On Friday, November 4, 2011, the Southern Prairie Railway locomotive and passenger car arrived in Ogema at four o’clock in the afternoon.
A large crowd was on hand on the Ogema Station platform to witness this historical event.
The speeder driven by Dale Generous of Assiniboia came into town ahead of the train and then Carol Peterson and Cheryl Generous held the banner stating ‘Southern Prairie Railway Kickoff’ across the tracks when Devon Generous, engineer, of Assiniboia blew the whistle and rang the bell as he drove the locomotive to the station. Garreth Dilworth of CTV captured this historical event on camera.
Dilworth captured the train moving along the tracks to the west of Ogema and then came ahead to film the heritage engine and coach coming into the station.
After touring the train the crowd moved to the Ogema School auditorium for a delicious meal of ham and scalloped potatoes with all the extras.
This was served by the Ogema Curling Club to 225 guests as a fund raiser for the Curling Club’s 100th anniversary.
The Reverend Isabella Frank asked the blessing before the meal.
A silent auction of a variety of interesting items was displayed in front of the auditoriums stage including a beautiful quilt depicting the Ogema Station.
This was a very good fund raiser and the winners are too numerous to mention.
Wayne Myren, mayor of Ogema and head of this project along with Carol Peterson, alderman, emceed the evening program.
The first item on the agenda was to express thanks to the curling club for the meal followed by mentioning the names of cities and towns represented at the celebration.
People from Calgary, Regina, Weyburn, Simpson, Gravelbourg, Ponteix, Avonlea, Bengough, Pangman, Rouleau, Assiniboia as well as Ogema attended this ‘kick-off’ for the Town of Ogema’s 100th Anniversary, to be held in conjunction with the 98th Ogema Agricultural Fair and the Deep South Pioneer Museum’s 33rd Pioneer Day, Friday, July 6, Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8, 2012.
The Southern Prairie Railway train left Assiniboia on Thursday and traveled to Horizon where it stayed until Friday afternoon when it continued its journey to Ogema.
Wayne Myren expressed his sincere thanks to Fin Anderson of Great West Rail in Assiniboia for the use of their rail yard and for all the information received.
Members of the board of directors for this train project are: Wayne Myren, Carol Peterson, Roger Farr; Ed Howse, Kevin Klemenz, Ken Klemenz, Keith Bacon, Kyle Leonard, Jon Struthers. Myren noted that it was great to have two young people involved in this project, Kyle Leonard and John Struthers have spent many hours working on this along side the other members. Way to go Kyle and Jon!
A slide presentation depicting the adversities and successes since the conception of this project in 1998 to the present day were fully explained by Myren; giving a number of facts and figures regarding the growth of the population within the community, the number of new employees that have come to this southern part of Saskatchewan due to a number of factors and how everyone in the community is working together for its betterment.
The engine and coach were purchased in December of 2010, and arrived in Assiniboia in June, 2011. The engine was transported by semi trucks and the coach was transported by rail. The coach was loaded at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in April, 2011, and the engine, a 1945 Tonner, was loaded in May, 2011, and transported to Assiniboia. The engine and coach were lifted from their means of transport and placed on the tracks at great Western Railway, Rail Yard in Assiniboia. Volunteers spent well over one thousand hours and over eight hundred hours on stripping the outside of the engine; stripping the outside and interior of the coach and getting them painted. There is still a great deal of work to be done on the exterior of the coach and all the interior has to be redone. The engine needs to have some work done on one of the two caterpillar motors. The temporary pole shed that is being erected is located on the west side of the Ogema elevator on the centre track and will be used during the winter so that the volunteers can work out of the cold.
The rail track of 115 km between Pangman and Assiniboia is a very interesting tourist attraction. The journey includes many varieties of scenery, wild bird species and animals as well as historic sites. For further information on this project visit www.ogema.ca as well as www.tourismsask.ca.