The Kinsol Trestle Background Information
Designed for the Virtual Museum of Canada
This project, co-authored by Lori Treloar, Shawnigan Lake Museum Curator & 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.
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 the largest Howe truss, bent pile wooden trestle left in the world. The old CN line passes 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.
The last train crossed the trestle on June 20, 1979. 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.
Fires, vandalism and neglect took its toll on the structure. Eventually, the north and south accesses were removed for safety reasons.
The CN line and the trestle are part of the 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.