The Sleeper Rutherglen (arrived 1980)

The Original Floor Plan and Interior Finishes of the Rutherglen


The Rutherglen was one of 29 R-class sleepers cars built in 1929 to re-outfit the Trans-Canada Limited.

Based on an unusual floor plan for sleeping cars of that period, it contained 8 sections each with an upper and lower berth along a central aisle, and 2 private compartments with a section each and a covered toilet which could also serve as a day seat. It also contained 1 private drawing room with a section, a day sofa (which could be made into a third bed at night), with an attached private washroom. Behind the day sofa was a cast glass decorative window to the hall for light. A men's smoking and washroom facility seated 5 with an adjacent toilet room accessible from the hall. The ladies' dressing room, at the other end of the car, had seating for 5 with an attached toilet room. Hallways at each end of the car by-passed the mens and women's rooms and the private rooms.



This unusual configuration of private rooms allowed them to be taken "ensuite" in one, two, or all three rooms at once by lager families or other groups requiring larger private quarters. It made these cars among the most popular in the railway, and they were often referred to as the "Cadillac models" of the CPR sleeping car fleet.

The interiors were finished in quarter-sawn Honduran Mahogany. As in the S-sleepers, the same extensive marquetry adorned the surfaces of the upper berths and division bulkheads. There were 7 large brass decorative grills which covered vents in the upper ceilings, while each lower seat (berth) contained a small square glass shaded fixture. Tall highly-decorative brass fixtures also provided lighting along the aisle in the main sleeping room, in the compartments, and in the drawing room.


A Brief History of the Rutherglen before its Arrival at the Museum

The Rutherglen and its 28 sister cars were used on these new Trans-Canada's for only the 1929 and 1930 seasons. With the discontinuation of first class service in 1931, the cars were assigned to other transcontinental trains during the great economic depression of the 1930's. The Dominion and the Soo-Dominion were 2 noteworthy trains to which these cars were assigned. Exclusive first class, sleeper-only service offered by the Trans-Canada was never to be repeated.

Extensive mechanical improvements were made to these types cars in the late 1930's including ice-activated air conditioning. The improvements slightly lowered the ceilings throughout, and more modern light fixtures with air distribution louvres replaced the original ceiling lights. All exterior windows had been modernized by using sealed "Panavision Units". These were wider than the original paired windows, and the interior steel posts had been moved in a complete overhaul done about 1952. (.. Insert Photostat # 4 showing original exterior of an r-class sleeper, , and photo # 1, showing a modernized exterior of the Rutheglen). The lower paneled walls were later covered in vinyl to protect the wood against baggage movement.

In 1967, the car was used on the "Expo'67 Limited" to the World's Fair in Montreal, and in 1968 it was removed from active passenger service and stored by CP Hotels in the downtown Toronto Yard. It had been destined for development as a restaurant in Toronto, but fortunately this never took place and the car escaped the interior alterations that had befallen other cars used in many such developments. In 1979, it was found by the Museum, and CP Hotels donated the car and its transport to Cranbrook in 1980.

Work Done on the Rutherglen after its Arrival


Since the car was in relatively intact (although modernized) condition, reconstruction was not so much of an issue as restoration of the painted surfaces. The lights had been modernized, and all furniture re-upholstered, but almost everything was still in the car. The amount of re-building that had been necessary in the dining and solarium cars, for instance, would not be required here. The only serious modernization that would need substantial restoration was the drawing room.

All exterior windows had to be restored sothe car could have its original architectural integrity and match the windows on the rest of the cars of the "Trans-Canada Limited:" This entailed removal of all the steel along the side of the cars at window level, and removal of all the interior wood panels against the outside walls of the car. These interior panelled walls then had to be rebuilt after the steel was re-positioned.
The seats were re-upholstered in a patterned plush fabric similar to the original - special looming was not considered due to cost. The car was then made ready for display at Expo'86 in Vancouver.


As the result of a special $10,000 donation, the floors were covered with new axminster carpet of a simlar green colour and pattern to the original.


33 special brass light fixtures and glass globes were installed which resembled the originals. These fixtures were also identical to fixtures in the sleeping cars Somerset and Glen Cassie so they were part of a much larger project involving over 100 fixtures of this type in the three cars.


All 41 windows were covered with special framed exterior solar glass.

Work Yet to Do on the Rutherglen (as of 1999)

  1. 9 decorative brass ceiling grill covers will need to be recreated for all rooms from photos since none exist .
  2. Find a nickleen "dental bowl" for the mens room.
  3. Curtains for ladies dressing room door .
  4. Inner (large) windows for mens and ladies rooms.
  5. Remove existing 14 fixtures and obtain larger more ornate fixtures for upper ceilings in main sleeping room and private rooms.
  6. The modernized wheel sets (trucks) of this car are to be exchanged with original ones from the modernized baggage car # 4481, when the museum relocates to the new site. This will give a completely original look to the exterior of the 7-car Trans-Canada set.

Other Notes on the Rutherglen

The Rutheglen is the only R-sleeper returned to its original configuration, including exterior steel restoration, and in this respect it can be considered the only survivor of its type.

* The interpretive car Redvers, also at the museum, is a modernized sister car to the Rutherglen. It is maintained in its modern condition circa 1952, and is an excellent comparison to the Rutherglen, showing what that car appeared like when it arrived a the museum. (see Redvers in the Interpretive Cars section)


Compartment sleeping car Glen Cassie