Benalto train station is on track to becoming a community and recreation centre with a museum thanks to a $30,000 donation to help refurbish the historic building.
In July, Red Deer philanthropists Joan and Jack Donald and their family made the donation to Benalto Booster Club for the project.
In 1971, the Donald family bought the abandoned CPR station, moved it to the eastern bank of the Red Deer River near the C&E Trail, and converted it into a summer home.
They sold the building a decade later and new owners Garett and Brenda Cupples relocated it to an area near Burnt Lake Industrial Park on the western edge of Red Deer. In 2013, the Cupples donated the station back to Benalto.
Dave More, with Benalto Booster Club, said rooms upstairs are still painted pink and blue from when they were bedrooms for the Donald children.
“They have a lot of fond memories of the place. They are keen to see it continue in a happy role back in its old community,” More said Friday about the hamlet, west of Sylvan Lake.
A contractor will begin work this fall that includes installing a support beam, interior renovations, adding a deck, and finishing cladding. A stairwell is already built linking the bottom and top floors.
“It’s being completely rebuilt and converted into a very usable community space.
“The basement is pretty much set up, and it’s just a matter of building a big deck around the outside all the way around the building so people can sit out and look at the mountains.”
More said the station has a $130,000 budget to complete renovations that could be possibly be finished by the end of the year.
In addition to the Donald’s $30,000 donation, Red Deer County put $75,000 towards the project earlier this summer, and, in November, the club will know if it’s getting a Community Facility Enhancement Program grant from the province to meet its budget.
Located on the hamlet’s Main Street in the old rail yards over looking the rodeo grounds, the building will still look like a train station, but it will be given a whole new life, he said.
“We saw a wonderful opportunity to create a legacy project for the future. We’re trying to set it up for the next generations to really enjoy it and have a connection to the history at the same time. There’s young families here that will really benefit from it.”