The Project

Heritage Railcar Preservation Building

Phase 2

The Project

Since the formation of the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation in 1976, constructing a space to protect the unique and historically valuable collection of heritage railcars has been our most crucial goal. With the realization of Phase 1 of the Heritage Railcar Preservation Building in 2019, the Cranbrook History Centre Board of Directors is preparing to undertake Phase 2 of the 3 phased project. By helping us to make this development a reality, you are investing in the lasting legacy of our country’s heritage and the essential role placed by railways in Canada.

Community Benefit

The museum occupies a highly visible site on Highway #3, near the center of the City of Cranbrook. It is already recognized as a top destination for visitors, offers an expanding range of programs and displays for visitors and locals to explore our regional history, and is an active presence in the community. Once complete, the Project will also support the local community, stimulate partnerships, and regenerate tourism in the Kootenay. The 30,000 square ft timber frame structure will ultimately cover the entirety of the Cranbrook History Centre’s  Railcar Collection. Completion of this highly visible “shovel ready” project will employ skilled local workers and use locally sourced materials. The Cranbrook History Centre will become a landmark site to congregate, create, and strengthen links between diverse communities in the region.

Significance of the Collection

The museum exhibits a collection of nationally significant railway passenger cars, some of which have been designated as Canadian Cultural Property. The significance of the complete 7-car Trans-Canada Limited, built in 1929, was recognized by the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and given the designation of National Historic Event. The collection is unique in Canada and provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the history of Canadian rail travel. 9 of the 19 historic railcars are now protected, but the remaining cars are exposed to the elements and temporality covered with tarps. Time is running out to preserve this irreplaceable legacy of Canada’s railway heritage.

Building and Infrastructure Goal


Project Development

In order to realize our goal to protect and preserve the heritage railcar collection, the final section of the Heritage Railcar Building needs to be completed. In addition, the museum will improve its visitor experience by providing a clean, safe, and accessible site to draw new visitors and secure repeat visits.

Funding was provided by a number of agencies and private donors. The principle contributors to Phase 1 include:

  • Columbia Basin Trust
  • Cranbrook History Centre Bequest Fund
  • BC Gaming Commission
  • Galloway Lumber
  • Regional District of East Kootenay

In addition, the City of Cranbrook provided an interest free bridge loan.

Development to date:

Phase 1 of the building covers an area of 15,600 square feet and cost $962,300. The principle contractor was Tyee Log Homes of Kimberley which employed ten additional local subcontractors and trades.

New Construction:

Phase 2 will cover an area of approximately 14,400 square feet and cost $2,000,000.

Engineering and design work for the principle structure is complete and work can be started as soon as 100% of the funding is raised.

Entry Concept Design and Tie-in to the Royal Alexandra Hall

What will the money be used for?

  • Complete the main roof structure.
  • Provide improved visitor services, including accessible viewing platforms and interpretation space, enhanced lighting, washrooms, seating, and green infrastructure.
  • Complete engineering and design for Phase 3. This includes construction of walls to enclose the building, environmental systems, and railcar stabilization.


Phase 1: Completed in 2019

Phase 2: Planned start in 2023

Phase 3: 2028 subject to funding

Heritage Railcar Preservation Building 3D View #1
Heritage Railcar Preservation Building 3D View #2

A big THANK YOU to the following sponsors of the Rail Car Preservation Project: