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Revelstoke museum celebrates national railway day

The museum hosted a book launch on the history of trains in the area

To celebrate national railway day the railway museum hosted a book launch yesterday.

It’s 133 years since the last spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) at Craigellachie, 43 km west of Revelstoke in 1885. From then on, Canada was united by rail.

Doug Mayer presented his new book ‘Canadian Pacific Railways on the Revelstoke Division’ at the museum last night. Although Mayer has never worked for the railway, he has researched trains for decades and 100 per cent of the proceeds from the book will go to the museum.

However, research and fundraising isn’t the only reason Mayer decided to write a book.

“My grandson is an absolute train nut. I wanted to leave something for him after I’m gone,” says Mayer.

In Mayer’s presentation, he explained some of Revelstoke’s colourful past when it comes to trains. He showed pictures of trains with boilers that “tended to explode from time to time”, how usually men with shovels had to clear the snow off the tracks at Rogers Pass after an avalanche, the last mail pickup at Malakwa in 1965 and how traveling in general isn’t as difficult as it once was.

For example, in the early 1900s it would take days, multiple trains and boats for someone to travel from Revelstoke to Castlegar. Today, it’s less than a four hour drive.

“People forget how hard it was to travel back then,” says Mayer.

Mayer’s book is the first volume of the series. But how many more there will be is unknown.

“I don’t know. It all depends on how well this one sells and how long I live,” says Mayer.

Volume two will be out next spring and will provide even more photos and stories about the railways in Revelstoke.

Laura Young, executive director of the Revelstoke Heritage Railways Society, says projects like this are important as it gives one of their volunteers an opportunity to do something they are passionate about for the museum.

“It’s also a chance for the public to see our photos and raise awareness.”

The book is for sale at the museum for $19.99. The museum is fully self funded and relies heavily on fundraising, gift shop purchases, and entry fees.



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Mayer says he has been researching trains in the Revelstoke area for decades (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The book is for sale at the museum and 100 per cent of the proceeds go back to the museum (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)