At one point or another in the course of my life, I have found myself wondering about those that came before me: how they worked, what they wore, how they lived day to day, and what secrets they held after they were gone. I find that living on the North shore of Lake Superior is like living in a time capsule. I experience these windows of time through ancient trees, long standing rocks, and the beloved stories told by nostalgic residents, always reminding me how small town history is like a beating heart that keeps these areas full of culture and wonder. Any small town you visit will be teeming with rich history. Recently I had the pleasure to visit the town of Schreiber and experience their new wondrous Discovery Centre and Museum. With pride, Schreiber exemplifies their unique history through this brand new centre. Incorporating real railway cars that were once used to go up and down some of the most treacherous railways in Canada. It truly feels like you are walking alongside those whose lives were spent sleeping in those same cars. They bring with them the friendly whispers of the memories of Schreiber’s past from beginning, to growing, to the continued hard working community it is today. With that, why don’t you follow me on a journey through the museum and experience only just a sliver of the magic that lies within it.
When you first walk in through the museum doors, you are transported to the very beginnings of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which has ultimately grounded the foundation of what Schreiber is today. With tons of interpretive panels on the history of what the railway is, how it was founded, and how it ended up in Schreiber, you will be amazed at all of the hard work that was put into this tiny but mighty community, and its importance when it comes to the function of the railway. Still to this day, it remains a crew change and railway division point, crucial for directing the trains to wherever they are needed to go.
As you emerge from the first room, with all of your new knowledge on the history of the railway and what Schreiber looked like all those years ago, you will find yourself on a platform. You may recognize it from the pictures you have seen on the beginning of your journey here. This platform is in fact a replica of what a modern train station would look like! You can walk as though you are hopping on and off to arrive or leave this beloved hometown. But that is not all as from the station you will be taken into what the Discovery Centre calls the VR train car. Within this train car and through a simulation, you are welcomed on a voyage through the stories of the treacherous North Shore train tracks from its humble beginnings to the strong present. It was an amazing presentation that felt like I was on a real ride through time and knowledge. I felt welcomed into the world that is Schreiber and the Canadian Pacific Railway. This is definitely a train ride you absolutely cannot miss!
Exiting the VR train car and across the platform, there is another train waiting for your arrival. This train car is the artifact car with treasures of Schreiber’s loyal and enthusiastic residents eager to showcase the history of their adored town. Here you will be able to see old train worker uniforms, yearbooks of the town’s past youth, gold flakes, and all while listening to classic hits from the town’s old jukebox! My personal favourite treasure was seeing all of the photos of Schreiber’s growth, and getting a glimpse at the hardworking families who built such a tenacious community.
It has been my absolute pleasure to try and put the experience of the Schreiber Discovery Centre and Museum into words for you. I had the most extraordinary time making my way through the years of Schreiber. The questions of which I often wonder about the past have all been answered by the incredible work that has been put into this facility, led by local history champion Ray Gionet, and I hope you find your way to catch your train. Your journey awaits!