Cranbrook Community Album
Canadian Pacific Railway
It could be argued that without the CPR Cranbrook would never have been more than a private estate. In the 1890s Fort Steele, 20 km north of Cranbrook, was the centre of regional trade. The Provincial offices and jail were located at Fort Steele and all river transportation on the Kootenay River was centred there. The rumoured railway was expected to go through Fort Steele. It was THE centre for mining, ranching and commerce.
Colonel James Baker, owner and developer of Cranbrook and MLA for East Kootenay, had other ideas. He made a deal with the Canadian Pacific Railway to develop the B.C. Southern Railway (the Crowsnest Pass railway) and make Cranbrook the divisional point. Baker gave the CPR half the commercial lots in Cranbrook to develop and sell as their own. Fort Steele was bypassed and commerce inevitably fled to Cranbrook followed, in 1905, by the government offices. Cranbrook blossomed and Fort Steele faded.
The Canadian Pacific Railway has been a dynamic part of Cranbrook since 1898. It is a major employer and, due to the mining and lumbering industries, the Cranbrook division continues to be a high freight point for the CPR.