After more than four decades of absence, the historic Benalto Train Station is set to make a return to the hamlet this spring.
The train station was transformed into a private residence after being removed from Benalto in 1971, and is currently situated in Red Deer County. Its owners, Garett and Brenda Cupples, are now donating it back to Benalto, just in time for the hamlet’s centennial celebrations next year.
“We couldn’t destroy or demolish it,” said the Cupples in a press release. “As an historic building, we are very pleased that it is going back to its roots.”
Benalto Centennial Committee chair Dave More admitted to being astounded when he heard that the Cupples were offering the train station back to Benalto, and immediately got to work to find a place to put it.
When he approached landowners Bill and Dale Speight to discuss the possibility of purchasing a green space in the heart of Benalto, the Speights rejected the offer of money for the land, and instead offered the land as a donation.
“Really, it’s quite astonishing,” said More. “How often do you ever hear of a piece of your history coming back? The generosity is just incredible.”
The land on which the train station will sit will be renamed Centennial Station Park, and will act as a gathering area for the community.
More and his wife Yvette Brideau, along with several other volunteers from the Centennial Committee and the Benalto Booster Club, are now working to raise money to fund the transportation of the train station from its current location back to Benalto.
Doing so will cost approximately $40,000, and the Centennial Committee is actively seeking donations from people and businesses in Benalto and beyond to help cover that cost.
“(The train station) is a sentinel of history and memories and communication and education for everybody, but we have to get it here,” said Brideau. “It was offered to us as an incredibly gracious and generous gesture, and we’re trying to do something about it.
“There’s nothing to lose by asking for donations and help to make this a reality. There’s everything to lose if we don’t.”
Donations have so far been received from several businesses as well and current and former residents of Benalto. The full amount required must be raised within the next several weeks in order for the move to take place.
“It’s such a feel-good project, and I think a lot of people would like to be associated with it,” said More. “We couldn’t have dreamed of this in a million years.”
The train station’s move has been scheduled for March 25 to 29.
Donations to help fund the move can be made to the Benalto Booster Club Centennial Project, Box 135, Benalto, Alberta, T0M 0H0.
More information can be obtained by contacting fundraising chair Lynne Lawrence at 403-746-5746.