Ribbon cutting officially opens CPR Portable Section House

Museum Ribbon Cutting

The opening of the 1930 CPR Portable Section House at the Kneehill Historical Museum was an auspicious event at Saturday’s Pioneer Times / Demonstration Day. Shelley Jackson-Berry and Kneehill County Reeve Wittstock cut the ribbon across the newly finished platform and Rosalie Lammle gave a historical perspective. This event marked completion of major hurdles in bringing missing pieces of history to the Museum and the opening of a building to mark the history. Bringing in this historically significant building used talents and expertise of many in the community, volunteers and workers alike. It now is wheelchair accessible.

Of note, the Section House came because Jim Berry, late husband of Shelley Jackson-Berry, envisioned its capacity to tell train history at Sunnyslope and reflect local history. With the help of Ron Esau, using well-casing skids, he moved the little building from Sunnyslope to Shelley’s garden at Linden, a historical site in its own right--the elevator-man’s place east of the track. Jim spent long hours restoring the building with help from family and friends and kept a number of the original artefacts. He numbered, removed and replaced siding, and reshingled with cedar shingles, and repaired the floor and windows. It was one of approximately 400 portables that once lined Alberta’s CPR tracks.

When Jim’s phone call came in 2016 to ask the Kneehill Historical Society if they might accept the building at the Museum, the board quickly agreed, envisioning an authentic setting that could tell the story of the farming communities along the western edge of Kneehill County. Bert Jackson helped ready the building for the move, and immediately started on a map to show the location of the spur line. From Acme, the spur line ran through Cosway, serving grain elevators at Linden, Sunnyslope, Allingham, Torrington, Wimborne and at the end of the line, the gas-sulphur plant. Section crews were fundamental in keeping the spur line working.

For the move to the museum, a cement pad south of the Station House was needed, and a Town development permit. Work started when volunteers (Bill Zens, Darrel Adam, Ron Wilson, and Al Atkinson) moved mud and dirt and laid a foundation for the cement slab, poured by Peter Van der Wynd. Then members sought the assistance of a mover, and gratefully, through the work of the Rilling family - Peter, Carolyn and Ben - the little shed house on skids came to be placed on the slab. A construction permit from the Town was granted. Lynn and Shawn Gustafson and Ron Wilson ‘jacked out’ the skids.

Grant-funding from Kneehill County made possible the next stage of completion. The Janz family - Bruce, Mike and Luke - restored the outer siding, replacing boards, scraping, sanding, undercoating and painting - with a perfectly matched paint thanks to Candice Cullum. Flashing and weather-proofing was added to the base, and eaves-trough to the roof where Bruce replaced the stove-pipe chimney, just in time for the opening. For the platform, the right-sized gravel came from Ken Adams; the cement in perfect consistency under the watchful eye of Bruce Wold at Tanas. The Platts - Sam and Sydney - and Titus Wittman undertook cribbing for a platform that will drain water away from the buildings as well as to connect to the CN platform and sidewalk. They did the cement work, moving yards via a wheelbarrow, just in time for the opening. Lynn Gustafson made anchoring plates, which were fitted by Bruce Janz.

The interior continues to be outfitted: Lynn found the perfect iron bunk (twin) bedsteads, Lorne and Donna Everett contributed a number of CPR artefacts. Once a tin plate mat is located, the stove will be placed, and volunteer work will continue to convey our history: - its places, people and events, including the CPR story in Kneehill County.