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Contact Alberta Prairie Railway at or 1-800-282-3994 (in Canada) or 1-403-742-2811 (outside Canada) for:

  • Reservations
  • Schedules
  • Fares
  • Group rates

Rails & Tales Key Personnel

Don Totten – Chair
Susan Forest – Communications and Website
Doug Cooney – Sponsorships
Rich Graydon – Social Media and Marketing Campaign Director
Alan Willis – East Central Alberta Heritage Society
Michelle White – CAO for Village of Big Valley and Rails and Tales Liaison

Contact Rails & Tales:

Telephone: (587) 897-6060


Alberta Prairie Railway
East Central Alberta Heritage Society
Alberta Railway Museum
Rocky Mountain Rail Society

Rails and Tales Team

Norma Leslie, President, ECAHS
Don Totten – Chair
Doug Cooney – Vice Chair, VIPs and Sponsorships
Susan Forest – Communications and Website
Richard Bane – Grants Liaison
Rich Graydon – Social Media and Marketing Campaign Director
Holly Totten – Social Media and Marketing Campaign Assistant
Alan Willis – East Central Alberta Heritage Society
Michelle White – CAO for Village of Big Valley (Big Valley Liaison to Rails and Tales)
Rick Boittiaux – Merchandising
Bob Corrigan – Kickoff Day
Leo Degroot – Photography
Dave Higgins – AV
Marlene Lanz – Métis Nation Liaison
Brian Manning – Steam Traction Engines and Pioneer Day
Alan Pile – Parking
Tom Price – Static Displays
Kevin Quigley – Rocky Mountain Rail Society Liaison


Rails and Tales Team: Why I Got Involved in Rails and Tales, 2017

Norma Leslie

My involvement with Rails and Tales, 2017 springs from my interest in preserving and showcasing the rail and the rights of way belonging to ECAHS. Our interest, as a Society, is to recognize the importance of the role of the railway in the settlement and development of Western Canada, and Central Alberta in particular. We are proud to bring this special celebration of Canada’s Birthday to our community.


Don Totten 

I like the story of Canada. Our celebration is closely connected to the travel our ancestors made across our vast nation. Though the first travelers came by canoe, the railways changed everything. I wanted our visitors to have the chance to come together and experience some of the images, sights and sounds from our past so they might feel the emotions new immigrants could have felt when they got off the train: the task of getting water in the tender of a steam locomotive, and the wail of the steam whistle and the ringing of the bell as the steam train left town again. You can see in your mind the farmer coming to town with his harvested grain. This story has been played across our country for a hundred and fifty years.

To me, this celebration is like opening a good book: a gateway to look back on our rich heritage and an opportunity to ponder what our great country might achieve.

Doug Cooney

I have always been interested in history. I got involved in Rails and Tales 2017 to assist in organizing a project that celebrates Canadian history, that I thought would be a lot of fun and very interesting as trains were the conduit for the creation of Canada. I have met a lot of interesting people that I now call friends, and helped a Canada 150 anniversary celebration become reality.


Susan Forest

A year and a half ago, my husband said to me, “Susan, you are doing too much. You should cut back on all your volunteer work.” Then, watching him put together this huge project, I came back with, “I think you need a secretary.” We’ve been teaming on Rails and Tales, 2017, along with an amazing group of professionals, ever since.

So, why did I get involved? One of the things that attracted me to Don right from the beginning of our relationship was his passion—about motorcycles, about skiing, and about steam trains. I have visited steam operations in England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Canada, the US, and even Brazil. After 27 years, it is hard for someone’s passion NOT to rub off. I am amazed at how much I have learned about steam locomotives. We even raised our kids on the bedtime song, “6218.” Love it!

Michelle White

I am grateful to Rails and Tales 2017 for the opportunity it has given me to learn about our rich railway history. Having no background in this area, it has been amazing for me to work with such a great group of knowledgeable men and women on this project over the last year. Rails and Tales, 2017 is a great chance for everyone to get a better understanding of how the railway helped to shape our history. We hope you enjoy experiencing it with us!

Bob Corrigan

Growing up in Winnipeg and having a father who was a boilermaker for Canadian Pacific Railways in his early days was a huge part of my heritage.

Not only did I live within a few hundred yards of the railway and the maintenance yards, I grew up listening to the music (some would say whine) of steel wheels meeting steel rails. To this day that sound brings a smile to my face and now our summer home in Fernie, BC has the railway that goes right through town, bringing with it that same beautiful music.

And most recently I had the chance to read Pierre Burton’s The Last Spike and it brought the history of the railways and the opening of the west to me in a vivid picture.

What can you say – these are the reason I got involved and then add the persuasion of Don Totten and Susan Forest.

Ah, a great opportunity.

Leo Degroot

I got involved because Don Totten asked me.

I agreed because I love trains, and steam trains in particular. The blowing down of the cylinders at startup is always exciting, as are the ringing of the bell, the building chuffs from the exhaust stack, the wailing of that forlorn whistle, the geometric dance of the running gear, the steam and smoke exploding into the air, the friendly wave from the engineer and conductor, and the memories it brings back from my childhood days.

I was glad Don asked me!

Dave Higgins

I’m fascinated by all aspects of Canadian history, but have a special interest in the development of the West, and in particular the part played by railways and steam locomotives. Rails and Tales 2017 gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in all these things for an entire week! Not to mention meeting and working alongside lots of like-minded people, and celebrating our country’s 150th birthday in an authentic Western Canadian setting.

Mary Lou Higgins

It’s wonderful to be able to contribute to Canada’s big 150th birthday party by volunteering for Rails and Tales along with my husband, Dave. I hope everyone who attends this great event has a fantastic time.


Marlene Lanz

Marlene started her journey as an advocate for the Métis people when she lived in Medicine Hat as a member of the Aboriginal Education Committee and by volunteering for Métis Local 1986. She started working for the Métis Nation in 1989 as a Community Development Coordinator, and was elected as the Region 3 Vice President in 1996, a role that she filled for 9 years. She is now in her third  term as the Region 3 President and continues to work at promoting the unique Métis culture and heritage, and presses for Métis Rights.

Marlene lives her Métis culture and can often be seen beading, jigging, making bannock and sharing stories of trapping, making dry meat, and explaining the use of plants for medicine.

She believes in passing these traditional skills on to others and often participates in, and or instructs at cultural workshops.

Marlene works tirelessly for the Métis people and is comfortable meeting with people at their kitchen table as she is meeting with Federal, Provincial, and Municipal officials in their board rooms.

As part of her duties as a Provincial Council Member Marlene is the Minister of Governance, Registry and Justice.


Alan Pile

My interest in trains began as a young boy when my grandfather would take me down to the Galt, ON station CP, after dinner when we visited. We would stand on the platform and watch the many trains come and go. My grandfather knew some of the engine crews and I would be lifted up onto the steam engine while the passengers were loading and unloading.

My dad also had a three rail windup Triang model railways which we played with. My interest in trains continued when I finished high school and went to work for the CPR, as it was known, in the Superintendent of Transportation office in Union Station in Toronto. I also worked in the Chief Dispatcher’s Office for Toronto Terminal Railways, where I began to learn the ins and outs of train dispatching.

It wasn’t until I eventually moved to Calgary and became associated with South Bank Short Lines Association (HO) that I rekindled my interest in model trains. After I moved into a Monday to Friday position, I became a member, and subsequently President, of the Alberta Model Engineering Society, “Iron Horse Park,” for 10 years (1/8 Scale).  I also became a member of the Calgary Model Railway Society and served on the Supertrain Committee.

Then I became interested in the Rocky Mountain Rail Society and its efforts to get “6060” in running condition.

Trains have become my passion, whether Steam, Diesel or operating my own “Speeder,” which is why I am participating in Rails and Tales, 2017.

Tom Price

I volunteer because it is a way to keep me active, participate in my interests, meet others with similar interests, and get involved with initiatives that make people happy.

Patricia Pile

I am an Artist. I play with knives.

For Canada Day on our Country’s 150th birthday, I am honoured to be involved with Rails and Tales, 2017.

I am the granddaughter of a steam engineer from Red Deer Alberta. This has installed a love of trains in my heart from an early age. When my youngest sister was born, my younger sister and I were taken to the Station Master in Calgary, set on the mail bags (we sat on the Queen’s Head), put on the train, marked “special delivery,” and sent to Red Deer. The Station Master in Red Deer collected us and kept us safe until my grandma arrived. Since then, if I have my choice of transportation, I will take the train.

I have been experimenting with art styles over the past five years. This year I have started to add grain elevators and trains into my art work.

Some of my train interests include Supertrain, Iron Horse Park, and Rocky Mountain Rail Society. And I have a full size speeder in my back yard. I am also helping raise funds to repair the steam engine, #6060.

I became involved with Rails and Tales because of this love. Trains are an important part of Canadian history. What better way to help celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday?

A special thank you to all the people who have made this week possible.