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Abandoned, Then Embraced - The Kinsol Trestle

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

This project, co-authored by Lori Treloar, Shawnigan Lake Museum Executive Director & Kathryn Gagnon, Cowichan Valley Museum Curator, takes the visitor on a voyage through the history of the Kinsol Trestle. From its beginnings before WWI to the restoration in 2010-11, the Trestle's history is presented in stories, photos, interviews and video. Click here to view. In 1911, the Canadian National Pacific Railway dedicated a line on Vancouver Island to connect Victoria to Nootka Sound.

By 1918, only 6 km of track had been laid. The Federal government took over the line as part of the CNR and work continued. The steel was finally laid in April 1920.

The completed trestle, at 187.6 m long and 38 m high, is likely the largest Howe truss, bent pile wooden trestle left in the world. The old CN line passed through some of the smaller communities on Vancouver Island and, for many years, provided a transportation link for the local logging industry. The line never reached Nootka Sound.

On June 20, 1979 the last train crossed the trestle.

The rails were removed in 1983. In the early 1980’s, advocates of the trestle tried to have it restored and/or designated as a heritage structure. To date, it still has not received any designation. Fires, vandalism and neglect took its toll on the structure. Eventually, the north and south accesses were removed for safety reasons.

In 2006, The BC Government set aside $1.6 million to remove the trestle and replace it with a crossing that the press called 'Kinsol Lite'. This resulted in an urgency from the community to save it. The CN line and the trestle are part of the Great Trail (formerly Trans-Canada Trail). Finally, after years of campaigns to save the trestle, rehabilitation work began in 2010. The official reopening of the trestle was July 28, 2011.

Kinsol Trestle Opening in the News:

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