Ottawa

'Hear, hear': Senate snaps up museum's train station bench

An old wooden bench that once sat in Ottawa's former central train station is being returned to its original location, but instead of welcoming weary passengers it will serve as a resting spot for Canadian senators.

Wooden bench to be returned to former trains station when Senate moves in during Red Chamber renovations

The bench, once part of the Canada Museum of Science and Technology's rail exhibit, was put up for sale on Kijiji for an asking price of $4,000. The museum has decided to give the bench to the Senate for free. (Canada Science and Technology Museum)

An old wooden bench that once sat in Ottawa's former central train station is being returned to its original location, but instead of welcoming weary passengers it will serve as a resting spot for Canadian senators. 

The Senate of Canada said it has secured the transfer of the artifact from the Canada Science and Technology Museum after some keen-eyed employees learned it was up for sale. 

The bench, once used in the museum's rail exhibit, was among a list of items the museum put up for sale on buy and sell site Kijiji in a bid to refresh its collection. Most of the museum's artifacts are being moved to a new storage facility, but a list of items including a 1.5-metre ship's wheel, a vintage printing press and the bench were declared surplus stock. 

The Senate said in an email Friday that two employees spotted a CBC News article about the items being listed on Kijiji and immediately jumped at the chance to bring the wooden bench back to the former Union Station, soon to be the temporary home of the Senate while the Red Chamber undergoes a major renovation.

Senate employees weren't 'cruising Kijiji'

The chair of the Senate standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration announced the transfer of the bench to the Senate at its last meeting. 

He praised employees Tamara Dolan and Natalie Whidden of the property and services directorate for securing the transfer, which the museum agreed to hand over at no cost. The original asking price was $4,000. 

"I wanted to make sure you knew they were not cruising Kijiji while they were working. Tamara read a CBC article about this vintage piece of furniture," the chair noted. 

"This is a great initiative on behalf of our employees that happens all too often that we don't recognize, and we should be doing that. First of all, I want to thank the Canada Museum of Science and Technology. They were actually selling this, and they gave it to us, so I want to thank them. And I want to thank Tamara Dolan and Natalie Whidden for going that extra mile."

"Hear, hear," senators rejoiced.
The large, double-backed benches in the museum's collection once sat in Ottawa's former downtown train station. (Kijiji)

The museum actually owns eight more benches from the train station, which it's planning to keep, according to the museum's director of conservation and collection services, Gordon Perrault, 

The one that was for sale was damaged and covered in graffiti when it was first acquired, and was later used as a "prop" in the museum's rail exhibit, he said. 

Other items listed for sale included vintage snowshoes, a lacrosse stick and a collection of old records.

The storage facility is expected to be completed by the spring of 2019.

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