Cranbrook, and the Crowsnest Route of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Cranbrook Railway Yard, 1900It is heritage that deserves commemoration. Cranbrook began in 1898 because of the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, (CPR) whose yard complex is still located in the heart of the town.

This CPR secondary main line, from Fort McLeod, Alberta through Crowsnest Pass to the Kootenays and the Pacific Coast, was originally scheduled to go through Fort Steele, the site of British Columbia's first Northwest Mounted Police Barracks and by then an established community. Residents of the East Kootenay region got a big surprise when the CPR decided to bypass Fort Steele in favour of the Cranbrook Townsite — property of Colonel James Baker, the provincial political representative for the area. Crews soon began building a freight yard, station, roundhouse, and shops at Cranbrook instead of at the previously favoured Fort Steele.

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