Opening Excursion: December 7-9, 1898

The excursion of businessmen of West Kootenay to the principal points of East Kootenay, along the line of the Crows Nest Pass railway, at the invitation of the C.P.R. is bound to be a success if Cranbrook's introduction to the big-hearted men of the sister territory is any criterion. The party arrived at 10 o'clock last evening on a special train from the west, 105 strong. They were under the material direction of F. W. Peters, district freight agent at Nelson, and the spiritual and moral protection of Rev. Frew, of the same place. Both men had their hands full, and each one seemed eminently fitted for the position he filled.

The Cranbrook Herald, December 8, 1898.

By early in December 1898, the construction of the railway was largely completed and the new sternwheeler Moyie, built to provide the connecting service between Kootenay Landing and Nelson, was ready for service. The enthusiasm in the entire region for the new rail and steamer route was overwhelming.

Excursion TicketOn December 7, 1898, the Canadian Pacific formally opened it new 'Crow's Nest Pass Railway' with a gala excursion on the sparkling new Moyie from Nelson to Kootenay Landing and on a special train from there to Cranbrook. At Cranbrook, a grand banquet was given to celebrate the new railway and what everyone was convinced was the boundless future of the Kootenays. The invited guests represented the political, business and mining interests of the entire region and included prominent men from Rossland, Kaslo, Nelson, Spokane, Trail, and Revelstoke and as well as many CPR officials. The banquet began after the 10:00 p.m. arrival of the special train at Cranbrook and the toasts and recitations went on with growing celebration, enthusiasm, and no doubt toasting-inspired eloquence, well into the morning hours.

After spending he night in the sleeping cars provided by the CPR, the excursion party travelled on to Fernie for lunch at the Victoria Hotel and a tour of the new coal mines. That day the first shipment of coke was made from the new coke ovens to the smelter at Trail. The excursion party travelled back towards Cranbrook and in the evening, they were taken by sleigh to Fort Steele for dinner at the Hotel Vanoster hosted by the Fort Steele Board of Trade. Two hundred people were in attendance. The 'toasts and good songs and stories' continued until 2:00 a.m. Later that morning, the dignitaries travelled by sleigh back to Cranbrook and reboarded the train to Kootenay Landing where the Moyie was waiting. In the Moyie's spacious and elegant dining saloon, immaculately dressed stewards served 'an excellent dinner' no doubt with a background of music played on the Moyie's piano. By the time the guests had returned home, they had renewed many acquaintances and cemented business relationships along the new railway.

As an avenue for inward bound traffic the new road will, as soon as in operation, take first place amongst the roads coming into this district. The uncertainties and delays of the mixed land and water route between Revelstoke and the lake will be eliminated. The open prairie will be brought within twenty hours run, Winnipeg within forty-eight hours. All eastern Canadian points will be two days nearer than at present. Beef and poultry, flour, grain, vegetables and butter will reach us over an air line from the place of origin...

The Kootenaian, Kaslo, December 8, 1898

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