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CNR Central - Red Deer, Mirror, Brazeau

 
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News articles about the Canadian National Railway heritage in Central Alberta in and around the Red Deer, Mirror and Brazeau subdivisions
including the former Canadian Northern Western Railway and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
but excluding Alberta Prairie Railway, Stettler, Big Valley, Hanna. See east central Alberta:



Aug. 20, 2019, Red Deer Advocate (Michael Dawe)
Origins of CNR in Red
Deer go back to 1910-11

   This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important companies in Canada.
   It was one hundred years ago, in 1918-1919, that the Canadian National Railways was created by the federal government through the public take-over and consolidation of a number of bankrupt railway companies.
   The origins of the CNR in Red Deer really go back to 1910-1911. The Canadian Northern Railway created a subsidiary company, the Canadian Northern Western, to construct a line to the rich Brazeau coalfields west of Rocky Mountain House (Nordegg).
   Initially, the CNWR was to bypass the Town of Red Deer. Understandably, there was great political pressure to have at least a branch line built into Red Deer. In 1911, the CNR decided to build a major line from Strathcona (South Edmonton) through Red Deer to Calgary.
   In 1911, Northern Construction (a CNR subsidiary) began, primarily on the grade along the edge of the North Hill and some points in the river valley.
   The CNR's main focus remained on the line to the Brazeau coalfields. By 1914, there was still little progress on the branch into Red Deer. One major problem was a surprising amount of quicksand and frequent slippage of the hillside in north Red Deer.
   The outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914 was a huge setback for all major construction projects. Work on a new rail bridge across the Red Deer River did not begin until August 1916. However, the bridge, located near the mouth of Waskasoo Creek, was badly located and poorly built. Moreover, the line along the shoulder of the North Hill had to be shifted to the flats closer to the river because of ongoing problems with bank slumpage.
   In 1917-1918, the Canadian Northern went bankrupt and was taken over by the Federal Government. In 1919, the new Canadian National restarted work on the line into Red Deer. Mayor W.E. Lord pushed to have the new C.N. terminal and stockyards built in north Red Deer, as that seemed more practical. However, he was overruled by the rest of city council. The new station yards were subsequently constructed where the Park Plaza Shopping Centre is now located along 47 Avenue.
   The CN branch line continued south and then swung westwards where it linked with CPR line near 45 Street. In 1920, the CN's Red Deer line was finally completed and became operational.
   However, the line was never heavily used.
   The big problem was the bridge across the river was often damaged in spring floods and had to be frequently rebuilt. Finally, in 1941, the bridge was abandoned. Access to the CN station and yards then came from the branch line that looped off the CPR line to the south and west. It was a less than ideal arrangement.
   Finally, in 1960, a decision was made to relocate the CNR station and yards to north Red Deer. The project was one of the first joint industrial developments in Alberta between an urban and rural municipality (City of Red Deer and the Municipal District/County of Red Deer). It was also the first major railway relocation project in Western Canada.
Photo: The CNR being constructed along the slopes of the North Hill in North Red Deer, 1911.
           Red Deer Archives photo.


March 21, 2018, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
A history of the C.N.R. Bridge
   The annual spring thaw is well underway.
   While there are some worries about flooding because of the higher than usual snowfall this year, major problems are not expected. However, this is quite a contrast to the situation for many years during the spring break-ups of the Red Deer River when there were often major concerns about flooding and damage.
   One of the biggest worries was over the Canadian National Railway (C.N.R.) bridge across the Red Deer River. It frequently experienced significant damage.
   The origins of the C.N.R. line into Red Deer and its bridge across the Red Deer River go back to the boom years prior to the First World War.
   In 1911, the Canadian Northern Railway (predecessor to the Canadian National) announced plans to build south from its new line to the Brazeau coalfields (Nordegg) to Red Deer.
   Unfortunately, there were major problems with the construction. There was slippage of the railbed along the shoulder of the North Hill. The river flats often flooded.
   Hence, the Canadian Northern started losing interest in the Red Deer branch line.
   It preferred to concentrate on the construction of the Brazeau line which was completed by 1913-1914.
   In the spring of 1915, heavy rains and high floods on the Red Deer River caused significant damage to the work that had been done on the Red Deer branch.
   In August 1916, the contractors finally started on the bridge across the River. However, the 1917 spring break-up caused extensive damage to the north piers. Extensive reconstruction and strengthening of the bridge became necessary.
   In 1917, the Canadian Northern went bankrupt and all work stopped.
   In 1918, the Federal Government merged the Canadian Northern and some other rail companies into the new, publicly owned, Canadian National.
   After the War ended, the new C.N.R. had much more significant issues to deal with than the incomplete branch line to Red Deer. For a while, consideration was given to putting the railyards in North Red Deer. However, political pressure resulted in a revival of the plans to extend south across the River.
   Construction proceeded slowly and the quality of work was often problematic. Eventually, the bridge was completed. The railyards and station north of Ross Street were finally finished in 1922.
   Each year, there were problems with the bridge, largely because it was next the where Waskasoo Creek entered the River and only a short distance upstream from an island where there were frequent ice jams.
   In 1925, a huge ice jam seriously threatened the C.N.R. bridge. Fortunately, blasting broke up the jam before there was heavy damage.
   Nevertheless, spring floods often took away piles and even some of the structure of the bridge.
   In April 1936, three spans of the C.N.R. bridge were swept away. The loss was not as bad as it might have been since crews had removed the steel and part of the superstructure in anticipation of the flood.
   After that, crews often partially dismantled the bridge before the ice went out on the River.
   In 1940, the bridge went out with the ice, one day before the crews were to take the steel off the superstructure. The C.N.R. decided there was no longer any point in maintaining the bridge. In March 1941, the rails and timbers were removed. The ice took out what was left of the bridge a couple of weeks later.
   Arrangements were then made to access the C.N.R.'s station and yards by means of a transfer track off the south end of the C.P.R. main line. Needless to say, the arrangement was unsatisfactory and the C.N.R. provided little in the way of effective rail service to the community.
   In 1960, all of the line south of the river was abandoned and a new terminal and railyards were constructed in the new Riverside Industrial Park.
   Remnants of the old C.N.R. bridge piers can still be seen where Waskasoo Creek enters the River.
Photo: END OF AN ERA - Remains of the C.N.R. rail bridge across the Red Deer River, April 1940.
          Photo by Sid Wardle, Red Deer Archives P3407.


May 21, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Relic caboose gets new home
Railroad artifact has been filmed with Clint Eastwood and Brad Pitt
Beskowiney CNor caboose Advocate photo   A century-old relic of Canadian rail history was hoisted up and gently swung into place at its new resting place on a farm near Eckville on Saturday.
   Once known simply as #78366, the caboose is now the prized possession of Ernie Beskowiney, who plans to turn it into the control booth for a scale rideable railroad he has envisioned for his land a few kilometres southeast of Eckville.
   The caboose was donated to him by the Canadian Northern Society, which is dedicated to preserving Prairies railroad history and oversees railway stations sites at Big Valley, Meeting Creek and Camrose.
   For years, it sat next to the Big Valley station. But time and the elements have taken their toll, and the caboose was donated to Beskowiney, who plans to undertake a full restoration and make it the centrepiece of his miniature railroad.
   His caboose comes with a movie star pedigree. It was seen in the Clint Eastwood Oscar winning Unforgiven among a number of big screen appearances. Brad Pitt was also filmed in it.
   "I've been looking for years for something," Beskowiney said, shortly after his new acquisition was lowered onto its wheels on a short piece of track he had put in place to receive it just a stone's throw from his home.
   "One day I was told the caboose was mine."
   He wanted to make a donation to the society, but they wouldn't take his money, he said.
   The society was just happy that it went to someone with both the enthusiasm and the restoration know-how to restore the caboose to its former Canadian National Railway glory.
   Beskowiney was trained as a journeyman and has been involved in a number of ventures including owning his own business manufacturing precision downhole measuring instruments.
   As a hobby, he became an expert automobile restorer taking top prizes at car shows, before turning his attention to creating scale steam engines fit for a seven-inch (38 cm) wide track.
   He is currently building multiple versions of the 6060 series U1F Mountain type 4-8-2 locomotive that is operated by the Rocky Mountain Rail Society out of Stettler. It was one of the engines used on the popular train trips offered through Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions.
   He has recently been working with the society on the full-size 6060, which is in need of some repair work.
   The caboose was built by Canadian Car and Foundry, a Montreal-based company formed in 1897.
   It manufactured rail cars out of Montreal and Amherst, N.S. and Beskowiney's was made sometime between 1910 and 1913.
   In 1942, it was refitted as a caboose and served for several more decades. At one point, it wound up in a siding in Jasper as an exhibit before being moved to Big Valley.
   Beskowiney estimates restoring the caboose will be a two- to three-year project. All of the original wood siding, which has rotted and the red paint has faded and peeled, needs to be replaced.
   The interior remains in good shape, right down to its original potbelly stove.
   Once restored, he hopes to build a shelter above it to protect it from the elements.
   His long-term plan is to lay out 1,500 metres of track and to give the public rides on the miniature train similar to those found in amusement parks.
   Two big fundraising events would be held each year to benefit Alberta's two children's hospitals.
   Outside those events, the site will be open to the public on a drop-in basis and for educational purposes.
   He expects to begin laying track this summer and hopes to have the railroad open in three years.
Photo: Ernie Beskowiney watches as his historic caboose is carefully lowered into place on its wheels at his
  farm near Eckville on Saturday. Simon Pollock, of Hammer Head Oilfield Services Inc. is guiding the caboose,
  which was transported from Big Valley and lifted onto its tracks by Sharpie's Picker Service, of Red Deer.

  Photo by Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate


July 25, 2012, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
The Village of Mirror turns 100
  
This year marks the centennial of one of the most unique and interesting communities in Central Alberta. On July 27, 1912, the Village of Mirror was officially incorporated.
   The history of the community goes back much farther than 100 years. In the 1860s and 1870s, semi-permanent Metis buffalo hunter settlements had formed in the Buffalo Lake district at Boss Hill and Tail Creek. At one time, these localities had 3,000 residents, which would have made them the largest settlements west of Winnipeg.
   The rapid disappearance of the buffalo caused the disappearance of these early settlements. In the late 1880s and 1890s, ranchers and farmers began moving into the district. Soon a new community, Lamerton, sprang up on the southwest end of Buffalo Lake by Fletcher Bredin's trading post.
   A big boost to the new settlement came in 1910 when the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway began construction of a major north-south rail line through east Central Alberta. Because of its mid-point location between Calgary and Edmonton, Lamerton was deemed to be the location for a major divisional point on the railway.
   However, the Grand Trunk Pacific ran into problems in negotiating a satisfactory agreement to purchase land at Lamerton for its proposed railyards and accompanying townsite. Hence a decision was made to purchase 1,000 acres of land a short distance to the south.
   The new townsite plan was a grand one, befitting what was predicted to become one of the major urban centres of the burgeoning province of Alberta. Broad main thoroughfares were laid out in a diagonal fashion from the central point in the proposed town. A summer resort-like area was planned by Buffalo Lake.
   According to a press release issued in May 1911 by the Grand Trunk Pacific, the new community was to be called Mirror, because of "the very clear water of the lake which reflects objects like a looking glass".
   However, in a stroke of real estate promotion genius, the G.T.P. Railway and its real estate subsidiary, the Transcontinental Townsite Company, partnered with the influential Daily Mirror newspaper in London, England. This gave international publicity to the new community and boosted the interest of overseas investors in Mirror.
   The main thoroughfares were given the impressive names of Whitefriars Boulevard and Northcliffe Boulevard. Many streets and avenues were named after the members of the Daily Mirror staff, although several were also named after the pioneer and prominent families in the district.
   The Transcontinental Townsite Company decided to launch the sale of the townsite lots with a grand auction, to be held in conjunction with the arrival of the first passenger train to the community on July 11, 1911. To make the event even more impressive, they recruited Sir Rodmond Roblin, the premier of Manitoba, to act as the first auctioneer.
   The auction was a phenomenal success. Sixty thousand dollars worth of lots were sold in the first two hours and $251,648 worth of land was sold over two days. To put those amounts into perspective, at the time, $2 per day was considered to be a pretty good wage.
   While Mirror enjoyed a heady boom for a couple of years, things came to a crashing halt in the summer of 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. There was another brief boom in 1922 when the newly created Canadian National Railways decided to consolidate a number of regional operations in Mirror.
   However, over the years, Mirror remained a quiet little community. In 2004, a decision was made to rescind Mirror's status as a village. It is now a hamlet within Lacombe County.


May 8, 2012, Red Deer Advocate (Jessica Jones)

Slag piles give Nordegg mine an historic edge 
Nordegg Mine Site Aerial Advocate photo   Nordegg today is in major contrast to the days when railroads used coal-burning steam locomotives, and the bustling town held 3,500 residents and 1,100 miners.
   On Hwy 11, a little over 170 km west of Red Deer, the once energetic town of Nordegg is now a small hamlet with intriguing weathered buildings and an idle 79-acre coal mining site. It has a population of between 150 and 200.
   In 1955, with locomotives fast shifting over to oil and diesel fuel, the mine ceased operations.
   But the remnants of the era remain on the site.
   Nordegg Historical Society manager Joe Baker says coal slag piles are in fact special.
   These massive stockpilings of a black rock-like substance are in fact an impurity taken out of coal through a cleaning and pulverization process.
   "This went on year after year and there are millions of tonnes of this stuff laying out there, easy, that is an understatement," Baker said.
   "Basically it is rock extracted from the coal process and it really has very little value from a fuel point of view."
   But, it turns out, it has huge historic value.
   Over the years, the question has been what to do with the enormous stockpiles.
   But that stagnate, useless black material has a purpose after all. It is one of the key factors in why the mine site received historical designation and was funded by the Alberta Historic Resources Foundation.
   "One of the main things they designated was the mining landscape," Baker said.
   "It was one of the truest forms that we had in this country and those slag piles are a huge part of that.
   "Those piles will probably sit there for 1,000 years."
   Baker said coal slag was once looked as having potential as an ice-melting substance for roads. In the end, it was judged too messy.
   Around 1992, when Baker -- who is also the West Country manager for Clearwater County -- became involved with the historical society, the potential of coal slag was once again raised.
   Lafarge Cement, a concrete, asphalt and aggregate company, looked at using the material.
   "The society had this whole reclamation plan with Lafarge and there was this whole game plan on how to dismantle this site.
   "But after further studies, Lafarge discovered that they did not have use for the material and did not want to be involved with the reclamation of the site."
   In 2001, a study with 250 test pits was done to ensure there were no environmental impacts from the piles, which are commonly mistaken as actual coal piles.
   "Even if it was coal we couldn't do anything with it because it falls under provincial domain," Baker said.
   The main problem with the stockpiles is erosion, Baker said.
   "Every time it rained, the stuff washed down the hill and covered the train tracks below."
   The construction of water channels through the mine site seemed to help.
   Underground is another memory of better times for the now-abandoned mine.
   "An estimate that I read was that in the 44 years that the mine operated, they took 10 million tonne and it is calculated that that is less than one per cent of what is there," Baker said
   The Nordegg mine site tour runs each day at 1 p.m., from mid-May until July 1. From July 1 until Labour Day, tours leave the Heritage Centre at both 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Contact Clearwater County at 403-845-4444 for more information.
Photo: An overhead look at the historic Nordegg coal mine site, and the slag piles that create an unusual
  landscape.


Jan. 12, 2011, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
A look at the Canadian Northern Railway
Canadian Northern construction North Red Deer 1912   The origins of the Canadian Northern Railway (later Canadian National) in Red Deer go back to 1908 when coalfields were discovered in the foothills, west of Rocky Mountain House.
   A group of German investors created Brazeau Colleries and teamed up with Mackenzie and Mann of the Canadian Northern Railway to exploit this rich discovery.
   Mackenzie and Mann were in a great rush to get started. They filed a route map with the federal authorities in August 1910, even though they had done virtually no surveying for the prospective rail line. They were able to do this by borrowing heavily from the Alberta Central Railway's surveys that had been made from the Red Deer area to Rocky Mountain House the preceding winter.
   Not surprisingly, the federal government balked at approving such duplication. C.N. was directed to move its line farther north. However, the company was in no mood to slow down.
   They pushed their grade from the Stettler area to Blackfalds by the fall of 1910.
   Mackenzie and Mann also applied for a charter from the provincial government to help resolve its dispute with Ottawa.
   After some controversy, the province agreed to give a charter to a newly-formed subsidiary, the Canadian Northern Western.
   The people of Red Deer were concerned that the C.N.W.R. was going to bypass the community. Pressure was consequently mounted to have a branch line built to the fledgling Village of North Red Deer and then on into Red Deer.
   The C.N.W.R. was too far advanced to accommodate the requests.
   However, Mackenzie and Mann did decide to construct another rail line from Strathcona (South Edmonton) through Red Deer to Calgary.
   At the beginning of 1911, a contract was awarded to the Northern Construction Co. another firm which Mackenzie and Mann had substantial interests. Northern Construction announced that most of its energies would be devoted to the C.N.W.R. line.
   However, contractor also stated that it would soon start work on the portion of the new "S" line from the C.N.R.W. near Blackfalds to North Red Deer and Red Deer.
   In the late summer and early fall of 1911, Northern Construction set up a large camp on the old Exhibition Grounds south of 45 St. and another near the McBlane house in what is now the Pines subdivision. Work began on the grade along the edge of the North Hill.
   By June 1912, the C.N.W.R. was completed as far as Rocky Mountain House, but the C.N.R. seemed to be losing interest in the "S" line. While the company finished the rail link to Nordegg by August 1914, very little progress had been made on the branch into North Red Deer. One problem was a surprising amount of quicksand and the frequent slippage of the hillside in North Red Deer.
   The outbreak of the First World War was a huge setback to all major construction projects. In 1915, the C.N.R. asked for major financial concessions from the City of Red Deer, but the City wisely declined.
   In August 1916, work began on a bridge across the Red Deer River near the mouth of Waskasoo Creek. However, the bridge was badly located and poorly built. Frequent reconstruction of the bridge resulted.
   Moreover, eventually, the rail bed was largely shifted from the shoulder of the North Hill to the flats closer to the river.
   In 1917, the Canadian Northern went bankrupt and was taken over by the federal government. In 1919, the new government-owned Canadian National restarted work on the line into Red Deer. Mayor W.E. Lord pushed to have the new C.N. terminal and stockyards built in North Red Deer as that seemed to be more practical than continually rebuilding the bridge across the river.
   However, he was overruled by the rest of Council. The new station yards were subsequently located where the Park Plaza Shopping Centre is now located along 47 Avenue.
   In 1920, the line into the Village of North Red Deer and the City of Red Deer was finally completed. However, it was never heavily used. In 1941, the C.N.R. abandoned its troublesome bridge. In 1960, all of the line south of the river was abandoned and a new terminal and railyards were constructed in the new Riverside Industrial Park.
Photo: A LOOK BACK - The new Canadian Northern Railway line in North Red Deer, east of the current Riverside
  Industrial Park, 1912. Across the river is what is now the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.

  Photo courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives Nancy Ross collection.



June 7, 2010, Red Deer Advocate Report on Central Alberta (Michael Dawe)
Rail relocation project a first
in Western Canada

   There is a great deal of discussion these days about the future plans for the Riverlands district on the western side of the downtown area.
   Much of this land had been opened up for redevelopment because of the Canadian Pacific Railway relocation project in the early 1990s and the more recent move of the City Yards.
   What is often forgotten, however, is that 50 years ago, Red Deer undertook the first major railroad relocation project in Western Canada.
   The Canadian National Railway line, which ran on the eastern side of the downtown area, was moved to a new station and yards north of the river.
   The new Riverside Industrial Park was also developed as part of the project.
   This was the first joint industrial development between an urban and rural municipality in Alberta.
   The Red Deer Advocate described the initiative as "one of the most auspicious milestones in the history of Red Deer."
   Red Deer at the time was enjoying one of the greatest booms in its history.
   The population of the city had grown more than 180 per cent in the preceding decade.
   The value of the industrial and wholesale sectors of the local economy had grown by a similar amount.
   The Riverside Industrial Park project meant that the community could now grow even more rapidly as some 1,000 acres of land, with ready access to rail service, would be available for major industrial and warehouse developments.
   The initiative had been in the works for a long time. The CNR had started to come into Red Deer and to provide a second rail service to the community in 1911.
   However, the outbreak of the First World War had been a huge setback to the plans.
   When the construction of the rail line was resumed after the war, the Red Deer branch became little more than a spur into the city. Station grounds were constructed in 1920, at what is now the corner of Ross Street and 47th Avenue.
   Moreover, the site the company chose for the crossing of the Red Deer River, by the mouth of Waskasoo Creek, was a very poor one. Spring floods took out the bridge so many times that the bridge site was finally abandoned in 1941.
   Arrangements were then made to access the station and yards by means of a transfer track off the south end of the CPR main line.
   Needless to say, the arrangement was unsatisfactory and the CNR provided little in the way of effective rail service to the community.
   Consequently, it was agreed that the CNR terminal and yards should be relocated to the north side of the river, in conjunction with a major industrial and commercial development.
   The necessary agreements were concluded in early 1960 to bring the project to fruition. A series of land swaps were made whereby the CNR acquired new land in North Red Deer.
   The city took over a broad band of potential industrial lands along the north side of the river as well as the old rail lands south of the river.
   The official opening of the new Riverside Industrial Park and the new CNR station and yards took place on May 17, 1961. The significance of the event was demonstrated when the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce sent a Friendship Train to Red Deer for the ceremonies. A lavish banquet was subsequently held at the new Capri Hotel.
   Meanwhile, the old rail lands south of the river were redeveloped into a corridor of high-density residential developments, the large Plaza Shopping Centre, a hotel site, a large expanse of park, a site for the new Red Deer Recreation Centre, and additional land for the Red Deer Fairgrounds. Thus, the project provided a wonderful enhancement of the east side of Red Deer's downtown.
   The Red Deer Advocate had been right. The Riverside Industrial Park and railroad relocation project was one of the most significant developments in Red Deer's history, one that has left a positive and lasting legacy for the community.


March 31, 2010, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Region celebrating century of railroad heritage
One hundred years ago, in 1910, Red Deer enjoyed one of the strongest booms in its history. A significant factor in that boom was an enormous amount of railroad construction and development, involving three different railway companies. Probably the most important boost to the local economy came with the decision of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to make Red Deer the major divisional point on the Calgary-Edmonton line.
(more)


Aug. 26, 2009, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)

Rotary Recreation Park area
a jewel in heart of city

   A week ago on Aug. 19, there was a public open house to discuss a new concept plan for the Rotary Recreation Park and the parkland areas on the southern edge of the Red Deer Valley.
   The preliminary concepts and designs, presented by Group 2 Architecture Engineering Ltd. and Michael von Hausen Urban Planning and Design Inc., included a number of interesting historical elements. That is not surprising as the park and recreational areas, included in the new plans, are amongst the oldest park areas in the city.
   The oldest of these park areas is located on the southeastern edge of the valley, where Waskasoo Creek follows the base of the escarpment.
   This land was initially acquired in 1902 by the Red Deer Agricultural Society for use as Red Deer's first permanent exhibition grounds. Named Alexandra Park in 1904, the fairgrounds were expanded and improved a number of times over the succeeding years.
   In 1910, the Town of Red Deer decided to acquire 40 acres of land along Waskasoo and Piper Creeks, west of Nanton (48) Ave.
   While part of the new parkland was to be used as a picnic and recreational area, a decision was also made to leave much of the wooded area in its natural state. In January 1911, Town Council voted to officially name this new parkland Waskasoo Park.
   In 1911, the Canadian Northern Western Railway Company acquired a right-of-way between Nanton (48) and Parkvale (47) Avenues. The original intent was to have a rail line run from the Calgary area through Red Deer to the south side of Edmonton. However, these plans were dropped during the First World War.
   A spur line was run instead in 1920-1922 from the CN's Brazeau line north of Red Deer to station yards where the Park Plaza (Co-op) Shopping Centre is located today. A branch of this line ran further south and eventually connected with the CPR main line, west of Gaetz Ave.
   Meanwhile, improvements were made to Waskasoo Park so that the area at the foot of Piper's Mountain could be used as a tourist camp. Because many of these tourists arrived by the automobile, the park became known as the Auto Camp.
   The Auto Camp became very popular, used by hundreds of campers each summer. More improvements were made in 1927-1928, including the construction of a large cookhouse and installation of electric lighting. In 1939, a number of small tourist cabins were constructed and became Red Deer's first motel facility.
   During the Second World War, with housing very scarce, the Auto Park cabins were increasingly used as year-round housing. This situation continued after the war as the city's population began to increase dramatically.
   Unfortunately, by the late 1940s, the Auto Park was starting to become decrepit since the cabins were never meant for long-term housing. Consequently, the cabins were demolished and the area was restored as a family picnic and recreational area.
   Since the Rotary Club took on the redevelopment of the area as a long-term project in 1950, the site became known as Rotary Park.
   In 1952, the Red Deer Arena was constructed on the Exhibition Grounds and in 1954, the Red Deer Curling Club was built next door. In 1958, the Pioneer Lodge was erected at the north gate to the fairgrounds.
   In 1959-1961, the CN station and yards were relocated north of the river to the new Riverside Industrial Park. This was Western Canada's first railroad relocation project. The old CN property north of 49 St. was converted to a mix of commercial and residential use, but the right-of-way to the south was turned into park and recreational spaces.
   In 1962, the Recreation Centre was built on the old right-of-way, followed by an Olympic-sized outdoor pool in 1964.
   In 1977, the Golden Circle Seniors Centre was constructed by the Kiwanis Club. In 1978, the Red Deer Museum and Archives was built in the space between the Recreation Centre and the Golden Circle.
   Extensive changes to the south area followed the relocation of the Westerner Exhibition Grounds to the south side of the city in 1980-1982.
   In the mid-1980s, Heritage Square was developed east of the Recreation Centre and included a number of historic structures and replica buildings.
   With the relocation of the CN rail line and the Exhibition Grounds, a parks and recreation "jewel" has been created in the heart of the city. The newest proposals suggest that even greater enhancements and improvements will occur in the coming years and decades.

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