Benalto’s well-travelled train station is back in its original location, across from the local fairgrounds, in a fundraising painting by David More.
In honour of the historic station’s return to the community, and the 100th anniversary of the Benalto Fair and Stampede, the Benalto artist and history buff is donating his acrylic work Return to Benalto to a local effort to turn the train station into a museum and recreation centre.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway station, built in 1928, had travelled through a fair bit of Central Alberta before being relocated to Benalto in 2013.
The closed train station was first purchased by Jack and Joan Donald and moved to their acreage on the west bank of the Red Deer River, where it was turned into a cottage, said More.
The station was sold again in 1980 to another Central Alberta couple, Garrett and Brenda Cupples, who moved it to their property just outside Red Deer, for use as a residence for more than three decades. Four years ago, the Cupples decided to donate the historic building back to the hamlet of Benalto for preservation.
The structure now sits close to where it was originally located, only a little closer to the town site.
More said an effort has been underway to set it on a new foundation with a walk-out basement, and connect it to sewer and water services. He added about $250,000 in grants and donations was spent making these upgrades, including purchasing new furnaces.
More, a member of the Benalto Booster Club, estimates another $150,000 will be needed to turn the upstairs of the station into a museum and open the basement as a community centre with washrooms and a changing area for skaters and other park users.
He hopes his painting, which shows a train approaching the train station and bringing people to the Benalto fairgrounds, can help with the fundraising. The image from it was already turned into frameable posters, postcards, greeting cards and fridge magnets that will be sold by many local businesses.
The funds will go to the Benalto Booster Club for station renovations, as well as local festivities to mark the 100th anniversary of the Benalto Fair and Stampede.
More said it’s the second oldest stampede in Alberta, after Calgary’s.