In 1911, the Canadian Northern Railway opened a branch line known as the “Battle River Subdivision” – operating from its main line at Vegreville southwest through the growing towns of Camrose, Stettler, and Big Valley, and connecting the railway with the coal mines of Drumheller. Along the way, communities such as Meeting Creek sprung up, and the railway would provide a new link to the outside world.
To serve its local customers, railways constructed station buildings or “depots” where residents could purchase tickets for travel on passenger trains, ship express and freight, or send telegrams – an innovative form of long-distance communication that would eventually form the basis for today’s electronic mail systems. Thus the prairie railway station would become the centre of many small communities up until the advent of all-weather roads and improvements in transportation technology in the late 1950s.
The Meeting Creek depot is a wonderfully preserved example of the hundreds of such structures that served communities in western Canada during the first half of the last century. At over 100 years old, this structure has witnessed and survived dramatic changes in the rural economy, technology, and trends.
The Meeting Creek depot is one of few heritage railway stations that remain in Alberta, and the last of its “class” that remains on its original site. This structure together with the nearby Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator is a Designated Provincial Historic Resource. Both sites are maintained by dedicated volunteers from the Canadian Northern Society and are open to the public during special community events and by appointment through the Camrose Heritage Railway Station office at 780 672 3099.