Cranbrook, British Columbia
( ) is a city in southeast British
Columbia, seat of the
District of East Kootenay.
As of 2006
, Cranbrook's population
is 18,947, and the metro population is
Cranbrook is home to the Canadian Museum of Rail
which presents static exhibits of passenger rail cars
built in the 1920s for the CPR
and in the 1900s for the
. It is also the home of the Kootenay Ice
, a WHL
hockey team; Cranbrook has also
been home to many NHL
First a summer location used by the Ktunaxa Nation and known as
Akisq'aq'li'it, Cranbrook became a stop on Joseph’s Prairie in 1864
for miners traveling to the Wild Horse Creek gold claims. First
pre-empted by John Galbraith and then purchased from him in 1885 by
James Baker, the site eventually became known as Cranbrook which
was the name of Baker’s birth place in England. Deeding half of the
townsite to the Canadian Pacific Railway, Baker secured the
divisional headquarters of the CPR and the new Crownsnest line
built through Cranbrook in 1898.
The site now known as Cranbrook has been seasonally occupied by the
Ktunaxa Nation for more than 10,000 years. This fertile grassland
developed in the basin of an ancient glacial lake. It was a
productive place with excellent berry crops good fishing streams
and abundant hunting opportunities. Akisq'aq'li'it was a favoured
camp site for the Ktunaxa Nation.
In 1865 the Dewdney Trail was completed from Hope to Galbraith’s
Ferry, crossing Joseph's Prairie in the vicinity of where Galbraith
would build his store. Arthur T. Bushby, in his 1864 journal had
this to say:
“Monday 26 Sept. 1864 – Camped 3 m. this side of St. Joseph's
prairie making 15 m. lost our horses and out of grub. B.E. &
myself started on foot for St. Joseph's prairie where we expected
to find Haynes horses in charge of a halfbreed. B’s shoes gave out
and he had to take to his stockings. St. Joseph's prairie 12 m. did
not find the horses but some packers camped. Waited for our
animals. Had a fine view of the Rocky Mountains. St. Joseph's
Prairie is a fine piece of land.”
When the Ktunaxa people obtained horses Akisq'aq'li'it became an
important pasturage. The name changed to "Joseph’s Prairie", after
an early leader of the group that used this area, Chief Joseph
Chief Isadore, a leader of the St. Mary’s band in the late 1880s,
used the prairie extensively in the summer to graze his large
herds. When the Reserve Commission established reserves for First
Nations people in 1884 access to grazing resources became a
John Galbraith, who had purchased the land from the government in
the 1870s, had always pursued a policy of sharing access with the
Ktunaxa. When he sold the Joseph’s Prairie property to Colonel
James Baker the Ktunaxa were fenced out of their traditional lands.
The land use of this particular section was one of the central
difficulties that led to the "Kootenay Crisis" of 1887.
Tensions between the Ktunaxa people and the incoming gold miners,
ranchers and traders grew. With the coming of the North West
Mounted Police in 1887 talks were held between the Ktunaxa, Colonel
Baker and other competing interests. In the negotiated settlement
the grazing land was replaced and the Ktunaxa under Chief Isadore
were compensated for development work at what was now Colonel
Baker's "Cranbrook" estate.
The Ktunaxa people continue to be part of the place now called
Cranbrook. Members of the Nation live here, attend school and
participate in the community. The impacts on this property since
John Galbraith first filed a pre-emption in 1885 on a portion of
the present townsite have been enormous.
'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.
After Colonel James Baker’s coup of stealing the CPR away from Fort
Steele he returned to his home in Cranbrook, Kent, England. His son
Valentine Hyde Baker continued at Cranbrook, B.C., living in the
family home in 'The Park,' now Baker Park. It was under Hyde
Baker’s tenure that 'The Park' flourished as the social centre of
Cranbrook. The fetes and other social occasions, the continual auto
touring and the gathering of young, socially conscious townsfolk
brought to Cranbrook an excitement it had never felt before. It was
under the influence of the Bakers that Cranbrook forged the unique
character that would take it forward to the present time.
In 1905 the city incorporated and quickly became the trading centre
of East Kootenay. Electrical and telephone systems were installed
and Opera Houses and Auditoriums built. The first City Council was
elected and soon after that School Boards and other community
Cranbrook became a strong lumbering centre with both American and
British investors attracted by the huge stands of first growth
timber. Gradually Baker Street expanded and filled in. Many fine
and attractive business blocks were constructed. Slowly tourism
also became an industry of note, along with mining. The community
experienced slow and sustained growth.
In the 21st century Cranbrook and the Columbia Basin have been
‘discovered’ by the world. Large recreational and housing
developments began to appear everywhere. The shape and fabric of
Basin communities began to alter. In Cranbrook, as elsewhere in the
Columbia Basin, an examination of local history is being encouraged
so that we can move forward, building on the best our community has
created in the past. A bright future that recognizes and pays
homage to our hardworking roots is anticipated.
Canadian Pacific Railway
It couldn't 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.
Public Schools and Colleges
While much of the city is relatively flat, Cranbrook is surrounded
by many rising hills where many residential homes are located
. In addition Cranbrook faces the Purcell Mountains
to the west and the
to the north and
Cranbrook had a population of 18,267 people in 2006, which was a
decrease of 1.4% from the 2001 census count. The median household
income in 2005 for Cranbrook was $46,862, which is below the
British Columbia provincial average of $52,709.
Environment Canada reports Cranbrook as
having the most sunshine hours of any BC city at
approximately 2228.6 hours annually.
Because of that it is a
fairly dry city throughout the year, and when precipitation
does fall a good
percentage of it will be in the form of snow
Environment Canada also states that the
city experiences some of the lightest wind speeds year-round, has
few foggy days, and has among the highest
average barometric pressure of
any Canadian city.
-free days average 110
days, typically occurring between May 26
daily temperatures range from to . However, temperatures can range
from in the winter to in the summer months.
East Kootenay city
is home to the main campus of the College of the Rockies, which has over 2600 full and part-time students
from over 21 countries.
Public schools are run by School District 5 Southeast
, consisting of seven elementary schools
and two middle schools
that feed into the city's only
: Mount Baker Secondary School
home to approximately 1500 students. Prior to 2004 the middle schools
were referred to as junior high
schools housing grades
rather than the current 7-9. However, due to declining enrollment
the school district adopted the new system.
There is also a local home-school network.
Cranbrook is home to a major Canadian Pacific Railway yard, which
serves as a key gateway for trains arriving from and departing to
the United States.
is at the junction of major highways 3 and 93/95, and due to its
close proximity to the borders of Alberta and the
States it is an important transportation hub.
McFee Bridge also known as the
St.Mary's Bridge rises high above the St. Marys River and is near
the Canadian Rockies International
Airport and the Shadow Mountain Golf Community.
supports over 12,000 cars every day. The bridge is on
highway 93/95 towards Kimberley.
Approximately 9 km north is the Canadian
Rockies International Airport. The airport is served by Air Canada Jazz to Vancouver and Calgary,
Pacific Coastal Airlines to
Vancouver, and Delta Airlines to
The Canadian Rockies International Airport
is classified as an Airport of
by NAV CANADA
and is staffed by
the Canada Border Services
Cranbrook also has a public transit
system, operating buses
on seven different
On February 11, 1978, Pacific
Flight 314, a Boeing
, crashed in Cranbrook, killing 44 of the 50 people
onboard. It is one of the worst airline disaters in Canadian
The following notable people come from or were born in Cranbrook:
- Ray Allison, retired NHL player
- Greg Andrusak, retired NHL player
- Brent Carver, Professional stage
- Glen Cochrane, retired NHL player
- Jim Hiller, retired NHL player
- Juggernaut, professional
- Jon Klemm, NHL player
- Brad Lukowich, NHL player
- Donald C. MacDonald, politician
- Paul Machnau, Professional
- Jason Marshall, NHL player
- Bob McAneeley, retired WHA player
- Ted McAneeley, retired NHL and WHA player
- Bob Murdoch and
Don Murdoch, retired NHL players
- Rob Niedermayer and Scott Niedermayer, NHL players
- Kate Pullinger, author
- Tom Renney, NHL coach
- Ben Rutledge, Olympic Gold Medal
Rower, Mens 8 Canadian National
Team, Beijing Summer
- Corey Spring, retired NHL player
- Steve Yzerman, retired NHL player
- Joel Savage, retired NHL player
- James Rogoski, retired NHL player
- 101.3 FM - CBC
- 102.9 FM - CHDR, Classic Rock
- 104.7 FM - CHBZ, Country
- 106.5 FM - VOAR, Religious
Cranbrook is twinned with