17 January 2011
Rail Heyday Remembered at
Standing at the Marshall's Bay flag stop are Brian LaBrie, Morris Hall, Sandra Hall, Janet
Carlile, and John Brady.
Arnprior Ontario - While officials across Renfrew County and beyond ponder the future of local
rail lines, the Arnprior and District Museum is all set to pay homage to the vital transportation link that played such an important part in local history.
The museum's newest exhibit, which is expected to open in time for Heritage Week 14 to 18 Feb 2011, is a restored flag stop building once located at Marshall's
Bay on the Ottawa River near Arnprior.
Volunteers have logged about 1,000 hours of work on the exhibit so far and the structure is now located at the museum and undergoing the remaining restoration.
Museum curator Janet Carlile praises the efforts of volunteers, without whom the exhibit would not be possible.
This particular project required specific expertise and the museum and the public is lucky the perfect group came forward, says Carlile.
"I'm just thrilled with the way it's gone and believe it will be a great addition to the museum," says Carlile.
The stop was built around 1896, a birth year it shares with the museum building itself.
Marshall's Bay is named for John Marshall, who operated a forge in the northwest corner of Fitzroy Township from 1825 to about 1860.
It stretches from Goodwin's Bay to the lower bay near the mouth of the Mississippi river.
The area was a popular tourist hub that was also the site of well-known naturalist and photographer Charles Macnamara's cottage.
"It was used until the late 1950s when CP was going to tear it down," says Carlile.
Local farmer Ross Elliott purchased it at that time and used it as an outbuilding on his property.
Before Elliott passed away a few years ago he offered the historical piece to the museum and Carlile is very pleased to have it.
Work on the exhibit involved removing it from the donor's shed and relocating it to the Kenwood Centre for restoration work.
Mark Nibourg and Kenwood staff are to be commended for the generous donation of space while the flag stop underwent its restoration, says Carlile.
"He's been a huge supporter of the museum and our projects."
The internal and external skin of the structure had to be repaired and rebuilt because of rot and infestation and other general repairs are being made.
Volunteer contributions include a generous donation of plans from a Toronto engineering firm with expertise not available locally.
"They're amazing plans," says Carlile.
While all the features may not be feasible there will be some that will certainly be implemented, she said.
Volunteer John Brady said he has found endless entertainment in the hundreds of names carved and scrawled on the beams inside the building.
"The oldest one I've found is from 1918," says Brady.
"It's really interesting to look back at the names and poems."
With the future of local rail lines in jeopardy, it's increasingly important to recognize the importance rail transportation played in our history, as well
as the potential in the future, says Carlile.
"The railway made Arnprior the hub of the lumber industry," she says.
"I personally believe it's very short-sighted (to pull up the lines) in the day and age when rail traffic is being increased and upgraded south of the
border and throughout Europe."
Following a week of activities for Heritage Week, the museum is open on Tuesdays and by appointment.
The third-floor Prince and the Prior exhibit is built and requires just a few minor finishing touches.