Master of Arts (MA)
Geography & Environmental Studies
Faculty of Arts
Canadian museums with operating railways constitute special places, and over the past five years they have seen a marked increase in historic preservation work. If this work is to continue these museums, run by volunteer organizations, must be able to increase the numbers of visitors to their sites. Two research questions were investigated, one more objective and scientific, the other more subjective and humanistic: How do such special places function, especially with respect to their market area? And, what sort of sense of place do they create? The first question considers what draws visitors initially; the second question, what brings them back. The data was gathered through inspection and interviews at six major operating railway museums across Canada. It was found that museums divided into two groups. Type A museums have a “tourist” market area, while type B museums are used by day-trippers. Visitors, too, divide into two groups. One group comprises the hands-on, rail-buff types whereas the other group consists mainly of those who appreciate history and museums. The findings of this study have both applied and theoretical aspects. By determining the major factors that influence and motivate visitors, the museums should be able to attract more people and become more viable. By investigating short-term visits, our understanding of place and sense of place is expanded.
McWilliams, Walter Gordon Miller, "Canadian railway museums and visitor attraction" (1988). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 309.