CPR restoration crew set to show a labour of love

It's been over a year of work for those volunteering to restore the old Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)/Wier building, located behind Pynelogs Cultural Centre.

  • Aug. 16, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Restoration co-ordinator Bob Kelly (left) shows interested passersby old photos of the CPR/Wier building (sitting at its new site behind Pynelogs Cultural Centre at right).

It’s been over a year of work for those volunteering to restore the old Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)/Wier building, located behind Pynelogs Cultural Centre. However, with a new deck in place and roof coming in, those taking part in the restoration project feel it’s time to show off their work and get community feedback in the form of an open house.

The open house will take place on August 27, from noon to 3 p.m. Food and refreshments will be available, as well as live music by Bill Cropper and Kurt Reichel.

Project t-shirts will be on sale at the open house for $20 each.

The CPR/Wier building was originally situated on a lot at the corner of 16th Avenue and 2nd Street in Invermere, on a rise overlooking Lake Windermere.

It and the various housing complexes below served as places for visitors to stay in the early 1920s when arriving in town by train.

The building was later used as a girls’ camp before eventually becoming empty. What was to become of the now-historic building was debated for quite some time before it was eventually bought by the Wier family for renovations, and moved to its current location.

“The District gave us this land to move it to,” said Bob Kelly, project co-ordinator. “They’ve been great supporters.”

Currently, the building sits on a brand new foundation with a second floor added below, to be used for washrooms (sewage and plumbing has already been hooked up) and equipment storage, among other things. However, the main portion of the building will be remaining much the same, preserving its historic aesthetic.

A new deck was added and wall repairs have been made, and a re-creation of the building’s roof is currently in progress.

Kelly said that, when the building is eventually completed, it will make an ideal location for group meetings, weddings and more.

“We want to bring it up to snuff, make sure it meets code,” said Kelly.

Still inside the building sit a few extra little pieces of history. For example, a 1888 piano, with functioning keys, sits inside with its original velvet seat. The still-functioning piano’s sound board cannot be reproduced anymore, and the CPR has offered to buy it for restoration and place in an antique museum.

“It’s a love or hate thing,” said Kelly. “I’ve come to love this building. Some people don’t know what we’re doing or why we’re bothering, but to me this is the only piece of history this old that we have.”

Kelly added that the open house is also to show the community that progress is being made on the restoration project and to relieve concerns that little was being done with the building going forward.

“It’s a very large job, especially for volunteers and even for those who are paid to work on it,” said Kelly. “But we’re going to see it to completion.”

To volunteer or attend the open house on August 27, call Bob Kelly at 250-342-5229 or project chair Dave Wilson at 250-688-3330.

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