Cranbrook is and old railway town, with a great museum, and is the regional market center with shopping along the Highway and in its historic downtown. Nearby is the ski/recreation community of Kimberley, with its Bavarian-themed architecture.
The is the largest city in the eastern Kootenays, and lies at the junction of north-south highway 93/95 (north-south) to Radiumand Golden and east-west Highway 3 (the east-west Crowsnest Highway) which leads to Osoyoosand Hope to the west and Fort MacLeod and Medicine Hat to the east.
The town has a rustic red brick downtown, with many shops and restaurants. To the north is the main drag, Cranbrook Street N, which has the city’s largest mall and all the shopping, fast food and movies you’d expect in any city.
Navigating around Cranbrook is easy, with the downtown streets in a grid with Avenues running north-south, and Streets aligned east-west. Numbers increase moving east from Cranbrook Street. Baker Street is the north/south dividing line, with addresses and Streets north of Baker designated “north”, and those south of Baker designated “south”.
Cranbrook is located in a wide valley between two mountain ranges. The first people in this region were the Ktunaxa (Kinbasket) first nations who settled in the Columbia River and Kootenay River valleys. Famed explorer David Thompson arrived in the early 1800s, followed quickly by prospectors, fur traders and missionaries.
In the 1860s gold was discovered in nearby Wildhorse Creek, near Fort Steele which brought many settlers and created tension with the area’s first nations.
Sam Steele was sent into the area in 1887 to resolve these disputes, which is commemorated with Sam Steele days each June. Cranbrook grew up as a result of the railway, after lobbying by Colonel James Baker — a local landowner and rancher, who became a member of the BC Legislature — got the Crowsnest line of the Canadian Pacific to make Cranbrook a divisional point (with maintenance yards) instead of Fort Steele.
This community is serviced by an airport (halfway to Kimberley, to the north) with regular daily flights from both Calgary and Vancouver.
Cranbrook Annual Events:
Kinsmen Trade Fair (May), Childrens Festival (May), Rock’n in the Rockies (June), Sam Steele Days (June), Cranbrook Pro Rodeo (August)
between 4th Street S and Cranbrook Street N
You can take a self-guided walking tour to see the many historic buildings in downtown and nearby residential neighbourhoods (Chamber of Commerce: 250-426-5914).
There are 40 old homes and buildings reflecting Cranbrook’s early history. Most are clustered between 10 Ave and 12 Ave north & south of Rotary Park. The Colonel Baker home is just to the east, in Baker Park east of 14 Street.
Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
Downtown, on highway 93/95
This museum has restored and preserved the luxury cars of the 1929 Transportation-Canada Limited, including dining, sleeping and solarium cars, with original CPR china. A model railway depicts 1900-era railway travel. Open daily 10 am – 6 pm June 14 – Labour Day, noon-5 pm rest of year. Admission fee.
Key City Theatre
20-14 Ave N, Cranbrook
This venue seats 600 people and presents over 100 performances a year, inlcuding the Symphonie of the Kootenays, on its 40 foot stage.
Studio/Stage Door Theatre
11-11th Avenue S, Cranbrook
This intimate theatre seats 90 people and is home to the Cranbrook Community Theatre, which mounts four plays a year. This venue is also home to folk, Celtic and jazz performances, and hosts monthly coffee houses.
Casino of The Rockies
Delta St Eugene Mission Resort
This casino has 225 slot machines as well as blackjack, three card poker, Let It Ride, teletheatre (off-track) betting lounge, and Fred’s Saloon a fully licensed restaurant and lounge. Open daily from 10 am, Fri & Sat to 2 am, Sunday-Thursday to midnight.