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Transportation History

When Trains Ruled the Kootenays

A Short History of Railways in Southeastern British Columbia

by (author) Terry Gainer

RMB | Rocky Mountain Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2022
History, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

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A popular history of late 19th and early 20th century railways as they blasted their way into southeastern British Columbia.


When Trains Ruled the Kootenays is the story of how the railways established an extensive and convenient transportation network to haul ore from the mines, move people, and service the communities during the early years of the 20th century in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.

Terry Gainer’s latest book documents sixty years of change in the railway industry of British Columbia. The evolving transformations of life and landscape noted in the text and photos also reflect a period of rapid change in Canada. Threaded through the narrative are anecdotes from Kootenay pioneers recounting their experiences and the means of transportation of the times.

As prominent Kootenay author and historian Tom Lymbery noted, “Many books exist about the construction and maintenance of Kootenay railways. Few, if any, have been written about the people who rode them.” From that, Terry took Tom’s cue and began to write this book.

About the author

Terry Gainer’s family arrived in Banff in 1948 when his father, Frank Gainer, was transferred there as station agent. From their arrival until 1955 the family lived in the residence atop the station itself. During these years, Terry explored every nook and cranny of the station and the surrounding grounds. From 1957 he worked summer jobs there, initially as a porter in the baggage room and then as a redcap through the summer of 1962, the bonanza year of the Seattle World’s Fair and the opening of the Trans Canada Highway but unfortunately the beginning of the end of train travel to Banff. Largely influenced by his upbringing, Terry has enjoyed a career that has been an amazing fifty-year adventure in tourism, and he has been privileged to work for outstanding leaders in the industry in a variety of iconic destinations including Yosemite Park & Curry Company (Yosemite, California), Brewster Inc. (Banff, Alberta), Rocky Mountaineer (Vancouver, BC), Canadian Tourism Commission (Ottawa, Ontario), and Montana Rockies Rail Tours (Sandpoint, Idaho). Terry Gainer retired in 2005 but he has stayed involved in the industry as a marketing consultant, currently under contract with The Crossing Resort, near Lake Louise, Alberta. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

Terry Gainer's profile page

Other titles by Terry Gainer