Heritage railway and carousel beating bushes for volunteers

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Brendan Xuereb wastes no time trying to collect his volunteer hours to graduate from high school.

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He’s just finished Grade 8 in Peterborough, but when his family moves to North Bay this summer, he’ll officially be able to bank those precious hours with the Heritage Railway and Carousel Company.

Brendan, his parents – his mother has worked at the North Bay Regional Health Center for a year, but the rest of his family has not yet moved – and his younger brother, Nathan, were among several dozen people who braved a bit cold and drizzly Saturday to tour the waterfront facilities and sign up as a volunteer.

“I need my volunteer hours, and this seemed like a good place to get some,” Brendon said after receiving a railroad briefing from Don Coutts.

His mother, Gillian, is eagerly awaiting the resumption of the railway and carousel after it was closed during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘It will be nice to see it working,’ she said, saying that while she enjoyed lovely quiet walks along the seafront in the evening, she looked forward to seeing the crowds lining up for rides.

There is a miniature railway in Peterborough, she explained, but it is more for children visiting the Peterborough Zoo.

“It’s more for the younger kids,” Brendan said. “I haven’t been there for a while.”

And although his brother Nathan is too young to start accumulating his hours – he is finishing his 5th year – he is also ready to offer help with the operation.

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“If I can help, I will,” he says.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Coutts said at the open house.

And high school students are a great place to start.

“We usually turn 18 or 19 every summer,” he explained. “They appreciate it. They have a great time and being able to volunteer some time on a CV is always good.

Many high school students return year after year, even after accumulating the required 40 hours, and there’s nothing quite like being able – once they’ve gotten their G1 driver’s license – to have the chance to actually drive the trains.

Until he gets his license, however, Brendan and the other young volunteers will be able to take on other duties, such as greeting the public, selling tickets and generally helping with household chores in other ways.

The need for volunteers is greater this year than in the past, Coutts said. Many of the older volunteers have passed since the train and carousel last opened to the public.

Volunteers, he said, are assigned shifts, as little as three and a half hours a week, or as many as they want.

A total of about 150 volunteers are needed to run the trains and the carousel, he said.

“Some shifts require a lot of volunteers,” said Fran Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator. “We like to have at least eight for each shift.

And within the first hour of the open house, she already had a few people signed up to help her.

“Anyone,” she said of who is able to help. “Students looking for volunteer hours, anyone who likes to have fun driving the trains. You can be a conductor if you don’t have your driver’s license or direct the carousel.

“We welcome people from their teens to their 80s.”

Those who want to volunteer can pick up an application form at the North Bay Museum or email [email protected]

Web: heritagetrainandcarousel.weebly.com/