- Glauce Fleury
Railway Series Part 1: Engine 374 — Joining Canada East to West
If you visit the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, you’ll see Engine 374. Owned by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), it pulled the first Canadian transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver.
“It’s significant because it sealed the deal to keep British Columbia a part of Canada,” says William Johnston, director of the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and the volunteer in charge of the Engine 374 Pavilion.
By the end of the 1700s, the Americans were in a big expansionist move. The British colonies, where BC is nowadays, wanted to remain British. This was the deal: if the rest of Canada built a railway to the west coast, the British colonies would join the rest of the country.
It took years for the railway to arrive. The engineers managed a good plan to cross about 3,000 kilometres, including the Rocky Mountains area. “If it hadn’t happened, I don’t know if life in Canada would have changed so much,” says Johnston.
More than 2,000 visitors enter the pavilion monthly: local mothers with their kids, international tourists, and railway fans. “We can see the historical relevance,” says computer programmer, Paul Mcloughlin. It was his first visit since he moved from England. “My kids love trains.”
If you’re in town on May 19 noon to 3pm, you’re invited to eat a piece of cake and celebrate the 126th anniversary of Engine 374, and learn a little more about Canadian history. The event also honours the birthday of Queen Victoria, an important figure in politics as under her domain the British Empire expanded. “We’ll move the train out and steam it up. It’ll be a big party,” Johnston says. Will you join us?
Engine 374 Pavilion: open daily, 10am-4pm (except public holidays). Free admission—donation suggested to maintain the locomotive. Located on the corner of Davie Street and Pacific Boulevard.
Photos by Glauce Fleury
Originally published as part of the railway series by the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre.