NA Historical and Railway Museum opens

The Town of McLennan has an original photo of the McLennan train station. The Town is having the photo enlarged and framed to be placed in the museum. Please see more photos of the grand opening in last week’s South Peace News.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The original Northern Alberta Railway train station at Falher has moved around a lot in its 91 years.

But now it has a permanent home at McLennan’s Northern Alberta Historical and Railway Museum.

A grand opening drew several hundred interested spectators to ceremonies July 1.

Roger Bruneau presided over the short ceremony.

“What you see here today is the fulfillment of a dream,” he said.

“This station, which was so generously donated by the Town of Falher, is the last one standing in our region. It survived thanks to the hard work of volunteers like Richard Primeau ad many others.

“We recognize how important this building is for so many, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to share its rich history and with both locals and visitors to the region.”

The Northern Alberta Historical Railway Museum Society’s army of volunteers – most of them seniors – undertook the project.

Town of Falher Mayor Donna Buchinski presented the museum group with a photo of the Falher train station and detailed history as follows:

“The McLennan Railway Museum and Visitor Centre is housed at the Northern Alberta Railway [NAR] station that was located in Falher. This building was constructed in 1930 with Jos. Breault as the first agent.

“The railway came to the Smoky River area in 1915 developed from the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway. The Northern Alberta Railway came to be in 1929 and was an amalgamation of four railways, the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia [ED&BC], the Alberta and Great Waterways [A&GW], the Canada Central Railway [CCR] and Pembina Valley [PVR]. By 1930, the railway line was running from Edmonton through the Smoky River area and up to Peace River and Dawson Creek.

“In October 1969, Northern Alberta Railway Company closed the station at Falher but the building was still being used for railway business and as a radio room until 1972. In May of 1972 the Town of Falher purchased the building from N.A.R. for $350. It was later moved to another location in Falher and used as a daycare from July 1974 until August 1996.

“In 2006 the station was moved once again to be utilized as a Tourist Information Centre along Highway 49 in Falher. The Tourist Centre was open from 2006 until 2017.

“In 2018 the Town of Falher donated the building to the Railway Museum in McLennan, where it sits to date.”

Bruneau thanked all the volunteers from Falher to McLennan for their work calling the job “massive” including the move and preparation.

Town of McLennan Mayor Michele Fournier thanked the society for their efforts.

“This was a ambitious project and the society members were determined to see it through, “she said.

“We are all very pleased to be able to have such a facility to offer to the residents and visitors in the area.”

Both Bruneau and Fournier acknowledged other parties. Fournier recognized the museum is on Treaty 8 territory and Zone 6 Metis Nation of Alberta territory.

“We would also like to acknowledge their people on their contributions and participation in the opening of the right-of-ways and in the construction of the rail and the railway bridges in the area.”

Bruneau earlier said the same, asking people to “acknowledge the work done by the First Nation and Metis and the difficulties they endured.”

Francis Lessard spoke on behalf of Smoky River Tourism.

“We’ve been very fortunate to use part of the railway as tourism,” he said. “It will really promote the area.

“I think our area is very special. We have the best honey, the best canola, we want to promote that as best as possible,” said Lessard.

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