The Curzon, a virtual tour

Observation / Compartment / Buffet / Library Car Curzon
of the Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe

This is one of the most spectacular railway cars at the museum — a masterpiece of Edwardian era car-building art. An identical sister car, the Cranbrook was also built, although it was demolished in the 1930's.

Walnut panelling outfits the entire car, which has survived remarkably intact since 1907. Throughout the main lounge are art-nouveau stye inlays which cover much of the surface — over the windows, up along the ceiling trim, at the top ends of the room, around the tops of the columns, and across the sideboard cabinet at the end of the room.

Another favourite Edwardian feature is the stained glass over the lounge windows. However, the upper stained glass windows will someday be restored, as they were replaced by vents in the 1920's. Once in place, the whole room will appear like a miniature cathedral.

The upholstery on the original wicker chairs also dates from 1907, and the carpet too is probably the original, although we have covered it with a blue runner for safekeeping. It is extremely rare to find this furniture and its coverings in this condition.

This car had five identical sister cars built at the same time to allow six train sets to run at the same time. Four of the cars were owned directly by the Soo Line, and two directly by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Curzon, at # 750 was the first one, along with the Yahk (# 751), the Fernie (# 752), and the Nelson (# 753), the Spokane and Cranbrook, were owned by the CPR and did not have numbers.

The Curzon was the original design prototype for a whole generation of observation cars later built by the CPR from 1909 to 1929. It may also be the very first brass-railed open platform observsation car in use on the CPR.

In fact, the solarium-lounge River Rouge of the "Trans-Canada Limited," could be considered the last car evolved from the Curzon design.

Three of the staterooms remain, each done in a different exotic wood, and covered with inlays. Each also had its own fold-down sink, covered toilet, and luggage racks. The two rooms that had been partially removed will be restored along with the small buffet & galley adjacent, and next to the Lounge sideboard cabinet.

For interpretive purposes, the Curzon carries two lettering systems — the street) side carrying the Canadian Pacific Railway car lettering - which the Cranbrook carried. On the other side, the Soo Line lettering is used.

Curzon had been converted into a lakeside country cottage in Wisconsin in the early 1930's, and was repatriated to Canada in 1992. The car is also classified as Canadian Cultural property, and directly relates the community of Cranbrook to the national collections policy exhibited at this Museum. Funding for its repatriation was made possible through the Cultural Review Board of Canada, and the Provincial "Go B.C." Program. Its interior restoration and conservation treatment is expected to be on-going for several years.

At a special ceremony on June 19th, 1993, the Honourable Darlene Marzari, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for Culture for British Columbia, dedicated the car Curzon at the newly-named Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.

   The Story of the Curzon, its importance, its repatriation and restoration.