Helping hand Clint Hutton and Hanna Roundhouse Society founder and president Sandra Beaudoin. Hutton was one of a collection of people who helped acquire the building and make the weekend a success.
Everyone was doing the proverbial locomotion at the Hanna Roundhouse on Saturday, September 28 as the historical venue played host to an Open House to showcase it’s new look.
The 100 year old structure was recently acquired by the Hanna Roundhouse Society and has since been given a sprucing up in effort to promote and preserve this piece of history as one of the last roundhouses left in Canada.
“The roundhouse is a 1913 Canadian Northern Railway building that housed at once point up to 15 locomotives,” says Sandra Beaudoin, founder and president of the Hanna Roundhouse Society.
The purpose of the building during it’s peak use was to drive locomotives onto a central ‘turntable’, which rotated to align the rail vehicle to a stall to be entered for service work.
“Hanna was a designated divisional point for [CNR] in 1913,” says Beaudoin, “and that was basically the way settlers came out and settled this area, is because CN built a rail line from Eastern Canada out to the West.”
The rail line in Hanna was on what was known as the Goose Lake line which spanned from Calgary to Saskatoon. Some of the smaller towns built along this line were established to support the railway as service stations, and thus when the railway pulled out of some areas certain towns had enough infrastructure to survive and some did not.
“A huge portion of our Canadian heritage is to acknowledge that the people that worked on our rail line, built the tracks and the rail stations did so before automation,” Beaudoin says, “so it was all done by hand and horse drawn, there were no engines or anything else.”
Beaudoin notes that the building also functions as a tourist attraction, as railroad history enthusiasts from the US and surrounding areas trek northward to visit sites of historical prevalence.
An anonymous donation in the name of the Hanna Roundhouse Society – that they will pay back in time – has enabled the Society to purchase the property, begin applying for grants and focus more seriously toward future developments of the premises.
“We’ve cleaned it up and we’re going to start right away,” she says, of planning the future of the Roundhouse.
“We’ve got 8.97 acres along the dam, and it’s just beautiful out there… we’re hoping to maybe develop walking paths, and there’s potential for camping as well.” Beaudoin says an additional wish is to have a portion of the building designated for museum purposes.
Beaudoin hopes residents of Hanna will soon generate input on how to proceed with developments.
“Smaller communities are having a hard time just getting people to come to their area, so I’m hoping this will be a really positive move to help the community, and surrounding communities,” Beaudoin says.