Premier David Alward made the funding announcement along the Petitcodiac River, which was once a famous shipping route. (GNB)

The provincial government is investing $1 million in the construction of the Moncton transportation museum, Premier David Alward announced on Tuesday.

The Transportation Discovery Centre, an extension of the Moncton Museum, will illustrate the fundamental role transportation has played in shaping the history and growth of Moncton and highlight the city's position as the transportation hub of Atlantic Canada, officials said.

"This very much is about our heritage so if we think about today our children and the opportunity they will have to learn more about different modes of transportation and what has happened in the past and very importantly as well it's about our economy," said Alward.

Working with partners to invest in leading tourism experiences is an important part of the government's plan to rebuild the province's economy, he said.

The centre will "honour Moncton's transportation history and heritage from shipbuilding to the railroad, from trucking to air transportation, and looks forward to today's information highway in a truly educational and family-friendly environment," said Deputy Mayor Merrill Henderson.

The 1,170 square metre (12,593 square foot) centre will feature exhibition galleries, an interactive exhibit on all modes of transportation, an education centre, a gift shop, café, and an interior public plaza designed to preserve the 1916 sandstone façade of the former Moncton City Hall.

The new centre, which is already under construction and slated to open next summer, is expected to attract thousands of additional visitors to the museum each year, officials said.

Keeping history alive

For Bruce Peacock, president of the Moncton council of CN pensioners, it's about keeping history alive.

"My primary concern is for our children, because children today don't learn about the railway and the history of the railway," he said.

"The railway is what opened up this country a number of years ago and was soon forgotten, but the railway today is still a very important mode of transportation."

Arlo Fisher, who worked at CN for more than 36 years, agrees.

"This means a big step I guess to bringing history back into Moncton because at one time Moncton was a hub," he said.

"When I started working in the railway in 1956, there were 105,000 railway employees across Canada. When I retired in '91, there was 28,000 all across Canada, so CN was downsizing from its war-time efforts."

The transportation museum has been in the works for about 13 years.

The funding for the project will come from the provincial Regional Development Corporation and the federal government.