Stationkeepers MV plan kids’ play equipment near Barry’s Bay Railway Station

Stationkeepers MV distributed the following media release:

The Stationkeepers MV will be out in force this coming long weekend promoting a new children’s playground structure that the group plans on building for the Water Tower Park. The non-profit group will also be at the old Barry’s Bay Railroad Station on Saturday presenting two new Museum exhibits, one involving new railway artifacts while the other focuses on early residents who lived in the Township of Madawaska Valley between 1884 and 1904. Yet another contingent of Stationkeepers will be downtown, staffing a kiosk on main street during Bay Day, explaining their new playground project, encouraging people to visit the two museum exhibits, as well as selling memberships that include a chance to win several T-shirts with the group’s fetching new logo. Above: Payton Blank; Joanne Olsen; Bentley Blank; Caleb, Mackenzie and Alexander Matcheskie. (Photo submitted.)

The group’s number one project this year, according to Stationkeepers MV President, Joanne Olsen, will be its $12k fundraising drive to build a new children’s play structure, tentatively for Water Tower Park: “The township has approved our building structure,” said President Olsen. “But we have yet to agree on the actual site in or near Water Tower Park. That will depend on the best interests of the children’s safety.”

She said that Stationkeepers MV expect to raise all the funds necessary for the materials to build the project through its own efforts that include outreach programs and letter-writing campaigns directed towards large national corporations, among others. Ms. Olsen anticipates the material costs will be between $10k and $12k, while she says the group is hoping to source the labour and technical know-how necessary to build the structure from within its own 125 members, as well as any interested community members who might wish to help.

Meanwhile, Victoria Cybulski-Blank and Marie Villeneuve-Scott who recently joined the Stationkeepers MV as two new members of the board of directors have been working diligently during recent months at the Station. Along with other members, they have prepared two new museum exhibits. The Railroad Museum exhibit has been thoroughly renewed and includes a fresh collection of never-before-seen train artifacts, while real excitement has been building for their wholly-new presentation of 22 early residents who will be highlighted in the Station’s waiting room museum.

This latter community exhibit includes such well-known characters as William Kirwin, an early postmaster, but also lesser-known figures such as Elizabeth McGill-Spence, a dress-maker who married John Inglis. There will also be interesting presentations involving such intriguing characters as Mary-Ann Ritza, a local midwife, and Matilda Gutoskie.

All through the winter, the two new directors have been digging deeply into local history. “We have to understand our past,” said a determined Ms. Cybulski-Blank. “To go forward we have to understand our mistakes, the good things we did, how we can make things better.”

She went to say that she hopes “to make this Station something that’s viable, a place that people will be proud of. Otherwise, if we let the Station go, allowing it to become dilapidated or not do anything with it, then …”

“It’ll be gone,” interrupted Marie Villeneuve-Scott. “Like the nearly thirty other OA & PS Stations. And we can’t let that happen. We have to preserve it. It’s part of our history.”

The two women know of what they speak. When they were both attending Madawaska Valley District High School in the 1970s, they worked on preserving an old CN Passenger Coach that had been abandoned near the Water Tower. Sadly, after the two women left town to pursue post-secondary educations, the town council considered the coach an eye-sore and had little interest in preserving it. “We had painted it,” said Ms. Cybulski-Blank, “but apparently it was taken away and sold for scrap!”  

Olsen,J.,Stationkeepers MV(2022,May16) Stationkeeper MV Launches $12K Playground Project and Other New Initiatives [media release]

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