Curator Deborah Chapman tries the telegraph keyboard in the new railway station exhibit.

Haney opens railway station

A new exhibit at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum focuses the historical significance of the railway to Salmon Arm development.

All aboard!

It is a command most people take for granted.

But the significance of the railway to the development of Western Canada, including Salmon Arm and First Nations people is enormous.

That impact is revealed in The Train Stopped Here, a new exhibition in the museum at  R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

Some 60 people attended a special opening of the exhibition Friday evening, another stellar display by museum curator Deborah Chapman.

With incredible attention to detail and what she calls an army of contributors – all of whom were acknowledged at the opening – Chapman has created a railway station that takes the viewer on a trip through the past.

Hear the tapping of the telegraph keys and imagine a station master sitting at his desk near a pot-belly stove. Try talking on an early portable telephone. Look at the then-fashionable portmanteaus, dining baskets, photographs and a mannequin wearing a First World War uniform.

Collectors George Alison, Jake Jacobson and Rosemary and Allan Wilson were responsible for gathering many of the artifacts, Clive Bryson gave many of the old photographs new life and Neil Sutcliffe wired the telegraph and telephone systems.

Military historian Harry Welton contributed the military significance and the Revelstoke Railway Museum filled in some of the gaps.

Marion Williams brought the equipment sounds to life while Dave Harper and Norma Harisch received kudos for their artistic contributions.

Also receiving loud applause, accompanied by laughter, Dave Martinuk was acknowledged as being one of three Salmon Arm protestors to receive the “Trudeau salute” in 1982 as the then prime minister travelled through town on a train.

“Everyone here is somehow involved with the creation of this exhibit,” Chapman told the assembled crowd. “There many I would like to especially thank because this idea for an exhibit would have been stopped in its tracks without them.”

While everyone’s contribution was valued, new LED lights courtesy of the Shuswap Community Foundation, which administers the city’s grants in aid program, and reusable frames from the Salmar Association are two items that will benefit this and future exhibitions.

“The CPR is one of the reasons the settlement of Salmon Arm came into being. It brought supplies and settlers. It took mail, produce and resources to markets and then men to war,” Chapman said, noting too, the changes that have taken place in railway service to Salmon Arm over the last century. “It was our community’s connection to the outside world.”

Representing the province, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo commended Chapman and staff for keeping history alive and called the village and museum a local gem.

“When the Last Spike was driven a mere 70 kilometres east of here in 1885 at Craigellachie, there wasn’t much to Salmon Arm. It was populated by our First People, the Secwepemc and a few white fur traders,” he said, noting more change came the following year when trans-continental service arrived the following year. “It didn’t take long before new residents were sending fruit, vegetables and lumber to be sold in markets.”

While he joked about running away from residential school in Kamloops and riding the railway to Salmon Arm, well-known Neskonlith Coun. Louis Thomas brought to mind the terrible consequences of development to First Nations people.

That the gathering was taking place on First Nations land was formally recognized by Mayor Nancy Cooper, who called for aboriginals and non-aboriginals to work together.

Retired  CPR employee George Alison, who provided telegraph equipment from his private collection, was asked to cut the ribbon.

R.J. Haney Village is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marjorie’s Tea Room is also open the same days  from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

A highlight of  summer entertainment, the popular Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre runs every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening in July and August. Reservations are a must and can be made by calling 250-832-5243.

Enjoy a family pioneer outing from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 12. There will be games, a pie- eating contest, wagon rides, pioneer demonstrations, musical entertainment and more. Gate admission is adult $6, children 5-13 $4, children under four are free. Enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast for $6, barbecue lunch with all the fixings from $5.50.


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