West Coast Railway Heritage Park officials are set to hand over their controls to Canada's favourite political comedian.
On Sunday (Jan. 19), CBC television's Rick Mercer will don the engineer's hat as he films The Rick Mercer Report at the Squamish railway park. For two years, park officials had been knocking on the show's door, said Ken Tanner, the heritage park's president.
“At one point I think we got usurped by Thomas Mulcair,” Tanner joked.
On Monday (Jan. 13), they got the phone call they'd been waiting for.
“We had our team meeting this morning and the whole team is pumped,” Tanner said on Tuesday (Jan. 14).
Mercer will film from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The park will open for free, giving residents a chance to watch how a TV show is created, Tanner said. The program will be filmed at six different locations within the park. Mercer will be guided through each activity by the park's dedicated volunteers.
“They are the people that really put this together,” Tanner said.
Mercer will have a go on the mini-rail and try his hand at driving a one of the full-scale locomotives into the Mac Norris Station.
The show will focus on heritage preservation, while stirring a bit of fun into the mix. Tanner doesn't know whether the show will touch on the Royal Hudson's plight. The park needs to raise more than $100,000 for a boiler inspection and recertification to get the heritage steam locomotive back on the tracks.
Mercer will visit the team restoring the No. 2 Steam Locomotive, said Gordon Bell, the park's chief operating officer. For the past six months, volunteers have combed over the train that made its mark in Squamish. It spent 20 years in Stan Clarke Park. Bell estimates the project will be complete next year.
“It's the locomotive that is on Nesters Market's logo,” Bell said. “It is quite a big job.”
Mercer's show might expose more Canadians to the heritage park, he said. It's also a way to say thanks to the hundreds of hours residents donate to the park, Bell said.
“That's the real story,” he said.