When Trains Ruled the Rockies

My Life at the Banff Railway Station

By (author): Terry Gainer
ISBN 9781771603010
Softcover | Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Book Dimensions: 5 in x 7 in
272 Pages

About the Book

When Trains Ruled the Rockies is a personal history of the Banff train station from 1948 through 1962.

Drawn from Terry Gainer’s personal memories and experiences from his years living and working at the legendary Banff Railway Station, this entertaining memoir and important historical record beckons the reader into the golden age of railway travel in the mountains of western Canada.

Complete with a selection of archival photographs, When Trains Ruled the Rockies documents life at the Banff Railway Station and traces the huge role the station played in the local community. The author’s own story of growing up at the station winds a thread through the narrative and brings into clear focus Terry’s lifelong passion for passenger trains, at one time the most dominant means of transportation for Canadians but sadly an experience that is now fading into history.

About the Author(s)

Terry Gainer’s family arrived in Banff in 1948 when his father, Frank Gainer, was transferred there as station agent. From their arrival until 1955 the family lived in the residence atop the station itself. During those years, Terry explored every nook and cranny of the station and the surrounding grounds. From 1957 he worked summer jobs there, initially as a porter in the baggage room and then as a redcap through the summer of 1962, which was the bonanza year of the Seattle World’s Fair and the opening of the Trans-Canada Highway but unfortunately also the beginning of the end of train travel to Banff. Largely influenced by his upbringing, Terry has enjoyed a career that has been an amazing fifty-year adventure in tourism. Though he retired in 2005, he has stayed involved in the industry as a marketing consultant. Terry’s books include When Trains Ruled the Kootenays, When Trains Ruled the Rockies: My Life at the Banff Railway Station, and The Soo Line’s Famous Trains to Canada (Fall 2023). Terry lives in Nelson, British Columbia.


“[When Trains Ruled the Rockies] is a warm and sentimental look back on a way of life that was perfect for a young boy in the 1940s and 1950s.” – TrainGeek.ca

“I recommend Terry Gainer’s When Trains Ruled the Rockies: My Life at the Banff Railway Station as a valuable, textured, and beautifully illustrated account of growing up after the Second World War at an important Rocky Mountain tourist and recreational railway station along the CPR mainline between Calgary and Vancouver.” – The Ormsby Review

“[Terry Gainer’s] book, which includes both personal and archival photos, provides an entertaining and nostalgic look at a time ‘when trains ruled the Rockies.'” – Canada’s History Magazine