Visitors to Heritage Park in Calgary will now have a chance to witness a very unique piece of Canadiana as a rare train car is now open to the public.

The Colonist Rail Car took two years and between 15,000 to 20,000 hours of work by a team of about 40 people to restore.

The vehicle, originally built in 1905, is one of two remaining in the country and it was used to carry immigrants across Canada to settle in the West.

The Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, says it’s fitting to have the car on display in the park considering it was built the same year that Alberta became a province.

“That was on September 1, 1905. I want you to know that my grandfather came here from Scotland in 1903 and he became the police chief in 1909 and so you better believe that I am very proud of the heritage and I am so proud about what Heritage Park has been able to do with this train.”

Mitchell says that all the immigrants who rode in the car and others like it brought a lot to the country.

“I think we have to remember these new Canadians that what they brought was hard work, determination and they brought optimism. Optimism [is] something that we all need. All that contributed to the great province that we’re in today.”

Doug Zech, one of the workers who helped return the rail car to its former glory, says it has probably been one of the most challenging projects he's done in his whole life.

"I walked into it on the first day and I thought, 'what have I got myself into?' There was shipping straps wrapped around it to keep it from falling apart, cables underneath to hold it up, it was full of birds' nests and rotten wood and it was crumbling so bad I could pull it out with my bare hands."

He says that before it was restored, the rail car sat outside in Heritage Park, exposed to the elements for the past 18 years because there was nowhere to store it.

"Once they moved it in here, it preserved it to the point where it was available for me to start working on it and the restoration to begin.”

Zech says that working on the car also had a good deal of challenges too, considering that it had been involved in a crash at some point in its life.

“Part of the main beam was replaced, we think, in the field. It was done so badly that part of the car, it sagged almost six inches on one end. About 25 percent about one side of the car had to be completely stripped down to the frame and rebuilt after that.”

Once all the rotted wood was removed, Zech says that the diligence of the craftspeople of the time was exposed.

“The wood that remained was in such amazing condition and so perfectly put together that its a testament to the craftsmen of the time; they were masters of their craft. They built this car like it was a fine piece of furniture.”

The Colonist Rail Car will be open to the public for the park’s Railway Days Event, where visitors will be able to learn more about its history.

The restoration was made possible by a donation from Joan Snyder, a Calgary philanthropist.