A doorman awaits the arrival of guests under the portico of the Chateau Laurier in a postcard dated to 1914, the end of what is often called the Long Nineteenth Century brought out by World War One.
I really like this picture. The composition is so dramatic. It’s one of the few postcards that features the life of a working man. And it reflects an experience that thousands of people have had, standing under the portico of the Chateau Laurier in the rain, or passing through it into the hotel to wait for friends, or meet them at the bar.
It’s also the second postcard we’ve had that refers to the “Grand Trunk Central Station” and not to “Union Station.” You might even be able to make that out, carved in stone over the entrance to the station across the street.
The reason for that is a little complicated to explain, but the starting place is that “Union” isn’t a patriotic title (as I always thought when I was a kid). In railway parlance it means a place where the lines of competing railways come together for the convenience of the passengers, who can then change trains and go wherever they want.
At the time the Grand Trunk Station was completed, Ottawa had several railway depots. There was a very small station on Sussex near the Mint. The New York Central — imagine that, taking a train from Ottawa to New York City! — had a depot near Lees Avenue. Canadian Pacific had its own station on Broad Street in Lebreton Flats.
If I understand it right, you could even catch Grand Trunk passenger trains at various places around the city. In any event it wasn’t until station in Lebreton Flats closed in 1923 that Grand Trunk Central finally became the Union Station that remained in operation until 1966.
As always, your best guide is the findings of the Ottawa Railway Circle.
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