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News articles about the 1928 Benalto CPR station
from the abandoned former Alberta Central Railway line

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 Sept. 28
   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 accomplished."
   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 said.
   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 solar panels.
   "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 family home.
   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 it."
   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
  museum which details the old train station's past. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sept. 28, 2019, Red Deer Advocate (Lana Michelin)
Benalto Centennial Station to celebrate
grand opening

Benalto train station   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 ceremony.
   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 McKinnon)
Donald Family gives special gift to the
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 Trail.
   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 32 years.
   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 the renovations.
   Back in June, Red Deer County contributed $75,000 toward the project.

Sept. 15, 2017, Red Deer Advocate (Susan Zielinski)
Old Benalto train station gets $30,000
Benalto train station insideRenovations 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 children.
   "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 floors.
   "It's being completely rebuilt and converted into a very usable community space.
   "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 afternoon.
  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 April 2013.
   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 release.

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 opening.
   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 funding sources.
   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 Station.

June 26, 2017, Eckville Echo (Samuel Macdonald)
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 shaped it.
   "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 More.
   "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 done,
Red Deer County grants $75,000

Benalto train station rink   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 community centerpiece.
   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 fashion.
   "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 station fundraiser
   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 Calgary's.

David More's painting 'Return to Benalto'


Nov. 26, 2015, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
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 funding.
   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)
Alberta railway 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 station at Benalto - Bachusky photo   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
Bassano station at Beiseker - Bachusky photo   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 $10,000.
   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 there."
   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 accomplished."
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.

  2. Beiseker acquired the Bassano station after outbidding Scandia's Eastern Irrigation District Historical Park.
  Photos by Johnnie Bachusky

May 2, 2013, Sylvan Lake News (Stuart Fullarton)
Benalto Train 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 to safety.
   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 Heavy Hauling.
   Food and refreshments were served to those eagerly awaiting the station's arrival.
   "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 hot dogs.
   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 move.
   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 donation box."
   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 Fiedler)

Riders welcome 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 enroute.
   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 come.
   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 layout.
   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.

The Shadow Riders 4-H Club lead the Benalto train station into the hamlet Wednesday afternoon. The
  town's centennial 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
  and Brenda Cupples and moved west on Hwy 11 from the Belich Business Park outside the city.

March 22, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Benalto station move delayed
County approvals needed
Benalto station park concept
   Benalto's 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 Deer.
   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 April 23.
   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 offered.
   "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 for Benalto.

Feb. 21, 2013, Sylvan Lake News (Stuart Fullarton)
Benalto train station to return
home after 42-year absence

Benalto station park concept
   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 incredible."
   The land on which the train station will sit will be renamed Centennial Station Park, and will act as a gathering area for the community.
   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
  the summer.

Feb. 13, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Murray Crawford)
Former Benalto train station
donated back to community
in time for centennial
    After 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 gathering place.
   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 planned expansion.
   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.

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