Old Elko Station reborn as new antique store

Phoenix Antiques, operated by Don Langvand, will be taking over the floorspace of the old Elko Station.

Don Langvand of Dragon Antiques in Cranbrook has moved a 1918 grain wagon to the old Elko Station

Don Langvand of Dragon Antiques in Cranbrook has moved a 1918 grain wagon to the old Elko Station

Like the phoenix, one of Cranbrook’s most notable and lovely heritage buildings has emerged from the ashes of a 2013 fire, and will be taking part in the local economy as a new antique store.

The rejuvenation of the Elko Station, sitting at the corner of Van Horne Street and King Street, is due to the efforts of the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmarks Foundation, and the generosity of local volunteers and businesses.

“This building has great potential,” said Don Langvand, owner of Dragon Antiques on 10th Avenue South downtown. “I’ve been eyeing it for a while.”

Langvand said the new store — named, appropriately enough, “Phoenix Antiques” — will be different from the current location in downtown Cranbrook, but will still display vintage pieces, with more of a focus on “guy stuff” than the downtown store, and pieces displayed outside in balmy weather.

Both Langvand and Balfour agree an antique store is a great addition to the complex that is the Canadian History Centre, and along with the eye-catching, freshly painted vintage locomotive, will go enhance it as a tourist attraction.

This week, Langvand brought a mint condition 1918 grain wagon to the site, which is now on display between the station and the locomotive.

The Elko station is a “Crowsnest B” type station, and the only one of its kind left in North America. It was assembled in 1901, from a kit shipped to Elko.

Balfour said in those days, Canadian Pacific surveyed its towns along the way to determine what kind of station needed, and Elko got the Class B type. The building — in kit form — was shipped out in numbered pieces, which were assembled in Elko in 1901.

The 2,000-square-foot building was moved the 54 miles to Cranbrook 86 years later.

The highway was closed to traffic for that job, and power poles were even removed to make room. The station was settled on the existing foundation of another ancient building, and served as the first headquarteres for the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel (now the Canadian History Centre).

In the intervening years, the Elko Station as been headquarters to the Cranbrook Community Foundation and to Blue Beetle Creative Media.The low point for the building came in July of 2013, when it was set on fire.

Balfour said the insulation helped slow the fire enough to save the building, and the fire department quickly put it out, but smoke damage was extensive, and some of the walls were charcoaled.

Pigeons also made their home in the damaged rafters afterwards, filling the space with their guano.But it’s been a labour of love over the past two years, and that labour has paid off, with a beautifully renovated heritage building.

“What’s cool about it is we couldn’t have done it without contributions from the community,” Balfour said.

Rick from Country Floors supplied the wood and paid for half the freight. Big Horn Electric redid all the circuits, plugs and lighting, and gave a great deal. Home Depot provided the floodlights for the exterior, useful for security purposes. Macdonald’s Mill, near the U.S. Border, milled the wood for the soffit (the ceiling from the top of the outside wall to the outer edge of the roof), and the City of Cranbrook will finish that off.

All the electrical was redone, the air conditioning and furnace, the alarm system updated. New molding was built from scratch, 46 windows fixed, the baseboards and some molding around windows is new, the chair rail for the wainscotting, motion detectors installed, bathrooms updated — a complete rejuvenation.

“Volunteers from CAMAL, the Rotary Club and the community have been involved in a major way,” Balfour said.