The little engine that could—and did.
West Coast Railway Association Partnership
The Engine 374 Pavilion is run in partnership with the West Coast Rail Association (WCRA), the Vancouver Park Board, and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Association. The pavilion is staffed by volunteers through WCRA several hours per day, seven days per week year-round (depending on volunteer availability). The Engine volunteers are enthusiastic supporters of all things “rail” and are happy to give visitors from all over the world a tour of the engine and provide some background on its interesting and colourful history as well as that of the CPR, turntable, and the history of the Roundhouse and Yaletown. [More information on WCRA]
Visiting the Engine 374 Pavilion
- Open daily year-round; admission is FREE
- Summer hours: 10am-4pm
- Winter hours: 11am-3pm
- Please call the front desk for further details 604.713.1800 (ext. 1)
The Engine 374 Pavilion is located on the corner of Davie Street and Pacific Boulevard next to the Roundhouse (Community Centre), a 10-minute walk from downtown Vancouver, B.C.
Engine 374 Makes Transcontinental History
May 23, 1887 was a great day for Vancouver when CPR Engine 374 pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into the city. Crowds cheered, the city band played, ships in the harbour blew their horns, and hundreds of flags decorated the young city. It was a great day not only for Vancouver, but for the whole nation. The event heralded the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the century, a twin line of steel linking the new nation of Canada from coast to coast, ten years in construction.
Retirement and Restoration
In 1945, after many years of service, including the second World War, Engine 374 was finally retired. The engine was first placed in Kitsilano Park for all to see, and play on, but it suffered greatly from salt air and the passage of the seasons. In 1983, many dedicated citizens came to the engine’s rescue, and began the Herculean task of restoring the engine to its former glory.
With additional funds raised through the Heritage Brick Program, the restoration was completed in time for Expo 86 where the refurbished engine was a prime attraction. The unique Heritage Brick Program was a great success. A total of $400,000 was raised for the refurbishing of the engine, by way of individuals who bought one brick or more for $19.86 each, and thereby had their names engraved on each of their bricks. Now most of those “name” bricks are on display as part of the floor of the pavilion, much to the delight of those who contributed.
Over 100 years later, the engine has found its permanent home. The Engine 374 Pavilion stands in the heart of the city for all to visit and admire as a valued part of our nation’s history.
Canadian Pacific began to design its own locomotives in July 1883 with the hiring of F.R.F. Brown as the company’s second locomotive Superintendent. Canadian Pacific opened new shops in Montreal, and the first locomotives were built in 1883.
The last spike for the CPR was completed on November 7, 1885 at Craigellachie.
Between May and July 1886, a group of eight passenger locomotives, of 4-4-0 type and having 69-inch driving wheels were constructed and numbered 371-378. These were sent to the Pacific division to operate on the Cascade section between North Bend and Port Moody, and two of them figured in historical events. No. 371, hauled the first Pacific Express into Port Moody on July 4, 1886. This was the first scheduled train to cross Canada from sea to sea.
No. 374, hauled the first passenger train, carrying 150 passengers, to go beyond Port Moody over the 12-mile extension to Vancouver on May 23rd, 1887, thus finally joining Canada from East to West.
While No 371, still essentially in its original form, was scrapped in October 1915, Engine No. 374 had a different fate. In September 1914, it was selected for a complete rebuilding; it was an almost completely new locomotive, built upon the main frame of the original 1886 locomotive.
No. 374 was given an additional thirty-year lease on life and remained in revenue service until July 1945, when it was retired. The locomotive was then donated to the City of Vancouver as a memento of the original 374. Prior to delivery to the city, Canadian Pacific gave it a cosmetic treatment to make it look “old”. The necessity to remove some modern technology to achieve this goal rendered the locomotive permanently inoperative.
After delivery to Vancouver, No. 374 was made the responsibility of the Park Board for care and custody and was placed on a section of track at Kitsilano Beach. The next 38 years were perhaps the saddest chapter in the life of this engine. It remained in the park largely forgotten and ignored, the victim of rust and vandalism. Although a few volunteers attempted to maintain her, a lack of money, interest and proper shelter took their toll of the engine. In 1963, a vain attempt was made to move into the former aircraft hangar where the Community Music School is now located in Vanier Park.
Then in 1981, the West Coast Railway Association and the Canadian Railroad Historical Association began to promote the saving and restoration of the No. 374, and by 1983 had raised funds for a badly needed cosmetic restoration. The locomotive was removed from Kitsilano and placed in a warehouse on Granville Island, where teams of dedicated volunteers worked on her for two years.
In 1985, the engine was transported to North Vancouver’s Versatile Shipyards for final restoration. Addition funds to accomplish this were partially raised through the Heritage Brick Program sponsored by Imperial Oil Limited.
On February 13, 1986, No. 374 was transported to the Expo 86 Roundhouse Site. There, restored to its former glory, it was a fitting tribute to Vancouver’s historic transition from “Milltown to Metropolis”. In May 1988, volunteers were allowed access by Concord Pacific Developments to examine, clean and polish No. 374, to weed between the Heritage Bricks and set up arrangements for a public opening.
The public was invited to the Roundhouse Courtyard to view the engine and the Heritage Bricks.
Canada’s most historic steam locomotive, Engine 374, faced an uncertain future. Except for a few shining moments at Expo 86, it was out of steam. As part of its development, Concord Pacific converted the Roundhouse into a Community Centre, giving both the building and surrounding area parkland to the Park Board. The Park Board proposed a new building (the Engine 374 Station Pavilion) adjacent to the Roundhouse. This became a reality in 1997, and No. 374 now has a permanent home for Canadians and visitors to visit.