A black and white side view of a stem engine train passing along tracks. "962" is written beneath the conductor's window, and the figure of a man is seen leaning out of it. "Canadian Pacific" is written on the back half of the engine.
A view of Engine 962, courtesy of the website Okanagan.net.
A black and white image of a man waving from the window of a train. He is smiling and looking back over his shoulder. He is wearing a pale conductor's hat, and has on a tie and jacket. "962" is printed beneath the window.
A photo from the Kelowna Courier of February 27, 1950, showing conductor Charles Haggitt, veteran conductor of Engine 962, on his final run before retiring. Courtesy of the website Okanagan.net.

Veteran 962

“No longer will the clanging bell and the piercing whistles of veteran No. 962 be heard on the Okanagan sub-division between Kelowna and Sicamous” read an article in the Kelowna Courier of March 18, 1957.

Engine 962 carried both passengers and freight through the Okanagan Valley in a time when steam-powered trains were considered the work-horses of the Canadian Pacific’s Okanagan run. Ontario-born Charles Hagitt, who served as the engine’s chief engineer, described it as the “pride of the Okanagan,” and when he retired in 1950 said he felt like he was parting from an old friend.  

Service Discontinued

It was thought that the engine would be used for many more years after Haggitt’s retirement, but when service between Kelowna and Sicamous was discontinued in 1954, the engine was used as a yard switcher in Vernon.

It performed its last passenger run in 1957 (and was, in fact, the last steam engine to haul a passenger train from Kelowna on the CPR) with engineer Cyrill Taylor at the controls. The engine was then scraped in 1958 when the CPR converted to diesel power.

A black and white image of a large metallic bell on a table with three men looking at it. All three are wearing bowler hats, and have their backs to the camera. The bell is hanging in a metal sling contraption.
The bell of CPR steam engine 962 being presented to the City of Vernon in 1959.

The Bell Donated

The engine’s bell—which was heard many times by the residents of Vernon as the train passed through—was donated to the City in 1959, and was later turned over the Vernon Museum. It remains on display at the museum’s front entrance.

A gold-coloured bell in a black metal sling sitting on a rock floor. The base of a black door with a window is visible to the right.
The bell from Engine 962 on display in the Vernon Museum in 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator