A Visit to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park - What You Will See

Business Car British Columbia (CPR No.16)

The “British Columbia” was built in 1890, in Ohio, as the sleeper Sherbrooke for the CPR. In 1912 she was rebuilt in the CPR angus shops as a Business car and used all across Canada until she was retired in 1963. An incredible 73 years of service for a wooden car.

In 1963 she was purchased from the CPR by the founding members of the West Coast Railway Association for scrap value of $400.00. The car was leased to the Victoria Pacific Railway operator in 1971. By the time the car was returned to the WCRA in 1983 it had suffered serious damage. Restoration began that year and continued until 1990. The car was completed in time for its 100th birthday on July 30th 1990. A grand celebration was held.

Business Car British Columbia (CPR No.16)

It is estimated that some 80,000 volunteer hours and $360,000 has gone into bringing “British Columbia” to her present condition. To get the brass fittings looking the way they do now, it took about 500 hours to get through all the layers of paint. All of the original wood is Honduran mahogany, hand inlaid with birch, maple and walnut, finished with 12 coats of varnish, sanded between coats and finally French polished. She was the Association's first piece of rolling stock - and one for all to enjoy for generations.

Business Car British Columbia (CPR No.16)The British Columbia could sleep up to 10 people when guests were aboard, but worked with only 3 men. The Steward, who cooked, cleaned etc, the Secretary who dealt with the appointments etc, and the Executive assigned the car. There are 18 white buttons all throughout the car; the purpose for these buttons is so the Executive could have the Steward and Secretary at his beck in call.

There was no electricity when the car was first built, so all the lights would either have been candles or a special gas called Pinch Gas, which was made by a Canadian man named “Pinch”.

The electric lights and fans you see were installed in 1912 when the car was rebuilt. The British Columbia will be 125 years old on July 31, 2015.




prev: Shovel Operators Bunk Car
next: Cabooses


The West Coast Railway Association is a charitable organization
committed to preserving British Columbia's railway heritage.

West Coast Railway Association
PO Box 2790 Stn. Term.
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X2

Charitable business number: 119292480 RR0001