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Railway Museum to honour coal industry

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Camrose Railway Museum and Park executive director Norm Prestage is preparing for opening day of the season on May 19. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian

Camrose Railway Museum and Park executive director Norm Prestage is preparing for opening day of the season on May 19. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian

The Camrose Railway Museum and Park will be paying homage to a disappearing piece of our history this summer. 

 

On July 14 they will be hosting a Salute to the Coal Industry at the train museum in Camrose. Executive director Norm Prestage says the industry is what originally brought the Canadian Northern Railway to Camrose in the first place a link from Vegreville to Drumheller. Now with green energy legislation being put through, coal energy is being phased out. 

"It's sad to see because it was such a big part of our history, the industrial revolution was fueled by coal, not only in Europe but also in North America," said Prestage. 

There were coal mines throughout the area that have been closed down over the years, partly do to a shift in reliance on other sources of energy like oil and gas. When Camrose was settled, coal was used not just to power communities, it was used to power farms and machinery or keep homes warm. 

Not long after the railway was completed to Drumheller, coal was discovered in Brazeau County in the mountains and a new leg was built from Warden to the west.  

Agricultural reliance on railways followed, first livestock and then grain once enough people settled the area and elevators started to pop up on the Prairie skyline. 

The Salute to the Coal Industry will be in place of Hobo Days which ran last year. Lake Hobo Days there will interactive displays up throughout the property including fireplaces and hearths, a quilting demonstration and story telling. Prestage will also have the museum's coal cars up and running in the Morgan Garden Railway, and rides will be available on the train that runs on track past the train station. 

The Salute to the Coal Industry will be the biggest day on the calendar for the museum this summer, as it opens its doors to the public on May 19, but it is far from the only date to circle.  On May 26, the museum will host its annual plant exchange and they will be taking students through on tours and demonstrations throughout the remainder of the month and through June as well as at the Meeting Creek Railway Station and Elevator. 

On August Long Weekend they will be hosting a Thomas and Friends Day aimed at children with a nominal charge to go towards supporting Camrose Literacy for their Books Under the Tree project. There will be games, face painting and other activities planned. The following weekend is their annual garden party which will once again feature the Station Swing Band. 

They also are making plans for their stop on the Prairie Fun Days Tour hosted by Tourism Camrose and Camrose County. Normally the last weekend in August, this year it will be a week earlier as it connects with Alberta Open Farm Days on Aug. 18 and 19. The tour will be making a stop at the Meeting Creek Railway Station and Grain Elevator. 

The museum is open throughout the summer and they will have two summer students on hand to help the host volunteers who keep the 13 gardens and other building up and running while also leading tours. They often get people from all over Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan stopping in on their way through Camrose or while vising friends and family. From time to time they do get the odd American through and last year they had a visitor from Ireland. 

"We're always looking for volunteers," said Prestage. "A lot of times volunteers come here to get out and have company and learn new things. I volunteered here because I love trains." 

For more information on the Camrose Railway Station and Park and the Canadian Northern Society, go to www.canadiannorthern.ca. 

 

jaldrich@postmedia.com 

 



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