Fundraiser to Restore the Round House
Stay in touch with the past.
In May 2018 we got a request to come to a small but thriving southern Alberta town to play for a fundraiser for the Hanna Roundhouse Society. I've always had a soft spot for trains, especially the steam kind, so we loaded up and headed southeast.
We need to keep an eye peeled for the future, because that's where we're going, but it's good to stay in touch with the past, because that's where we came from.
We were met by Sandra, the curator there, and before we set up for the evening's concert in the community hall we were given the royal tour.
It's called round for a reason.
The concrete and brick structure was built in 1913 alongside the Canadian National Railway. It's curve allows the locomotive or railcar direct access from the turntable to the great hall, where it receives the repairs needed. It is then pushed back out to the turntable and down to a series of sidings where it awaits its next destination.
The roundhouse was shut down in the early 60s with the advent of the diesel locomotive which was too large to fit inside the building. A few years back the Hanna Roundhouse Society was formed to restore the building, and to declare it a national historic site. Concerts have been hosted there, as well as weddings and other functions, which the society will use as revenue generation, even once the museum is up and ready.
I remember as a kid drawing a scale model of a steam locomotive, and hearing my dad's stories about his early childhood alongside the tracks in Elmira NY. When we emigrated to Alberta in 1965, the train coming through town was steam, and the lonesome sound of the steam whistle still gets me today.
On holiday in BC a few years back, my wife and I played tourista and took a trip on a refurbished steam train just for the fun of it. I tell you what, when that old locomotive rounded the corner into the station with the mountains as a backdrop and the early morning sun behind it and let loose with that old whistle I actually lost it.
Yes, we need to keep an eye peeled for the future, because that's where we're going, but it's good to stay in touch with the past, because that's where we came from.