PEI

McDonald's old party caboose finds new life in Elmira

A train caboose many Islanders might remember as a birthday party place at McDonald’s in Charlottetown decades ago has found a new life at Elmira Train Museum.

Caboose has been through a lot since it was built in 1912

The caboose is now open to the public at the Elmira Railway Museum for the first time in many years. (Jay Scotland/CBC)

A train caboose many Islanders might remember as a birthday party place at McDonald's in Charlottetown decades ago has found a new life at Elmira Train Museum.

And while there are no Happy Meals being served in it, visitors can go inside for the first time since Elmira acquired it in 2009. 

"It is actually just sort of a blank canvas in there at the moment but a lot of people have been wishing to get inside the last few years when they visit us, so it's very nice that they can actually have that opportunity," said Lynne Morrow, site manager at the Elmira Railway Museum.

The caboose was built in 1912, which also happens to be the same age as the train station at Elmira, she said.

The caboose was used by the Grand Trunk Railway for several years, then became property of the Canadian National Railway in 1923, she said. 

The caboose was used by McDonald's in Charlottetown as a birthday party venue in the 1990s. (CBC)
This is how the inside of the caboose looks now. (Jay Scotland/CBC)

It was used until the 1980s when it was purchased by McDonald's. When the restaurant expanded in 1997 it was donated to the P.E.I. Railway Heritage Association in Kensington, P.E.I.

It has since been restored it to its former glory in Elmira, and reopened to the public this summer. Inside, they can watch a video of the last freight train leaving the tracks on P.E.I. in 1989.

McDonald's removed the caboose in 1997 to make room for an expansion. (CBC)

Morrow said when the caboose came to Elmira, the floors and roof were completely rotten and had to be reconstructed to make it safe to go inside.

The caboose was transported to the P.E.I. Railway Heritage Association in Kensington, P.E.I., in 1997. (CBC)

The walls are original, as are most of the rafters and floorboards, she said, as well as the brake wheels.

"It got painted and the CN number which is 78431 was put on the site last summer," she said.

It arrived in Elmira in 2009. (Submitted by Elmira Railway Museum)

They are currently in the process of trying to reattach the undercarriage.

"That will allow us, that we can actually move the caboose on the track around the site so that we can bring it closer up to the building," she said.

The roof and floors were rotten and there was graffiti on the walls. (Submitted by Elmira Railway Museum)

The museum is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for July and August. In September they are open Monday to Friday.

Lynne Morrow, site manager at the Elmira Railway Museum, says visitors have wanted to go inside the caboose — and now they can. (Jay Scotland/CBC)

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