The Countess of Dufferin



Countess of Dufferin - First steam locomotive in Western Canada. Located in Railway Museum.










Transported by barge down the Red River, the Countess of Dufferin arrive in Saint Boniface on October 8, 1877.

Named in honour of the wife of the Governor General of Canada, this wide-funneled, wood burning locomotive was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia in 1872, for the Northern Pacific Railway as Number 21. It was used in the construction of the Pembina Branch and sections of the original east-west C.P.R. line.

After service on the Emerson-St. Boniface run, the Countess of Dufferin worked in a British Columbia lumberyard where it was found in 1909. With the cooperation of Canadian railroad companies it was returned to Winnipeg where it had opened the railway era in the Canadian West.


The "Countess" was built at a cost of $9,850 (plus delivery charges of $400.00). During 1872 to 1875 she operated in Minnesota and the Dakota Territories, traveling some 119,362 miles.

To ease Northern Pacific's financial woes, #21 was offered for sale, along with some flat cars. Joseph Whitehead, a railway contractor, purchased the locomotive, a quantity of flat cars and a caboose from Northern Pacific in 1877, paying $5,300.00 for the locomotive. Whitehead named the locomotive after the wife of the Canadian Governor General. In October, 1877 the "countess" and caboose arrived on a barge in Winnipeg, to assist in the construction of the Pembina Branch between the United States boundary at Emerson and St. Boniface and north to Selkirk. This was Contract 5, the first issued by the Federal Government for the construction of the CPR railway that eventually was to link British Columbia to Eastern Canada. Such a connection had been one of the conditions of British Columbia's entry into Confederation.




After serving in Western Canada between 1877 to 1907, the locomotive was found by accident in 1909 disassembled in the yards of the Columbia River Lumber Company.

The City of Winnipeg instructed its agent to contact the owners and arrange a purchase for the City. It transpired that the owner of the engine and sawmill was Sir William Mackenzie, who had, with his partner Donald Mann, constructed the Canadian Northern Railway. These rail lines opened the northern plains and were later to become part of Canada's second transcontinental railway. Sir William donated the locomotive to the City and, with the cooperation of Canadian Pacific Railway, the components were brought back to Winnipeg, and reassembled by the shop forces of CPR's Weston Shops.


The reassembled locomotive was place din Sir William Whyte Park across from the CPR depot on Higgins Ave. in 1910, later to be dressed up with flower planters, etc., until 1944. She was then moved across the street to a small forecourt between the Depot and the Royal Alexandra Hotel. By 1970 she had suffered drastically from the weather and vandals, so was restored, with the financial help of George Richardson. She was then placed on show in a small park on Main at the Disraeli freeway, adjacent to the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.



In October 1977, its western Canadian centennial, Midwestern Railway removed the locomotive once more to the Weston shops, to await a new home away from the danger of vandals and weather.

On October 9, 1993 she was once more place don display here on Track 1 of the former CNR, now VIA RAIL CANADA depot at Main and Broadway. This is an appropriate location with the links back to Sir William Mackenzie and the Canadian Northern Railway.

You can notice that the smoke stack has been restored to the 1877 style, and following restoration will have the cab and paint scheme of the same era.

Basic Data


Maker's Classification Class 25 1/2C
Wheel arrangement 4-4-0 American
Weight 64,000 lbs (29,030 kg)
Length 15'5" (15.67m)
Height 13 1 3/4" (4.0m)
Width 8'11 1/2" (2.73m) - can roof
Gauge 4'8 1/2" (1.435m)
Drivers 56 3/4" (1.441m)
Cylinders 15' (0.405m) dia
Stroke 24' (0.609m)
Rear dome steam dome
Centre dome sand dome
Front dome housing for throttle
Valve gear Stephenson link
Fuel wood
Boiler 48" (1.219m) dia
Dual steam injectors to lift water from tender to boiler
Couplers pin and link
Brakes on rear truck only