The Station Keepers are at it again. The volunteer group aimed at preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the Old Barry’s Bay Railway Station are putting the finishing touches on a big blow-out celebration set to begin at noon on Saturday, September 28th.
“It’s remarkable when you come to think of it,” said Joanne Olsen, president of the Station Keepers MV, the non-profit corporation responsible for revitalizing the old station. “Back on October 1st, 1894 – one hundred and twenty-five years ago this autumn — this old station officially opened its doors for the very first time. The whole town heard that first steam engine approaching. It belonged to the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway. And on that day, Barry’s Bay got its very own regularly-scheduled passenger train service. But it got something more.”
The Station Keepers are not ones to forget a moment like that, and so their celebration will include many more special moments such as a special musical performance by Ish Theilheimer and his Stone Fence Theatre who will play, among other things, some songs from their hit musical ‘Here Comes the Train.’ Olsen also said the event will include a spike driving contest, model train demonstrations, and some very curious railroader food including something called ‘CNR Strawberries.’
“You’ll have to come and taste them for yourselves,” she said. “But they’ll not be what you might expect, unless you happen to know some of the old boys who worked on the railroad.”
During the afternoon, Brian Peterson of The Opeongo Readers’ Theatre will perform a one-man show, based on J.R. Booth and his many pronouncements about why and how he built the OA & PS Railroad. He fully completed it in 1896 and at one time it was the busiest railroad in Canada. His Barry’s Bay Station is the last station standing of the 30 OA&PS Stations that he built.
“And that’s not all,’’ added Olsen. “This day is not just for history buffs or railroad enthusiasts. It’s aimed at the whole family, young and old. We’re having a lot of activities, too many to list; a scavenger hunt, a trivia contest, Share-the-Wealth draw, several raffle baskets and even some free raffle tickets we’re giving away to local school children. We want everybody in Barry’s Bay on September 28th to more than just remember that first train back in 1894,” said Olsen. “We want them to think about what a town like Barry’s Bay must have felt like on that day.
“Imagine all the hopes and dreams that came with that first train, that first steam engine. It must have been something! We need to imagine ourselves as still part of that town, part of that day. It’s really about something everyone whoever grew up in a town like Barry’s Bay knows and feels to their very core. It’s really about arrivals and departures; about leaving town and coming home again.”
Photo: Megan Phanenhour, a budding local artist seen here generously donating her time and skill to the Station Keepers 125th Anniversary celebration before leaving for Algonquin College to pursue her passion in art.(Submitted)
Olsen,J. and Conway.B. (2019,Sept.14) Something More Than Just Another 125th Anniversary Celebration Planned for Barry’s Bay Train Station, Saturday September 28th [press release]