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 Heritage Railcar Preservation Building page for more information.
~Unfortunately the historic train tours are not wheelchair accessible~
Tuesday – Saturday, September 29, 2020 – May 29, 2021
Experience life on the rails with the Cranbrook History Centre’s three distinct historic railcar tours. Every Tuesday to Saturday, the museum guides are ready to walk you through over a century of rail history. We hope to transport you back in time to the days where trains were the best and most fashionable means to get around!
The trains are only accessible as a part of the guided tours offered by the Cranbrook History Centre. We do this as a measure to continue preservation of the historic railcars.
Comparative Tour 1927-1970
~ 45 minutes
If you have a taste for luxury, make sure to join the 45-minute comparative tour which introduces train travel across the 20th century. On this tour you will visit a variety of cars from the invite-only executive British Columbia car to the small caboose where the freight train crew spent their days. With you guide, you will compare what rail life was like from the 1920s until the 1970s as you make your way through the 6 railcars on display.
Trans Canada Limited 1929
~ 45 minutes
Our second tour on offer is the Trans-Canada Limited 1929 train which takes 45 minutes. This train carried first class passengers from Montreal to Vancouver in just under 90 hours. Walk through the 7 restored cars to experience the fastest and most luxurious way to cross the continent in the inter-war period.
~ 15 minutes
Our shortest tour is a 15-minute visit on the wooden Soo-Spokane cars. Travel over a century into Cranbrook’s past by touring the train cars that stopped daily at the Cranbrook train station from 1907 to 1914 on their way to their final destinations.
~ 1 hr 45 minutes
*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.