Cranbrook, BC – A Historic Holiday

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.

An image of a Canadian Pacific Rail car at the Cranbrook History Museum in Cranbrook, BC.
The Cranbrook History Museum has an incredible collection of historic train cars. Photo by Greg Olsen.
An image of an old Canadian Pacific Rail poster at the Cranbrook History Museum.
The Cranbrook History Museum in Cranbrook, BC has all kinds of rail artifacts including old posters used to advertise. Photo by Greg Olsen.

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.

An image of a 1970's VIA Rail train car with a no smoking sign on one half of the car.
We’ve come a long way, baby! In this VIA Rail car from the 1970’s. the no smoking section is on the left side of the car and the smoking section is on the right side. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Think Green: I always pack an insulated water bottle on day trips. It’s a greener choice than purchasing bottled water.

An image of the entrance of Fort Steele near Cranbrook, BC.
Exploring Fort Steele Historic Town is like stepping back in time to the 1890’s. Photo by Greg Olsen.

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.

An image of a pair of girls who are costumed interpreters at Frt Steele near Cranbrook, BC.
Costumed interpreters really bring history to life at Fort Steele Heritage Town near Cranbrook, BC. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Related: If you’re into exploring ghost towns, check out our post about Why You Should Visit Wayne, Alberta.

An image of the interior of Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap in Cranbrook, BC.
Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap is locatated in the restored Cranbrook Fire Hall. The Plexiglas garage doors let in a lot of natural light. Photo by Greg Olsen.
An image of a man giving two thumbs up to the nachos at Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap in Cranbrook, BC.
Someone approves of the nachos at Fire Hall Kitchen & Tap in Cranbrook, BC.
An image of the bannock bruschetta at St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino.
Looks good, right? The bannock bruschetta at St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino was wonderful. Photo by Greg Olsen.

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.

An image of the Windsor Hotel at Fort Steele Heritage Town.
The Windsor Hotel at Fort Steele Heritage Town has been carefully restored and as of 2019 it is open for gusts to once again stay overnight. Photo by Greg Olsen.

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.

An image of the former residential school that is now St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino.
The St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is the only hotel built in a former residential school for First Nations youth. Photo by Greg Olsen.
An image of a statue of two First Nations children outside the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino.
This statue outside the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino combined with images inside the resort remind guests of the history of the place. Photo by Greg Olsen.

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.

An image of the St. Eugene Church on the St. Mary's Indian Band Reserve near Cranbrook, BC.
There are many other historic buildings and sites to explore in Cranbrook, BC. Pictured here, the St. Eugene Church, located on the St. Mary’s Indian Band Reserve, was built in the late 1800’s. Photo by Greg Olsen.

More Info on Cranbrook

For more information on all that Cranbrook, BC has to offer, visit the official Tourism Cranbrook website.

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