Much has happened since we last placed a post on here. We placed patches on the roof in the summer of 2013 to keep out the rain. In December of 2013 we officially insured the train station in the name of our committee. On January 28th of 2014 we signed a long term lease with VIA Rail  for over 40 years and since then we have been completing work on our charitable status and smaller grant projects. We have had offers of museum pieces related to the train station and  have been in touch with Wins Bridgman of BridgmanCollaborative Architecture in Winnipeg about the next steps in the restoration of the building. We are also working on completing the train rail pergola that we built in the Rivers Millennium Park . It was added to  last year with a flower bed. This year we will have a local welder with artistic talent provide a fan shaped addition to the inside areas of the pergola so that Virginia Creeper can begin to climb the rails and cover it. We will also place two granite signs honoring those that have donated money to see these things happen. A grant has been applied for through the Provincial Government to get the restoration process moving forward with a study to determine what the space inside the Station may be used for. From a museum and tourist information booth to the home of  VIA Rail to the Rivers and Area Community Foundation. Lots of ideas have been ongoing and we will continue to keep those flowing. The flowers have been planted by the stationette to welcome visitors and those that get on and off the train here. We will carry on with more news as it comes our way.
The huge 100th Anniversary party is over and what a week it was. The Town of Rivers looked wonderful in all its' green and colored splendor. The weather co-operated and it was a spectacular event. There were many people who came from all over Canada to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. There was a fly by with the vintage planes and of course, our beloved old airplane 'Pinkie". As if taking a cue, at the same time the fly past was going by the train pulled into town, as it does many times a day. A great cheer went up from all to recognize that past history as well. Many stories were told during the week and lots included those that have worked or travelled on the train. Many were looking for a tour of the station but it is not ready for that yet.

The new Welcome to Rivers Banners make a beautiful back drop for photos of the station and community.
A highlight of the week was a visit by Wins Bridgman and Marcella Poirier of the Architectural Firm of  Bridgman Collaborative from Winnipeg. We did a tour of the station and then met with as many members of the committee to ask questions of their thoughts on the station and how we might work collaboratively to get the restoration project underway. They will now go back to Winnipeg and put together a proposal to move forward. The committee is planning to make this new partnership a reality  and participate in the celebration of the train stations' 100th in 2017 and Canada's 150th birthday!
Today is the last day of June and we had our June train station meeting last week. Everyone is gearing up for the huge celebration that is coming. Every year our committee pays for and plants flowers at the Rivers Stationette to greet the travelers coming to take an adventure or return from one. We all take turns during the summer for a week at a time to water them and make them look their best. This years must be especially well looked after as we want to look beautiful for the over 1000 people coming back to the community. The retired Rivers Masonic Lodge members donated money to our committee and this month, beautiful charcoal colored brick  flower gardens adorn either side of the train rail arbour in the Millennium Park. We will post photos of this once the flowers are in full bloom.  A granite plaque is being produced to honor this donation, as many of the members of the Rivers Lodge were railroaders.
Members of our committee are working on a float for the huge parade on July 6th and then of course we have some fundraising events to promote. A local artist by the name of Ina Hyndman has donated a beautiful watercolor, of a passenger train travelling across the trestle. As well we have made an agreement with Manitoba's famous Morden Chocolates of Winnipeg to produce solid milk chocolate steam engines for sale during this special year. After our committee tasted one, it was a hit and a great choice to fundraise and do something else that is unique. So we will be at the Rivers fair on July 3rd with these delights and from there at our new community complex on sale for everyone that has a sweet tooth!
Around the middle of June we had Canadian Poet and writer, Tim Bowling visit with us as he is working on a project to celebrate the life of Buster Keaton, the silent film star. Buster was in a National Film Board production called The RailRodder and spent time in Rivers during its' filming. It is another amazing story for another time.
This week promises to be a week of new beginnings for us, as we have an architectural firm coming from Winnipeg to see if we can work together and get started on the renovation of the station. We are very excited about this and look forward to seeing the station come to life. For now we will be happy to enjoy the festivities and friendships of the 100th anniversary this week. Happy Birthday to Canada on Canada Day and Happy 100th Birthday to Rivers. All aboard for the fun!

A long overdue update

After a lengthy absence, we are now back to providing an update to everyone as to what is happening with our committee and our project. Our committee usually meets once a month and discusses where we are with fundraising & restoration plans, articles donated to us, stories involving the station and railroaders in general and much more. In the last 3 years we have worked on raising the awareness of the heritage aspect of our building and the railroad within our community and area. Our committee members have been involved in many smaller projects on our way to the largest project of all. Many railroad enthusiasts have sent us stories, articles or pieces of memorabilia for us to house in our museum in the train station. Once we get our blog up to date on all we have completed thus far, it truly shows what a small group of dedicated people can do.
Having said that, Rivers is having its 100th Anniversary this year and there are many events planned for celebrating between July 2 -7th, 2013. It will be a time for all to renew old friendships and regale of stories of what used to happen when they visited, lived or worked here.
This heritage of stories and people and events is something that the Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee Inc. has been working on for the last three years as it has such a connection to the railroad. We have been working on a project with the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch to capture our history through the buildings in our community, the original people who brought this community to life and the events that have followed along the way. We are currently working on a heritage website for the town and the surrounding RM which will be a living document that people will continue to submit stories, photos and all things heritage for our area. We are thankful to Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism for providing the funding for us to complete these most important projects.
The committee continues to add to the railroad theme throughout the community by providing unique railroad benches, a unique and very heavy train rail arbour and a 27 piece massive puzzle that depicts the heritage of the area with the railroad. The puzzle pieces are about 3-4 feet in length and cover the train station windows while we work on the station itself. The goal of the committee is to remove the puzzle pieces off the windows and back into a very large mural in 2017 when the train station turns 100. We were assisted with this project by The Whitehead Foundation of Western Manitoba and it is the only puzzle piece art that we know of in Manitoba and from our research, the rest of Canada.
We have been working toward funding for our restoration of the station and while we have worked hard at retaining grants, we have not yet received the large ones that will begin the restoration by re-doing the roof. The building is a Federally designated heritage building and we have to restore the outside as it was, which means cedar shingles for the roof to begin the process.
VIA Rail has been an amazing and very supportive partner along the journey and we look forward to the day where they will house their waiting room inside the station as it used to be. For now we are proud of the work we have completed in keeping the Rivers Train Stationette a place of pride until the Rivers Train Station is restored.

Committee Learns About Grants

by Jessie Bell, RTSRP Reporter

Michael Blatherwick, regional counsultant for Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, western region, attended a Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee meeting on Tuesday evening, January 27th. He explained the availability of two provincial grants: Community Places and one for heritage buildings, favouring the latter. Both grants can be applied for every year; however, Community Places is for projects that must be completed with the year the grant is made. He added that more than one organization within the same town could apply for grants. The heritage grant would be most suitable for the train station restoration as this project will be carried out over a period of several years.

Blatherwick reported a facilities consultant had recently inspected Rivers train station. Having worked in construction for many years before employment with Manitoba government, this consultant was impressed with the beams, sound foundation and solid wood flooring. He was very positive about the state of the building and excited to see restoration commence. Advice was given concerning the roof, which should be shingled to protect the interior. Once the indoor update is completed, the cheaper asphalt shingles could be replaced by the enviro-friendly 'cedar' shakes. 

Aeleen Sclater showed the group a sample of lumber saved by her father, the late Abe Sclater, from Floors Elevator where he was employed for many years. He had salvaged the boards from the interior of the elevator leg when the structure was being demolished. Deep grooves had been created in the lumber by the movement of grain which eventually removed the soft wood, leaving a sculpted hard wood. The rescued lumber, along with the history of Floors Elevator, have been offered by the Sclater family as a museum collection once the station is restored. Another donation to a station museum are paintings of steam locomotives by Stephen Lowe of Brandon and formerly of Rivers. A monetary donation was gratefully received from a local grain group who recently disbanded.


The Great Train Trip Giveaway winner Dennis Basso (l) of Deloraine, Manitoba receives a voucher from Rivers Train Station Restoration Project co-chair Ralph Sprenger (r) for a train trip for two!

 The presentation took place at the Rivers Train Stationette, where Mr. Basso and his wife Marlene will board the VIA Rail Canadian train, traveling first class to Vancouver. The Basso's will take their trip sometime before the end of August.


Rivers Train Station Restoration Project co-chairs Ralph Sprenger and Donna Morken load the 984 tickets sold (just 16 shy of the 1000!) into the draw drum.

VIA Rail passenger train arrives right on time for the draw!

A crowd gathers as passengers get on and off train ~ all awaiting the official draw ...

Happy VIA passenger Julie Matthies is delighted to make the draw ...

A most pleased and satisfied committee enjoys a cup of hot coffee in the stationette following the draw. Everyone is thrilled with the response and support given to The Great Train Trip Giveaway and the restoration project. Looking forward to presenting Mr. Basso with his ticket!