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Historic train station in Quebec capital celebrates its centennial

The Gare du Palais train station in Quebec City. The Gare du Palais serves as a multimodal station, as a bus and train station in the lower part of the town.
The Gare du Palais train station in Quebec City. The Gare du Palais serves as a multimodal station, as a bus and train station in the lower part of the town. The CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO/Francis Vachon

Dignitaries marked the centennial of Quebec City’s main train station, the Gare du Palais, lauding the building as an architectural icon with a rich history.

Inaugurated on Aug. 10, 1916, in the city’s old port, the gare has been “an inseparable part of the landscape of Quebec City for 100 years,” Mayor Régis Labeaume said Wednesday.

The chateau-style granite and limestone structure, a designated heritage building, was built by Canadian Pacific during the First World War from plans by American architect Harry Edward Prindle.

The company aimed to provide Quebec City with a terminal that would rival the grand rail stations elsewhere on the continent.

It was closed to passenger rail service from 1976 to 1985 and underwent major renovations.

Passenger traffic at the station, a major stop in Via Rail’s Quebec City-Windsor corridor, reached 235,000 in 2015, up 17 per cent from 2005.

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The Gare du Palais is “an iconic building that calls to mind the imposing presence of the grand architectural creations of yesteryear,” Via Rail president and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said.

He said Via wants the gare to continue to play “a pivotal role in sustainable mobility” in Quebec’s capital.

In the past decade, more than $1.2 million was spent on environmental and other upgrades to the station, and a further $1.5 million will go to improvements, including to the entrance doors, in 2016 and 2017.