A variety of steam engines are still operated by private, public and volunteer groups across Canada who are striving to provide the sights, sounds and smells of working steam engines to people who have never experienced (or have forgotten) their use as a major mode of transportation for both people and freight.

Click here for an  mp3 sound clip recorded on the footplate of ex-CN 4-6-0 # 1009 as it crossed Dawson Road on the Salem & Hillsborough Railroad in New Brunswick on 8 October 1989 (fall foliage train). If the mp3 file does not play your browser does not support mp3 files

More information about tourist railroads can be found in the Canadian Passenger Tourist Excursions Directory . The annual Canadian Trackside Guide published by Bytown Railway Society, Ottawa has information on all locomotives in Canada both operational and static.


1) BC Rail's Royal Hudson.

Royal Hudson 2860 - a former Canadian Pacific locomotive was operated by BC Rail on its main line, usually between North Vancouver and Squamish. Here we see the locomotive on a cross-Canada tour at Red Deer, Alberta late on the night of 4 May 1978. It sounded wonderful coming down into the Red Deer river valley. Click here for an mp3  sound clip of its whistle recorded by Dr. J.S. Grossert on a later occasion from the train as it approached North Vancouver.

Below we see 2860 on the next day at the CP Rail station in Calgary.

2860 is now at the West Coast Railway Association's Heritage Park, Squamish .

2) BC Forest Museum (now BC Forest Discovery Centre).

The Discovery Centre and Museum at Duncan has an excellent series of indoor and outdoor displays showing how the logging industry has developed on Vancouver Island. An operating three foot railway, Cowichan Valley Railway, takes visitors around the site. For further information visit their website.

One of the locomotives that they have used to carry visitors around the site is narrow gauge Vulcan 0-4-0ST (saddle tank) #25. Here we see three photos taken in 1997 during its rebuilding at the museum. Left is the saddle tank and right are the boiler and safety valve cover; below are the frames and cylinders.

On the left is the locomotive prior to the 2001 season and on the right and below, courtesy of the BC Forest Discovery Centre, are pictures of it operating in an earlier season.

A narrow gauge (3 foot) oil-fired Shay locomotive number 1 has also been used to haul trains of visitors around a 1.5 mile circuit at the museum. Some of the grades are as steep as 4% so these provide a good demonstration of the abilities of a Shay.

Shays have vertical cylinders (usually three) on the right-hand side of the locomotive. The pistons are connected to a horizontal shaft. As the pistons move up and down the shaft is rotated and drives each axle through gears. Because the cylinders are on one side, the boiler must be situated off centre and this gives the locomotives a unique appearance as seen in the pictures. This geared locomotive was specifically designed to haul heavy loads at slow speeds on steeply graded, light-weight track.

Number 1 was originally used by Hillcrest Lumber Company in the Lake Cowichan area. 

On the left we see volunteer engineer Brian Nicol oiling the connecting rods of the three vertical cylinders of the Shay and on the right we see engineer Bob Symington at the controls of the narrow gauge Shay.

3) Kettle Valley Railway.

CPR 3716 was moved to the Kettle Valley Railway from BC Rail and is now their principal operating steam locomotive. 

Prior to its arrival they used Shay #3 which at the time was the second operating Shay locomotive in BC and also comes from Vancouver Island. It was originally owned by the Mayo Lumber Company and was their #3. It was rebuilt by the staff at the BC Forest Museum before going to the restored Kettle Valley Railway

Here the locomotive is being rebuilt at the British Columbia Forest Museum on 5 June 1995. Unlike the BCFM Shay this locomotive operates on standard gauge track. The vertical cylinders, drive shaft and gears can be clearly seen.

The Kettle Valley Railway was originally part of a route for CP passenger and freight trains from Vancouver to Lethbridge and served many communities in between. The route was very indirect because it had to go around numerous lakes and cross several mountain ranges. This necessitated the building of many tunnels and trestles and operating costs were high partly because of heavy snowfalls in the winter. Some of the trestles have been rebuilt as part of a hiking trail.

The restored Kettle Valley Railway at Summerland in Southeastern BC is the only section of the original line that remains. For more information, visit their website

Here we see the Shay near Prairie Valley station on 5 June 1999 and below we see the driver and fireman on the same day.

4) Alberni Valley Museum.

The Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society operates, a standard gauge 1929 2-8-2 Baldwin tank engine #7 that spent its working life on Vancouver Island in the logging industry. There is also an ex CP RS3 diesel that is sometimes used by the neighbouring pulp mill. For more information visit their site

In June 2001 the steam locomotive began a five mile operation daily (except Tuesdays and Wednesdays) from the historic station in downtown Port Alberni to the McLean Mill (an operating steam sawmill that is now a national historic site).

Below we see photos of the train at the station prior to its second public trip and en-route to the mill.

5) Fort Steele

The British Columbia Heritage Park near Cranbrook has a standard gauge railway called the East Kootenay Railway. Periodically locomotives are steamed including 115 - a 3 truck Shay and 1077 - a 1923 MLW 2-6-2 (seen here).

6) Prince George

On summer weekends a narrow gauge (2 foot) wood-burning 0-4-0T is operated by the local museum in Fort George Park. The locomotive was built by Davenport in September 1912 but has been rebuilt many times.

7) Revelstoke Railway Museum

The railway museum at Revelstoke and the national historic site at Craigellachie have many items of railroad interest. Canadian Pacific 2-8-2 5468 built by MLW in 1948 is on static display but there is usually a retired railroader on hand to describe its operation and make it come alive for you. For this reason I have included it with the operating locomotives.

Here we see 5468 on its way to the museum (photo courtesy of the Revelstoke Railway Museum and Studio 83) and then a view inside its cab.

For more information,

visit their website

8) White Pass & Yukon Route

The narrow-gauge WPYR runs from Skagway in Alaska up the White Pass to Bennett, British Columbia and then on to Whitehorse, Yukon. In 1982 the opening of an all weather highway to Skagway and the closure of the Faro mine resulted in the closure of the railroad. It has now been reopened as a summer tourist railroad with trains running from Skagway to the BC border and a 'speeder" service to Bennett. The line beyond Lake Bennett to Carcross is been used for some excursions but the section from Carcross to Whitehorse is currently closed. For more information see Boerries Burkhardt's home page. or the WPYR website.

The WPYR still has an operating Baldwin 2-8-2 number 73 which is now mainly used to pull tourist trains out of Skagway before diesel locomotives take over for the climb up the White Pass.

Here # 73 is about to depart from Skagway, Alaska early on 19 September 1982. Engineer J.D.True is talking to a passenger.

The climb up the White Pass is spectacular. The track bed has been carved out of solid rock and there are many trestles and several tunnels.

Although the train seen here is not steam hauled (it is hauled by three MLW DL535E diesels) we get a view of the terrain as the train runs along a narrow ledge before crossing a high wooden trestle and entering a tunnel. The sheer rock faces can be clearly seen and the river is about a thousand feet below! The photo was taken from the cupola of the combine coach of the northbound mixed train from Skagway to Whitehorse on 19 September 1982. This was just prior to the closure and the tank cars are full of aviation fuel being taken to Whitehorse Airport. We certainly did not want a derailment! 

9) Kamloops Heritage Railway

The Kamloops Heritage Railway Society operates an ex CN 2-8-0 Light Consolidation # 2141 "Spirit of Kamloops" during the summer. The locomotive was built in 1912 and restored between 1994  and 2002 .

Since it  began operating in June 2002., it has pulled over 45,000 passengers and covered  6,249 kms (by February 2006) . Thanks to David Meridew and  Andy Philpot for the photos.

For more information on the longest regularly scheduled steam excursion in Canada and on their theme railtours, visit their website.


1) Alberta Prairie Steam Tours.

The Alberta Prairie Steam Tours were begun by Central Western Railway (later Railink - Central Western) as a tourist passenger operation but have now been sold to other investors. Generally excursions last about 6 hours and generally run from Stettler, Alberta to Big Valley. Most trips include a meal in the community hall and there is often a train robbery. Many of the stations are former Canadian Northern Railway stations and several are being preserved by a historical society. Big Valley station is now the home of the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame.

Here we see Alberta Prairie 41 - a 2-8-0 built by Baldwin in December 1920 for the Johnsboro, Lake City & Eastern railway in the US. It is hauling a passenger train past the grain elevator at Rowley, Alberta on 22 May 1993. Subsequently, the elevator and this part of the railway were closed.

For further information, visit their website.

2) Rocky Mountain Rail Society

6060, a 4-8-2 built for Canadian National in 1944 and subsequently known as "The Spirit Of Alberta", is owned by the Rocky Mountain Rail Society.  In November of 1998, 6060 was moved from the Alberta Railway Museum in Edmonton to Stettler, Alberta where it operates on track owned by the East Central Alberta Heritage Society or Railink in collaboration with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions. 

Here we see the driver's controls inside the cab of 6060 and a group of admirers inspecting the outside. For further information:
visit the RMRS web site

3) Alberta Railway Museum

This museum is located just outside Edmonton and has several operating steam engines including 1392 - a 4-6-0 built in 1913 for the Canadian Northern Railway. The society has about a mile of track on which these engines can run but they have also toured across the country for special events including Steam Expo in 1986 at Vancouver.

Here we see ex Canadian National 4-6-0 #1392 inside the workshops at the Alberta Railway Museum on 28 May 1993.

Visit their website for more information.

4) Fort Edmonton Park

In Edmonton a 1919 Baldwin 2-6-2 carries visitors around the site which has several heritage buildings. The locomotive is lettered for the Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railroad but actually came from Louisiana. The photo was taken on 2 June 1989.

Vintage trams transport visitors from the entrance.

5) Calgary Heritage Park

There are two 0-6-0 locomotives that carry passengers around the park past several heritage buildings. 2023 was built by Alco in 1942 and 2024 by Lima in 1944. Here we see 2024 (at the time numbered 6269) on 28 July 1972. It was lettered and painted Canadian Pacific but was actually built for the US Army.

6) CPR 2816

CP Rail has restored the CPR Empress - Hudson 2816 and now operates it on excursions and charters.  For more information visit the CPR  website


Western Development Museum - Moose Jaw

The Moose Jaw Steam & Rail Association operate 101- a 36" gauge Vulcan 0-4-0 Model C-S built in 1914 on weekends from mid May to Labour Day.

Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson.


Prairie Dog Central.

The Vintage Locomotive Society has relocated the St James station to Inkster Boulevard, Winnipeg and purchased 17 miles of the Canadian National Oak Point Subdivision. A new shop, storage building and water tank have been built adjacent to the station. Visit the VLS site for more information.

Excursion trains are hauled by this 4-4-0 which was built by Dubs in Scotland in 1882 for Canadian Pacific and later sold to the City of Winnipeg Light & Power (later City of Winnipeg Hydro). In 1883 the CPR constructed several similar locomotives at its Angus shops in Montreal. Two still exist - one on the South Simcoe Railway and one outside the CPR headquarters in Calgary.


1) South Simcoe Railway.

The South Simcoe Railway is located north of Toronto and runs steam excursions using either former CP 4-4-0 # 136 (similar to Prairie Dog #3) or ex-CP 4-6-0 #1057. For more information visit their web site.

2) Muskoka Heritage Place, Huntsville.

The Portage Flyer runs from the Pioneer Village to the Lake. In this photo we see diesel locomotive #3 and MLW 0-4-0 #1 built in 1926 together with the two open air coaches - Algonquin and Iroquois on July 1 1999.

For more information visit their website.

Photo courtesy of David Topps.

3) St. Thomas

Essex Terminal 9

The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society leases MLW 0-6-0 #9 from the Essex Terminal Railway and has it on display in the former Michigan Central shops. It is currently being rebuilt but the society hopes to operate it in 2012 although regular trains are diesel hauled. For more information visit their web site.

The loco was built in 1923, retired in 1963 and then operated again first on Oct 2 1997. It is steamed on special occasions and is seen in the summer of 2001 at the"BX" interlocking Tower which used to service the diamond of the Canada Southern Railway and the London and Port Stanley Railway.

Photo courtesy of Rob Sterne.

4) Ottawa - Canada Science & Technology Museum

The museum has a display of Canadian locomotives in the locomotive pavilion and in the museum yard. More information is available on the museum's website at http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca

A 2-truck Shay logging locomotive Merrill & Ring Lumber Co. No. 3 built in 1925 is normally operated on Wednesdays and Sundays between Canada Day and Labour Day. More information on this locomotive may be found here.

Photo courtesy of John Bryant

In addition a 1919 steam operated Industrial Works crane that worked on the Central Vermont Railway is fully operational and is steamed from time to time. The crane is owned by the Bytown Railway Society and more information can be found here

Photo courtesy of John Bryant


Canadian Railroad Museum (Exporail), Delson

The Canadian Railroad Historical Association operates this museum just outside Montreal. There are numerous static exhibits and on some occasions the John Molson (a replica of an 1840s 2-2-2 locomotive) is steamed.

For more information visit their website.


New Brunswick Railway Museum.

Trains no longer operate but a wide variety of equipment is on display.

The volunteer-run railroad used to operate in picturesque south eastern New Brunswick in its later years using diesel traction. Three steam engines have operated on this tourist railroad . Sydney & Louisburg 42 has now been moved to the Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Nova Scotia and ex CP 4-4-0 #29 is now outside the CP headquarters in Calgary. However ex CN #1009 - a 4-6-0 built by MLW in 1912 for O'Brien, McDougall & O'Gorman - the contractors building the National Transcontinental Railway (Canada's third national railway which was subsequently absorbed into Canadian National) - is still on display at the museum. Click here for an mp3 sound clip of 1009 made on the footplate on 8 October 1989.

Here we see ex CN #1009 & ex-CP #29 leaving the sheds on 7 September 1987. The workshops were destroyed in a fire of suspicious origin in September 1994. #29 was damaged in this fire and was subsequently cosmetically restored by Canadian Pacific for display outside their new headquarters in Calgary.

More information about the New Brunswick Railway Museum may be obtained from their home page.

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Page last updated 6 December 2013.

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