Re: “Train station conundrum,” Humboldt Journal, October 26
This morning, on CBC Radio, the morning host went out to Ogema, to see what the small community did to restore their history. One of the items of interest was that they were on the CPR rail line. They negotiated with CP, as they were going to set up a historic site. This done, they looked for an old railway station that was somewhat similar to theirs. They drove the province and found one in Simpson, on a farm outside of town, where it was used for storing grain. After some talks, they were able to move the old CP station from Simpson all the way to Ogema, where they set it up again. It looked a sorry site, but the people of the Ogema area — young and old alike — got together to refurbish the old station to its former glory.
This can be done in Humboldt and will bring the people together to restore the building to a beautiful piece of Humboldt history. In Moose Jaw, CN sold the building to a private buyer, providing he left it on site, took some of the old ramp off and put up a chainlink fence. In Saskatoon, the old CP station is still on site and has been made into a restaurant with one additional railcar.
In Nokomis, where both the CP and CN go through town, the community moved the old station and made it into a beautiful museum, complete with freight wagon and an old jigger. In Naicam, the old station was moved and made into a restaurant and bar and nicely refurbished.
The word conundrum is for those that want to sit on their hands instead of finding ways to keep the past for the future.
We can see the different buildings that have been saved by the willingness of some people to save the past — the water tower, the old post office, the old Bank of Commerce building.
There is a lot of history in Humboldt that has gone to the wrecking ball, and been hauled to the dump, not on account of fire, but modern progress.
The people who call (the train station) a conundrum — have a look at Marysburg church, which was rough-looking, to how beautiful it looks today.
How about St. Peter’s Church in Muenster? In the 1960s, a pastor asked the congregation to pray it be hit by lightning, and burnt to the ground. Today, it is a masterpiece of community involvement, and is being refurbished for the third time.
These are examples where there could have been conundrums, but the people took the bull by the horns and made something come back from the past in good shape.
In Europe, buildings of the past can be modernized but the face of the building has to stay the same, saving the look of the past. Just recently, I drove through an old town on Hwy. 12 in Montana and saw a brick bank building from 1895 still being used today and in good shape.
The city of Humboldt should get off its high horse and get involved in finding ways to raise money for the restoration of the station, plus have young people get involved in knowing the part the station played through the years. Talk with CN and let’s get the show on the road.
The town of Watrous had a good station in their hands, but for some reason, gave up on it, so it was sold. Today, there is a great lament that no one took the initiative to move the building off CN right of way and make a museum out of it. The history is gone to modern progress, which doesn’t give a hoot about the past and today there is just empty space there.
Don’t look for reasons of what not to do, but look at the building and remember the men and women who left that station to serve the country in three wars, and those who were lucky to come back.
There is only one thing to do and that is for the city of Humboldt and its people to resolve to make the best out of it.