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The Forks National Historic Site of Canada

Variety Heritage Adventure Park Map

The “Iron Horse”

Children playing on the colourful train in the Railway/Iron Horse zone of the Variety Heritage Adventure Park All aboard! 'Ride the rails' on the Countess of Dufferin, the first locomotive train on the prairies.
© Parks Canada

Fun Stuff to Try!

  • All aboard the Countess of Dufferin! Grab your ticket and don’t forget your trunk!
  • Trace your journey on the railway map in the passenger car.

Did You Know?

Cinder and rail spikes were found during the building of this Adventure Park.

It's hard to believe it now, but the entire Forks area used to be a bustling rail yard and shipping depot. If you look around today, you can see a few old buildings from the railway era in disguise:

  • The Forks Market used to be two stable buildings, housing up to 220 horses which pulled wagons out onto the prairies;
  • the Johnston Terminal was used for cold storage of goods;
  • City TV was a steam plant that generated electricity for Union Station and the Hotel Fort Garry; and
  • the Manitoba Children’s Museum was a train repair building with its own blacksmith shop.

The Countess of Dufferin, the first locomotive train on the prairies, arrived on the back of the steamboat Selkirk, marking the beginning of the end of the steamboat era and the dawn of the "iron horse."

The first railway company at The Forks was the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway. They bought this land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1888, and started raising and levelling the surface of the land to what it is today. To do this, they often used cinders and clinker (leftovers from burning coal). Over the next forty years, the railway operation changed hands twice, ending up as part of the Canadian National Railway in the 1920s.

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