was pre-empted by Charles Carpenter in 1911 and the community was named after Ernest Dorreen, a GTP engineer who maintained a GTP construction camp at the same location.
Dorreen is important for its association with early economic development in the region. While nearby mining operations for silver, lead and zinc directly influenced the growth of the community, Dorreen also benefitted economically from the construction of the railway. In an effort to attract settlers to central British Columbia, the GTP produced brochures advertising the region's economic opportunities. Though many in the community were employed in mining and by the railway, Dorreen's population rarely exceeded fifty.
Constructed in 1913, the railway station at Dorreen was built according to the GTP Standard Design A plan (CNR Plan 100-152), the most common station design used by the GTP in western Canada. The station had a hipped roof with wide bellcast overhang, turret, and large banks of windows. Its central location in Dorreen was typical of GTP standardized planning. The station included a waiting room, agent's office, a freight or crew bunk area and living space for the agent and his family. The station was demolished by the CNR in 1971 but its location is still visible today as a rectangular area near the tracks.
Constructed around 1920, the Dorreen general store is important as a representative of early settlement and services that sprang up along the railway. It is of utilitarian building construction with a parapet false front designed to convey a commercial presence and importance in the community. The expanse of front windows and two entry doors emphasize the commercial nature of the building, which functioned as a store, post office, mining records office, an office of the justice of the peace and a telegraph office, with a residence above. Constructed by original owner Thomas McCubbin, the store was sold to William and Florence Horwill about 1935. The Horwills operated the store until 1960. Shortly after its closure, new owners launched a short-lived venture to use the building as a fishing lodge.
Both the store and station site attest to Dorreen's local self-sufficiency and agricultural potential. Store owners farmed the land nearby, shipping bedding plants, fruit, vegetables and milk by train to neighbouring communities, while the station manager tended a small garden on the south side of the railway station, growing vegetables and selling flower bulbs.
Difficult to access, the Dorreen store and railway station site has nostalgic value based on the role of the railway station and local store as the heart of rural northern communities. It is futher valued for its sense of place, and for its current residents' ability to live an alternative lifestyle.
Source: Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine Planning Department, Terrace
The character-defining elements of the Dorreen store and railway station site include:
Site, Setting and Landscape
- Location of the station and store on the south side of the Skeena River and north of the GTP tracks
- Current isolation of the site and community of Dorreen
- Relationship of the site of the original railway station to the railway tracks
- Location of the general store along the main pathway of the settlement and adjacent to the original railway station site
- Rectangular space defining the location of the original railway station and its associated garden
- Views from the general store to the railway tracks and across to the mountains
- Remains of the garden and associated elements behind the general store
Architectural Features: General Store
- Simple rectangular massing
- Two-part front gable roof structure with false front parapet
- Window fenestration taking up most of the front façade
- Wooden windows in the front façade and the parapet, and on back and side building façade
- Insulbrick shingle style cladding
- Corrugated verandah roof with wooden posts
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Station or Other Rail Facility
- Police Station
Architect / Designer
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Location of Supporting Documentation
Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine Planning Department, Terrace
Cross-Reference to Collection