News articles about the 1928 Benalto CPR station
from the abandoned former Alberta Central Railway
Oct. 1, 2019, Sylvan Lake
News (Megan Roth)
Benalto's train station sees new
life as community hub
The Benalto Centennial Station held its grand opening on
The former Benalto train station has officially opened its doors as
the Benalto Centennial Station.
The Benalto Centennial Station welcomed residents from the
community and surrounding area to the grand opening Sept. 28 for a
hot dog lunch and a tour of the new facility.
Six years of work on the old railroad station, and roughly half a
million dollars has turned out what the committee behind the station
hopes will become the hub of the community.
Dave More, a member of the Benalto Booster Club and chair of the
grand opening committee, said the community has already been drawn
to the new centre.
"We have already had some bookings, and we have one group that
regularly holds meetings here," More said.
The club planned to finish the work on the project in five years
with a budget of about $500,000.
The timeline went a little longer than planned, and though final
numbers are not official, came a little under budget.
"Because we had to fundraise and deal with grants there were
stretches when we had to stop and wait because we didn't have money
at that time," More said.
"In the end, I think we are all pretty pleased with what we have
The redone train station includes a new kitchen, a gathering space
and a small museum full of memorabilia commemorating the history of
Benalto and the train station.
The renovations also include a walk-out basement, which will be
heavily used in the winter months as the Benalto Centennial Station
backs onto the outdoor skating rink.
"The land we are on was donated to us, and we have always had the
skating rink here. So, we knew right away that we wanted to place
the station on the hill with a basement going out to the rink," More
Skaters will be able to come in to warm-up, use the bathrooms or
put on their skates through the basement doors.
There is still some work left to be done on the old station, and
More says that means more fundraising is likely to come.
The next part of the work to come is the installation of a few
"Keeping this place running will be expensive, so we are hoping the
solar panels will help take some of that off our plates," he said.
The train station began its life in 1928 before moving to become a
summer home in the 1970s southwest of Red Deer.
Roughly a decade later it was moved again, this time to the Burnt
Lake Industrial area where it stayed for roughly 30 years as a
A community member in Benalto was contacted in the fall of 2012
asking if the Town would be interested in taking the station back.
"We got a call basically saying if we want it, its ours, we just
had to move it back to town . . . We ended up paying one dollar for
The station was moved back to Benalto in April 2013.
A group of residents take in the memorabilia which
was donated to the Centennial Station for a small
details the old train station's past. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan
Sept. 28, 2019, Red Deer Advocate (Lana
Benalto Centennial Station to celebrate
The newly renovated Benalto Centennial Station will be unveiled to
the public at a grand opening ceremony Saturday.
Attendees will hear about the 1928 station's well-travelled
history. After being moved out of Benalto in 1971 to be used as a
private residence near Red Deer, the historic train station
underwent a second move in 1985 to the Burnt Lake area, before being
donated back to the community in 2013.
A local group has been undertaking an ambitious campaign to pay for
its return trip to the hamlet and restoration of the building.
Volunteers with the Benalto Booster Club have been restoring the
station for the past six years with more than $450,000 from grants,
donations and fundraisers.
Club member David More said those involved with the transformation
are very excited to reveal the finished station to the community.
"When you're renovating an old building, there's a lot of wear and
tear ... so we've had to do some work reinforcing the main
structure," he added. But much of the labour has been to bring the
interior back to a late 1930s look.
More said the soft amber colour scheme and period-like wallpaper
has brought positive comments from project sponsors, who got a
preview tour this week.
Saturday's public open house will be held from 10 to 4 p.m.
Everybody is invited to come check out the Benalto Centennial
Station. A free barbecue will be held, as well as a time capsule
Community members can drop off small mementos, news articles or
other artifacts for the capsule, which will be sealed under the
stairs and opened in 25 years.
The Benalto Centennial Station will fill a central role as a
community gathering space. It's also available for small event
rentals with a functional kitchen, a museum, and recreation centre.
Photo: Benalto Booster Club members Angie Schickerowski,
Karen Turner-Padley and Dave More, walking from
the Benalto train station while it was still under construction. An
opening ceremony for the finished project will
be held Saturday. File photo Red Deer Advocate
Sept. 18, 2017, RDNewsNow (online) (Gary
Donald Family gives special gift
Benalto Train Station
Benalto - Donald family members have made a $30,000
donation toward the refurbishment of the Benalto train station.
It will become a community museum and recreation centre and could
be finished by the end of the year.
Back in 1971 Jack and Joan Donald bought the abandoned CPR station
and had it moved to the east bank of the Red Deer River near the C&E
They converted the old station into a summer home.
A decade later the Donalds decided to build a permanent home on the
land and the station was sold and re-located to an area near the
Burnt Lake Industrial Park.
There, thanks to the original initiative of the Donalds, the
station was able to continue its role as a family home for another
In late 2012 the station was donated back to the citizens of
Benalto and in April of 2013 it was moved back to the hamlet.
Over the last four years the station has slowly undergone its
transition from family home to its future role as a museum,
gathering place and recreation centre.
A committee is working hard to raise the funds needed to complete
Back in June, Red Deer County contributed $75,000 toward the
Sept. 15, 2017, Red Deer Advocate (Susan
Old Benalto train station gets $30,000
Renovations underway this fall
Benalto train station is on track to becoming a
community and recreation centre with a museum thanks to a $30,000
donation to help refurbish the historic building.
In July, Red Deer philanthropists Joan and Jack Donald and their
family made the donation to Benalto Booster Club for the project.
In 1971, the Donald family bought the abandoned CPR station, moved
it to the eastern bank of the Red Deer River near the C&E Trail, and
converted it into a summer home.
They sold the building a decade later and new owners Garett and
Brenda Cupples relocated it to an area near Burnt Lake Industrial
Park on the western edge of Red Deer. In 2013, the Cupples donated
the station back to Benalto.
Dave More, with Benalto Booster Club, said rooms upstairs are still
painted pink and blue from when they were bedrooms for the Donald
"They have a lot of fond memories of the place. They are keen to
see it continue in a happy role back in its old community," More
said Friday about the hamlet west of Sylvan Lake.
A contractor will begin work this fall that includes installing a
support beam, interior renovations, adding a deck, and finishing
cladding. A stairwell is already built linking the bottom and top
"It's being completely rebuilt and converted into a very usable
"The basement is pretty much set up, and it's just a matter of
building a big deck around the outside all around the building so
people can sit out and look at the mountains."
More said the station has a $130,000 budget to complete renovations
that could possibly be finished by the end of the year.
In addition to the Donald's $30,000 donation, Red Deer County put
$75,000 towards the project earlier this summer, and, in November,
the club will know if it's getting a Community Facility Enhancement
Program grant from the province to meet its budget.
Located on the hamlet's Main Street in the old rail yards over
looking the rodeo grounds, the building will still look like a train
station, but it will be given a whole new life, he said.
"We saw a wonderful opportunity to create a legacy project for the
future. We're trying to set it up for the next generations to really
enjoy it and have a connection to the history at the same time.
There's young families here that will really benefit from it."
Photo: Benalto Booster Club members Dave More, Karen
Turner-Padley and Angie Schickerowski, left to right,
examine an antique railway lantern in the Benalto train station Friday
Photo by Jeff Stokoe, Red Deer Advocate.
Sept. 15, 2017, Eckville
Echo (Megan Roth)
Benalto train station
restoration project receives large donation
The Donald family donated $30,000 to the project
The Benalto train station restoration just received a massive
donation from a family closely tied to the station.
The Donald family recently donated $30,000 towards the project,
which will see the old CPR station transition into its new role as a
community museum and recreation centre.
The committee working to fix up and transform the station give
their thanks to the Donald family for their generous donation.
"Thanks to their insight in originally saving the building and
giving it new life they are once again instilling their devotion to
the community with their generous gift," an official press release
from the committee said.
Jack and Joan Donald, along with their children John and Kathy and
their spouses, have a special connection with the old train station.
It was once used as the family's summer home near the C&E Trail.
The Donalds purchased the train station in 1971, and hauled it to
the east bank of the Red Deer River near the C&E Trail, where it
became a home for summer getaways.
The station was used by the Donalds for a decade as a summer home
before the family chose to sell it and build a more permanent house
on the property.
After the family sold the station, it was relocated to an area near
the Burnt Lake Industrial Park on the western edge of Red Deer.
The station continued its life as a home for another 32 years
thanks to the work the Donald Family put into it.
No longer needed as a residence, in 2012 the station was offered
back to the residents of Benalto, and was moved back to town in
The station is in the process of transitioning from a residential
home to a museum and community gathering place.
A committee is in place to raise funds needed to finish the project.
"They have followed their home back to its origin," said the press
July 2017 Issue, Red Deer County News
County approves funding for
Benalto Train Station
At the June 6 Council meeting, Red Deer County approved a request
from the Benalto Booster Club for $75,000 to help finish the Benalto
Train Station. The station was originally built in 1928 and moved
out of Benalto in 1971. Local residents offered the station back to
the community in 2012, and the Booster Club saw an opportunity to
provide Benalto with a gathering place and recreational facility.
The renovated and rebuilt train station will offer a recreation
centre, museum and archives, and a small event space. Apart from an
older-era 1960s community hall, Benalto has no recreational centre
for young and old to gather for special events. According to a
County report, Benalto has over 500 residents that could greatly
benefit from this facility as the nearest recreational facilities
are in Eckville and Sylvan Lake. It will also be a space available
for neighbouring communities, addressing an additional population of
over 15,000. The station was placed on a newly built foundation,
which provides a walkout basement that faces an outdoor skating
rink. The downstairs space will host a place for skaters to put on
equipment and warm up; washroom facilities; and an area for youth
groups to host activities.
In the summer, the adjacent green space can be used for outdoor
activities. The upstairs space will offer a place for seniors and
other community groups to come and meet, and could also be rented
out for small gatherings, including weddings, birthday parties, etc.
Benalto has a rich history which will be showcased throughout the
museum section of the station through didactic panels outlining the
area's history and evolution. Archives will be hosted containing the
important history and life of the community. The full-surround
balcony will provide a beautiful panorama of the Medicine Valley
with its view toward the Rocky Mountains, offering a wonderful
backdrop for artists and others to enjoy.
The project began in 2013 and is over 2/3 complete. Five phases
were planned -- the last phase is final construction and completion
to be done in 2017 and 2018. Half of Phase 5 construction is
complete and is looking to achieve a turn-key result with a grand
The Benalto Booster Club has fundraised $104,000 to date and is
continuing with multiple fundraising campaigns to raise money for
this project. Additional fundraising is being done through the sale
of the painting pictured above and the Booster Club is also applying
for a CFEP grant from Alberta Culture & Tourism to help cover final
construction costs. This requested funding must be matched by other
In 2013, Red Deer County contributed a $27,987.28 Rural Capital
Assistance Grant toward the cost of a foundation and moving the
station to its new foundation. Another Rural Capital Assistance
Grant of $86,175.98 was approved in 2015 by Red Deer County Council
to complete sanitary sewer installation at the Benalto Train
June 26, 2017, Eckville Echo (Samuel
Benalto train station revival
on track with $75,000 grant from Red Deer County
The Benalto Booster Club's
pet project is anticipated to open
as a community centre in spring 2018
The iconic traditional centre of the community of Benalto is getting
a face lift, thanks to the Benalto Booster Club and the efforts of
many volunteers. The 1920s rail station is in the process of a
thorough renovation -- one that will eventually transform it into a
modernized community centre with a historical flair.
David More, a member of the Benalto Booster Club who acts as a
spokesperson for the Benalto Train Station project, said it is his
goal to tell the story of both the community and the railway that
"Really, Benalto didn't exist until the railway," said More.
The Benalto Booster Club is working to create a gathering place --
as the building once was back in the days of the booming Canadian
railroad. Red Deer County has contributed to getting the project on
rails, having awarded a $75,000 grant for the project.
The Benalto Booster Club is also working on getting a matching
grant from the provincial government.
More provided the Eckville Echo a thorough tour of the building and
an explanation of the assortment of renovations and updates the
project entails. Updates include the removal of a number of walls,
turning the main floor into a gathering place for family or group
events, like weddings.
More noted the floors in the building will be redone, and what
walls remain in place will be refurbished. Bathrooms will be added
to the main floor, and the lower floor of the raised building will
serve as a changing room and bathroom for the skating rink. The
basement level of the station will serve as a walkout story, "and
will be a place for kids to gather to warm up, put on their skates
and have some hot chocolate," said More.
There is a connecting stairway that joins the upper and lower
floors, and around that More noted the club will be placing
historical panels illustrating and telling the story of Benalto and
the surrounding area, entailing all the changes and evolutions that
have taken place.
One feature of the building that requires little updating is the
wiring, which More said is up to code. This is actually due to the
storied history of the train station, which has actually done a
little travelling all its own, over the years.
More described the history of the station, saying it was originally
built in 1928, along the major conduit of trade, transport and
Prairie life in general that was the railroad in the 20s.
"It stayed in the community until 1971, at which time it was sold
and moved to Red Deer, where it was turned into a residence," said
More. It stayed on the river for 10 years, was sold again, and moved
to the Burnt Lake Industrial Park. It remained there as a residence
for 30 years."
More said that in 2013, the owners offered it back to the Hamlet of
Benalto, adding "You can imagine that scenario -- walking into the
general store and asking 'Would you like it?' The answer would have
been 'Does Saskatchewan have a football team?"
More said the project is a significant one he is looking forward to
completing, because "in the community, life has always revolved
around the train. The daily train brought the mail, people,
livestock and freight. People would come and go by the train."
Over time, the train's significance for communities like Benalto
lost a lot of its meaning, "but to have it come back is pretty
symbolic -- it's like the heart of the community has returned," said
"It's quite exciting when the moving day came, and we finally got
permission to move the station back to Benalto, in April of 2013,"
said More. "There were hundreds of people watching, and the station
was being led down that winding road through the trees by six
mounted riders and a police escort. There were a lot of tears on
people's faces as it came up the main street."
As far as a timeline for the project is concerned, More said the
ideal time would be by December 2017, but said a more realistic
expectation for completion of the project would be spring 2018.
Photo: OLD TRAIN STATION - the Benalto train station,
pictured here with a new basement level, is anticipated
to open in spring of 2018. Photo by Sam Macdonald/Eckville Echo.
June 7, 2017, Lacombe Online (Joseph Ho)
Benalto Train Station nearly
Red Deer County grants $75,000
The end is in sight for the Benalto Booster Club, a group of
residents who have been working since 2013 to refurbish the Benalto
Train Station, turning it into a community hub for the hamlet.
At its meeting on June 6, Red Deer County council approved a
$75,000 grant that will help pay for the last phase of the project.
The club plans to apply for a provincial grant to cover the rest of
the $130,670 cost.
Some of the remaining work includes building a balcony that
surrounds the entire building, providing a panoramic view of the
mountains, installing washrooms, solar panels, flooring.
Timeline for completion will depend on securing funding, as well as
availability of contractors.
But when that happens, the Benalto Train Station will provide a
recreation centre, meeting space and a museum on the second floor.
A county staff report states that aside from a 1960s-era community
hall, Benalto does not have a recreation centre for special events.
The closest facilities are in Eckville or Sylvan Lake, located about
15 km away each way.
That will soon change, says the club's Dave More.
"I think it's going to give us a real, true town centre, isn't it?
A place to gather and collect our history and meet, it's an activity
centre for the kids and for youth groups, seniors," More says.
"It's just going to give us a boost to the heart of town."
The Benalto Train Station dates back to 1928 and was moved to Red
Deer in 1971. In 2012, the owners of the building donated it back to
the community. Since then, the Booster Club has given it a new
foundation and performed general landscaping.
Photo: The Benalto Train Station faces an outdoor skating
rink. A local group has been turning the building into
a community centre.
June 7, 2017, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Benalto Train Station
County chips in $75,000 for project
Benalto's historic train station project keeps chugging along.
The community-led initiative, to convert a 1928 CPR station into a
recreation centre, museum and archives, got a big boost on Tuesday
when Red Deer County approved a $75,000 donation.
Benalto Booster Club's Dave More said the project means a lot to
the small community, just a few kilometres west of Sylvan Lake,
south of Hwy 11.
"I think it's going to give us a true town centre, a place to
gather, to collect our history and meet," he said. "It's an activity
centre for the kids and youth groups and seniors.
"It's just going to give us a boost to the heart, I guess, the
heart of town."
The Benalto Train Station project has been a unique homecoming
years in the making.
For decades, the small station sat in Benalto, a reminder of the
community's railway past.
About 45 years ago, it was moved and in 1980 ended up on the
Cupples' property, where it was used as a home.
About four years ago, Garett and Brenda Cupples donated the station
to Benalto. The gift captured the village's imagination and the
local booster club has raised $104,000 so far to turn into a
The group has already applied for a provincial grant to cover the
remaining $55,000 or so needed to complete the project, hopefully by
the end of the year.
Some of the remaining work involves installing washrooms, cladding
the basement, refinishing the walls and floors and building a deck.
The surround deck will be reminiscent of a train platform in
keeping with the theme. It will feature a fantastic view of the
Medicine Valley and the distant Rocky Mountains.
"I would say we're two-thirds of the way there," said More. "There
was a real good push this winter to get the basement in an operating
"We had painting bees and mudding bees and sanding and so on."
The county support allows the Booster Club to lock in contractors
on the next stage of work.
"If we can match it with the CFEP (Community Facility Enhancement
Program) grant we'll be in real business."
When complete, the station will feature a walk-out basement to a
square that will serve as a local skating rink in the winter.
This 1928 CPR station has been relocated to a site
just north of the Benalto Fair Grounds - Jeff Stokoe
April 14, 2017, Red Deer Advocate, April 20, 2017, Central
Alberta Life (Lana Michelin)
Artist donating work to train
Benalto's well-travelled train station is back in its original
location, across from the local fairgrounds, in a fundraising
painting by David More.
In honour of the historic station's return to the community, and
the 100th anniversary of the Benalto Fair and Stampede, the Benalto
artist and history buff is donating his acrylic work Return to
Benalto to a local effort to turn the train station into a
museum and recreation centre.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway station, built in 1928, had
travelled through a fair bit of Central Alberta before being
relocated to Benalto in 2013.
The closed train station was first purchased by Jack and Joan
Donald and moved to their acreage on the west bank of the Red Deer
River, where it was turned into a cottage, said More.
The station was sold again in 1980 to another Central Alberta
couple, Garrett and Brenda Cupples, who moved it to their property
just outside Red Deer, for use as a residence for more than three
decades. Four years ago, the Cupples decided to donate the historic
building back to the hamlet of Benalto for preservation.
The structure now sits close to where it was originally located,
only a little closer to the town site.
More said an effort has been underway to set it on a new foundation
with a walk-out basement, and connect it to sewer and water
services. He added about $250,000 in grants and donations was spent
making these upgrades, including purchasing new furnaces.
More, who chairs the Benalto Booster Club, estimates another
$150,000 will be needed to turn the upstairs of the station into a
museum and open the basement as a community centre with washrooms
and a changing area for skaters and other park users.
He hopes his painting, which shows a train approaching the train
station and bringing people to the Benalto fairgrounds, can help
with the fund-raising. The image from it was already turned into
frameable posters, postcards, greeting cards and fridge magnets that
will be sold by many local businesses.
The funds will go to the Benalto Booster Club for station
renovations, as well as local festivities to mark the 100th
anniversary of the Benalto Fair and Stampede.
More said it's the second oldest stampede in Alberta, after
Photo/Painting: David More's painting 'Return to Benalto'
26, 2015, Red Deer Advocate (Paul
Benalto train station receives funding
A historic train station project in Benalto got a big boost from Red
Deer County this week.
Benalto Booster Club Society received $86,175 on Tuesday through the
county's Rural Community Facility Capital Assistance Grants.
In all, 16 different community halls and groups shared $250,000 in
Benalto Booster Club's share will be put towards the cost of adding
a sewage system for its restored historic train station.
The total cost of the project, including adding a deck, stairs and
railings is $146,166.
A dedicated group of volunteers has been working to turn the train
station into a recreation and meeting centre, as well as museum and
archives, for more than two years.
The CPR station was originally built in 1928 and served the
community until it was moved to a property just west of Red Deer
about 40 years ago.
It was donated back to Benalto by Red Deer's Garett and Brenda
Cupples in 2013 and was returned home in May that year.
Nov. 29, 2013, AGCanada (Johnnie Bachusky)
stations get new lease on life
Moving the old buildings was a challenge,
and much renovation still
needs to be done
A trio of Alberta communities are welcoming back a pioneer symbol of
hope and prosperity that gripped early settlers across the western
landscape more than a century ago.
Benalto, Beiseker and Scandia are restoring old Canadian Pacific
train stations to their former glory. They hope the icons will
revitalize their communities with additional public services and
increased tourism dollars.
The west-central Alberta hamlet of Benalto reclaimed its train
station, originally built in 1928 and moved out to the Red Deer area
in 1971, to become the centrepiece for its 100th anniversary
celebration next June. Beiseker purchased the 102-year-old Bassano
station and hopes to have it ready in 2014 as its new museum for
western Canadian railway equipment. Scandia has turned the
103-year-old dilapidated Jenner station into a theatre and gathering
place at the hamlet's historical park.
Benalto's original modest centennial plans were dramatically changed
a year ago when Red Deer's Garett and Brenda Cupples offered to give
back the station for free.
"How do you say no to that?" said Dave More, chair of the hamlet's
centennial committee. But while reclaiming the station came at no
cost, there was a price to move it. An even bigger question was
where would the committee put the 64x22-foot two-storey relic.
That was answered quickly when Benalto's Bill and Dale Speight,
owners of the town's former CP Rail lands, donated green space near
Main Street. The committee, helped by a successful media campaign,
then quickly raised the necessary $32,000 to move the station 37
kilometres from Red Deer to Benalto.
On April 24, the station was brought home. A crowd of up to 300
citizens gathered in Benalto to welcome the return of its station.
"They brought it from the west end, through the trees and led by
five young women on horses," said More. "There was not a dry eye on
the whole street. It was quite an amazing moment."
More is hoping the station, which will undergo extensive renovations
this winter, will at least be partly ready for the June centennial
celebrations. Ultimately, the site for the icon will be renamed
Centennial Station Park, a gathering area for the hamlet and symbol
of renewed prosperity.
Big moving job
While the hamlet was welcoming its original station back, officials
from the Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Society in Beiseker
had eyes on another community's pioneer icon -- the huge 162x20-foot
Bassano station. After several years of planning, the central
Alberta historical society secured the station in a bidding war for
Last July, it was moved 155 kilometres to the village over two days
and placed south of the old Beiseker station, which houses the
village's office and museum for local history.
While there are great expectations for the new museum, society
officials still have to do extensive renovations and solve a high
water table problem at the site. Even still, they hope to have the
new museum at least partially open by spring.
"We have a lot of interest. We actually have a lot of CP people that
at one time or another did work in the Beiseker area," said society
treasurer Fred Walters. "It's going to mean quite a bit. The good
part is that it's going to increase our tourism."
When Beiseker officials were bidding on the Bassano station, they
were up against the hamlet of Scandia's Eastern Irrigation District
(EID) Historical Park. Scandia, located 34 kilometres southwest of
Brooks, did not get the Bassano landmark but in early 2011 park
officials heard the old Jenner station, lying derelict in a farmer's
field for more than 40 years, was available. "It was in very bad
shape when we got it," said park president Rosalind VanHal. "The
owners said they thought the people who owned it before them had
plans to fix it up and live in it. It never happened. It just stayed
The park acquired it in exchange for $10,000 worth of tax receipts.
With the help of a $230,000 provincial grant and another $70,000
from the EID, the park was able to move the 24x24-foot two-storey
Jenner station 115 kilometres to Scandia and then restore it. The
old station, which sits in the shadow of the "Sleeping Giant" -- a
preserved 1920s-era Alberta Pool Elevator -- now houses a 27-seat
theatre, a venue that will soon feature a film on Carl Anderson, one
of the pioneers of the EID.
"It is beautiful. Everybody in the community says the same thing,"
said VanHal, adding renovations are still required for the station's
second floor. "Everybody who comes through is amazed at what we've
Photos: 1. The Benalto station
was moved to the hamlet from Red Deer in 2013 to a large
green space, the
hamlet's former CP lands, which will
ultimately be renamed Centennial Station Park.
Beiseker acquired the Bassano station after outbidding
Scandia's Eastern Irrigation District Historical Park.
May 2, 2013, Sylvan Lake News (Stuart
Station returned to
hamlet after lengthy journey
More than 40 years after leaving, the Benalto Train Station finally
returned home last Wednesday.
"It's been a while coming, but now it's a reality," said Benalto
resident Betty Nielsen, who remembers watching the station leave the
hamlet in 1971.
Nielsen was one of dozens of people who lined the streets of Benalto
to witness the station's homecoming, which took place following its
slow drive along Hwy. 11 from Red Deer.
A number of setbacks meant the station's arrival was delayed several
times throughout the day, but excited residents and visitors stuck
around to experience the momentous occasion.
"It's a big thing, and it's very exciting because it's a positive
story," said Benalto Centennial Committee chair Dave More, adding
that the crew transporting the station took no chances when it came
Power lines needed to be raised each time they were encountered
during the station's trip from just outside of Red Deer.
"It's a good crew moving it, and every time they come to a line,
they have to bring all the traffic to a complete halt," said More.
"If something was wrong with the line, they don't want to endanger
anybody, so they're being very careful."
The train station was given a police escort into Benalto, where
members of the Shadow Riders 4-H Club horses led it the rest of the
way to its original home.
The train station was moved by Taber-based Wade's House Moving and
Food and refreshments were served to those eagerly awaiting the
"I think it's amazing, because it's all about the community," said
Carole Verrault, who, on behalf of ATB Financial in Red Deer, cooked
Benalto resident John Moorhouse felt the station's return was a
fitting way to mark the hamlet's centennial year in 2014.
"It's good to see it coming back and it couldn't happen at a much
better time," he said.
After leaving Benalto, the train station was bought by Jack and Joan
Donald of Red Deer. It was then transformed into a house and moved
to the east of Red Deer River near Penhold. It eventually made it's
way to Red Deer County west of Red Deer, where it was situated until
its return to Benalto.
When members of Benalto Centennial Committee heard that its owners,
Garett and Brenda Cupples, were willing to donate it back to Benalto,
they quickly began raising money to fund its return.
"The fundraising has been absolutely awesome," said Benalto
Centennial Committee's Karen Turner-Padley. "We've heard from people
from all over Alberta, and we've had lots of companies that have
been really behind us."
Turner-Padley admitted that members of the committee had been
"having heart attacks" at the thought of not being able to fund the
Generosity from community members and businesses, however, helped
the dream of bringing the station home become a reality.
"It's a lot of money to bring it here," said Turner-Padley. "Once
the word got out, it did come quick. We were basically more than
half way there less than a month after starting the fundraising, and
it's been just steadily coming ever since.
"Even kids have been putting their candy money and stuff in the
The Cupples, who donated the station, were unable to attend the
homecoming, but were happy to hear that it had arrived safely.
When they made the decision to donate the station, they were unaware
that Benalto would be celebrating its centennial next year.
"Everything kind of worked out the way it was supposed to work out,"
said Garett Cupples. "It was really neat to see everybody put their
heads together and say, 'let's make this happen'".
Fundraising for the train station is ongoing, according to More.
Further donations will help in the next phases of development.
Donors will be recognized by having their names appear on
railway-related fixtures inside, he said.
The train station will act as a community centre, museum and
gathering area for Benalto residents and visitors.
"We want to make it an all-year place where people can come and
gather and maybe have meetings, small weddings, social gatherings
and family gatherings," said More. "Our next step will be to make it
into a place not just for Benalto, but for the whole community."
Donations may be sent to Benalto Booster Club Centennial Project,
Box 135, Benalto, Alberta T0M 0H0.
April 25, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Randy
train station home to Benalto
The return of the new beginning is how Dave More described the train
station reappearing in Benalto Wednesday.
"I'm elated. It's an amazing moment, a warm crowd and a beautiful
day," the Red Deer County village's centennial committee co-chair
said as the station rolled down Benalto's main street led by Shadow
Riders 4-H Club mounted members.
"Benalto began as a railway town and the station was the reason the
town is here."
Garett and Brenda Cupples donated the building used until recently
as a residence. It was sold by Canadian Pacific Railway in 1971 for
$200 to FasGas founders Jack and Joan Donald who used it as a summer
home southwest of Red Deer before selling it in 1985. It was moved
once more before coming to rest at the Cupples'.
It was moved from the Belich Business Park on the Burnt Lake Trail
starting around noon. The slow trip west on Hwy 11 saw more than
three km of traffic congest behind it. RCMP and Red Deer County
patrol officers accompanied it as did crews to lift power lines
Driver Kevin Whips of Wade's House Moving and Heavy Hauling said the
trip went well.
"All the corners went good thanks to the police officers. I feel way
happier. My stress is all gone."
A groundswell of community spirit means donations have already
covered the $300,000 bill to move the building.
"We're paying today thanks to the generosity of people in the
community and outside," an excited Yvette Brideau of the Benalto
Booster Club, adding fundraising will continue for the work yet to
Many of the village's nearly 200 citizens were joined by the curious
from across Central Alberta for the homecoming.
"I'm so thrilled," said resident Alma Walker who, with husband Ray,
ran a town gas station from 1966 to 2002.
So, too, was Evelyn Hambly, who watched the station moved out of
town back in '71.
"It went right by our place south of town. There are no railroad
stations around this country and now we're getting ours back."
Former resident Debora Thomas returned from her B.C. home to watch.
"I knew it was on and I was very interested in seeing it. It's
awesome," she said at the community barbecue before the arrival.
When the station rolled into town, the crowd applauded as it made
its way to its temporary home on a heart of town baseball diamond.
A foundation needs construction on land between Main Street and the
agricultural society grounds donated by Bill and Dale Speight of
Rocky Mountain House. If by summer's end pending funding, interior
work will begin this winter to restore the station's original
The space around it will be called Centennial Station Park and
feature a gazebo, benches and landscaping to make it a village hub.
"We think it will take about $200,000," said More. "We're hoping the
generosity of the business community follows that of the locals."
Donations can be made to the Benalto Booster Club Centennial
Project, Box 135, Benalto, Alberta T0M 0H0.
Photo: The Shadow Riders 4-H Club lead the Benalto train
station into the hamlet Wednesday afternoon. The
committee raised donations to relocate the structure built in 1928
back to mark the
community's 100th birthday next year. The building
originally sold and moved in 1971 was donated by Garett
Cupples and moved west on Hwy 11 from the Belich Business Park
outside the city.
March 22, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
former train station will have to wait a little longer before making
the journey home.
Originally, the historic train station was to be loaded on a flatbed
early next week and hauled from the Burnt Lake area just west of Red
But it has taken more time than expected to line up the necessary
Red Deer County approvals, said Dave More, co-chairman of the
Benalto Booster Club and Centennial Committee.
The moving company out of Taber was able to reschedule the move for
Built in 1928 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the station was
moved to the Cupples family's property more than 40 years ago and
was used as a home until recently.
Conscious of its historical connection to Benalto, the Cupples
decided to donate it to the hamlet in time for its centennial
celebrations next year.
Fundraising efforts have already raised $30,000 to pay for the move
and get started on the creation of a park with gazebo, fire pit,
toboggan slope and boards for a winter pond hockey rink.
The station will be turned into a small museum and archives.
"Our first step is to get it here," said More.
The train station will be moved to a site about 100 metres from its
final resting place for the time being.
"To have the actual site prepared and all that was just impossible.
We didn't get word until late November that this gift was even
"At this point, it's just one step at a time."
There has been lots of support of the project from community
members. and Red Deer County staff have helped the committee with
the necessary paperwork.
More plans to see if environmental landscaping students from Olds
College will be willing to help design the park.
Once a detailed budget is established, the committee plans to apply
for government grants and seek corporate support, including a pitch
to CP. Meanwhile, local fundraising efforts continue.
Donors will be recognized with rail-themed silhouettes inside the
station. For instance donations of $5,000 or more are recognized
with a locomotive plaque, with those donating $3,000 to $5,000 a
caboose and so on.
"The people in the surrounding community, the farmers, the ranchers,
the people in the town have been really very supportive."
However, he said, "At this point, we're definitely going to need a
lot more funding."
An image of the proposed train station park
Feb. 21, 2013, Sylvan Lake News (Stuart Fullarton)
train station to return
home after 42-year absence
After more than four decades of absence, the historic Benalto Train
Station is set to make a return to the hamlet this spring.
The train station was transformed into a private residence after
being removed from Benalto in 1971, and is currently situated in Red
Deer County. Its owners, Garett and Brenda Cupples, are now donating
it back to Benalto, just in time for the hamlet's centennial
celebrations next year.
"We couldn't destroy or demolish it," said the Cupples in a press
release. "As an historic building, we are very pleased that it is
going back to its roots."
Benalto Centennial Committee chair Dave More admitted to being
astounded when he heard that the Cupples were offering the train
station back to Benalto, and immediately got to work to find a place
to put it.
When he approached landowners Bill and Dale Speight to discuss the
possibility of purchasing a green space in the heart of Benalto, the
Speights rejected the offer of money for the land, and instead
offered the land as a donation.
"Really, it's quite astonishing," said More. "How often do you ever
hear of a piece of your history coming back? The generosity is just
The land on which the train station will sit will be renamed
Centennial Station Park, and will act as a gathering area for the
More and his wife Yvette Brideau, along with several other
volunteers from the Centennial Committee and the Benalto Booster
Club, are now working to raise money to fund the transportation of
the train station from its current location back to Benalto.
Doing so will cost approximately $40,000, and the Centennial
Committee is actively seeking donations from people and businesses
in Benalto and beyond to help cover that cost.
"(The train station) is a sentinel of history and memories and
communication and education for everybody, but we have to get it
here," said Brideau. "It was offered to us as an incredibly gracious
and generous gesture, and we're trying to do something about it.
"There's nothing to lose by asking for donations and help to make
this a reality. There's everything to lose if we don't."
Donations have so far been received from several businesses as well
and current and former residents of Benalto. The full amount
required must be raised within the next several weeks in order for
the move to take place.
"It's such a feel-good project, and I think a lot of people would
like to be associated with it," said More. "We couldn't have dreamed
of this in a million years."
The train station's move has been scheduled for March 25 to 29.
Donations to help fund the move can be made to the Benalto Booster
Club Centennial Project, Box 135, Benalto, Alberta T0M 0H0.
Dave More's rendering of the Benalto
Centennial Station Park shows what it may look like in
Feb. 13, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Murray Crawford)
donated back to community
in time for
being hauled away from Benalto more than 40 years ago, the hamlet's
former train station is about to move back home.
Garett and Brenda Cupples and family have donated the station, which
now sits on their property in Red Deer County, back to its hometown
-- just in time for Benalto's centennial celebration in 2014.
Dave More, Benalto Booster Club and Centennial Committee chair, said
the plan is to move it back to the hamlet and put it on donated
land, near its former location.
They plan on moving the station back to the town and working on
getting it ready and in place in time to be the centre-piece of
their centennial celebrations.
Built in 1928, the former Canadian Pacific Railway station will
become an information centre, gallery of the hamlet's history and a
The station has been on the Cupples' property just west of Red Deer
since 1980, being used as a house on an acreage. Garrett Cupples
said his brother had been living in it but recently moved out.
"We got hold of a lady and said we really don't want to sell this to
someone else to just move it to another location and we don't want
to tear it down because it is a historic building," said Cupples.
"We just said we'd really like it to go back home. After we got
talking, we just said we'll donate it."
Cupples said they have a shop on the property and were looking at
expanding it. But the station didn't really fit in with their
The only cost to Benalto would be the transporting the building back
to the hamlet.
"I don't know what it is worth, I didn't really ask," said Cupples.
"It doesn't really matter, it wasn't the reason we did it."
The land where it is headed has also been donated. Bill and Dale
Speight and families owned the area where the station once stood and
have donated some green space for the station to sit.
The move is scheduled to occur from March 25 to 29.
articles about the vision and progress of the Forth Junction Heritage Society
News articles about green transportation:
transit, biking and high speed rail
News articles related to current rail projects in Central Alberta