The Last Spike

Story and Photos by Steve Finkelman, AAM Communications Coordinator

Volunteers Bill Graham and Jamie McQuarrie installing the last section curbing after two-and-a-half years of work.

It may not be as monumental as the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway more than 130 years ago but the completion of the Alberta Aviation Museum’s curbing project is a significant milestone for our revitalization project.

Volunteers installed 1,784 feet (410 sections) around our displays in the museum. It has taken two-and-a-half years to complete but the results are striking.

“It looks great, says Jamie McQuarrie, one of three volunteers who have worked on the project. “Combined with what the guys have done to put ground cover in and what (Curator) Lech (Lebiedowski) has done to make the stories come alive, I think it really adds to the museum. Worth everyone coming to look at.”

The curbing started with hundreds of laser-cut plywood boards and strips of laser-cut black puck-board. That was then mounted on two-by-six wooden supports before being sanded, primed and painted.

The curbing sections are like a Meccano set and can be removed and rearranged in a different configuration as displays change.

Volunteer Bill Graham spent “hours and hours and hours” priming, sanding and painting.

“We started with two layers of primer and three rolls of finishing paint. Towards the end we were good enough that we would have one roll of primer and two roles of finishing paint.

He says his friends would come to look at his work and rib him about the time it was taking.

“They couldn’t believe I was still doing it after two-and-a-half years. But it’s a labour of love.”

Phil Vere, the third member of the curbing team, working with a router to make the curved edges of the curbing.

The third key member of the team was Phil Vere, who designed the curbing, procured the materials and built many of the jigs used to make the work go quicker and more accurately. (You can watch a video of Vere talking about the start of the project in the fall of 2016 here.)

The curbing is an example of the fabulous work our volunteers do. Bill Graham, Jamie McQuarrie and Phil Vere are three people whose time and effort have helped the museum become the showpiece it is today. We thank then for their time and dedication.