On Saturday June 30th Surrey’s Heritage Rail took a major step forward in its evolution as an important heritage, educational and entertainment landmark, with the dedication of the Frank Horne Heritage Rail Discovery Centre.
The statue of Frank checking his watch that stands in Cloverdale on the main street.
The Discovery Centre was named in honour of a man who operated BC Electric Railway Interurban cars from 1946 to 1951, then went on to a 31-year career with the Great Northern Railway. On his retirement, Frank joined the fledgling Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society, and until his passing in 2012, worked on the recovery and restoration of 1225 and 1304 with the ultimate goal of putting them back into service. On open house occasions, Frank would arrive in his motorman’s uniform and greet and talk with people about the old days and the restoration project. During the week, the uniform was traded for work clothes which he wore to the shops to work on the restoration of 1225.
His keen interest in the success of the organization combined with his happy, approachable personality embodies the spirit of the adventure that lies within the new Discovery Centre for the kids of all ages to explore, learn about, and experience hands-on, their own heritage.
On hand for the June 30 dedication were twelve members of Frank’s family including his daughter, Lynda Schiebler, grandson Scott Schiebler, cousins, grand-children and great grandchildren. Lynda unveiled the facility signs, along with Scott, who is also a manager at Southern Railway of British Columbia and spoke on behalf of his family and SRY Raillink.
Also celebrating were Gordon Hogg and John Aldag, Members of Parliament for White Rock- South Surrey and Cloverdale-Langley City respectively, Panorama MLA, the Honourable Jinny Sims and Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt. Surrey Councillor Dave Woods, also Chair of the Heritage Commission, brought greetings from Mayor and Council.
Franks daughter and grandson surrounded by the various members of parliament from the different levels of government.
“When we began in 2013, our mission was to restore and operate heritage BC Electric Interurban cars. We didn’t intend to allow the public into the car barn,” said Society Chair, John Sprung. “But the pubic wanted to see the cars under restoration and explore the rich history of the BC Electric Railway (BCER). The car barn afforded the additional space to offer much more of an entertainment experience such as speeder rides, the hands-on experience of riding the velocipede hand car, and viewing the wall panels telling the history of the BCER with displays of artifacts from that historic era. It has become a major venue to enhance both our Hallowe’en and Christmas events. Over the five years of operation, now a registered museum, our operation has evolved into a personal experience, truly a “journey through time” for young and old alike, with the very train cars that provided transportation around the valley 100 years ago. We are hosting growing numbers of school tours and seniors groups and we are looking forward to hosting shore tours from the cruise ships.”
Along with the replica Cloverdale station situated on its original site, the Frank Horne Heritage Rail Discovery Centre is an integral part of our public experience offering. We invite the public to take the heritage train ride, then discover the exciting and educational (read fun) displays. Watch the BCER video story presented in the 113-year-old BCER 1207, guides bringing the historical story panels to life then there are things to ride, bells to ring and train whistles to blow. In short, a centre of true discovery.
The family gathered round the mannequin wearing Franks uniform.
Surrey’s Heritage Rail operates on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of September, from the Cloverdale Station at 176A St and #10 Highway. Tickets and information are available on line at www.fvhrs.org