Plans to expand rail museum in Capreol
SUDBURY -- The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard, with less people traveling, the need to social distance and less revenue coming in.
In Capreol at popular tourists attraction, the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre, the pandemic has brought about many changes while at the same time presenting new opportunities.
"I can't say enough about what we are doing, and what we are going to do. Just a couple of weeks ago we had a couple of pieces of big equipment in to move a lot of things around in our yard,” said Stu Thomas the president of the board of the Northern Ontario Railway Museum and Heritage Centre.
“CN Rail has leased us some more property. And we are going to try to fence off our property come this fall, and plan for the future, our future is really bright, we are not stopping."
This year the opening of the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre was delayed until August 1 with a very different way of visitors learning about the history of rail, lumbering and mining in Northern Ontario.
"Whereas before we typically we had more like of an open house and visitors just come randomly to the museum, now they had to book appointments and what that did was give us some predictability so that we know exactly how many number of visitors each day are coming to the museum," said Derek Young, operations manager of the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre.
Visitors are given tours in their own group.
"So they had their time, their time slot and a personalized experience that we think overall created a much better patron experience," said Derek Young.
The tourist attraction recently received federal funding to develop a new way for visitors to enjoy a virtual tour.
"We are looking at a phone app and certainly dial-in and up will come a story about the past in Capreol, a past of the museum, the past of the 607 locomotive," said Thomas.
Officials at the Northern Ontario Railway and Heritage Centre say they also currently working on partnering with local school boards to offer virtual presentations in place of school field trips.