Help Us Save History!
Melville CN Station Restoration Project
It’s a piece of Melville’s historic tapestry that must be preserved. Contact Lin Orosz at 1.306.728.5448
Email: Melville Rail Station Heritage Association Inc.

We want to restore this landmark to its original state when it was built in 1908 and known then as the Melville GTP Railroad Station.



The destruction of the King George Hotel to fire on February 17, 2010 reminds us how important history is to Melville.
The old CN Station is part of that history.
Faced with the demolition of the old station, the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association Inc. recently took title to the building.
We are determined not to let this critical piece of Melville’s history disappear.
The CN Station, built in 1908, in Melville, Saskatchewan is the only one of its kind in Canada.

Melville Rail Station Heritage Association Inc.

Melville CN Station as passengers wait for the steam locomotive.

Phase #1

A work bee to clean the interior of the CN Station is set for Saturday, June 12 at 9:00 a.m.
We need 40-50 volunteers to make this happen. Donate a few hours of your time, plus trucks, trailers and cleaning equipment.
Remember, all volunteer labor is eligible for a matching grant, so your help is critical.

Crowd waiting at the Melville CN Station for the Royal Visit in 1939.

Phase #2

We’re hoping to repair and reshingle the roof this year. It's a huge undertaking that we estimate will cost $100,000. We've raised $25,000 for this job and hope to land additional government grant funding.

We want to raise the remainder through other grants, private donations and corporate sponsors.

Melville CN Station in 1908 was the hub of the community, that was named after GTP Railroad Executive Charles Melville Hays from 1899 to 1910, and perished in the sinking of the famous "Titanic" April 15, 1912.

Phase #3

As funds permit we will refurbish the exterior of the station and return it to its former glory.

We welcome all donations for the restoration of this historic majestic landmark.

Melville CN Station in 1920 was to be -- and is -- a critical stopping point between Winnipeg, MB and Saskatoon, SK.

CLEANUP VOLUNTEER DION CAMPBELL tosses another bag of rubbish onto a truck while, from left, Wanda Farkas, Wendy Cherneski and Curtis Brooks await their turn. Campbell, who’s attending the University of New Brunskwick, has been busy organizing a skills conditioning program for Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget and Junior hockey players later this summer in Melville. But he took time out Saturday to join nearly 40 other volunteers in cleaning the old CN Station’s interior. Melville Rail Heritage Station Association next plans to re-single the roof and then restore the exterior. Saturday, June 12, 2010

Over the years Melville CN Station underwent many changes, yet still portrays the same magnificant beauty it always has.

Thank You to the following:

Carlos Haywood, Chad Schultz, Merv Ozirny, Kathy Love, Ron Love, Marg Redenbach, Laura Bowlby, Bryan Kirk, Kyle Broda, Mark Orosz, Lin Orosz, Jim Schmidt, Lorraine Schmidt, Walter Streelasky, Dion Campbell, Ed Miller, Geri Miller, Darryl Aldous, Tim Ziola, Butch Herbert, Jason Schoffer, Terry Rathgeber, Ed Sagan, Jim Anderson, Randy Albers, Courtney Vaudner, Jim Haas, Rose Haas, Chris Haas, Mary-Ellen Scott, Bunny Halyk, Curtis Brooks, Wanda Farkas, Ed Peryema, Quinton Tank, Dennis Cherneski, Wendy Cherneski, Wally Oucharek, Trevor Sanftleben, Vince Pasternak, Brian Pasternak, Lloyd Redenbach, Geri Kopeck and Preston Kraushaar.

Thanks to the City of Melville and the following businesses who donated goods and services: Acklands-Grainger Inc,
N&R Concrete, Jim’s Roofing, Sagan Farms,
Chris Haas & Company, Horizon Credit Union, CN Rail, Pharmasave and Hauser’s Machinery Ltd.
Saturday, June 12, 2010

The iconic CN Station, as it stands today, will undergo cleanup and restortation that will help it remain the landmark it has always been at the South end of Main Street in Melville, SK.

WHISTLE STOP - Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) board member Ed Sagan provided an update on the progress of restoring Melville's old CN Station to a rail tour group that visited the city April 9. MRSHA plans to replace the asphalt singles with cedar shingles this summer followed by work on the exterior. MRSHA plans to return the Station to its 1908 condition. April 13, 2011 issue of The Melville Advance.©

FILL ‘ER UP - Volunteers swept, shoveled and carried during Saturday’s workbee at the old CN Station. The dozen volunteers including, front, Laura Bowlby and Elvin Mandziak, and back, from left, Merv Ozirny and Quinton Tank directed their efforts cleaning the interior and exterior of the Station. Melville Rail Station Heritage Association hopes to restore the century-old building to its original condition. The next phase of the restoration will be re-shingling the roof with cedar shingles.
June 15, 2011 issue of The Melville Advance.©



Current News

Elvis to perform for rail station restoration

The Melville Advance
© Friday, April 3, 2013 Issue

Last spring, they invited you to Dine with Their Majesties to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Royal Visit to Melville by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Now the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) is rolling out the red carpet April 18 for the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
The community is invited to attend a Las Vegas style performance of Elvis: One Night With You, featuring renowned Elvis tribute artist Robert Larrabee. Opening the show will be “Neil Diamond.”
The fundraiser at the Horizon Credit Union Centre is in support of the group’s efforts to restore the 1908 station to its former glory. Live and silent auctions will feature many great items provided by local businesses and there will be some Elvis collectibles up for bids.
MRSHA chair Merv Ozirny said guests are encouraged to impersonate Elvis themselves or dress in costumes from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies — the decades in which Elvis Presley dominated the record charts, movie screens and Las Vegas showrooms. Prizes will be awarded.
Ozirny said the committee is working with the caterers to present a menu of Elvis’ favourite foods such as fried chicken and ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, cornbread and sweet desserts.
Entertainer Robert Larrabee is looking forward to presenting Elvis: One Night With You. He’s been a fan and impersonator of Elvis since he was a young lad growing up in British Columbia in the 1960s. His mom was a babysitter for two older German boys who were big fans of Elvis’ rebel looks and sound. And his sideburns.
Larrabee kept his singing to himself until he entered a talent show in Edmonton, “shaking like a leaf” and singing from a lyric sheet.
A landscaper by trade, Larrabee, then 21, decided to make a career change when after one performance a beautiful girl “came running across the room and jumped into my lap and wrapped her arms and legs around me, started kissing me and telling me how much I sounded like Elvis. I thought it would be a great way to meet girls.”
Years after his death at age 42 in 1977, Elvis continues to be a celebrity, earning more than $50 million annually for his estate — and keeping a cottage industry alive for legions of impersonators.
“In the 24-hour period after his death, after the world learned he had passed, he sold more records…than he had in his whole lifetime,” Larrabee said.
When he returned to the United States after a hitch in the army, Presley turned to making movies — nearly two dozen in the 1960s. None were particularly notable and most portrayed Elvis as a bit of a loner, surrounded by lots of girls in bikinis. Larrabee said Elvis made about $2 million per movie and often cranked out three pictures a year, making him the highest paid “actor” in Hollywood.
That set the stage for Elvis’ 1968 television special, later dubbed the “comeback special.”
“He wanted to perform live again in the worst way,” Larrabee said. “Who wouldn’t after seven years of making three movies a year where every script was the same.”
Elvis then was reborn and signed a $500,00 contract to perform for four weeks at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. He played more than 700 sold out shows in Las Vegas before he died.
Larrabee was thrilled years later to sit on that Vegas stage where Elvis performed in his famous jumpsuit and cape. “It would have been awesome to be there when he was performing.”
He has his own costumes for the Elvis show and will perform in black leather for the first set of early Elvis numbers, returning later to close out the evening with the Vegas show in his jumpsuit.
Larrabee is a singer-songwriter in his own right and is promoting his latest country album, Middle of Something, co-written by brothers Jess and Chad Cates in Nashville. Copies will be available for sale at the event.
Tickets are for sale at the Melville Advance, Horizon Centre Credit Union, Pharmasave and the Chocolate Bean Café.


Rail station on track, but could use a push

The Melville Advance
© Friday, June 13, 2013 Issue

Melville’s railway station restoration project just keeps chugging along.
For the past three years the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) has been active in working on the station — built in 1908 — to return it to its original condition.
While some of the work, such as the cedar roofing project, has been done by contractors, much of the grunt work has been undertaken by volunteers.
“We’ve also done work on the south side overhang and the cleaning up of the interior,” said MRSHA treasurer Tom Dick. “We’ve also sealed up holes so the pigeons can’t get in.”
On the weekend the group held a work bee and while the turnout of people to take on some of the tasks wasn’t as large as some of the other groups who have helped, they did manage to get quite a bit of work done.
“The stucco and the siding on the west end has all been taken off now, leaving the original boards there, the drop-siding and the shakes — right now we’re looking at taking those off and putting new boards back on because like everything else, they need to be replaced,” Dick told The Advance.
The project itself has been quite overwhelming, taking a building that was basically abandoned and restoring it to the pristine condition of the early 1900s when it was built. Dick says the amount of help on hand was better earlier in the upgrade.
“We were hoping for a lot more on the weekend and we had maybe eight people,” Dick added. “In the past we’ve had an excellent response from the people for the work bees. We don’t want to have it torn down. It’s an historic site.”
Dick, once a beat cop in Calgary, saw many of the older buildings in that city meet their fate with a wrecking ball and bulldozers and says he doesn’t want to see the same kind of thing happen in Melville.
“I used to walk past all the beautiful sandstone buildings that were in Calgary and now they’ve been all torn down to build those skyscrapers and glass palaces they have now and I think it’s just a shame,” Dick admitted. “They’ve smartened up a bit by working the old facades into the new buildings but it was terrible to tear down all those old buildings.”
Although there is still plenty to be done with the building, it hasn’t deterred Dick or the rest of MRSHA from getting their hands dirty or looking for the best deals out there to keep the project alive.
“The unfortunate part is the cost,” Dick said. “We could use some corporate sponsors to help out with it. If you look at the station in Sioux Lookout, (Ont.), the government put about $4 million into it and it’s just about the same as Melville’s. It’s in beautiful shape and has offices in it.”
The rehabilitation project is still in its early stages and Dick doesn’t know how long he’ll be involved but he does have an idea of what he’d like to see accomplished with the once busy station.
“What I’d like to see happen while I’m here is to get the outside back to the original, get it secured so there’s no more deterioration so we can work on it inside. If we can make it a nice looking building for Melville, instead of how it looks now, we might be able to get some more support.”
People looking to get on board can contact one of three people.
“You could call Merv Ozirny or Lin Orosz or me. We’re all in the book.”

Their Majesties return to Melville

The Melville Advance
© Friday, May 30, 2013 Issue

 Seventy-five years after their royal coach rolled into the Melville train station to meet the largest crowd to welcome them on their cross-Canada Royal Visit, Their Majesties returned to help save the now century-old building.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Peter Champagne and Betty Spakowski) were guests of honour May 24 at the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association’s gala to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit.
The iconic rail station is the only one of its kind remaining in Canada and the gala is the association’s only fundraiser.
Mayor Walter Streelasky welcomed the Royal Couple back to Melville and recognized the committee for its work to restore the rail station.
“Tonight we celebrate the 75th anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Melville,” Streelasky said. “It was June 3, 1939 which stirred a nationwide excitement, for this was the first time a reigning monarch ever stepped on Canadian soil.
“The national excitement extended to and included Melville a whistle stop that attracted 60,000 people.”
Association chair Merv Ozirny and Their Majesties presented commemorative coins to about a dozen Melville and area residents who saw the King and Queen during the 1939 Royal Visit.


Restoration work reveals further Station history
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, June 19, 2013 Issue

 The ongoing restoration of the old CN Station continues to surprise - and please - Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) volunteers.
During Saturday's community work bee that attracted more than a dozen volunteers, a bit more of the history of the 105-year-old Station was revealed.
Nancy Bieber, MRSHA secretary, says one of the challenges facing the organization has been its inability to track down original drawings for the Station that would provide specifications on everything from the type of lumber used to the color of the paint on the original building.
Despite efforts made to secure drawings from sources ranging from CN in Edmonton and Montreal, the national archives in Ottawa and even from other rail station groups, MRSHA hasn't been successful in that pursuit.
Thus, explains Bieber, all the group has had to aid in the restoration is old black-and-white pictures and some minor drawings.
And that's why what was revealed at Saturday's work bee was so exciting, Bieber says. MRSHA has designated the west side of the building as this year's restoration project and as the stucco was removed, what was revealed was the original exterior consisting of tongue and grove lumber that covered roughly the bottom two-thirds of the wall.
The top one-third was covered with cedar shingles. What surprised volunteers was the color of the shingles and siding - green - says Bieber. While some volunteers weren't sure what color would be revealed and others thought it would be brown, seeing the green was indeed interesting, Bieber says.
And volunteers were pleased to see the good shape of the siding that, after sanding and painting, will be key components of the restoration. And being able to re-use them will save MRSHA the cost of buying new material.
"It was exciting, absolutely. To see history revealed, to see the good shape it was in and to see the original. We have (no drawings) to go on. We're guessing as we peel away the layers," Bieber says.
Besides the work on the west side, volunteers pitched in for the ongoing clean-up efforts outside while others scraped and painted overhang supports and windows.
"We got a lot accomplished," Bieber says, despite the wind and rain.
Work will continue on removing the west-side stucco and the installation of a door and window. Scraping and painting the siding and shingles will be undertaken.
There'll also be painting of windows and supports that will be taken as the summer proceeds. Another work bee is expected to be held this summer and MRSHA board members and volunteers will undertake work as well, Bieber concludes.
Bieber says MRSHA is hoping the next community work bee will result in even more volunteers showing up.
"There's lots of work to do and the more hands we have to share the load, the better for saving this important piece of Melville history."

Roaring 20s Gala Evening Saturday
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Issue

  Planning for the second annual Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) gala evening is getting down to the wire.
And costumed gangsters, flapper girls and even those who choose not to don costumes can expect a fun-filled evening to support a worthy community project, according to the chairperson of the event.
This year's gala set for Saturday at Horizon Credit Union Centre is Speakeasy Ball and adopts the theme of the Roaring 20s when Chicago, Prohibition, rum-runners, gangsters and "speakeasies" - establishments serving illegal booze - defined the decade.
"It's going to be a bootlegging good time," says Evan Thompson.
"We've had, once again, great response from the business community. People are talking about the theme, lots of people are talking about costumes. Of course, it's important to remember you don't have to be wearing a costume to come out and have a great time," Thompson says.
The evening events social hour, banquet and live and silent auctions. Those auctions feature everything from a VIA-sponsored round trip for four to Jasper, Alta. to prints to box tickets to a Saskatchewan Roughriders game.
Thompson says in order to add a special culinary touch to the evening, the menu will include dishes popular during the 1920s, along with hors d'oeuvres.
Sure to be a highlight of the evening is the music.
"Skits, entertainment, great music, more of the things that really worked well last year. This year we've gone ahead and gone to the professionals. We got the Ken Jefferson Trio, a really talented group out of Regina, to give us some live music and give people something to move and dance to," Thompson says.
Last year's inaugural gala event was entitled "RM Titanic Sails Again Gala Event" and centred on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic after it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York.
What added a particular note of historical interest was the fact one of the passengers on the doomed Titanic who lost his life was Sir Charles Melville Hays, the president of the Grand Trunk and after whom Melville was named.
Hays was largely responsible for the construction of the old CN Station, a specially designed station and the only one of its kind remaining in Canada. And, says Thompson, it's the restoration of that station that's the raison d'etre behind the gala evening.
"It's a great way to remind people about the work that's been done so far and the work we're planning. We've certainly got big things in mind again for this year."
Since gaining title to the Old Station, MRSHA replaced in 2011 the asphalt shingles with cedar shingles, facsimiles of those that adorned the building when it was constructed. Last year, overhangs were built, repaired and reshingled, stucco was removed and soffits and facia received facelifts.
This year, MRSHA hopes to restore the west side of the station to its original specs besides working on eavestroughing and painting.
The project will entail a great deal of work over a number of years, Thompson admits, but the building is too important a part of Melville's history and has played such an essential role in the city's development not to make an attempt to preserve it.
And from that point, Thompson says MRSHA is grateful for the support - financial and otherwise - it has received from individuals, businesses and organizations, both from the city and beyond.
The gala evening "is a great way to remind people about the work that's been done so far and the work we're planning. We've certainly got big things in mind again for this year and it's all about preserving and restoring the iconic station here in Melville."

Phase 3 of station restoration underway
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, August 29, 2012 Issue

 Phase 3 of the restoration of Melville's old CN Station has begun.
Workers with local contractor Better Boys Construction converged on the site last week and are expected to spend several weeks on restoration work on the outside of the building, mainly on the south side.
Phase 3 is the latest initiative to restore the building constructed by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1908 during the tenure of company president Charles Melville Hays after whom the City of Melville is named.
Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) obtained title to the building from CN Rail in 2010. According to MRSHA president Merv Ozirny, the intention of the overall project is to restore the building - the only one of its kind of that design in all of Canada - to its former 1908 glory.
"This phase involves the reconstruction of the canopies which is a substantial architectural feature of the structure," says Ozirny, adding work will also be directed toward replacing soffit and facia, reconstruction of supporting beams, and installation and repair of eavestroughing.
Once the canopies on the south and west sides are rebuilt, they will be covered by cedar shingles, just like was originally done more than a century ago.
Phase 3 is the latest in the series of initiatives undertaken by MRSHA in the restoration project. Phase 1 in 2010 saw up to 50 volunteers involved in the interior cleanup of the building during two community workbees.
"Phase 2 was the total reconstruction of the roof which was something in the neighborhood of 10,000 square feet with cedar shingles as was originally on the roof. That was completed last year. Now we're into Phase 3. We're quite happy with the progress we've made the last three years," Ozirny says.
The entire project will be quite costly, Ozirny predicts, adding by the time Phase 3 is completed, MRSHA will have spent close to $200,000. The next big task will be refurbishing and replacing windows and while volunteers will be undertaking some of the work, the more demanding aspects of the job will require professional help.
Ozirny says MRSHA, at least in the near future, hopes to paint the outside of the building. In its original state, the exterior walls were covered by cedar shakes and tongue-and-groove siding but at some point, CN covered then with stucco. MRSHA expects to paint the stucco but eventually, it will be removed and the walls will be covered with original materials.
Once the exterior work is completed, the focus will turn to the interior restoration which will be both a long-term and an expensive phase and one that will take years to complete, Ozirny says.
And while the overall project can at times seem daunting, it's essential the old Station - arguably the heart of Melville and the focal point of so much of the city's history is preserved, Ozirny has stated in previous interviews.
What's encouraging has been the strong support of local and former residents, and even people who may have not lived here at all but who have a connection to the railway such as having relatives who may have worked there, Ozirny points out.
There are many people who have "a very, very fond spot in their hearts for the station and have very, very encouraging remarks about what we're doing."

MRSHA launches Titanic Gala
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, February 8, 2012 Issue

The RMS Titanic, arguably the world’s most famous ship, will be raised from its watery grave - at least in spirit - to become the centerpiece of a local fundraising effort.
Melville Rail Station Heritage Association Inc. (MRSHA) has launched its “RMC Titanic Sails Again Gala Evening”, an event set for April 14, that promises to be unique on a number of counts, says MRSHA president Merv Ozirny.
The evening will not only celebrate the life of Sir Charles Melville Hays - the man after whom the city is named and who perished when the Titanic sank the night of April 14-15, 1912 some 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland on its maiden voyage - but will raise funds for MRSHA’s restoration of the old CN station which was built in 1908 under the guidance of Hays.
“It will be a unique event in the history of our fair city which is now over 100 years old. We expect to re-create as much as possible the atmosphere on the Titanic prior to its sinking. It was...probably the most glamorous vessel on the water at that time,” Ozirny explains.
The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by supper at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7:30. There’ll be both a live and silent auction with special “guest appearances” by two of the more famous personalities who went down with the Titanic, says Ozirny.
“We intend to have music played live, the same music that was played on the Titanic that night. People will be dressed in period costumes and Captain E.J. Smith who was captain of the Titanic will be there in full life as well as Charles Melville Hays and other characters.
“We’re hoping to have as much of our public (dressed) in period costumes as well. There will be vignettes acted out throughout the evening indicating what happened when the ship hit the iceberg. (It’ll be) a night everyone is sure to remember a long, long time,” Ozirny says.
Tickets for the Gala Evening will be available soon and Ozirny says based on the overall community interest in MRSHA’s old CN station restoration project, he’s confident there’ll be a sell-out crowd of 400.
MRSHA was incorporated in 2004 after learning CN’s only plans for the old Station involved demolishing it. After gaining title to the building in 2010, MRSHA began the actual work, stoking community interest when it held a workbee that June.
Since then, MRSHA completed the reshingling of the roof with cedar shingles, same as it was in 1908. Funds from the Gala Evening, Ozirny says, will go toward replacing and reshingling the overhangs on the east, south and west sides.
“In recent years as we began the process of cleaning up the building and property and then the new roof, the public interest has grown astronomically.”

Anonymous Santa visits early
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Issue

Christmas has come early for Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA), the group aiming to restore the old CN Station.
An anonymous Santa - by way of a MRSHA board member — donated $10,000 to the restoration project at MRSHA’s recent monthly meeting with even the remainder of the board not learning the benefactor’s identity.
MRSHA has been involved in the Station project for a number of years and acquired the title to the property from CN officially early last year. Since then, MRSHA has held work bees to clean the interior and exterior of the building, removed the west-side addition and, just last month, completed reshingling the roof with cedar shingles at a cost of about $90,000.
Merv Ozirny, MRSHA president, says the donation couldn’t have come at a better time, both in terms of the cost of the reshingling and the increased public interest the reshingling has generated.
“It’s a very pleasant surprise. We find since the new roof has been put on the building there’s been more and more public interest in our venture and there are more and more people opening up their wallets and prepared to assist financially to improve the building.”
MRSHA has divided the entire restoration project into phases with the reshingling designated as the second phase. The third phase will be launched in spring, Ozirny says, when the canopy on the south and east sides will be repaired. As well, Phase 3 calls for refurbishing the exterior including the repair of windows and stucco, and painting the exterior walls.
The restoration project has been gaining momentum since the first work bee in June 2010 attracted more than 40 volunteers, Ozirny points out, adding the last MRSHA board meeting resulted in four more people joining the board.
Meanwhile, Ozirny says MRSHA is organizing an event that’s unprecedented in Melville.
“This unique once-in-a-lifetime gala event is being planned for April 14, 2012 at the Horizon Credit Union convention centre. This gala is unprecedented and is likely to be the social event of the year in our fair city,” Ozirny says, adding more details will be announced as the gala committee advances plans.

Old CN Station getting new roof
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Issue

A major component in the restoration of Melville’s historic old CN Rail Station is well underway.
Bauman’s Contracting of Grayson last Tuesday began the laborious task of removing the old and dilapidated asphalt shingles and replacing them with cedar shingles in keeping with the intent of returning the Station, built in 1908 to its original appearance.
The building’s volunteer-group owner, the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association Inc. (MRSHA), expects to have the reshingling component completed within a month.
“(The reshingling) is probably one of the most important (components). You need a good, new roof out there to protect the integrity of the building,” explains MRSHA president Merv Ozirny, adding it’s an expensive undertaking that will cost in excess of $100,000.
“But it’s a step that has to be taken because you can’t start on the inside until you have the outside protected,” Ozirny says.
MRSHA took ownership of the building in 2010 after CN moved its operations to a new building the winter of 2002-2003. The building was in need of repair while CN occupied it and deteriorated further during the years it sat vacant.
MRSHA came into being in 2004 and was able to secure the building after lengthy negotiations with CN which wanted to demolish the building and even went as far as seeking authorization from the federal government to do just that.
However, says Ozirny, a group of citizens concerned that Melville would lose one of its most historically important landmarks if the building was leveled decided to seek ownership.
Ozirny, in an earlier interview, says re-shingling the roof with cedar shingles will bring it back to its original state when it was built in 1908 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway under the direction of Charles Melville Hays who would later gain fame as one of the most-high-profile passengers on the ill-fated Titanic which sank on its 1912 maiden voyage.
Not only does the old Station represent an essential piece of local history but it also has a national angle - it’s the only one of its kind in Canada.
From a local perspective, there have been generations of families that have worked for the Grand Trunk and its successor, CN, and the railways have arguably been the most dominant factor in the city’s history.
From a national perspective, MRSHA board member Tim Ziola says, the building was designated one of the Grand Trunk’s “special” designs and was one of only two that were built in Canada using Plan 100-56. The other building was constructed in McBride, BC several years after Melville’s was built. However, it burned to the ground shortly afterward.
Once the roof is completed the next stage will be the restoration of the exterior which will get underway next spring and will centre on refurbishing windows and other trim, repairing stucco and painting, Ozirny points out.
Unlike the roof which requires specialized tradesmen, much of the exterior work can be done by volunteers.
In the meantime, MRSHA will be involved in the upcoming Oucharek Quartet performance set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 at City Hall Auditorium. The Quartet members are professional musicians from the Regina Symphony Orchestra who perform on stringed instruments made by local craftsman Wally Oucharek.
“Wally who’s been a great supporter of our project in restoring the Rail Station has allowed us to use his Oucharek Quartet as a fundraiser. For anyone who’s attended these concerts before they will know it’s first-class entertainment.”
Ozirny says MRSHA is pleased with the increasing support it’s getting from the community for the project. The group has a solid board of directors and a lengthy list of volunteers who are committed to preserving this essential piece of history.
And as the project moves along, Ozirny expects that support to grow: “I’m sure that as the public sees what’s happening to the roof and the exterior that will drum up new and more support all the time.”

MRSHA set for second work bee
By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© Wednesday, June 8, 2011 Issue

Bring your brooms and shovels, shop vacs and work gloves, and help preserve Melville’s history.
That’s the invitation extended to local residents by Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) as it prepares for another work bee Saturday at the old CN Station.
The work bee, the second major one organized by MRSHA following the first one last June, is the prelude to a major project slated for this year, the re-shingling of the roof, says Tim Ziola, MRSHA board member.
“We’re going to be looking after clearing up what was left from the last cleanup. We’re going to be filling some holes, basically looking after everything to get it ready for the roof to be redone,” Ziola explains.
MRSHA took title to the building last spring, several years after CN vacated the building and moved into new premises in 2002-2003. Since that time, the building has suffered noticeable deterioration, particularly the roof.
Re-shingling the roof with cedar shingles will bring it back to its original state when it was built in 1908 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway under the direction of Charles Melville Hays who would later gain fame as one of the most-high-profile passengers on the ill-fated Titanic which sank on its 1912 maiden voyage.
MRSHA expects the restoration of the building will occur in phases over a number of years. Plans call for the roof to be refurbished by year’s end with work next to be undertaken on the exterior, followed by attention to the interior.
It’s a large undertaking, Ziola admits, but the building is of extreme importance both nationally and locally.
The building was designated one of the Grand Trunk’s “special” designs and was one of only two that were built in Canada. The other building was constructed in McBride, BC several years after Melville’s was built. However, it burned to the ground shortly afterward leaving Melville’s as the only one of its kind in Canada, Ziola says.
From a local perspective, there have been generations of families that have worked for the Grand Trunk and its successor, CN, and the railways have arguably been the most dominant factor in the city’s history.
Residents have a greater appreciation of history since the city lost one of its most enduring landmarks in February 2010.
“We’ve all seen what the impact was when we lost the King George. (The Station) is one of a kind in Canada. It’s something we need to keep. It’s our Main Street and it would change the entire look of the street if we lost that so we need to keep it,” Ziola says.
Saturday’s cleanup starts at 9 a.m. - weather permitting - and Ziola expects around 40 volunteers to show up, similar to last year’s work bee which attracted more than 40 people.
Saturday’s event will see lunch supplied courtesy of Pharmasave with other businesses also contributing to the project.

Past News

MRSHA Wants You
Old Station Work Bee Saturday

By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© The Melville Advance, August 18, 2010 Issue

The next phase of an ambitious project to restore one of Melville’s oldest and most historic landmarks - and the only one of its kind in Canada — is nearing launch.
But before Phase 2 - the reshingling - of the old CN Station at the south end of Main Street can start, a substantial amount of preparatory work must be done.
And that’s where Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) says local citizens can play a huge role in the preservation of the building constructed in 1908 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the predecessor of CN.
MRSHA has scheduled a Community Work Bee for Saturday. Based on the volunteer response which drew 43 people when the first Work Bee was held June 12, organizers are hoping there’ll be similar numbers Saturday, says Merv Ozirny, MRSHA vice chair.
“That Work Bee was really encouraging to all of us. It gave us new spirit and new energy to revitalize this old building and we’re ready to move on with the next phases.”
Ozirny says with enough volunteers the large majority of the prepatory work can be completed in one day.
Saturday’s Work Bee calls for the demolition of the Station’s west-side addition as well as the removal of the canopy that extends along the south side.
The removal of the west-side addition accomplishes two objectives. Firstly, the addition isn’t an original part of the building so its demolition will restore the historical integrity of the structure.
Its demolition also means MRSHA won’t have to go to the expense of restoring it. The removal of the south-side canopy is necessary because it’s deteriorated so badly.
Contractors have advised MRSHA the canopy isn’t salvageable so it’ll be removed. Then the canopy will be rebuilt with new material but at this point, the only original material that can be salvaged are the support brackets.
Removing the canopy will also allow for easier access once the actual shingling gets under way, expected later this fall.
During Saturday’s Work Bee, volunteers will also complete the last of the interior cleaning, particularly vacuuming a few remaining rooms.
MRSHA has been working closely with the National Historic Sites and Monuments board which has authorized the work to be undertaken. The Station falls under Canada’s Heritage Railway Station Protection Act proclaimed in 1990.
At last Monday’s meeting city council approved a motion to waive landfill fees for the demolished material, something council also did for the June 12 Work Bee.
“The city has been most generous in waiving the landfill fees for the material that will be removed from the station,” says Ozirny, adding council’s support is a reflection of the growing support MRSHA sees within the community as more and more people are understanding the need to preserve this building.
“The support for this project is growing every day, taking the form of donations, taking the form of interest, people calling about it, enquiring as to what they can do to help.”
And that help will come in handy for Saturday’s Work Bee, Ozirny concludes.

Railway Daze - 2010

CN station restoration plans highlighted

By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© The Melville Advance, July 21, 2010 Issue

The crowds expected to celebrate Melville’s annual Railway Daze this weekend are being challenged to raise the roof.
Volunteers working to refurbish the historic CN station to its former glory will hold a Raise the Roof rally at the Railway Daze main stage downtown starting at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Volunteer Mark Orosz says the group is holding an information session during Railway Daze in the hope it’ll catch the attention and interest of local residents and visitors attending the summer celebration.
“Some of the board will be there and they will tell people what our plans are and the phases we plan to go through to bring the station back into the shape it once was,” Orosz told The Advance. “Hopefully we’ll have some pictures there to show what it’ll look like when the upgrades are done.”
The physical work began last month with a well-attended work party to clear the former station of debris and garbage collected since CN vacated the station about eight years ago. Although organizers weren’t sure what response they’d get when they called for clean-up volunteers, Orosz says the group was pleasantly surprised 43 people showed up to pitch in.
Orosz says group members were pleased by the response to their clean-up day and want to keep the enthusiasm growing. To do that, organizers decided to hold the Raise the Roof rally to catch people’s interest in the group’s future projects.
While the clean up was the first basic phase, Orosz says the second step will require more effort, and money.
“For the next phase, we’re hoping to take down the overhang on the south side, then put up scaffolding and patch and shingle the roof.”
Organizers are also planning another work bee and will need 20 to 30 able-bodied people to help out. They also hope by then to have awarded a contract for the roof work so that can get started.
For grant purposes, Orosz says it’s important people are willing to volunteer their labor or consider giving a financial donation to the project. Most grants the group is looking at will match funds already raised. However, he says the value of volunteer, in-kind, labor can also be used for matching grants.
The group estimates it needs about $100,000 to complete the roof work and currently it has about $25,000 plus the value of the first work bee. Therefore it needs almost $50,000 more in labor value or donations.
Meanwhile a Melville-based non-profit organization is dedicating money from two fundraising events to the railway station upgrade.
Manager Roger Young says Sarcan Melville will donate all the money it raises from recycling milk containers during August to the station project.
Each August, Sarcan Saskatchewan donates a matching amount its depots raise collecting milk containers to a local charity in each community. Young says Melville’s Sarcan decided its charity this year should be the railway station. To make the most of the Sarcan offer, Young suggests people hang on to their containers until August so they can maximize the amount raised for the station.
“What we want to get across to people is bring your containers in during August.”
The other event Sarcan is holding to raise money for the station is a raffle. The organization is selling tickets, for $1, for a piece of outdoor furniture. The furniture is a single unit featuring two wooden seats attached by a side table. Young expects the tickets to be on sale by August and the draw date is set for Sept. 3.

Volunteers start with cleanup
Station reclamation launched Saturday, June 12, 2010

By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© The Melville Advance, June 16, 2010 Issue

They swept, they shoveled, they hauled and they tossed.
And when the 40 volunteers called it a day Saturday, the first phase of the restoration of Melville’s old CN Station was nearly completed.
That first phase in reclaiming the 102-year-old structure — arguably one of Melville’s most important historical landmarks - called for the interior cleanup.
And clean they did. Starting at 9 a.m. and working until late afternoon, the scores of volunteers removed truckloads of old office equipment, papers, discarded clothing, musty carpets and other refuse left behind when CN vacated the old Station and moved to new headquarters several years ago.
For the Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) which fought to prevent the building from being demolished and which obtained the title to the structure two months ago, the cleanup marked the first step in bringing the Station back to its former glory.
“The volunteers who turned out were way over what we had expected,” says MRSHA chairman Merv Ozirny, adding “80 per cent of the cleanup is done. All of the debris removal has been completed.
“We had approximately (40) volunteers, we had dump trucks, front-end loader, power generators...everything a volunteer army required to make this an extremely successful day, the first big step in the reclamation of the CNR Station,” Ozirny says.
Not only was it gratifying to see the large numbers of workers and the businesses who donated equipment and supplies but what’s additionally encouraging is the number of new people who’ve signed up to join the MRSHA board which currently consists of about 10 members, Ozirny points out.
Taken together, the enthusiasm for the event indicates the reservoir of support Melville’s citizenry has for the project, Ozirny says, a multi-year project and one that’s going to be quite costly.
With the first phase - the cleanup - almost completed MRSHA will turn its energies to phase two, the re-shingling of the roof. The south side of the roof is badly deteriorated and must be repaired to stop water from leaking into the structure.
MRSHA plans to re-roof the building with cedar shingles as part of the plan to return it to its original state. The re-shingling will be an expensive undertaking and Ozirny says the board will soon lay out a plan for accomplishing that, perhaps even re-shingling the roof in sections as funds become available.
“I’d say we’re ahead of schedule right now compared to where we thought we’d be and with the community support we received today it certainly looks like a very, very positive initiative for us.”
One of those volunteers was Mary-Ellen Scott, a relative newcomer to the city who admits an interest in historic buildings.
“I bought a 100-year-old house that I’m restoring and when I heard people were restoring another landmark, I just had to pitch in.
“It’s amazing what can happen when you have everyone working together, people from all walks of life, all jobs, all age groups,” Scott explains.
Long-time resident Bryan Kirk, another volunteer, was pleased with the progress made.
“It was a good day, a good turnout and everybody pitched in...I’m satisfied with the way things went.
Kirk understands the necessity of preserving the building and says that need comes into particular focus following the destruction of the King George Hotel, another city landmark, in a February fire.
“(the old CN Station) has got a lot of history. I can remember it from childhood and I’d like to see it back to where it was.
“Considering it’s the only one left in the country, it’s got a lot of history and I think it’ll create a lot of interest across the country for tourist to come and see. There is more to old buildings to what we think there is,” Kirk concludes.

Old CN Station cleanup on Saturday, June 12, 2010

By LIN OROSZ - Advance Editor
© The Melville Advance, June 9, 2010 Issue

The old CN Station has been ‘graveyard’ quiet ever since the company moved its operations next door to a newer facility several years ago.
That’s going to change when a group of volunteers descend on the 100-year-old building Saturday to give the interior a thorough housecleaning.
The cleanup is the first phase of the campaign by Melville Rail Station Heritage Association (MRSHA) to restore the building’s roof and exterior which has fallen into a state of considerable disrepair.
MRSHA, formed several years ago with the intent of preserving the building - the only one of its kind in Canada - recently became owners of the historic landmark.
And the first step as owners is to give the interior a cleaning. MRSHA hopes to have a score of volunteers at the old Station Saturday at 9 a.m. They’re asked to bring brooms, shovels, shop vacuums and even electrical generators.
“Having just received title to the property there will be volunteers going in to clean up the building to haul out debris that’s collected the last number of years,” says MRSHA chairman Merv Ozirny.
“This is the first step in the process of reclaiming and rejuvenating this building. We hope we have between 20 and 30 volunteers,” Ozirny says.
The building was constructed in 1908 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway under the direction of Charles Melville Hays who would later gain fame as one of the most-high-profile passengers on the ill-fated Titanic which sank on its 1912 maiden voyage.
MRSHA has received support in the form of material and equipment from a number of businesses and donors. The City of Melville has also contributed by waiving the landfill fees for the rubbish collected by the cleanup volunteers.
While MRSHA realizes the enormity of the overall roofing and exterior costs, the importance of saving a historical treasure came into even sharper relief when one of the city’s oldest buildings, the King George Hotel built in 1909, was destroyed by fire in February, says Mark Orosz, another MRSHA director.
“People, when they see the empty hole left by the destruction of the King George, better understand the importance of saving our history. To have another hole at the end of Main Street had the old CN station been demolished, would have been a double tragedy,” Orosz says in an earlier interview.
Marj Redenbach, another MRSHA member and the city’s unofficial historian, says the building embodies an essential piece of the city’s history.
“It’s the story of Melville’s founding, it’s the story of Melville’s birth, and it’s a continuing story” Redenbach says of the station which was granted Heritage Railway Station designation by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board in 1992 because of its ‘historical and architectural significance’.
Aside from the overall historic significance for the city, the building is integral to many of the personal histories of current and former residents, and those residents both living and deceased, Redenbach explains.