Stationkeepers MV is a group composed of more than 100 volunteers who are committed to revitalizing the Barry’s Bay Railway Station and celebrating the unique local heritage and culture it represents. Founding members met recently to celebrate the new station sign. Above from left: Cathy and Bob Corrigan, Theresa Prince, Terry Murphy, Joanne Olsen, Barry Conway, Sheilagh Dunn, Bill Houle and Clifford Blank. Absent: Carmel Rumleskie (photo supplied)
“When Covid-19 hit,” said Joanne Olsen, president of the non-profit group, “we were only just getting started; we’d cleaned up the inside of the old station and produced a wide variety of interesting activities including the MV Heritage Film Club, the Company of Happy Adventurers, and The Stationkeeper Singers.” The group also held throughout 2019 and early 2020 dozens of very-well attended musical, historical and literary shows including several commemorating the 125th anniversary of the official opening of the station on October 1st, 1894.
“We did not let the pandemic discourage us,” she said. “The old station has withstood the 1918 Spanish Flu, two World Wars, the polio scare of the 1950s, near nuclear destruction in the early 1960s. So, we set to work on projects which did not require actual gatherings.” These included an oral history project and regular podcasts. Olsen acknowledged the support of local businesses who underwrite the photo contest in the organization’s weekly Spareboard newsletter with $25 Gift Certificates for monthly winners.
Local tales for Christmas
Olsen said on Sunday Dec.13 the Opeongo Readers Theatre will present “a little-known Christmas classic written by Lucy Maude Montgomery, the famous Canadian author of Anne of Green Gables; …. back in 1903, she wrote a story set right here in Renfrew County one Christmas Eve on a snow-bound train, stuck between Golden Lake and Pembroke.” The same day, Olsen said, they will also showcase “another fascinating story, published 108 years ago this very week in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a young teenager lost in a snowstorm on Christmas Eve right here along the Opeongo.”
Coming in 2021
Olsen said the Stationkeepers will unveil its new 2021 “Month of Sundays” agenda early next year with the hope of not only returning to the train station with live performances, but with a number of new initiatives including its hope of a completely renovated Railway Museum.
She also hinted at some new field documentaries currently in production that will bring a new twist to some very old stories involving the music of the Wilno Hills, the glory days of the MVDHS Wolves, and one centred on those wild summer nights down by the Lakeside Pavilion listening to the musical stylings of Joe Peplinski and his many friends.
Stationkeepers MV(2020,Dec.5) Stationkeepers MV Christmas Press Release [media release]