News articles about the Canadian National Railway heritage
in Central Alberta in and around the Red Deer, Mirror and Brazeau
including the former Canadian Northern Western Railway and Grand Trunk Pacific
but excluding Alberta Prairie Railway, Stettler, Big Valley, Hanna.
east central Alberta:
20, 2019, Red Deer Advocate (Michael Dawe)
Origins of CNR in Red
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
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
In 1911, Northern Construction (a CNR subsidiary) began, primarily
on the grade along the edge of the North Hill and some points in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In 1960, all of the line south of the river was abandoned and a new
terminal and railyards were constructed in the new Riverside
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
May 21, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Paul
Relic caboose gets new home
Railroad artifact has been
filmed with Clint Eastwood and Brad Pitt
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Slag piles give Nordegg mine
an historic edge
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
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
"This went on year after year and there are millions of tonnes of
this stuff laying out there, easy, that is an understatement," Baker
"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
"One of the main things they designated was the mining landscape,"
"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
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
Underground is another memory of better times for the now-abandoned
"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
Jan. 12, 2011, Red Deer Express (Michael
A look at the
Canadian Northern Railway
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
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
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
Park, 1912. Across the river is what is now the Gaetz Lakes
courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives Nancy Ross
June 7, 2010, Red Deer Advocate
Report on Central Alberta (Michael Dawe)
Rail relocation project a first
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
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
The new Riverside Industrial Park was also developed as part of the
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
The population of the city had grown more than 180 per cent in the
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
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
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 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
Region celebrating century of
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.
Aug. 26, 2009, Red Deer Express (Michael
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
The oldest of these park areas is located on the southeastern edge
of the valley, where Waskasoo Creek follows the base of the
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
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
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
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
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
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
In the mid-1980s, Heritage Square was developed east of the
Recreation Centre and included a number of historic structures and
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.
articles about the vision and progress of the Forth Junction Heritage Society
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