StettlerLocal.com July 7, 2022 @ 4:15pm
This year Big Valley will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Northern Railway in Manitoba and its westward expansion, including the main North-South Trunk line, which ran through Big Valley and was laid in 1911. The line running through Big Valley is the last surviving “60-pound steel” branch line from those which existed all over western Canada in the early 20th century.
Big Valley was a significant stopping point on the railway, housing as many as 22 5-man crews and maintenance workers, fourteen steam locomotives, and an engine wash facility. The current Big Valley train station was built in 1912 as a “Second Class station.”
What remains of Big Valley’s railway history is a testament to the dedication of the members of the Canadian Northern Society. The Train Station houses a community meeting room available free of charge for the use of local non-profits and has a garden used for a rest area. The remains of the roundhouse and railway shops are located south of the station and offer a self-guided tour of the ‘ruins.’ The Canadian Railway Hall of Fame Pavilion is next to the station and honours people, communities, equipment, and structures that have significantly contributed to the Canadian Railway industry.
“We’re building a sense of community around these historic buildings.” Big Valley Chairperson, Rich Graydon
Graydon says that since the community was hit so hard due to the global health crisis stopping the APST Train service over the last two years they wanted to do something "community-minded" to celebrate the anniversary.
Volunteer opportunities include general maintenance and security, becoming a director of the Canadian Northern Society, or maintaining and developing the interpretive signage for the Big Valley Roundhouse. In addition, volunteers are always in high demand for repairs and maintenance of the buildings.
Membership for the Canadian Northern Society is available for as little as $10/year (non-voting) or $20/year (voting member). This membership fee includes a subscription to the society’s newsletter, The Canora Chronicle, published three times per year.
The Canadian Northern Railway 125th Anniversary celebration will be held at the Big Valley Train Station on Saturday, July 9, beginning at 11:00 am and will include tours of the site, entertainment, and historical information given by actors in period costume.
For more information about the Canadian Northern Society in Big Valley or to volunteer, please contact Rich Graydon at email@example.com
Photos from the Canadian Northern Society
Jimilee Ayotte, Editor