RHODES CURRY CAR "ALEXANDRA"
The "Alexandra" in the station yard at Amherst 13 September 1989.
The Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society's quest to
restore the historic railway car "Alexandra" - once the traveling home of a
Canadian Governor General and of Prime Ministers - continues. The car was built in 1905 by
Rhodes Curry at Amherst, Nova Scotia.
The Amherst Plant of Rhodes Curry (later Canadian Car & Foundry).
The "Alexandra", which had been owned by the Town of Amherst,
and was destined for either disposal or the scrapper's torch, was relocated to the Train
Station Inn, Tatamagouche, on 20 December 2006, thanks to an agreement reached by the
society and inn owner James LeFresne. The car joins LeFresne's collection of veteran
rolling stock that he has converted into a world-renowned hotel, but "Alexandra"
will not become just another unique place for a visitor to sleep.
The car will be restored by the society's volunteers to house a standing
display on Nova Scotia's railway heritage, and will host society functions and other
Built in 1905, the "Alexandra" has been
described as the most elegant car ever built by Rhodes Curry in its Amherst plant, with an
interior of selected St. Jago mahogany, and a wooden exterior with "GOVERNOR
GENERAL'S CAR" on the letterboard. By adapting to steel technology, Rhodes Curry was
able to survive in a competitive industry. Today Alexandra is clad in steel symbolizing
The car was named in honour of Queen Alexandra
(1844-1925) Consort of King Edward VII. She was born Princess Alexandra Carolina Marie
Charlotte Louise Julia, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and her father was later King Christian IX
of Denmark. She was devoted to her children and her servants and enjoyed activities such
as dancing and ice skating. Even after the birth of her first child, Prince Albert Victor
("Eddy") in 1864, she continued to behave much as before. Self-conscious about a
scar on her neck (allegedly the result of a childhood accident, though others suggest a
suicide attempt), she tried to hide it by wearing high choker necklaces and dresses. A
strikingly attractive woman, "Alix's" high necklines started a fashion craze.
Governor General Grey and crest.
Sir Albert Henry George Grey (1851-1917), the fourth
Earl Grey, was sworn in as Governor General of Canada at Halifax on December 10, 1904, and
rode to his residence in Ottawa by way of the Intercolonial Railway. Earl Grey travelled
throughout Canada extensively, from the Maritimes to the north and to western Canada. With
his desire for social reform and cohesion, Earl Grey was a strong promoter of national
unity among French and English Canadians, as well as a supporter of unity within the
entire British Empire.
He supported the arts, and established the "Grey
Competition for Music and Drama" which was first held in 1907. Today, professional
football teams still compete for the Grey Cup, which he donated to the Canadian Football
League in 1909.
Lady Grey was very interested in her husband's role and
duties. She sponsored contests for beautiful gardens in Ottawa, known as the "Lady
Grey Competitions", (which continued a tradition begun during the Minto term) and
also planted daffodils on the west lawn, which visitors to Rideau Hall can still see
The car has since served as the car of prime ministers
Laurier, Borden, Meighan and King. It ended its career on the rails as part of Canadian
National's Discovery Train in 1979. The "Alexandra" was then donated to the
National Museum of Science & Technology at Ottawa. From there it went to the Town of
Amherst where it was displayed in the railway station yard very close to where it was
built. The car was then used as the Town's tourist bureau on Highway 6 and at Fort
Lawrence. In 2006 the Town of Amherst decided that the "Alexandra" was surplus
to the town's needs.
For Project Updates click here
For a timeline of the history associated with the
Alexandra click here