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Wimborne comes alive again with new book
Historical society works more than two and half years to
preserve its hamlet's history

reprinted from Innisfail Province (Johnnie Bachusky) November 19, 2013

Alex Benedict remembers a time in Wimborne when Friday night was the special time of week when the Central Alberta hamlet came alive with the passing of the train.

"Friday night was the busiest night of all. There was as many people there as in Innisfail," said Benedict. "The train brought in the supplies, like all the groceries. There were two grocery stores in Wimborne."

Benedict, 74, has lived in the Wimborne area his entire life. His father came to the area in 1929, the year the rail line came through. It was supposed to go all the way to Red Deer but that never happened.

Even still the railway gave the hamlet its life -- bringing people, supplies and serving the country grain elevators.

But all that has changed. The rail track was pulled out years ago. The grain elevators are long gone. And Wimborne, which at one time had 75 citizens hopeful for boundless prosperity, is now down to just 25.

"The town is disappearing," said Benedict. "For farmers like ourselves we have 25 miles to haul our grain when I used to only have a mile.

"This is the modern way," he said, noting Wimborne is centrally located in the region -- 30 kilometres west of Trochu, 45 kilometres southeast of Innisfail and only 50 kilometres northeast from Olds. "Once the roads got better these poor little stores in town couldn't exist because the big ones take over."

But the train no longer comes to Wimborne. The last of the hamlet's four elevators was toppled more than a dozen years ago. The grocery stores have long been closed, as have the hamlet's school, meat market, print shop, and pool hall.

"They are gone. The only thing we have now is one garage and a post office," said Benedict. "Our kids don't know much about the town because it is down to a ghost town now."

But Benedict and others in the community have recently made sure that the young will never forget Wimborne and the promise it once held.

Earlier this year the Wimborne and District Historical Society launched its history book, the first one ever written about the community and the surrounding area.

The 592-page book contains more than 320 family histories with accompanying photos. As well, there are 230 pages of general history covering the past 112 years, including the hamlet's businesses, schools, sports and organizations that made Wimborne a locality of promise.

Benedict was the "finder" on the 20-member historical committee that diligently worked for two and a half years on the project, putting in endless hours to contact former residents, researching, writing, editing and proofing.

In 2005, he and his wife Sharon went to the provincial archives in Edmonton and obtained the school records of all the kids in the Wimborne area from 1929 up to when the school closed in 1979.

"The idea for a history book had been thrown around the community for quite a while, about 10 years. I have to say Dorothy Weimer, the last teacher here at the school, bit the bullet, and said, 'OK, let's get at it," said Benedict.

"There is not many people older than me left in the area, and that is why we decided that we had better get something down on paper because my kids don't know where the restaurant was. They don't know where the pool hall was.

"There was a curling rink and a skating rink and all that kind of stuff but now there is nothing," he added. "You have got to get the stories and history of the town written down."

The committee initially printed 1,200 books, which are now selling for $40 each. Since the summer 700 have been sold.

"With this book we are trying to let people know what was here. It is all about awareness," said Benedict. "If you don't then there is going to be nothing left."

       News article: Penhold man remembers day of the train (Innisfail Province Dec.2013)

Railway Stations Were Once the Focal Point of Western Canadian Communities
Most communities once had portable stations for a time
Canadian Pacific Railway Stations in Central Alberta


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