Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation

Cranbrook and Railway Historical Archives and Reference Library

Canadian Museum of Rail Travel

Local Cranbrook History and Landmarks Program

(including Annual Cranbrook Heritage Awards)

...dedicated to the research, preservation, interpretation and exhibition of Cranbrook's heritage, with special emphasis on the history of the railway.


The Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation, —or CAMAL Foundation for short—is Cranbrook's own historical and heritage group. The Foundation was established on Heritage Day in 1976 by a group of interested citizens. It is a registered B.C. Society and a Canadian Charitable Organization.

The name resulted from a group of community-minded Heritage & Historical enthusiasts in Cranbrook in 1976. There are three (3) main areas of responsibilities in the Constitution relating to heritage concerns. They are:

1. Archives: to collect and catalogue a body of historical knowledge on Cranbrook and the railway for public and research use

2. Museum: to assemble a collection of artifacts on the Railway, and on Cranbrook, and to build museum facilities to properly care for and exhibit these artifacts.

3. Landmarks: to encourage the public and private preservation of the architectural environment already existing in the community, and to have these on a public-scale of display.

The Society is dedicated to the research, preservation and restoration of the City of Cranbrook's heritage, and more particularly:

1. The encouragement of the study of Cranbrook's heritage in the public school system;
2. The encouragement of research into various aspects of Cranbrook's heritage.
3. The acquisition of various documents, photographs, and artifacts, etc., representative of Cranbrook's heritage;
4. The securing of a museum facility sufficient for the proper and safe storage and exhibition of Cranbrook's heritage;
5. The establishment of a sound program to ensure that the important landmarks of the city are protected and continue to be viable with the changing times
6. The establishment of an annual Heritage Award program to recognize outstanding contributions involving heritage improvements of a physical nature in Cranbrook.

The Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation is also dedicated to the research, preservation and restoration of the Railway — with special reference to the Crowsnest and Kettle Valley route of the Canadian Pacific Railway and awareness and appreciation of its heritage, and to the aspects of railway travel in Canada (and the United States).

CAMAL has managed well administratively—struggling through times of lean budgets to support its rather large responsibilities. It has grown from assets of $1,500 in 1977, to assets worth over $5.5 million in 2003. The Foundation continues to bring into Cranbrook every year, thousands of dollars which are spent locally . Its Board of Directors, consisting of 12 people elected annually from the community, and its staff, continue to govern well and to provide the leadership necessary to sustain existing commitments, and at the same time foster controlled heritage growth.

List of Boards of Directors 1976-2010

CAMAL's aims were very carefully laid out in 1976, have been very closely adhered to and now the goals have been exceeded by even the most optimistic 1976 predictions. For instance:

1. The Cranbrook and Railway Historical Archives has grown significantly, and a body of historical knowledge about the community and the railway has been assembled and is still growing. It is located on the top floor of the Museum. The collection includes tens of thousands of photographs, all old Cranbrook Newspaper volumes (over 100 volumes) from 1898 to 1975 and representing the Herald (1898-1927), the Prospector (1912-1914), the Courier (1919-1973), the Tribune (1931-1933), the Townsman (1947-1975), and the Kootenay Advertiser (1973-1975). There are also many books, maps, pamphlets and other archival items for both Cranbrook and the railway.

2. A Museum of significant international interest has been built— Trains Deluxe—The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel—has an exceptional set of luxury passenger cars from several era, considered 'Deluxe Hotels-on-Wheels.' A highlight of the development was the display of one of the trains (the 1929 Trans Canada Limited) at Expo '86 in Vancouver for six months – a rare move of irreplaceable heritage not likely to be ever repeated.

3. Cranbrook History is also being developed and exhibited, in separate identifiable quarters, but contained within the large facilities of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. This “Cranbrook Museum Experience” includes several parts and is a departure from the normal type of static museum often encountered since it is designed to constantly change to reflect many aspects of Cranbrook history in detail. The Cranbrook History Gallery is the first stage of this development and is located on the lower level of the historic Freight Shed adjacent to the Museum Entrance Hall. It contains

a) 60 Framed permanent photo collages of over 180 images from the archives providing a visual glimpse of early Cranbrook showing its diverse historic character (each frame contains several described photos within the 28’ H x 30” W size.

b) A large digital heritage tour map of the city titled “Explore Historic Cranbrook” with 96 listings as of 2011 (approx 6’ wide x 5’ high). Free copies of this map are available as supply permits.

c) The 2005 City Centennial Quilt beautifully designed and executed by the Cranbrook Quilters containing many iconic images of Cranbrook history. (7’ w x 5’ h)

4. The Exhibition Galleries are a second stage of development to encourage continuing investigation into Cranbrook history and are located on the upper floor or the historic Freight Shed. These 5 flexible gallery space, covering about 3,000 square feet, are designed for temporary exhibitions of local history and art, along with traveling exhibitions from other Museums and Galleries to provide fresh exhibits perpetually for local audiences and for visitors for the Museum. An adjacent Café looks down the long Gallery as well as out over the railway tracks and the Freight Shed garden. This service is intended to provide a social space for visitors and local residents, as well as revenue to assist the Gallery operations by being for lease to the private sector. (Completion depends on further funding as of 2011)

5. Meeting Rooms are also being developed for multi-purpose use throughout the facility to enhance programs and host special events. These are smaller rooms quite different from the large Royal Alexandra Hall which can serve several hundred people.

6. Foundation Newsletters from 1976 to February 2011 (links to PDF documents)