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Knowlton family give 52-acre gift to the town of Okotoks and M.D. of Foothills

From left: M.D. of Foothills Mayor Larry Spilak, Gerald L. Knowlton, Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson (Town of Okotoks)

There will soon be a new park south of Calgary, Champion Park, maintained by the town of Okotoks and M.D. of Foothills thanks to a generous gift from the Knowlton family.

Gerald Knowlton has built a park as an homage to the Canadian Pacific Railway, in honour of his mother and father and will be transferring it over to municipal control.

Knowlton’s father, Ted Knowlton, was a CPR station agent who served the town of Standard for 42 years.

“My dad was alive for most of the building of this park and he celebrated his 90th birthday at the station. My parents would be pleased to know that it will be in good hands for the education and enjoyment of the citizens of this district for many, many generations to come,” he said.

On Friday, the two municipalities announced the formation of the “Friends of Champion Park Society” which will help maintain and operate the park.

“Gerald Knowlton has poured his heart and soul into this Champion Park,” said Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson. “We are just blown away by the generosity of this gift to the citizens of Okotoks and Foothills.”

“We have to be financially sustainable to our taxpayers so it won’t be open all the time, it’ll be open on a limited basis throughout the year, people will be able to ride the train. There’s also a pond stocked with trout.”

Founded in 1979, it includes land, a lake, a restored CPR railway station from Champion, Alberta, a number of outbuildings, railway tracks, a 1960’s era locomotive, a 1948 mail-express car, a 1929 Executive car (“The Saskatchewan”), display and rail cars.

It’s located 5 kilometres northeast of Okotoks and 7 kilometres north of Aldersyde on the east side of Highway 2.

The official transfer from the Knowlton family will happen at the end of the year.