Forth Junction Heritage Society
Annual General Meeting October 20, 2011, Red Deer
Annual Progress Report
The Forth Junction Heritage Society has focused
over the past year on refining and clarifying its objectives and
strategy in relation to proposed major tourist attractions for Red
Deer and area based on the role of trails, railways and transit in
the development of Western Canada.
In January, a rewarding visioning and strategic plan workshop was
held for all members of the Society with a community development
officer from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit and held at the
new Red Deer Transit administrative building.
The result was the creation of a strategic vision for the Society:
"to be Central Alberta's world-class heritage destination
celebrating the past, present and future of trails, trains and
transit", and a mission statement: "to preserve, promote and share
the transportation heritage of our community and region; and to pass
that heritage to future generations in a sustainable and interactive
way through education, advocacy and nurturing a passion for the
continuous evolution of trails, rails and transit." The primary
values of the Society were determined to be collaboration, history,
education and sustainability. Several short, medium and long term
strategic goals were also established.
Application for charitable status was sent to the Canada Revenue
Agency in December. In June we received a letter indicating
conditional denial of the application due to several objectives and
purposes of the Society not being compliant with the Income Tax Act
for charitable purposes. Some reasons given were that many of our
objectives were tourism-oriented and some commercial in nature.
After replying by letter and telephone, another letter was received
in August that indicated that if the Society was willing to modify
its purposes, consideration would be given to approve the
application, provided that it was received by early October
including proof of acceptance of those changes by Service Alberta
A special meeting was held in early September to consider a special
resolution to rescind the original purposes and adopt new purposes
of the Society as follows:
a) To educate the public on the evolution of the railway, historic
trails and transit in the settlement and development of Western
Canada through workshops, displays and interactive interpretation;
b) To preserve the trail, rail and transit heritage of Central
Alberta through the acquisition, preservation and restoration of
railway and other ground transportation artifacts.
The special resolution was passed unanimously by those present, sent
to Alberta Registries and a certificate of change has been received
and sent to CRA. We are now still waiting for a response from CRA.
As a result of the amended purposes for charitable status, the
Society will restrict itself to education and preservation
activities relating to the past, present and future of rails, trails
and transit in Central Alberta. Those activities may include the
collection, storage, display and interpretation of artifacts; the
publishing of self-guided tour booklets and a history of ground
transportation in Central Alberta; interactive miniature
replications of historic transportation scenes of Red Deer and area;
a reduced-size detailed operational replication of Jubilee
locomotive 3001 that headed 'high-speed' passenger service through
Red Deer from 1936 to 1955; and, operate interpretive centres based
on historic trails, heritage railway landmarks and the evolution of
public transit in Central Alberta.
The Society is also advocating for the use of the abandoned Alberta
Central Railway lines, including the historic Mintlaw trestle, as
linear heritage parks in collaboration with Central Alberta Regional
Trails Society. A meeting of officials of the City of Red Deer, Red
Deer County and the Town of Sylvan Lake with the two societies took
place during the summer with the idea of the concept being promoted
as a centennial project in 2013. Although that is now unlikely,
continued discussions are taking place for the eventual use of the
rights of way for future linear parks including the possible use of
the Mintlaw trestle as part of the Trans Canada Trail.
The Society will also continue to support the transformation of
Alexander Way to a pedestrian and transit corridor linking the
downtown with the river and beyond.
In addition, the Society will support future high-speed rail
transportation corridors linking Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton as
well as regional transit systems in Central Alberta in collaboration
with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce of which the Society is now a
member. An article in the chamber magazine last winter featured the
Forth Junction Project.
In order to fulfill the original objectives of a major signature
tourist attraction based on the theme of the evolution of trails,
trains and transit, the Society is investigating the creation of a
separate new entity, possibly in the form of a non-profit
corporation in co-operation with municipalities, the private sector
and other organizations. The new entity could promote a variety of
'non-charitable' activities including an indoor and/or outdoor theme
park, retail/regional gathering centre, guided heritage tours,
railway nature park and railway station and transit heritage resort.
Originally, the Society proposed the concept of two sites for these
visitor and community destinations, one of which would be located in
the redeveloped Riverlands district west of historic downtown Red
Deer and the other in an unidentified location in Red Deer County.
Although the Society still believes that Riverlands is an excellent
location for such an attraction, it is now exploring alternative
sites both within and outside the city for either a single facility
combining all the ideas or a series of future interpretive centres
at different strategic locations.
first goal in establishing all these objectives will be a
Feasibility and Destination Study that will include consultation
with stakeholders and the general public to get feedback on some of
the concepts as well as potential locations. Further discussions are
forthcoming with the study consultant to modify the original intent
of the study that was focused on Riverlands.
The website is continuing to evolve and is now attracting around
1,475 page views (hits) per month or an average of almost 50 per
day. Mostly due to the website, the Society is more and more
frequently being contacted by historical enthusiasts and the media
as the authority on trail, rail and transit history in Central
Society participated for the second year at Supertrains in Calgary
and will participate in the Red Deer Model Train and Hobby Show at
Westerner Park next week. In addition, the Society will have a
modest display at the Springbrook Agency Fair next week.
Also during the year, the Society received a letter of support from
the Central Alberta Historical Society. However, support from the
City of Red Deer and Tourism Alberta were denied partly due to the
Society's focus on Riverlands where it is still probably several
years away from having a site suitable for a major tourist
The Society had 24 memberships during the year. Three field trips
were held including the Mintlaw trestle, Innisfail Historical
Village and the Alberta Central Railway Museum near Wetaskiwin.
All in all, it has been a very productive year in getting ourselves
prepared for the next stages that include the feasibility study,
fundraising for specific projects, identifying a site or sites for
future facilities and finding a storage facility for major
Paul Pettypiece, President