Cranbrook Community Album

Joseph's Prairie

‘Joseph’s Prairie’ was the next name for the place now called Cranbrook. During the Wild Horse Creek gold excitement in 1865 the Dewdney Trail was built across the flat grasslands used as grazing land by the Ktunaxa. Chief Joseph had appropriated the small knoll now known as Baker Hill. Relatively mosquito free, he considered it a fine place for his summer camp.

This area was included in John Galbraith’s pre-emption and he constructed a small house and store in the area now known as Baker Park. He was successful in co-existing with the Ktunaxa and sharing land use access.

When Colonel James Baker bought Galbraith out in 1886 for $21,000 he asserted his ownership by fencing the property. This inflamed relationships with the Ktunaxa. In the subsequent negotiations led by Supt. Sam Steele of the North West Mounted Police Baker finally secured what he deemed clear title and proceeded with development plans for the property.

Colonel Baker employed a Vancouver surveying firm to divide up the townsite and commenced negotiations with the Canadian Pacific Railway. This culminated in the building of the Crowsnest Pass Railway (the BC Southern). Baker’s place at Joseph’s Prairie was renamed Cranbrook after his ancestral home in Kent, England. He subdivided the townsite, giving half to the CPR, and Cranbrook became the CPR’s divisional point.

Joseph's Prairie, Cranbrook, BC
Early view of Joseph's Prairie, the site on which Cranbrook now stands.
The "Rockies" as seen from Cranbrook, B.C.
Used sepia real photo postcard of The Steeples range of the Rocky Mountains from Cranbrook with railway tracks, telephone poles…
View of Cranbrook from West Hill
Used sepia real photo postcard town view of Cranbrook taken from the West hill looking East with Mount Baker in…