Visit of the Train to Expo'86 in Vancouver

The museum may well have continued down this track as a solid local attraction, were it not for Expo '86. Six of Cranbrook's classic maroon and gold lettered cars were hauled to Vancouver, British Columbia, and displayed for the summer at the stately VIA station across the street from the world's fair. Original combination baggage / sleeper No. 4489 had joined the train permanently at Expo from Hamilton, Ontario.

The cars were toured by nearly 100,000 visitors from around the world. People in Cranbrook suddenly felt like proud parents of a royal offspring, especially when they went to the Fair themselves and found their town represented to the entire world by those wheels of luxury.

For Cranbrook's Trans-Canada Limited, that summer must have been like a six month appearance on the television show, "This is Your Life." Sitting on the tracks at an important big-city station, surrounded by tourists and passengers: a taste of real passenger train activity. Everyday brought arrivals and departures on adjacent tracks of VIA trains 1 and 2, the domeliner Canadian, plus trains 3 and 4, the former Canadian National Super Continental; all were steam-heated and hauled by vintage F7 and FP9 A and B units. Many private and business cars brought more people to the world's fair, and special trains also called all that summer, such as a string of vintage green cars of various pasts and owners, operation on a private round-trip as the Okanagan Express. It was a rechristening for the Trans-Canada Limited, being there among them all. Weekly reports came back to local folks on radio and in newspapers; visiting celebrities were mentioned, and many meetings, receptions and gala dinners were held on board. The railway world and the public celebrated the train as a respected elder.

The trip to Vancouver had another beneficial side effect: the train's time away from Cranbrook for more than half a year, leaving a deserted lot, caused many of Cranbrook's citizens to miss "their" train. The sense of community ownership was growing. Anderson and his crew brought the train back home to a rousing welcome from local citizens as well as regional politicians.

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