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Kettle Valley Railway’s history chronicled on DVD

The first public screening of a DVD on the design and construction of the Kettle Valley Railway a century ago will be a highlight of this year’s annual general meeting of the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society on April 13.

Narrator Mike Roberts says this is the first in what they hope will be a series of DVDs chronicling the KVR’s history. It begins with the diaries of chief engineer Andrew McCulloch.

Those involved in the project are many and include colleagues of Roberts’ at CHBC, as well as UBC Okanagan history professor Maury Williams and anthropology professor Rick Garvin, who have been involved in research and digs in the area to uncover some of the history.

Williams is also author of Myra’s Men, about those who built the railway in the early 1900s.

Also involved was Randy Manuel, former curator for the Penticton Museum and members of the MCTRS, said Roberts, as well as the author of McCulloch’s Wonder, Barry Sandford. Jim Dow did the research for the project.

Roberts is known not only as the Okanagan’s local television weatherman, but also for 130 episodes of Gold Trails and Ghost Towns with Bill Barlee, and 75 episodes of Pioneers and Places.

Roberts says this project was fascinating.

“Once you get into his diaries, you can almost hear his voice telling the tale,” he commented.

They’re hopeful the public will enjoy the series as much as they are enjoying making it. “It’s been a labour of love,” he says, but he admits they’d be thrilled if the History Channel would pick it up.

The first DVD is now available on the website for the reasonable price of $8.95. Go to: www.kvrdiaries.com

MCTRS director and past-president Ken Campbell says there will be a discussion at the AGM of upcoming projects, as well as an election of officers. Currently, Mike Budd is president, while Denis Davis is vice-president, Graham Bruce secretary and Karen Merwin treasurer.

The society is dedicated to improvement of the historic railway line between the former stations of Myra and Ruth, and has a Park Use Permit with B.C. Parks to continue the maintenance work there on the National Historic Site. An estimated 60,000 people used the route last year. One of the big projects for the coming year is completion of a big project started last year: re-surfacing part of the trail with gravel and grading it.

Last fall a group of students from the Rutland Secondary School forestry program brushed part of the trail, and they will complete that work this spring, said Campbell.

Students were hired as trail hosts last year with a federal grant that covered part of the cost. They were able to help visitors having bike trouble or looking for historical information, and they hope to be able to continue that program again this year.

The society is looking for new volunteers interested in serving on the board, as well as those willing to help out with work parties, putting up interpretive signs, working on trail surfacing and perhaps constructing a rain shelter in the area of trestle number 11.

The AGM will be in the EECO at Mission Creek Regional Park on Springfield Road beginning at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

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