“School Special” Excursions
Alberta Prairie offers an opportunity that only a very few people remember and most people have never experienced. Riding the rails on a School Special will not only provide students the unique experience of train transportation, but will also offers a wide range of educational opportunity involving Canadian heritage and the geography of the region.
These excursions leave Stettler at 10:30 a.m. and return at 3:55 p.m. and includes a diesel-powered round-trip to Big Valley lunch, guided walking tours to the round house built in 1911, St. Edmunds Anglican historical church, Jimmy Jock Board Walk and the station/museum, and games & prizes for the children.
Complimentary train tickets for teachers/or supervisors are provided on the basis of one ticket per 18 students. The cost per person is $40.00 plus GST.
Following is a brief description of what is expected to happen during a typical school excursion:
10:00 a.m. – Passengers arrive and train ready for boarding
10:30 a.m. – Train departs Stettler station
- Passengers will be served by a full complement of Alberta Prairie hosts, hostesses and train operating crew.
- Typically the train features two concession and souvenir areas, and up to eight passenger coaches.
- On-board public address system keeps passengers abreast of features along route, history of the area and the program of events at destination.
- Gabriel Dumont, Metis buffalo hunter and hero of the Riel Rebellion will move about the train greeting and meeting students.
- Not less than one Clown/Magician/Balloon sculptor and children’s entertainer will move up and down the train entertaining the students in their seats. Every coach on the train is visited at least once, and often twice.
- During our journey, we pass through some of the best farm lands in Alberta rich with various kinds of animals, birds and plant life sightings of deer and even moose are common.
- On route points of interest include the Fenn-Big Valley oilfields, Fenn General Store, Warden Jct. rail yards and locomotive shelter, and Caprona siding.
- Each school will have not less than 15 minutes on each leg of the journey to wander up and down the their section of the train, visit a concession or the open-air coach and discover the sights, sounds and smells of turn-of-the-century train travel.
11:55 a.m. – Train arrives Big Valley
- Students will get a glimpse of a small village right out of Alberta’s colourful past.
- Each school group will be assigned a APST staff member as a tour guide. Tours of all the interesting things to see in Big Valley and a lunch break are included in the schedule
- Menu consists of hot dogs, veggie sticks, chips, juice and a cookie treat.
- During your stop at this typical rural Alberta town, students will have a chance to visit a fully restored 1912 Canadian Northern Railway station, historic St. Edmund’s church (the blue church on the hill), Jimmy Jock Boardwalk (an old time Western town within a town), the McAllister Motors building that doubles as the community museum, Big Valley’s Vintage Tool and Collectables Museum, the ruins of an authentic railway roundhouse, and a grain elevator interpretive centre.
2:30 p.m. – Depart Big Valley bound for Stettler
- Clown/Magician/Balloon Sculptor and children’s entertainers will move about the train performing. Time will again be provided for each school to tour their end of the train.
3:55 p.m. – Train arrives at Stettler station