The second last weekend of the season can be a challenge. Back to school shopping, last minute weekend plans, getting ready for fall - all take time from the last few days of the summer holidays.
Although we had fewer visitors than on weekends during the summer, there was time to let folks know what we do. There were questions about the opportunities for preservation and interpretation of the collection. We even had visitors from overseas - Germany and New Zealand for example.
Cathy and Rosemarie volunteered to take care of the gift shop for both days. They made our guests welcome and their hospitality was infectious.
Once again it was a pleasure to be part of the museum's public image.
We began the summer with the objective of getting the grounds in shape. Barry Collis took the challenge of giving the place "curb appeal". The grass, the plantings, the flower beds, and the collection were evaluated.
A storage shed had to be moved, a dead tree removed from beside the station, and signs installed.
Most critical was the painting. It would take lots of time, people to do the work and a schedule to finish the work. As of August 25, Barry has been successful in organizing the Community Service Volunteers for painting and cleaning up the grounds.
Today the painting of the buildings and cars is almost complete and the grass has been tamed. Barry has had the support of Don, Phil, Hans, Lucas and several others so that our visitors can enjoy their experience by seeing a fresh coat of paint to highlight our dedication to preserving the collection. Thanks to everyone.
Wednesday was the day for Don's birthday party. We had lots of folks to help him celebrate and there was a chocolate cake too.
We wish Don many more years of dedicated volunteering. He keeps us honest and he has the qualities that we need - we have our own McGyver!
As part of our celebrations today we were pleased to welcome Brian Mertz who made a significant donation to the museum.
It consisted of two caps from his grandfather's service on the NAR - a trainman's cap and a conductor's cap. They are in perfect condition.
Brian also gave us a copy of his grandfather's biography as follows:
"My grandfather was born in Treesbank, Manitoba on April 22, 1889 and passed away in Edmonton April 27, 1978. His family homesteaded in Manitoba and later near Creelman, Saskatchewan
"Mac" as he was known to his friends, worked in a variety of careers. He farmed, managed lumberyards, was a self-taught carpenter and went to work for the Canadian Northern Railway in 1915 at the age of 25.
My grandfather's railroad career was most significantly with the Northern Alberta Railway. He loved railroading and especially took pleasure in working with the many fine co-workers who he befriended for life. When he retired he took my brother and I to ride the steam locomotives as they shunted cars making up trains in Dunvegan Yards.
Gramp worked his way from labourer to switchman, brakeman, trainman, conductor and yardmaster. It is to honor his wonderful contribution to railroading that we donate two of his caps to the Pioneer Railroad Association for all to enjoy.
Grandson of Norman McCrum.
Work crews from the Attendance Centre were on site on Tuesday,Thursday and Friday. Four buildings , three boxcars/work cars, and a shed which was moved from north of #4 track were painted.
The string of cars including CP5000 was moved from the gate into the yard west of Calder.This is so that PNR Railworks can do some work out there. Terry, Ted and Ivan completed the job on Wednesday.
Thanks to Don's efforts on our behalf - keeping PNR satisfied with the arrangements and generally working with them we have had significant track work done already.
Hans has built a picket fence beside the garden to replace the lattice work that was falling apart. He is working steadily on the Refrigerator Car, and has built a dike at the entrance to the carpenter shop to keep the water at bay.
Phil continues to repair Boxcar 503939. One door is finished and the second one is about ready to install. It looks very good.
Barry has divided his time between the car and the grounds. He has done a great job of keeping the grass down.
Terry has prepared a schedule for operations for the balance of the year.
He is still looking for volunteers.
Velma Pringle is in the University Hospital with serious complications resulting from her kidney failure. She is on the kidney machine permanently.
We send our best wishes to Velma and Dennis.
CN is upgrading the track on the Coronado Sub. The work will extend eventually to Fort McMurray. The major change is to install heavier continuous welded rail on the line to handle heavier loads and allow trains to run at higher speeds. To accomplish this work, CN has contracted with PNR Railworks to do the job.
PNR is locating their equipment on our track while the upgrading is taking place so we are host to a number of sophisticated track machines. We have worked with PNR before and they are outstanding tenants. For example, one of their managers is now living on the grounds in a 5th wheel trailer and therefore provides 24 hour security.
In the meantime City Roadways has once again bladed the driveway and removed the potholes caused by the rain. We are grateful for this service.
This boxcar was built in April, 1930. It has been selected as a parts storage car. It has been repainted, Niale has nearly completed the lettering. One of the doors has been rebuilt. The other door is being rebuilt, will be installed and the car will have been structurally restored.
Don and Niale did the painting, Barry, Phil and Hans replaced the siding. It was milled to tongue and groove for us at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre. The siding was then bolted to the frame.
The lettering will be authentic and match CN standards. This is a real bonus to our collection and is a tribute to the teamwork and cooperation between the operations and restoration crews.
The weather cooperated splendidly - the sun dried up most of the mud, and the breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay.
We had an outstanding weekend - busy but very productive.
CN6514 performed well - for the pleasure of the riders and viewers and we featured coach APXX6740 as a showcase for brochures and announcements for Alberta Prairie Steam Tours. There were a lot of new visitors, some joined and others made donations.
Terry Wolfe coordinated the train crews. Ted VanGunst, Jim Sexsmith and Barry Wolfe operated the engine while Terry Wolfe, Hans Huizinga, Nate Gauvreau, Barry Wolfe (on a different shift) were on the tail end.
Gloria Jackson ran the gift shop and did a splendid job of welcoming visitors and providing information. Many visitors took advantage of the wide selection of gift items and accessories available.
Gerry Schiele, Ken Neckay and John Rushton represented the Morse Telegraphers and demonstrated "hooping up" besides entertaining visitors with snippets of railway history.
The comments on the changes in the Gift Shop, Washrooms and Volunteer Centre indicated that the image of the museum has benefited greatly from these changes. The wet weather hampered the planting and landscaping but dryer conditions will make an improvement.
We are looking forward to Grandparents Day.