Storage site for overstock

Will renovate historic building in future

Article by John Campbell

The new owner of Memory Junction Museum building says the former railway station will be restored to its former glory but his overall plan for the Maplewood Avenue property is still to be decided.

George Hamilton, the owner of Cole’s Timber Mart, said the property was purchased “to complement” his business on Ontario Street. With the two being so close together, “it just made sense for us to grab it.”

The recently acquired land, which is just under three acres, will be used initially to handle “a lot of overstock for our inventory,” Hamilton said. “Down the road we may end up venturing into some other kind of venture but … I’m not too sure what that might be.”

Work on the museum isn’t likely to begin until next winter, when his crew isn’t as busy. “Once we have time we’re going to go over there and renovate it to its glory years, hopefully,” Hamilton said. “It’s a heritage building so we do have to accommodate those requirements.”

It might be converted into an office “but it’s really right up in the air right now.”

“I’m a little reluctant to say exactly what I’d like to do because I don’t know for sure, but people will know once I make the announcement what’s going to happen over there,” he said.

“I’ve had some really great responses from the community, which is really nice. People are pretty excited that we purchased it … It’s going to be an improvement for the community once we’re done.”

Hamilton said what Memory Junction’s former owners, Ralph and Eugenia Bangay, did in saving the station from demolition and turning it into a museum was “awesome” and he plans to mount a plaque on the building in their memory to recognize their contribution to the community. They were the “main force” behind what became a tourist attraction in the early 1990s and remained so until 2017 when it closed when it became too much for the Bangays to continue operating. Ralph died in 2019 at the age of 93.

The museum was plagued by vandalism, which made staying open that much more difficult. Hamilton said he will erect a fence after four of the five rolling stock on the property have been removed by their new owners who live elsewhere.

“The Bangays donated one to use as a landmark,” Hamilton said, adding the caboose will be restored as well “eventually.”

Two auctions are scheduled for May. Up for sale are memorabilia that didn’t get sold last September when the first auction was held.