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The following is an excerpt from a Free Press story...

Building on the past
Small communities rising to the challenge of saving historically significant structures

Christian Cassidy By: Christian Cassidy
Posted: 08/13/2017 3:00 AM
Summertime is when many Manitobans take to the highways on vacation or to visit loved ones. If you go off the beaten track into some of our smaller communities, you can still find a rich, though dwindling, collection of buildings that make up our province’s built history.

Maintaining and renovating these structures would be difficult in any setting, but in a community with small — in some cases, shrinking — tax base and limited pool of volunteers, the challenge is all the greater. Thankfully, small, but dedicated, groups of people in many communities have taken on the often decades-long commitment to preserve and restore some of these structures for future generations.

Three buildings that are in different stages of renovation are the Rivers Train Station, Rapid City Consolidated School and the Ninette Sanatorium. If you find yourself near one of these communities, be sure to stop in and check them out.

Rivers Train Station

The Rivers Train Station is the only passenger stop between Portage la Prairie and Melville, Sask., and Dauphin and the U.S. border.

Christian Cassidy - Winnipeg Free Press

Built: 1917
Architect: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway

Rivers, located 250 kilometres west of Winnipeg, was once one of the province’s most important railway hubs.

In 1907, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP) chose the town to be a divisional point on its trek west to the Pacific coast. This meant a huge investment in the community in the form of a roundhouse, (a semi-circular building used to service locomotives), repair sheds, a coal storage yard, and bunk houses for some of the 300 or so men employed at the facilities.

This two-storey station was built in the summer of 1917 to replace the original circa 1909 station, which was razed by fire.

Christian Cassidy

The Rivers Train Station's roof was replaced in 2016 at a cost of around $70,000.
The GTP was absorbed by the CNR in 1920, but the town continued to be an important railway hub for decades to come. The station was likely at its busiest during the Second World War, shuttling personnel and equipment to and from Canadian Forces Base Rivers.

The CNR began to reorganize its facilities in the 1950s and, soon after, most of the town’s railway buildings were demolished or sold off. Today, the train station is the only significant structure remaining from Rivers’ storied railway past.
In 1989, the station, which by then was owned by VIA Rail, was closed. The company was asked to hold off on any demolition plans until the town could decide whether or not they wanted it to have a role in Rivers’ future. The company agreed, and in 1992 the building was designated a municipal heritage site and received federal recognition under the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act.

In 2006, a formal Rivers Train Station Restoration Project Committee was created to bring the building back to life.

Christian Cassidy

When completed, the Rivers Train Station will house offices, a museum, an arts and culture space and a VIA Rail waiting room.

Donna Morken is the chairwoman of the committee and has been involved with saving the station for nearly 20 years. She is driven by the fact that, "Prairie railway stations were the heart of the community, they were the beginning of many communities as the railway pushed west and united the country from sea to sea, adding, "Prairie railway stations are not unlike the grain elevators, if we do not restore them they will be gone forever."

In 2014, the restoration committee signed a 40-year lease agreement with VIA Rail for the station, which means all its fundraising efforts go toward the renovation itself, not a mortgage payment. In 2016, the largest project to date was undertaken with the replacement of the roof, at a cost of about $70,000.

Morken notes the station is not just an important part of the town’s past, but also of its future. Plans for the renovated space — the completion date is still unknown — include a tourism office, a museum, offices of the Rivers and Area Community Foundation, and an arts and culture space.

There will also be a VIA Rail waiting room as, starting in 2008, Rivers became the only on-off passenger point between Portage la Prairie and Melville, Sask., and between Dauphin and the U.S. border.

See complete article at:

Rivers recognizes train station's centennial
Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon on hand for plaque reveal
By: Ian Froese
Posted: 06/10/2017 3:00 AM

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