Developing Local Support

Trans-Canada Limited in 1929The Trans-Canada Limited in 1929.
This first-class train was Canadian Pacific's finest achievement in its effort to provide luxurious accommodation to its first-class clientele.

Still, when Anderson first talked publicly about building an entire train around the "Argyle," there was only mild local enthusiasm. The region lacked a corps of rail enthusiasts who might have backed the plan, and local railroaders were still used to seeing such equipment in service. However, the major reason probably was that the "Argyle" and its train did not represent what would normally be thought of as Cranbrook heritage, but rather it represented the wider sphere of Canadian heritage. Cranbrook had been a freight town for more than twenty-five years, so a passenger theme was a bit foreign. But CAMAL has a multifaceted board of directors, and its vision was never restricted to local and personal railroad experiences.

In retrospect, the expanded scope contributed to the museum's long-term success. Still, Anderson was at loggerheads with various parts of the community at times, as he led what often appeared to be a one-man show to create his vision of giving plain old Cranbrook a touch of glamour and fame. But the integrity of the project was his driving force. Adhering to an authentic, well-researched collection policy was his paramount concern, since he felt that diluting the train set or its focus on national scope would result in a lesser product. Ad hoc collections and quick-fix solutions were simply not his style.

As the scope of the museum grew, so did the size of the operating budget that CAMAL had to raise annually from among many sources, including the municipal and provincial political system, private companies, and citizens' groups. Some had alternative ideas to Anderson's; a popular one was to run the cars as a tourist train between Cranbrook, Fort Steele, and Kimberley. (The idea of a railway excursions has lately been professionally studied, but the proposal calls for new, more recent cars not of museum quality.)

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