A Brief History of the Argyle Prior to its Arrival at the Museum
The Argyle and its 14 sister cars were used on the new Trans-Canada's for only the 1929 and 1930 seasons. With discontinuation of this first class service in 1931, the cars were assigned to other transcontinental trains during the great economic depression of the 1930s. These included such notable trains as the Dominion and the Soo-Dominion. However, the exclusive first class sleeper-only service offered by the Trans-Canada was never to be repeated.
Extensive mechanical improvements were made to the cars in the late 1930's to provide ice-activated air conditioning. These improvements also slightly lowered the ceilings throughout the cars and more modern light fixtures with air distribution louvres replaced the original fandoliers. The cars were re-decorated in the early 1950s, including green paint which covered the walnut paneling, and which by this time had become very dark and dingy due to build-ups of wax, polish and trapped dirt. A waiter who worked on these cars in the late 1940's remarked: "it was traveling in a mortuary car - it was so dark". The walnut chairs were also painted grey-green and re-upholstered in orange vinyl.
In 1957 the car was removed from active passenger service, and placed in work service maintenance-of-way crews. In this service, the car was substantially altered with all of the interior walls of the car, including the entire galley and pantries, being gutted - and is shown above on the changed floor plans. The only wall left inside was the side wall of the refrigerator cabinet. Luckily, the inlaid panels along the outer wall of the dining room were left mostly intact, although some were badly damaged. For example, new rooms were built with partitions nailed directly onto the original (albeit painted) walnut panels. New electrical conduits were then pushed through behind requiring gouging a few of the original panels. All carpets, original lights, furniture, tables and other furnishings had been removed earlier.
In 1976 the car was removed from work service and placed on the scrap track at Coquitlam, near Vancouver, BC., where it was found by the museum during a search for appropriate passenger equipment for its interpretive program. It was purchased for the scrap metal price of $5000 and transported to Cranbrook at no cost by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
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