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Kamloops Heritage Railway classroom on track to roll in September

·2 min read
Cory Clark stands in front of the Kamloops Heritage Railway’s decommissioned No. 406 railroad car. The car is being turned into a classroom to allow the Heritage Railway to host field trips starting in September 2021. (Brendan Coulter/CBC - image credit)
Cory Clark stands in front of the Kamloops Heritage Railway’s decommissioned No. 406 railroad car. The car is being turned into a classroom to allow the Heritage Railway to host field trips starting in September 2021. (Brendan Coulter/CBC - image credit)

A restoration project in Kamloops, B.C. is giving new life to a decommissioned heritage rail car, thanks to a provincial grant of $80,000.

The Kamloops Heritage Railway had to suspend tours on its steam train last year due to COVID-19, but a provincial grant through the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program is helping the society launch a new project — re-purposing an old rail car into a classroom.

"The 406 was one of our old railcars that ... took passengers down the tracks," executive director Cory Clark said on the CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "Unfortunately, it had to be decommissioned just due to maintenance ... and rather than scrap it, we made the decision to turn it into something that is useful and that can actually benefit the community."

He said in the 1920s, the railcars were used like a traveling classroom as it was attached to a freight car and taken to small communities across the country. Students would be able to attend school while the rail car stayed in each community for about four or five days.

Doug Herbert/CBC
Doug Herbert/CBC

"It was really an opportunity for the railway and the provincial governments to educate those families that were helping build the country and build the railway," Clark said.

The goal of this restoration project, he said, is to make it look as authentic as possible, with a wood burning stove and kerosene style lamps on the wall, but the curriculum they'll teach will be up to date and current.

Brendan Coulter/CBC
Brendan Coulter/CBC

"We created a program that marries up to the B.C. curriculum and we advance that curriculum," Clark said, "and we really fill out the picture that the teachers are teaching in the classroom."

He said the project will be completed in time to welcome students in September.

LISTEN | Cory Clark talks about the restoration of passenger car No. 406 on the CBC's Daybreak Kamloops:

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