Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150: The 1967 Confederation Train, Prototype and Model

The Confederation Train; photo by Jim Brown.

I originally published this post in 2013. On the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary, it seems appropriate to post it anew.

Forty-six years ago, in 1967, a special train crossed Canada--the Confederation Train.

The train, made up of two FP9A locomotives (numbers 1867 and 1967) and eight colourful cars, was a travelling exhibit about Canadian history.

The lead locomotive had the Centennial symbol emblazoned on its nose under the headlight, and its horn sounded the first four notes of O Canada. (Hear it here)

The train made its public debut in Victoria, B.C. on January 9, 1967. It arrived in Atlantic Canada in October, and ended its journey in Montreal in December of that year.

During its tour, it stopped at 60 cities and towns, and was visited hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

In Swift Current, Sask.; Scott Dunsire collection.

Modeller Fred Barkhouse was so enamoured of the train that he decided to make a model of it--something he described in Canadian Railway Modeller.

Fred's inspiration for the project came from a Lionel HO scale train set called the Confederation Flyer that was owned by his father. The train set had a locomotive, ten 50-foot boxcars and a caboose; each boxcar was painted for a province with their flag and the date they joined Canada.

Lionel's Confederation Flyer.

Since Fred made his train before InterMountain brought out its units in Confederation Train colours, he used Highliner F9 shells on Athearn Genesis drives for the project. The cars were made from Rapido Super Continental passenger cars.

(Eleven years later, in 1978, the National Museum of Canada created the Discovery Train, which crossed Canada for two years as a mobile museum. That train showcased the landscape of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.)

The 1978-80 Discovery Train.

2017 is the 150th birthday for Canada. I wonder if there will even be a passenger train left on the rails in this country to make into a similar travelling exhibit? (Update: Yes. The CPR has a special Canada 150 Train, and CN ran a short Father's of Confederation Train from Montreal to Ottawa.)

See videos of Fred's Confederation Train on YouTube here and here. Read more about the prototype train and see more photos here.


  1. Bring back that fantastic train for our 150��

  2. Nice to see those old pics and a nicely modeled version of it. Bravo!

  3. Happy Canada Day, John! Thanks for sharing this cornucopic Confederation post!

  4. The Centennial Train sat somewheres on a siding near Ottawa near the Highway,I remember seeing off in the Distance about 20 or so years ago
    ? Is it still in this location or has it been scrapped?