2016 marks the 130th Anniversary of Island Rail and the community will once again be riding the rails. A two day celebration will see the Island Explorer Excursion train run along the Island Rail Corridor from the historic Nanaimo Train Station to Wellington on April 8th. The one hour return trip requires advance reservation.
A family friendly event will follow on April 9th from 10am – 3pm, including tours of the train, music and fun for train enthusiasts of all ages at the historic Nanaimo Train Station.
Heritage Streamliner Train Facts:
The heritage streamliner train assembled for the Island Rail 130th Anniversary event is owned by the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and provided for this event with the cars as follows;
- Locomotive #4069 was built by General Motors Diesel Division in London, Ontario in August 1952 for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
- Baggage/Generator Car – WCXX 9622 McDonald Creek was built as a baggage car by National Steel Car for Canadian National Railways in 1955.
- Coach WCXX 5596 – Paul D Roy – This 76 seat day coach was built by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1954 for Canadian National Railways.
- Open Observation Car WCXX Henry Pickering – This is the oldest car on the train, originally built by the CPR’s Angus Shops in Montreal in 1914 as coach 1422. In 1956, the CPR converted this coach into Mountain Observation cars, with the open sections seen today.
- Business Car WCXX 088- Alberta – The classy car on the train represents a most amazing transformation from a 1929 CPR railway business car, to a restaurant in Gastown, then restored to the first class car you see today.
History of Island Rail
The Vancouver Island Railway, first known as the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E&N) Railway, was incorporated on 27 September 1883 by Victoria coal baron Sir Robert Dunsmuir, to support the coal and lumber industry and the Royal Navy Base as Esquimalt. Construction began on April 30, 1884 and after two years of construction, Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald drove the last railway spike into the ground on August 13th, 1886.
In 1905 Robert Dunsmuir’s son James sold the railway to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) who extended connections to Lake Cowichan, Port Alberni, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Courtenay. At its peak the E&N railway had 45 stations on the main line, 8 on the Port Alberni line, and 36 stations on the Cowichan line. Today there are four historic stations in each of Nanaimo, Qualicum, Courtenay and Duncan.
“We look forward to celebrating the 130th anniversary of rail on Vancouver Island in April,” says Judith Sayers Co-Chair and an original founder of the Island Corridor Foundation. “ICF remains committed to making rail on Vancouver Island a reality.”
Don Evans, President Emeritus, West Coast Railway Association says, “this is a rare and unique opportunity to see and ride on a restored vintage streamliner train, such as those that revolutionized Canadian rail travel in the 1950’s. West Coast Railway Association is pleased to provide the train for this special occasion on Vancouver Island.”
About the Island Corridor Foundation
The Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) is a self-funded, non-profit organization established specifically to preserve the 319 kilometre rail/trail corridor between Victoria and Courtenay, Duncan to Lake Cowichan and Parksville to Port Alberni. The corridor includes both rail and trail initiatives. Formed in 2003, the ICF is a registered charity, run by a Board of 12 Directors, representing 11 First Nations, five Regional Districts and two Directors-at-Large comprised of stakeholder communities along the Corridor.
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