A centennial celebration of the arrival of train service to Beiseker will be held Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Beiseker Station Museum, located in the Canadian Pacific Railway Train Station at 700 1st Avenue. The event is open to anyone interested in the history of the area and will feature refreshments and entertainment.
“The first train came through on March 17, 1910,” said Jeannette Richter, spokesperson for the museum. “It is very important because of the importance the railroad had to our town.”
According to the Beiseker History Book, the Federal Government of the fledgling country of Canada made a deal in the 1880s with the Canadian Pacific Railway to complete the Trans-Canada Railway. The company received $25 million and a land grant of 25 million acres, of which Beiseker and area is a part, to complete the venture.
According to Richter, settlers, mainly immigrants from Eastern Europe, started moving into the area around 1905. By 1908, most of the land near Beiseker was sold. At that time, no mail or train service was in place.
Life was not easy for the early pioneers in the area, partly due to the difficulty in travelling and communication, according to Richter.
“They (early settlers) first got off the train with all their furniture at Crossfield or Strathmore,” said Richter.
Then they had a couple of days of travel, with their stock and goods, to get to the area, she added.
The arrival of train service meant it was easier to travel into Calgary to obtain essential goods, as well as sell the grain, milk and butter produced in the area.
“It was a real step up for the economy of the area,” said Richter. “I can just imagine what people felt like when they saw that train coming down the track in 1910. Our whole life was bound around the trains.”
According to Richter, the telegraph line was installed at the same time as the railroads. Consistent train service also meant mail could reach the community on a regular basis.
Train service remained an integral part of the community for several decades.
In fact, according to Richter, a Beiseker to Calgary train route remained in existence until the 1970s.
“Come help us celebrate,” said Richter. “It was the beginning of the connection with the outside world.”