The Railcar Collection
The largest exhibition at the Cranbrook History Centre is a collection of 28 railway cars of which 13 are currently available to the public. Highlights of the collection include the 7 cars of the 1929 “Trans-Canada Limited” (a classic “Jazz Era Art Deco” design), 2 cars of the 1907 “Soo-Spokane Train” (a deluxe example of “Edwardian Art Nouveau Elegance”), and the 1927 executive night car “Strathcona” which has housed many VIP guests during its time in service, including Queen Elizabeth II, John & Jackie Kennedy and Sir Winston Churchill.
These remarkable rail travel cars, comprise one of the largest collections in North America, and are in a continued state of restoration. Because of the fragile nature of this irreplaceable collection, our immediate priority is to provide a permanent covered roof to ensure these ‘deluxe hotels on wheels’ are preserved for future visitors and historians alike. See the Train Preservation Project page for more information.
~Unfortunately the historic train tours are not wheelchair accessible~
Summer 2020 Schedule
Tuesday – Saturday Starting July 2, 2020
Comparative Tour 1927-1970
~ 45 minutes
10:15am, 12:15am, 2:00pm
This seven rail car tour allows you to venture through different eras of rail travel from 1927 to 1970. Compare differences in style and design, as well as the living quarters of the crew in the caboose to the luxury VIP accommodations.
Trans Canada Limited 1929
~ 45 minutes
11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:45pm
The seven railcar lineup of the Trans Canada Limited gives you a look at one of the highest class passenger trains ever built. The Trans Canada operated from 1919 to 1930 and boasted intricate woodwork, stylish design, and superior craftsmanship. This deluxe hotel on wheels was opulent luxury for travelers.
~ 15 minutes
11:45am, 1:45pm, 3:30pm
The Soo-Spokane was an international train running from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Spokane, Washington through Canada on the Crowsnest Pass. The three wooden railcar lineup features delicate stained glass and woodwork from the early 1900s.
~ 1 hr 45 minutes
10:15am, 12:15am, 2:00pm
*The Grand Tour is comprised of all three railcar tours and gives the most complete picture of rail travel in Canada and the importance of the railway to the founding of the city of Cranbrook. If all three tours sounds interesting to you, then the Grand Tour option is for you!
Please be sure to arrive at least 15-20 minutes before the tour is scheduled to begin. All tours will start promptly at there scheduled time.
If you have any questions or you wish to pre-book a tour please contact us: [email protected]
Admission & Train Tours
|Senior (65 +)||$3.50||$20.50||$14.50||$8.50||$14.50|
|18 & Under||$3.50||$13.50||$9.50||$6.50||$9.50|
|5 & Under||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE||FREE|
|Family (2 adults, 2 children)||$14.50||$58.50||$45.50||$27.50||$45.50|
All Tour prices include Museum Admission
*Rates do not include GST*
For large group tours, please contact our events coordinator for discounts at [email protected]
While the importance of the railway in the history of Canada is common knowledge, the specific details of how people traveled across the country to new territory and then back again is largely forgotten. While early explorers spent months and years discovering the vast expanse of Western Canada, by the turn of the 20th century the country could be crossed in a matter of days. Though the essential resources this country was built on were indifferent to the harsh extremes of weather, travelers (rich and poor alike) needed ‘rolling accommodations’ to make that journey. Our collection captures and preserves this experience and allows you to understand how people made their way across the widest country in the world in an era without highways and cross-country flights.
Since 1977 when the first car arrived in Cranbrook, the museum has steadily grown. In the early days of collection, development operations were ‘conducted’ out of the nearby Elko Station; however, as the collection grew larger, a permanent home was required. By 2004 the current facility was complete and the entirety of the collection was moved to this location.
Without the dedication of Garry Anderson, OC, this collection would not exist. For over 30 years Garry scoured the continent to expand the collection and carefully restored these artifacts to their former beauty. With the support of the City of Cranbrook, the BC Arts Council, the Columbia Basin Trust, and many other organizations and individuals who recognized the importance of this preservation work, Garry created a unique legacy to capture this essential part of Canadian history.