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Maps showing location of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel at Cranbrook, BC.


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Main entrance of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.


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Royal Alexandra Hall within the main museum building.


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Late in 2003 the main building awaits brick cladding.


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Visitor walkway to trainsets under construction.


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CPR Combine 4489 sections.


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CPR Dining car Argyle.


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CPR sleeper Rutherglen sections.


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A lower berth made up in Rutherglen.


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CPR Solarium-Lounge River Rouge.


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Trans-Canada Limited trainset.


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Cranbrook's CPR freight shed is now part of the museum.


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CPR enclosed water tank at Cranbrook, BC.


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Moved from Elko, BC, the station is now part of the Cranbrook museum.












Cranbrook Museum 2003

 Canadian Museum of Rail Travel Cranbrook always struck me as a rather unusual place for a railway museum, being so far away from the west coast's population centre. As a railfan don't let this stop you from visiting. The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel's world class collection of passenger cars from CPR's Trans-Canada Limited of 1929 alone is worth the visit.
Getting There

The city of Cranbrook is found in British Columbia's southern interior along the Columbia River Valley not far from the American border. Located on Canadian Pacific Railway's old southern crossing of British Columbia this line was best known as the Kettle Valley Railway. Today the rail line terminates at Trail. A small yard exists at Cranbrook while the roundhouse and station still remain. CPR's station was modernized sometime during the 1950's to it's present form. The museum has plans to take possession and restore it to it's original two story configuration, circa 1900, when CPR decides to abandon it, whenever that should occur.
Immediately west of CPR's Cranbrook station is the main museum complex.
Museum Complex

Immediately to the west of Canadian Pacific's operational station lies the museum's ex-CPR freight shed. This large 155 foot long wooden shed was originally erected at Cranbrook in 1898. In 1999 it was moved 350 feet north of it's original location where it is now connected to a newly constructed brick-faced building designed to hold the Royal Alexandra Hall. The freight shed will contain exhibition galleries, a "Long Gallery", offices, washrooms, and a restaurant once interior finishing is complete.
Currently the brick-faced building holding the Royal Alexandra Hall elements is nearing completion of the brick cladding. It was designed specifically to showcase the Alexandra Hotel grand ballroom furnishings and other artifacts saved when this Canadian Pacific Hotel next to Winnipeg station was demolished in 1971. Except for the curved ceiling, the entire room survived as hundreds of coded pieces in storage until re-assembled for display here.
West of the main structure two passenger train sets, the Trans-Canada Limited (1929) and the Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe (1907) sit on parallel tracks outside. A covered walkway between the trains is presently under construction. Guided tours of these train sets begin after walking to the far west end to board the Trans-Canada Limited cars then loop back through the Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe.
The Trans-Canada Limited (1929)

This collection of vintage passenger cars is comprised of seven cars. Visitors enter the trainset at:
  • CPR combination baggage and crew dormitory car number 4489 (Which also houses an audio-visual display.) then walk through the cars led by an interpretive guide.
  • Day Parlor car number 6751 is one of fourteen cars built in 1930. Furnished with 30 swivel parlor chairs the car was used only between Ottawa and Montreal on the Trans-Canada trip.
  • Next follows dining car Argyle, one of fifteen cars constructed in 1929. This was the first car acquired by the museum in 1977 as scrap metal for the cost of $5,000. After the interior paint was scraped off beautiful black walnut panelling with rose and crown inlays was discovered. The Argyle is often used for special gala dinners.
  • Sleeping car Somerset, of 12-1 configuration (12 sections - 1 drawing room), was constructed in 1930-31 then re-named Travers in 1948 when modernized. One-half of the car, the right side, has been restored to its original varnished look, while the other side has been left as modernized in 1948.
  • Sleeping car Rutherglen, an "R" Series sleeper built in 1929, was a new design for the Canadian Pacific Railway at that time. It consisted of 8 sections, 2 compartments, and 1 drawing room. Two sections have been made up for night use and contain very early CPR blankets, monogrammed linen pillow cases, and sheets. In terms of restoration Rutherglen is the most advanced sleeper in the collection.
  • Sleeping car Glen Cassie is an unusual, for Canada, european inspired design with ten private compartments and a long passageway the length of the car. It is the last car of this type to survive in Canada.
  • Solarium-Lounge River Rouge with it's "Vita Glass" lounge permitting exposure to the sun brings up the rear of the Trans-Canada Limited trainset. Although there are still several hundred pieces of wood trim to be mounted around the upper walls and ceilings of this car it appears perfectly restored. These solarium cars were among the most expensive passenger cars ever built by Canadian Pacific costing nearly $75,000 in 1929.

The Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe (1907)

The Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe originated at Saint Paul, Minneapolis, travelling on the SOO Line northwest to Portal, North Dakota, where the train ran along Canadian Pacific Railway trackage to Lethbridge, Alberta, through the famous Crowsnest Pass recrossing the American border at Kingsgate to reach Spokane, Idaho, and eventually Portland, Oregon.
This trainset consisted of cars constructed in 1907 for this specific service. Typically a mail-express-baggage car, a tourist sleeper, a first class coach, dining car, 12-1 first class sleeper, and the observation car.
Two cars of the final six car set are currently on display. The 1907 Barney & Smith compartment-buffet-library-observation car, "Curzon". Constructed in 1907 and once used as a lakeside country cottage during the thirties, the car came to the museum during 1992. Restoration work is expected to be on-going for several years.
The second car in this collection is a 1906 Barney & Smith palace sleeper named "Omemee". This SOO Line 12 section 1 drawing room car is an exquisite example of Edwardian design in the Art Nouveau style.

Also part of the museum are several structures located to the east side of CPR's station. Most prominent would be the octagonal enclosed water tower visible from Cranbrook's main street as approached from the south. A short distance east lies Elko station with FPA-2 number 4090 and FPB-2 number 4469 spotted next to the station platform. Constructed in 1901 at Elko, British Columbia, it was moved to Cranbrook for display in July 1987. The interior was completely stripped due to deterioration of the original lathe and plaster, and new venting and electrical services were installed at that time. New drywall was installed making the building as fire-proof as possible, and yet retaining the original appearance. It was used as the museum's visitor reception center with gift shop, ticket sales, and public washrooms until opening of the new Royal Alexandra Hall building.
It was expected the museum would obtain Canadian Pacific Jubilee number 2929 from Steamtown USA but having nothing acceptable for trade that arrangement has fallen through. The museum has continued to grow in size and stature over the passing years. They have grand plans to acquire a "Canadian" trainset when VIA Rail decides to dispose of those cars. Accomplishing that would make the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel the envy of all other railway museums in Canada.
Associated Links

The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
Trans-Canada Limited (1929)
Chinook (1936)
Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe (1907)
Business and Interpretive Cars
Royal Alexandra Hall
Canadian Pacific Railway
City of Cranbrook
The Virtual Crowsnest Highway

© 2005 William C. Slim       http://www.okthepk.ca