The City of Cranbrook began as a railway town with the arrival in 1898 of the Crowsnest Railway, bypassing the more established community of Fort Steele in favour of property owned by Colonel James Baker. The City of Cranbrook was incorporated in 1905 and has served as the regional centre for the East Kootenays with a main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway running through its heart.
The ancestors of the Ktunaxa people have lived on these lands since long before the arrival of Europeans in the early nineteenth century. They are the people of this land, and they have stories that tell of living in this trench from a time before the last ice age cleared the land. They lived nomadically, moving from their traditional hunting grounds as the seasons changed. Their traditional homeland extends throughout the Kootenay region and into Alberta, Montana, Washington and Idaho. Their local presence is centered on the site of the former St. Eugene Mission, just east of Cranbrook, home of the St. Mary’s Indian Band and offices of the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council.
The Railway Heritage Infrastructure area was defined by the City of Cranbrook in 1976. It is a high-profile location between the highway, and the active tracks and railway yard of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Only a small piece of this 1.2 km long heritage zone is not yet owned by the city. Several historic structures and landscapes have been preserved, and the Historic Railcar Collection at the Cranbrook History Centre has been a fixture here since 1976.
The Historic Cranbrook Downtown contains several formally designated buildings that are still in use for commerce, civic functions and cultural activities, and includes several works of public art and a major historic landscape.
The City of Cranbrook commissioned the Baker Hill Management Plan in 2000 to monitor and advise on the appropriate development of the historic Baker Hill residential area of Cranbrook. Work to preserve this important area has been ongoing since 1975.
The Residential, Commercial and Institutional awards for excellence in heritage preservation in Cranbrook was sponsored by the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation between 1977 and 2012. The Walter Laurie Memorial was awarded for the exceptional development of local history between 1990 and 2012.
Commissioned in 1975 by the City of Cranbrook, the Heritage Report outlines the state of heritage architecture and heritage awareness in Cranbrook. The published report was presented to City Council by the Cranbrook History Centre’s founder, Garry Anderson in 1976. Several sections of the report were updated for the second printing of the report in 1979.
This map identifies sites and places in the Columbia Basin Region that were nominated through a public recognition process. The map builds on the inventory developed in 2016 by Denise Cook and Stephanie Fischer and was funded by the Columbia Basin Trust.