“My great-grandparents stepped off ships in New York City during the First World War. My war bride Grandma and my Dad, just a year and a half old, came to Pier 21 in Halifax in 1946. It was steam locomotives that brought them 2,000 miles west to build their new lives.”
Steam locomotives. They brought so many people and were a lifeline for new and swiftly growing communities.
Locomotive 1158 stands at the WDM North Battleford Heritage Farm and Village as a larger than life reminder of the past. The railway, powered by steam locomotives, reduced the massive geography of Canada, bringing millions of people to new homes. The locomotive was truly the vehicle of the machinery of immigration.
As time passed and communities were more established, the railway continued to be integral to the life of Prairie towns. Farmers brought their grain to local elevators. Entire homes ordered from catalogues were shipped in pieces to their owners. Regular passenger service connected people to services in cities and brought university students home for weekends. Special excursion trains took holiday makers to resort towns like Manitou Beach. The steam train era ended in the 1950s, but they still evoke memories and connect you to the past.
60 years of rain, sun and wind have been hard on the 1158 locomotive. It will take a lot of work to restore it, but you can help the WDM bring back the shine of its running days.
It’s a huge job. The biggest artifact restoration the WDM has undertaken in many years. You can save the 1158 with your gift today to the Save the 1158! Campaign at the Western Development Museum.
Your donation will go towards removing decades of grime and rust, painting the entire locomotive and tender, painting and polishing all the pieces – the lights, the whistle, the bell – and bringing it back to what it might have looked like pulling up to an elevator or a passenger platform.
You can save history. Please donate today.