How do you have a historic holiday? As it turns out, it’s easy in Cranbrook, BC. We had a great time exploring this small city at the tip of southeastern British Columbia. Here’s what you need to do to have fun experiencing the historical side of Cranbrook.
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Related: Check out our post about the White Pass Railroad Train Adventure! A historic train ride through the Yukon and Alaska.
Cranbrook, BC – Historic Train Tour
The Cranbrook History Centre was formerly known as the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel and for good reason. This museum in the heart of Cranbrook, BC has an incredible collection of 28 antique railway cars. Visitors can tour 13 of the cars including 7 cars of the 1929 Trans-Canada Limited, 2 cars of the 1907 Soo-Spokane Train, and the 1927 executive night car “Strathcona” which was used by many VIP guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, John & Jackie Kennedy and Sir Winston Churchill. The museum also has an incredible model railway and interesting displays on the history of the Cranbrook area.
Think Green: I always pack an insulated water bottle on day trips. It’s a greener choice than purchasing bottled water.
Fort Steele Heritage Town
About 18-km southwest of Cranbrook BC, Fort Steele was once the biggest community in the Kootenay Rockies. When the railway was routed through Cranbrook instead of Fort Steele, the community slowly died out. Eventually, the ghost town was turned into a living museum called Fort Steele Heritage Town. At this unique attraction, costumed interpreters help you step back in time and experience life in the 1890s. There are wagon rides, steam train rides, a theatre and many other historic buildings. You can purchase delicious baked goods at the bakery, watch a blacksmith at work and pan for gold.
Related: If you’re into exploring ghost towns, check out our post about Why You Should Visit Wayne, Alberta.
Historic Dining in Cranbrook, BC
Cranbrook BC has a wonderful selection of restaurants. If you want a little history along with delicious dining, check out Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap in downtown Cranbrook, BC. This pub is in Cranbrook’s historic fire hall. The building has been carefully restored and the menu is fun and delicious. There’s a good selection of craft beers, burgers, poutine, salads and appetizers. Numa at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is another option that combines history and fine food. The restaurant is inside a former residential school. We visited at lunch, so we ate in the lounge. Besides the unique atmosphere, the food is excellent and has lunch options like bannock bruschetta and bannock tacos.
Stay in a Ghost Town
If you really want to step back in time, consider staying overnight at the Windsor Hotel in historic Fort Steele, 18-km southwest of Cranbrook, BC. An overnight stay includes admission to Fort Steele Heritage Town and breakfast. The Windsor Hotel was built in 1893 and is one of the seven original hotels in Fort Steele. It closed it’s doors in 1955, but in 2019 the fully restored hotel was reopened. Rooms are historically accurate except for the addition of air-conditioning. The hotel is open year-round, even when the park is not.
Stay in a Residential School
The only resort in Canada that was once a residential school for First Nations Youth is just 10-minutes south of Cranbrook, BC. The St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino is a beautiful Spanish-colonial-styled resort with a golf course, fabulous dining, a spa and a lovely golf course. The First Nations owners are proudly devoted to sharing their culture and history.
More Info on Cranbrook
For more information on all that Cranbrook, BC has to offer, visit the official Tourism Cranbrook website.