Amid controversy and questions about the future of the railway on Vancouver Island, the Arrowsmith Potters Guild will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the completion of the railway on July 9.
Jacie Herbison, president of the guild which has occupied the station since 1995, said they will be joined by many of the partners involved in last year’s successful 100th birthday party for the Parksville station — the oldest on the Island.
They will be joined by the Island Corridor Foundation, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island and the E&N Division of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association in marking the anniversary of the driving of the last spike.
Herbison and others suggest this was the actual last spike, driven in by Prime Minister John A. MacDonald at Cliffside near Shawnigan Lake with a silver hammer and golden spike.
They suggest the railway on the Island finished the national rail system from sea to sea — rather than sea to Straight of Georgia — completing the government’s promise and making Canada a nation.
It took nearly 10 years of petitions to London, changes in contractors, shifting government support and cost 20 percent of the land of Vancouver Island and a federal cash grant of $750,000 to get the E&N (Esquimalt and Nanaimo) Railway built.
It will be a fun family event with rail displays, children’s mini train rides, live pottery demonstrations, public participation raku firings, free clay play and much history celebrating the role railway has played in the life of the Island.
People can tour heritage rail cars, locomotives and speeders that will be brought in as well as the pottery gallery and studios.
Any funds raised will be used to help maintain the historic, aging station.
The guild is still looking for volunteers for the event and invites other groups to join the festivities to showcase anything to do with the arts, history, rail and tourism of the region.
For more information check www.arrowsmithpottersguild.bc.ca or contact them at 250-954-1872 or email@example.com.
Events run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10 at the Parksville station, behind the water tower on the Alberni Highway.