16 February 2011
Get to Know Your Local History
at the Railway Museum
A view of the Palace sleeping car "Omemee" from the 1907 Soo-Spokane Train
Cranbrook British Columbia - During Heritage Week, 22 to 26 Feb 2011, the Canadian Museum of
Rail Travel will again be hosting special events, including its Annual General Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011, the Royal Alexandra Masquerade on
the evening of Saturday, 26 Feb 2011, and free tours of the Museum all week.
The annual free Heritage Tours of the rail cars will profile the 1907 "Cranbrook Train" in the context of the overall historic trains collection.
School groups will have free tours Tuesday to Friday. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be free public guided tours.
Space will be limited to ten people per tour, due to small spaces in some of the cars. The Grand Tour through all of the trains and the Royal Alexandra Hall
takes two hours, but is made up of five separate tours of different trains. People enter the tours at certain points on a rotating schedule depending on the
It is a good idea to phone ahead on the day to see how the schedule is proceeding. However, reservations cannot be taken as these free tours are on a
first-come first-serve basis.
There will also be a separate guide specifically for tours of the the "Cranbrook Train" (the 1907 Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe) so this 15-minute tour
can be taken by itself to save time.
Many people may not be aware that one of the prime historic trains sets at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel has direct Cranbrook connections, including a
luxurious brass-railed compartment/lounge car named "Cranbrook".
The luxurious "Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe" of 1907 was a first-class international train operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway and its subsidiary,
the Soo Line in the USA Midwest from Minneapolis to Spokane, but on a route through Canada and Cranbrook. The Soo Line connected to the CPR mainline at Moose
Jaw, then to Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, then through the important Crowsnest Pass route. It then went through Cranbrook, which was a major stop and servicing
centre, before proceeding to the border at Kingsgate, Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, and Spokane.
There were also direct connections from this train in Minneapolis to Chicago, and via Sault Ste. Marie to Montreal, Boston, New York, and Portland, Maine. In
1909, the service was extended west from Spokane to Portland, Oregon, making the trains a true international transcontinental service.
This train actually took the US mail contract away from both the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railways that serviced Spokane, but at very high rates.
This train broke their monopoly, so it was a strategic move by the CPR to complete with the American railways.
This important international route is still used heavily today and is one of the main reasons that Cranbrook has remained such an important railway crossroads.
There were six complete sets of these trains, with each set having six cars. This number was required to keep the daily service in both directions, with the
trip taking about two and a half days.
Each set was extravagantly decorated in the Art Nouveau style with inlays covering most of the exotic panelled wood surfaces. Expensive wool carpets covered
the floor and green mohair plush covered the furniture. There were first class day cars, Palace sleeping cars, and an unusual
compartment/observation/library/buffet cars with brass-railed open observation platforms on the end of the car.
One of these six tail-end cars was named "Cranbrook", but it was demolished in 1932 along with most of the others. The Museum has an identical and
the only remaining, sister car called "Curzon", named after the railway junction at Yahk. Details of this train and others can be seen on the museum
web at Train Deluxe.
The Museum is pleased to be able to offer this free public access to the finest in Canadian railway heritage during heritage week. These unique passenger
trains from the "golden age of Canadian rail travel" have been saved from the past for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations.
Cars of this nature and originality are not available elsewhere, and are considered of national significance.
The Museum hopes you can take advantage of this great opportunity. Please call the office at 250-489-3918 for more information.