'Sleeper' village grand opening set
reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley) May 10, 2010
Innisfail Historical Village
has been a bit of a sleeper among Central Alberta attractions.
Curator Dean Jorden and other members of the Innisfail and District
Historical Society plans to use their 40th anniversary celebrations
to change that.
To draw more people to the society's impressive collection of
historic buildings, vehicles, equipment and other artifacts in the
middle of Innisfail, a project to restore the 1904 Bowden CPR rail
station has recently been unveiled.
The grand opening is set for May 22 with a vintage auto show and
pancake breakfast at the 42nd Street and 52nd Avenue site.
A general store with many artifacts from the town's first store
owner George Washington West has been built in the station along
with new exhibits emphasizing the area's rail history.
Within a display case designed to look like an old-fashioned rail
passenger car, volunteer and train enthusiast Rob Van der Velden has
painstakingly crafted a pair of N-gauge model railway displays
featuring dozens of scratch-built buildings.
They depict Innisfail in 1910 and in the 1960s, when an impressive
line of grain elevators stood sentinel. A similar display for 1892
will be ready for next year.
Jorden said they have spent the past 18 months working on the
project, which replaces a general exhibit of farm and household
Besides the child-pleasing railway displays, a pair of morse code
stations have been set up to let visitors try their hands at
A display case also features a range of CPR memorabilia, a
collecting feat in itself.
"I didn't realize how hard it was to get this CPR stuff. It's really
collectible," said Jorden.
The station master's office and home were also given a facelift as
part of the project.
Floors were refinished, walls repainted and period furniture added.
The $25,000 project was funded by local service clubs, community
organizations, Museums Alberta and Red Deer and District Community
Foundation and private donors.
Bowden Institution prisoners also contributed some of the labour
through the Work Release Program.
In one station room sits an eerie display of life's "what ifs". A
pair of suitcases owned by Innisfail farmer David Marshall are on
display that had once been destined to join their owner on the
Marshall had gone to England to marry his fiancee and had booked his
return on the doomed ocean liner.
But a brother wanted him home sooner to help with spring planting so
he cancelled his tickets and booked an earlier ship. He, his new
bride and his suitcases missed their brush with fate.
The museum features 17 buildings displayed on two acres of land.
These are furnished to interpret the history of the area up to the
1930s and includes an original log stopping house built by settlers
Similar structures were once posted every 20 miles (32 km) to give
There is also a large display of farm machinery and a day-use picnic
Throughout the summer there will be a number of events and
celebrations including a Canada Day bash. A Bourbon Street Variety
Show and Carnival is set for Aug. 14.
The season opens May 15. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
For information go to
News article: New exhibits call Historical
(Innisfail Province May 2010)
News article: Railway Days still chugging
along to success
(Wetaskiwin Times Aug.2013)
News article: Alberta Central Train Museum
celebrates 17th anniversary
(Wetaskiwin Times June 2009)
Innisfail Historical Village Model Rail Exhibit
Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CPR)
Canadian Pacific Railway Stations in Central Alberta
Current Rail Heritage Preservation in Central Alberta