The Countess of Dufferin was the first steam locomotive to operate in the Canadian prairie provinces and is named after Hariot Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Countess of Dufferin (later Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava), the wife of the Earl of Dufferin, a Governor General of Canada.[1][2]

Countess of Dufferin
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderBaldwin Locomotive Works
Serial number2660
Build date1872
 • Whyte4-4-0 American
Driver dia.57 in (1.4 m)
Cylinder size15 in (380 mm) diameter × 24 in (610 mm) stroke
OperatorsNorthern Pacific Railway (NP), Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), Columbia River Lumber Company
NumbersNP 21; CPR 151
Official nameCountess of Dufferin (CPR), "The Betsy" (CRLC)
DispositionPreserved at the Winnipeg Railway Museum



The locomotive was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (builder's plate No. 2660) and delivered to Northern Pacific Railway as No. 21 in 1872. It was used in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory until 1877 when it was sold for $9,700 to Joseph Whitehead, a contractor for Canadian Pacific Railway.[3] The locomotive, along with six flatcars and a caboose, was loaded onto barges at Fisher's Landing, Minnesota, and propelled by the SS Selkirk, they were shipped down the Red River to St. Boniface, now an electoral district of Winnipeg, Manitoba, arriving October 9, 1877,[4] at a cost of $440.

Upon arrival the locomotive was used on Government of Canada Contract No. 5, the first contract issued in the promised rail link that brought British Columbia into Confederation. The locomotive was used in the completion of Pembina branch to the U.S. border, linking Winnipeg with Minneapolis. Next it worked east from Winnipeg to the Lakehead in northwestern Ontario, connecting with contractors from eastern Canada. In 1883 ownership was transferred and it became Canadian Pacific No. 151. It then worked west from Winnipeg to Golden, British Columbia (Government of Canada Contract No. 15) where it was last used as a construction locomotive.[1]

A barge carrying the locomotive arrives in Winnipeg in 1877.

In the mid-1880s, the locomotive was again sold, this time to the Columbia River Lumber Company, owned by William Mackenzie and Donald Mann of the Canadian Northern Railway.

On 28 June 1887, the Countess was used to formally open the new Red River pile bridge completed by Canadian industrialist Hugh Ryan with Ryan, his wife Margaret, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Superintendent T. J. Linskey aboard.[5] By the end of the 1890s, Mackenzie and Mann had renamed the locomotive as The Betsy and used it to power the sawmill.

In 1909, the City of Winnipeg learned of the locomotive's existence and convinced the owners to donate it to the city. It was transported back to Winnipeg, restored in the Weston Shop and renumbered CPR No. 1.[6] It was displayed in various locations until 1977, when George Richardson and the CPR spent a considerable amount of money to fully restore the Countess of Dufferin. The locomotive now resides in the Winnipeg Railway Museum located on tracks 1 and 2 in Via Rail's Union Station in downtown Winnipeg.


  1. ^ a b Manitoba Historical Society Archives. "Manitoba Pageant: First Lady of the Rails".
  2. ^ Gold BC Museum (22 December 2021). "Countess of Dufferin – Golden BC Museum".
  3. ^ "Countess of Dufferin Train - A Museum Called Manitoba".
  4. ^ "Significant dates in Canadian railway history". Colin Churcher's Railway Pages. 2006-09-15. Archived from the original on August 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  5. ^ Kavanagh, Martin (1946). The Assiniboine Basin: A Social Study of Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement (PDF). Manitoba Historical Society. p.114.
  6. ^ Manitoba Heritage Council. "Countess of Dufferin: Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques".