Duncan Train Station eyes $50K prize in national contest

A public vote continues through Feb. 22 to decide the Next Great Save winner.
Duncan Train Station
The Duncan Train Station was built in 1912 as part of the E&N Railway. Photo provided by the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives

Residents of the Cowichan Valley and beyond have mobilized to secure $50,000 for renovations at the Duncan Train Station. As of Feb. 9, the train station now leads the Next Great Save competition with more than 46,000 votes, about 10,000 votes ahead of second place. Community members can vote once per day through Feb. 22 in this national competition.

The National Trust for Canada runs the competition, which seeks to build excitement around the preservation and improvement of heritage buildings. Ten finalists from across the country are vying for this year’s prize.

The former E&N Railway Station was built in downtown Duncan in 1912. Today, the building houses the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives.

The excitement around this competition has “really brought the community together,” says Penny Meyer, an educational programmer at the museum. When she mentions the Next Great Save to friends, they pretty much all say they are already voting. “It has really raised the profile of the Duncan Train Station and the museum.”

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The goal of the Next Great Save competition is to extend the life of heritage buildings and also reduce their environmental impact, Meyer says. If the train station wins, they will invest in heat pumps for the building and, if funds remain, they will also add insulation and storm windows. 

sepia image of a crowd on a train platform
Troops leave the Duncan Train Station for WWI in 1916. Photo provided by the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives

This investment would reduce electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions by about three quarters, Meyer says. The savings will allow the museum to put money that would have been spent on renovations and electricity bills elsewhere — and it will help to preserve artefacts that require a controlled environment. 

The museum is currently open on its winter schedule, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This summer, the museum looks forward to celebrating the Municipality of North Cowichan’s 150th anniversary.

Meyer asks that community members remember to keep voting every day through Feb. 22. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. And so anything could happen.” 

Regardless of the outcome, the contest is already bringing new awareness to the museum, Meyer says. It’s helping more people learn or remember that “there’s this great little treasure of a museum here.”

Here’s the link to vote in the competition. You must provide an email address and then click a link in your email to confirm the vote. 

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