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Posted: August 15, 2013

Upgrades coming for Canadian Museum of Rail Travel

Potentially bigger things will be rolling down the tracks to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.

The Royal Alexandra Hall
The Royal Alexandra Hall

Damon Colgan, new executive director for the museum, informed City of Cranbrook council August 12 that he and the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation (CAMAL) board of directors intend to make the nationally famous facility into something bigger and better.

Included in their vision is the creation and addition of a community museum, depicting all aspects of Cranbrook and area history. Additionally, they will be improving the catering space in the Royal Alexandra Hall – with an eye to making better use of the transplanted hall and generating more revenue for the facility, Colgan outlined.

Later in the meeting, council unanimously approved a $10,000 grant for the catering project and another $10,000 grant for the Cranbrook Museum project.

In a July 9 letter to the city seeking the funds, Colgan stated, “Since starting my tenure here at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, with collaboration with the board, I have identified areas of priority within the organization. One of these areas is the increased use of the Royal Alexandra Hall. This includes making it more accessible and user-friendly. One of these areas requiring improvement is the catering space – to improve the efficiency of food services during events. Increasing the use of the hall falls within our five year plan of increasing earned revenue and offering more services to the community.”

There is strong support to make the CMRT more than a railway museum.
There is strong support to make the CMRT more than a railway museum.

Colgan also noted the creation of a Cranbrook Museum “will allow the museum to better engage the local community and develop a wider variety of school programs, as is noted in our five year plan. The funds would be used towards the creation and development of the lower permanent exhibits space, including the model train room.”

Colgan added development will start this year with the hiring of a local resident who has “recently finished their museum education. This person will be used to aid the executive director in the development of the space for six months; the remainder of the funds will be used towards the construction of the space, such as the display cabinets to house artifacts from Cranbrook’s history and interpretive media to educate museum visitors on Cranbrook’s history.”

By making the museum more about Cranbrook, the facility would be visited more regularly by residents, Colgan suggested.

Council was all grins with the content of Colgan’s and CAMAL chair Jeanette Sissons’ presentation.

“Council is very excited about the future,” said Mayor Wayne Stetski.

Coun. Angus Davis said he is looking forward to “a living, breathing place for the community.”

“I really welcome your vision,” said Coun. Bob Whetham, adding he’d like to see “a wider range of things. You have a great facility there.”

Coun. Diana J Scott and Coun. Sharon Cross commended CAMAL board members and Colgan for their work, energy and enthusiasm.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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