Back when Heather Lamb was growing up, Rotary Heritage Park was colloquially known as "the train park."
That’s because the site, the former Kiwanis Park located at the northeast corner of Plessis Road and Kildare Avenue West, hosts the first locomotive ever produced by CN’s Transcona Shops — the 2747, which rolled off the line 101 years ago.
Lamb, now the shops director at the Transcona Shops, hopes to help restore that glory. At the behest of CN vice-president of operations – mechanical Jim Danielwicz, the company decided to pony up approximately $20,000 to repaint and restore the engine.
The Winnipeg Transcona Rotary Club is now set to work on making sure the restoration work remains intact. As part of Phase 3 of its revitalization of the park, the club will raise funds to help cover the train to protect it from the elements, install floodlights to help illuminate the train, and install new, aesthetically-pleasing fencing. The announcement was made at a press conference celebrating the completion of Phase 2 of the park’s reconstruction on Sept. 12.
"They had to do some priming and painting, but it was worth it," Lamb said. "I was really pleased to know it’s going to have a shelter of some sort to preserve the money we put into painting it. We added a lot of value."
Lamb noted two of her children work for CN as well.
"We’re a railroading family, and this is a railroading community," Lamb said. "We used to have picnics (by the train) and imagine being on the locomotive.
"We feel very connected to it."
The most recent phase included installing a play structure, a pathway linking the park with Rotary Centennial Park to the immediate south, and a small parking lot. The club hopes to expand the parking lot as part of the third phase, which is expected to run $200,000 to $300,000 in total. No timeline for the phase’s completion was announced.
Club president Tom Hallas said funding for the just-completed phase came from a variety of government and private sources, and the club will seek a variety of helpers as it seeks to complete its third and final phase with the 2747 front and centre.
"It’s a piece of Canadiana. A piece of history," Hallas said of the locomotive. "Ultimately, we would like to preserve the train by covering the train, and then we’ll feel like we’ve reached our goal."
Dr. David Marsh served as the club’s charter president from 1981 to 1983 and is still active in the organization. He’s proud to have another project that improves the neighbourhood.
"We’ve had a lot of compliments from people in the community," Marsh said. "People are appreciative of having a green space within the city."
The Winnipeg Transcona Rotary Club helps local organizations like Siloam Mission and the Transcona Food Bank, but also takes part in Rotary International causes, including working to eradicate polio worldwide.