It is the end of June on the calendar, but at the Museum it feels to me as if it is late April. Normally we would have had our opening May long weekend, Father’s Day, and would be preparing for Canada Day. It feels very odd to walk around the site without encountering any visitors. I miss the little kids covering their ears as 9000 whistles for the crossing, the kids shaking with excitement as 1392 comes pounding into the station, and watching visitors climbing up into the cupola of the caboose and discovering the seats flip over.
However, the Museum is still busy in this time of COVID-19, even without visitors. Our gang of volunteers are tackling various projects. The main speeder car is being rebuilt and looks great in a bright orange coat of paint. The station platform has been extended and widened at the east end to help cut down on congestion. The platforms on the speeder shed and the fire hall have both been rebuilt. 9000 has had a minor tune up and now runs as if it was 1948 all over again. The roof on the business car Dunvegan has been completed. The crane idler car is nearly complete and work has started on the bunk car. Our Railway Operating Certificate from Alberta Transportation has been renewed, which means we can operate the train again next year.
This year we have four summer staff, hired under the Canada Summer Jobs program, with thanks to our MP Ziad Aboultaif. Please welcome back Claire O’Brien for her third summer, Anikka Hanson and Monika Riechers for their second summer, and Nathaniel Hehir. The staff have been working on a number of projects, both on and off site. They have been tasked with developing an education program for field trips, developing a virtual tour of the Museum, general clean-up and freshening up displays, creating new displays, and finally doing some site maintenance, including lots and lots of painting.
We welcome all members to come out to the site to lend a hand or just to do an inspection tour. Volunteers are always welcome. We can find work for willing hands, whether it be woodwork, painting, scraping, fixing locomotives, or mowing the grass. We have COVID-19 precautions in place for both volunteers and contractors; there is a health evaluation checklist and sign-in sheet in the Calder shop. For further health precautions, the gate is generally locked. If you are interested in coming out, please contact me for instructions.
As well, we welcome donations large and small. The Board of Directors has been applying for various grants, from private foundations and the governments, including grants for Museum to help deal with changes relating to COVID. For donations, we have a list of tools and supplies we use that can be replenished. Our backhoe has seen better days, if you have a spare backhoe or skid steer you’re not using, we would put one to good use. We also have been buying paint and lumber in quantities that our vendors wonder if we’re hoarders. Monetary donations are most appreciated. Tax receipts may be issued.
I welcome your suggestions and feedback. I can be contacted at [email protected] or at (780) 441-5917.