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New exhibits call Historical Village home
reprinted from Innisfail Province (Michaela Ludwig) May 10, 2010
Two new exhibits at the Innisfail Historical Village tell more about Innisfail's founding years.

As a 40-year anniversary project, the Innisfail and District Historical Society set about restoring the Village's Bowden CP Rail station. And through the doors of that old station, visitors will find several displays depicting Innisfail in its early years and what the railroad meant to central Alberta. Scaled-down model trains chug along the tracks and scenes of what Innisfail would have looked like in 1892, when the tracks were first laid; 1910, a time of considerable growth for the town; and 1960, the end of the steam era, are all displayed.

There are also cases of CPR artifacts in the room.

Next to the Role of the Railroad exhibit sits a familiar scene, straight out of Donna Chadwick's memory.

Chadwick's grandfather, G.W. West, was Innisfail's first storekeeper and his shop is also set up in the railroad station.

West, originally from Prince Edward Island, was looking for a new career and rode a construction train to the end of the line back in 1891. The end of the line happened to be Innisfail, or Poplar Grove as it was known back then. West opened his store here on July 1, 1891, eventually getting into hardware, lumber, furs, meat and grain.

Chadwick spent many years in that store while she was growing up, first when her grandfather owned it and then when her father, Frank, owned the store.

The store served the Town of Innisfail for 77 straight years -- the only family-owned store in western Canada to have survived that long, said Chadwick.

Many of the artifacts that now line the walls of the exhibits came from Chadwick's home, where she had been storing them after the old store was demolished.

The area where the station agent and his family would have stayed has also been restored, complete with equipment the station agent would have used in the early 1900s.

Workers from the Bowden Institution Work Release Program and local handyman Rob Vander Velden contributed a lot of time and effort to the restoration -- the workers put up new drywall and painted inside the station and Vander Velden put together all of the tiny pieces for the model rail exhibit.

The Village will be hosting its annual grand opening on May 22 and guests can come out for a pancake breakfast, check out a few antique cars and tour the new exhibits.

       News article: 'Sleeper' village grand opening set (Red Deer Advocate 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)

The 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


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