Archives & Collections

About the Collections & Archives

The Cranbrook History Centre collects and preserves artifacts and archival records of permanent value to the history of Cranbrook, the East Kootenay, and Canadian rail travel. The collecting scope currently emphasizes three areas:

  • Artifacts and specimens which communicate the human and natural history of the city site of Cranbrook, and the East Kootenay.
  • Artifacts and heavy track equipment which narrate the social, political, economic, and technological impact of rail travel in Canada.
  • Archive material in the form of photographs, documents, film, and digital information associated with the City of Cranbrook, Canadian rail travel, and the East Kootenay.

Online Collections

Our Online Archives are under construction! Click below to explore our collection.

Historical Photographs

The Cranbrook History Centre has partnered with The Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History (CBIRH), a non-profit historical society dedicated to furthering the documentation and presentation of this region’s history to digitize our photograph collection.

They partner with small organizations and individuals to develop regional collections of historical material. The CHC is just one organization that partners with CBIRH. CHC loaned its photographic collection to CBIRH and they digitized it at no cost to the museum. The proceeds from the photo sales are shared between CHC and CBIRH. This money helps the museum with operating costs while the CBIRH uses their portion of the sales proceeds to maintain the digital collection, their website, the database, and their day to day operations.

View and order Historical Images through CBIRH.


The Scope of Our Archives

Our archival holdings document the history of Cranbrook and the East Kootenay area, and rail travel in Canada. The collection includes material relating to the municipality, schools, hospital, courthouse, businesses, family histories, industry, and local sports.

Genealogical Research

The Cranbrook Archives has many ways to research your family genealogy:

  • Voters lists from the incorporation of the City
  • Cemetery records
  • School class registers
  • Archival photographs
  • Almost complete collection of newspapers published in Cranbrook between 1898 and present day. Currently the newspapers between 1898 and 1976 have been digitized.
  • Early directories and telephone books
  • Small library of local history books

If you need help with your research, send us an email with all information you currently have and we will do our best to assist you.

Access our collections database online to help start your research.

Access the Archives in PersonAccess to the Archives is restricted at this time due to Covid-19

Researchers must request an appointment with archives staff in advance

  • A detailed explanation of what you are looking for is required and a brief description of your project. This will give us some time to pull preliminary information to get you started on your research;
  • Researchers should provide as much information as possible so that the necessary material can be ready for the researcher when they arrive at the archives;
  • Unlike libraries, archives do not permit public access to the stack areas; Instead your request is brought to the Archives Work Room for access;

The Cranbrook Archives reserves the right to refuse to provide service to persons whose motives or intentions appear questionable. Instances of abuse of and damage to material will result in the withdrawal of access privileges. Abusive treatment of staff by patrons or inappropriate and disruptive behaviour may also result in the withdrawal of access privileges.

What to expect when you visit

For purposes of the security and preservation of our collections, please note and adhere to the following guidelines and procedures.

  • All researchers must be pre-book their appointment before arriving at the museum and sign in at the Front Desk when arriving at the museum. A staff member will escort you to the Archives Work Room.
  • Leave coats, hats, briefcases, parcels, laptop cases, purses and fanny packs outside the Archives.
  • Personal books must be signed in with the supervising staff member if taken into the Work Room. Any items taken into the work room will be inspected by the staff member when you leave.
  • Eating, chewing gum, and drinking are prohibited in the Reference Room, and there are no public smoking areas in the building.
  • Use only pencils to take notes. Do not use ink in any form in the Reference Room. You may also use laptop computers.
  • Refrain from wearing fragrances or other scents. Some researchers and staff are highly sensitive to certain fragrances, and may be unable to use the Work Room if they are present.
  • Books and archival records must be used in the designated research area of the Work Room only.
  • Cameras are permitted but without the use of a flash. Printing and the purchase of USB sticks are unavailable. See reproduction information below.
  • Some Archival materials are fragile, so gloves are provided for the researchers who wish to view certain items.

Health and Safety Information

  • We are recommending everyone who enters the museum continues to wear a mask, this includes the Archives.
  • Due to the size of the Archives Work Room, only one person at a time will be able to access the Archives.
  • A full list of items you would like to view is required before your appointment.

Fee Schedule for Research and Document/Image Reproductions

The Archives are not fully funded, and reproduction fees contribute to the care and safeguarding of the collection.

Reproduction FeesPrice
Photocopy, B&W, up to 8.5” x 14”$0.25 per page
Photocopy, Colour, up to 8.5” x 14”$0.50 per page
Digital Scan, JPG or PNG$14.00 each
Usage Fees 
Personal/Academic UseFree
Non-Profit OrganizationsNegotiable
Publication (includes online)$10.00 each
Commercial, under 500 units$25.00 each
Commercial, over 500 unitsNegotiable
Other Fees 
*Research Assistance$10.00/30 minutes
Shipping/Handling/Customs/PostageActual Cost to Museum

Payment required in advance. Cash, cheque, Visa, Mastercard accepted. Payment by cheque may not be processed on the day of the transaction. Rush orders cost double.

* Preliminary Investigation (under 15 minutes): Free.  Preliminary investigation to determine if the archives has any material related to the research request and would come with a recommendation if it seems worthwhile to go further.

Prices do not include applicable taxes

Donating to the Museum

The Cranbrook History Centre actively collects and solicits new artifacts and documents on a year-round basis. If you have object(s) that you believe would add to the Cranbrook History Centre’s artifact and archives collections, please contact the Chief Curator at

Please do not drop items off at the museum without speaking to the Curator

The Curator will discuss with you the item(s) you are proposing to donate to determine if the object(s) meet the museum’s collection mandate and policies. If the items do not meet the museum’s requirements, museum staff may refer you to other organizations that may accept your donation.

If the item(s) meets the Museum’s requirements, you will be asked to:

  • Complete and sign a Temporary Donation Receipt or Deed of Gift form
  • Bring the object(s) to the museum for consideration by the Chief Curator (depending on size)

Donations must be unconditional to be accepted.

Museum staff or volunteers may contact you after the item(s) are submitted for additional information.


How are potential donations reviewed?

Potential donations of artifacts are reviewed by the Chief Curator to determine the artifact’s suitability relative to the mandate of the Cranbrook History Centre. The Curator also reviews the condition of the item and examines the existing collection to see if there are examples of similar items that have already been collected. If the item meets the museum’s criteria, the item is then accepted into the collection. Items are also accepted for use in the museum’s Education Collection if it does not have a mandate-related provenance.

Will the Cranbrook History Centre appraise my donation for its monetary value?

Under Revenue Canada, the museum can provide appraisals for the monetary value of items with a value of under $1,000. Donations for objects valued at under $1,000 are evaluated by museum staff using a minimum of three industry-accepted contemporary sources. Donations with a value of over $1,000 will need to be evaluated by a third-party appraiser. Since the beneficiary of the appraisal is ultimately the donor for taxation purposes, the Museum does not pay for third-party appraisals. Museum staff do not appraise objects for a third-party appraisal.

Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?

The Cranbrook History Centre is operated by the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization. To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, it is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or Revenue Canada.

Will the Cranbrook History Centre exhibit the artifacts or documents I donate?

The History Centre cannot guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. However, the museum does strive to provide the best storage conditions possible in its storage areas and galleries to insure the long-term preservation of all collection materials. Objects and documents the History Centre receives may also be used in the museums Education Collection. These objects are afforded the same care as other museum objects but will be made available to school groups for hands-on learning programs.

Does the Cranbrook History Centre accept long-term loans?

The museum does not accept long-term loans. While it does accept loan materials on a short-term basis in conjunction with exhibitions and other programs, the museum prefers to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of materials in the collection.

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