Stories about us

Railways and History

Our museum is a treasure trove of artefacts that tell us stories about ourselves and our community. For example, The Countess of Dufferin rolled off the assembly line at the Baldwin Locomotive works in 1872. If you were there, you’d watch in awe as an incredible piece of 19th Century high tech puffed past. One that could pull hundreds of tons of cars filled with people or freight farther and faster than the horses you knew. You’d wonder at the miracles of this modern Victorian age.

The stories she can tell:

  • Of a boat ride up the Red River from Emerson to St. Boniface in 1877 heralding a new age of rail travel.
  • Of the work gangs that laid rail from Winnipeg south to Emerson to bring rails, ties and hardware to the new prairie railhead.
  • Of building the Canadian Pacific mainline east through the shield country to Thunder Bay and west over the prairies to the mountains.
  • Of the people who arrived, stayed and built a major city as she worked the lines east and west.
  • Of the new farms she passed as she travelled and the growing harvests that she hauled.
  • Of cars filled with lumber, coal and grain making a new country wealthy and its people prosperous.
  • Of cars going the other way carrying clothes, tools and food making people comfortable in their new homes.
  • Of banks on all four corners of Portage and Main to handle the growing financial importance of the new Manitoba capital.
  • Of growing mills and markets where goods were processed and sold.
  • Of pulling passengers on journeys unheard of even 50 years before. Now Toronto was only days away instead of weeks or even months on the Great Lakes/Dawson Trail route.
  • Of better track with bigger and faster engines pulling longer trains and delivering more goods.
  • Of a working life that ended as a stationary boiler running a saw mill in British Columbia.
  • Of a trip back to Winnipeg to begin a new life as a monument with a final stop as the centrepiece of the Winnipeg Railway Museum.

The Countess of Dufferin – A great Canadian adventure

Our passenger car, Number 7188, was built for the Canadian Northern Railway in 1919 but delivered to the Canadian National in 1920. It served as a colonist sleeper, a no frills sleeping car for immigrants. Later, it was rebuilt as a combination baggage and coach car for service to and from rural centres.

Car 7188 tells us:

  • Stories of hope – people moving to Canada for new opportunities.
  • Stories of optimism – the promise of a new life with property.
  • Stories of courage – arriving in a new land and building a new life.
  • Stories of travel – connecting people between the city and the country.

As our website grows we’ll show you even more

With your help we can continue to bring more exciting history to Manitobans!