Heritage Register
Victoria West

251-53 Esquimalt Rd

Built 1913; 1920
Heritage-Designated 1992
National Historic Site 1997

For: Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway (E&N),
owned by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)

Division Engineer: Robert A. Bainbridge, 1913
Engineer in Charge: Alex L. Kennedy, 1913
Contactor: Einar R. Roe, 1913

251 Esquimalt


Robert Dunsmuir (b. Hurlford, Ayrshire, SCT, 1825-1889: 1050 Joan Cr, Rockland) signed a contract with the Canadian government in 1883 to build a rail line on Vancouver Island as the last stage of Canada’s transcontinental railway system. In return, Dunsmuir was given $750,000 and a land grant of 2,100,000 acres, including all mineral rights under the land. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald drove the last spike at Cliffside, Mile 25, in August 1886. The southern terminus was Russell’s Station in Victoria West, until 1888 when the first passenger train arrived in downtown Victoria via the Johnson St swing bridge. In 1972 the old station on Store St was closed down and a new one built and opened in 1984. It was closed in 2011 due to deteriorating track conditions. When the track is repaired, it is expected that a new station will be opened in Vic West.

Dunsmuir died in 1889, and his sons continued to manage the railway until selling to the CPR in 1905. The E&N shops were initially in Wellington, north of Nanaimo, but the line was soon extended to Courtenay, Port Alberni, and Lake Cowichan. In 1913 the Victoria shops were built and became the centre of maintenance operations at the end of the line. About 30 men worked here, dayshift only. The roundhouse, or locomotive house, has 10 stalls, and the turntable was enlarged to 70 feet in diameter in 1920.

As the best remaining example in BC and one of the best in Canada, the roundhouse, stores building and car shop complex was designated a heritage site by the City in 1992, and by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1997.


Division Engineer Robert Arthur Bainbridge (b. Newbiggen, Northumberland, ENG, 1865-1945) was working with the CPR in the BC interior when he married Nellie Lytton Brie in Lytton, BC, in 1899. A civil engineer, he ended his 45-year career on the CPR BCCSS in 1930 and died in Victoria.

The construction contractor, Norwegian-born bachelor Einar R. Doe, died at just 47 of diabetes, heart failure and pneumonia in 1914 in Victoria. Engineer in Charge Alex L. Kennedy could not be traced.

E&N General Superintendent Harry Exeter Beasley (1862-1943) was born in Hamilton, ON, and came to BC in 1885 with the CPR. In 1898 in Donald, BC, he married Katherine Griffith. They lived in Nelson and Vancouver, where Harry was CPR superintendent. He went back east to Montreal as office manager for CPR president Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, but asked to be transferred back to BC for health reasons. In 1909 he was appointed superintendent, then director of the E&N Railway, which the CPR had bought from the Dunsmuirs. In 1912 the Beasleys had architect Samuel Maclure design a house for them in Rockland (943 St. Charles St) and in 1928 Harry retired. He died in Victoria.


• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

• Royal BC Museum Archives

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume One: Fernwood & Victoria West

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