Twenty-one years after being purchased by the Town of Capreol, the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre is looking to have its best season yet, welcoming a record 3,000 guests to its season opener Saturday.
Stu Thomas, president of museum's board of directors, said this was the third time the museum hosted the Big Truck Meet Up, and the first year the show brought in a Transformers' Optimus Prime replica. Thomas said both attractions helped make this the "best opening day ever."
The Big Truck Meet Up featured a number of impressive vehicles for attendees to touch and explore, including railroad equipment, commercial trucks and a Northway Bus Lines school bus, which guests were invited to decorate with paint. All vehicles were donated for the afternoon by contractors, merchants and trucking companies from the area -- aside from the Optimus Prime replica, which was rented from Philadelphia for the day.
Although Thomas said the event likely lost money as a result of hiring Optimus Prime, it was more important the event was free so guests could explore everything the museum -- and Capreol -- has to offer.
"Just in goodwill, it's well worth it," said Thomas.
The event attracted both kids and kids at heart, said Thomas, equally curious to interact with the big machinery the museum has built its reputation on over the years.
"Kids love trucks, kids love trains, and we got them both this weekend," said Thomas.
With 10 pieces of railroad rolling stock, a box-car house, school car, 900 square-foot model train set, along with lots of other precious artifacts, Thomas said aside from a major city centre like Ottawa or Montreal, you can't find what the Capreol museum has to offer anywhere else. It's a level of success Thomas said would not be possible without the dedicated team of volunteers who contribute countless hours to protecting and sharing the area's rich history.
"The product we have is good, the staff we have is good, the volunteers are well -- you cannot even think of how many hours of volunteer time is put in here, and that's one of the reasons we're doing well," said Thomas. "We're the only museum in Northern Ontario whose numbers have gone up in hundreds of percents."
Thomas invites anyone who has not yet visited the museum, or perhaps is due for a trip, to "come out to Capreol and have a great visit."