Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you name your society 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
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
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
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.