| Nov 17, 2005

Letters to the Editor - November 17, 2005

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November 17, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Attractive train museum

As reported in the Frontenac News (Township easing into major Railway Museum role, Oct. 27, 2005), an objection was raised to our proposal which said: " If you look at the Smiths Falls [Railway] Museum, you see that it is not an attractive building and it does not bring in the tourists, either."

Before this argument, such as it is, gains any currency in the community, I would like to briefly reply. As I stated at the council meeting on Oct. 25, I find it difficult to see any necessary correlation between what exists in Smiths Falls and what our group plans to build. Also, since no formal plans exist as yet, it's difficult to understand how our proposed structure can be deemed unattractive.


Nonetheless, I went online to the Smiths Falls Railway Museum website and found it very informative. You can take a virtual tour of the place, view the building, find out about the collection, see what programmes are offered and all sorts of other information. From what I was able to see, the building was quite attractive. The Town of Smiths Falls website invites people to "visit our four main attractions: Hershey Chocolate, Rideau Canal Museum, Heritage House Museum and Smiths Falls Railway Museum."

I later called Dennis Staples, the mayor of Smiths Falls, who said: "the Railway Museum is a key part of our tourism system." The Smiths Falls people apparently see the Museum as quite important.

Then, I drove to Smiths Falls to have a look. Personally, I think that their building, both inside and out, is a very nice looking station. A great deal of restoration work has been done and more is in the plans. I suppose that ugliness, like beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder. While there, I spoke with three long-time volunteers, who gave me an extensive tour of the place. They own a wide variety of rolling stock, some of which is admittedly in a decrepit state. However, these are being restored as funds are raised; in fact, this aspect of their programme is a big attraction for tourists.

In terms of tourist numbers, a cursory glance at the entry log shows that while the majority of visitors come from Eastern Ontario, home towns can be found from Halifax to B.C., from Florida to Kansas to Washington State, from Ireland to Austria to Holland; in fact, from all over. The visitor tracking numbers I was provided with show that from 2001 to 2004, the Museum averaged 7,900 visits a year; so much for doing nothing for tourism.

Even if our much smaller operation were to attract just a fraction of these numbers, it would be a considerable plus for our community. Hopefully these few facts will allow us to proceed with the task at hand without what appears to be a baseless allegation clouding our efforts.

- Norm Landry, ChairCentral Frontenac Railway Museum Committee

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