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Forth Junction Project
Frequently Asked
Questions about the
Forth Junction Project

Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you name your society Forth Junction?
Forth Junction was the railway interchange from 1910 to 1962 south of 32 Street in Red Deer that connected the east-west Red Deer-based Alberta Central Railway with the north-south Calgary and Edmonton Railway, both operated by Canadian Pacific. The junction represents the role of the railway as the major evolutionary economic catalyst in the development of Central Alberta. Forth is also an adverb indicating onward progress or moving forward. The junction itself was likely named after a river in Scotland.

Where are you located?
This project is still in the concept stage but we are actively exploring a few sites that would be suitable. One is a municipally-owned 60-acre parcel south of Red Deer at Springbrook. Another is a developer-owned parcel south of Niobe at north Innisfail. There are a couple of other suitable sites in the region. We have been negotiating with the land owners and municipalities for a win-win arrangement for the creation of our visionary community heritage rail park and hope to have a location soon.

What's your first priority?
First priority of course is to secure land for the park. This may involve purchase, lease, partnering or gifting of a suitable site. Once a site is secured, the next priority is constructing a facility, preferably a replication of the 1891 Calgary & Edmonton Railway combination station and freight house, to store and exhibit the recently-acquired collection of railway artifacts gifted to us by the Junior League of Edmonton from the now-closed Calgary and Edmonton Railway Station Museum in south Edmonton.

Do we really need another railway/transportation museum/rail park?

The challenge of many railway and other transportation themed sites and museums is that they are usually too small, too static, too localized, too far away from main transportation routes, too unattractive and often too boring for most people not interested in heritage, trains or transportation. To attract visitors and residents alike, a major heritage and community venue needs to be interesting to different age groups, interactive, inviting, educational, changeable, relevant, authentic, comfortable, easy to get to, unique, fun and big. The Forth Junction Project takes all of these into consideration in the concept of the multi-function attractors. There are several unique-in-Canada aspects to the concept and the intent is to celebrate not only the past but the present and future as well. In addition, the vision for the venue includes both traditional railway architectural treatment and more contemporary environmentally-friendly features that blend the past, present and future.

What makes this rail park concept different from similar facilities?
The most unique aspect of this concept is the replication of historic railway stations as interpretive centres featuring the historic value of the railways of the region and the transporting of goods and people, as the venues for a series of accurate historical miniature-world-style model railway displays showing the evolution of communities as a result of these railways and as multi-use facilities including a children's activity centre, meeting rooms, gift shop, refreshment bar and other uses. Another unusual aspect of the park is that un-restored equipment will be hidden from public view to eliminate the unattractive element of some rail parks. We also intend to encourage entrepreneurs, businesses, a development company or not-for-profit corporation to build stand-alone semi-commercial tourist facilities complementary to the park but independent of it such as a campground/RV park, railway station resort, restaurant, boutiques and a roundhouse-influenced conference centre.

Why the Red Deer area?

The city of Red Deer has grown in population in the past quarter century from 58,000 to over 100,000 people (over 50% increase). The region and communities around Red Deer have also grown significantly in that time. In 1991 the large Canadian Pacific railyards were completely relocated from downtown to the west side of the city and as a result the majority of residents have no memory of the significance of the railway to the city and region. A new major road (Taylor Drive) along with major residential and commercial developments were built on the former railyard site. The only clues left that there was ever a railway there is the historic CPR railway station at the head of Ross Street, the CPR bridge across the Red Deer River now used as part of the Trans Canada Trail and the cement pillar along Taylor Drive. But the fact remains that Red Deer would not exist, certainly at its current location, without the decisions made by railways operated in the region. The city would not have developed nearly as quickly in its role as the distribution, social and economic hub of Central Alberta without the railway. For 60 years, the railway was the only viable means of settlement, distribution and travel in the region. The historic value of the former infrastructure and its social and economic benefits have largely been forgotten. The fact that the question is asked so many times is, in itself, the best reason for celebrating the railway heritage of Central Alberta and creating a marketable theme around it.

Would the Forth Junction Project attract only people interested in trains and transportation?
The Forth Junction Project proposal, although based on a ground transportation theme that includes trails and transit as well as railways, has been developed to attract people with all kinds of interests and various demographics. Displays and activities would be interactive, fun, educational and social. A central heritage centre or series of connected interpretive centres in the form of replicated historic railway stations of the region would be focal points with several uses of heritage, recreational and educational value for all ages. It is anticipated that the park would be located close to existing natural areas and complemented by additional landscaping, pathways, playgrounds, benches and water features. As the development of the park progresses, in addition to residents of and visitors to the area, it would attract railway and transit enthusiasts from all over North America, especially if it is unique and high quality. There are an estimated 500,000 model railroaders in North America as well as hundreds of thousands of railfans, rail historians and transit enthusiasts and historians.

How many people could the Forth Junction Project attract?
A project in the U.S. similar to but smaller than what is proposed for the region attracted 100,000 people in its first year (2009) in spite of a deep recession. Two stand-alone model railway museums in the U.S. attract between 150,000 and 250,000 people per year. A model railway museum in Germany attracts one million people per year! Although we don't expect to attract those kinds of numbers, especially in the early stages, it is anticipated that the park will become a major visitor attractor to the region. The Forth Junction Project is much more than a railway museum. It is designed for both visitors from all over North America and as a relaxing and fun gathering place for the community.

Will this project impact the taxes I have to pay?
The Forth Junction Project is not necessarily a municipal project but will likely require some support from area municipalities, especially the one that the park is constructed in during the formative years of the project. Any affect on taxes should however be minimal considering the positive impact this project will have with tourism and economic development. Most of the costs of the project are expected to be generated from individuals who want the project to succeed or are looking for a legacy project they can sink their teeth into as well as from donations by the general population, business community, like-minded organizations and provincial and federal funding opportunities. This project has the potential and benefit to be a significant factor in the general branding of the region and there will be many opportunities for entrepreneurs and other non-profit organizations to collaborate with the general theme. Once completed, the intent is that the park will be self-supporting, requiring no tax dollars to maintain. The structures that are needed to support the attractions will require considerable capital funding, most of which is expected to come from individuals, corporations and fund-raising activities. Creating tourism in the Red Deer area as a major industry may require considerable investment but if done right and done big will pay for itself over and over as a generator of jobs, community investment and pride.


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