The car was created as a 1913 Heavy Weight Sleeping Car outfitted with mahogany. This mahogany is still intact in the front and rear ends of the car. The car went through several name and number changes including being called “Camrose”, after the Town of Camrose, Alberta.
In the 1930s the Ontario government funded a program to provide dental care to children in remote Northern Ontario communities. Canadian Pacific donated two old passenger cars, and Canadian National donated one; these cars were then converted into Dental Cars for the dentists to live and work on. This car in particular was donated by CN and was converted in 1951 to become a dental car. As part of the conversion the men’s smoking lounge became a kitchen, some beds were removed to provide a dental area, and a bedroom was created to house the dentist and his family.
As a dental car, Camrose, provided care to school children in Northern Ontario. For an extra fee, adults could also have their teeth examined, cleaned, and cared for. For twelve months of the year a dentist and dental assistant worked on the car. The children could enter at one end of the car while the private entrance was at the other end. A second car traveled with the dental car for storage of dental supplies, books and food. The car had three sources of power: train, hydro grid, and generator.
The car functioned as a dental car until its retirement in 1977. At that time the dental car was replaced by RVs which the government expected to be a more cost efficient method.
Most of the dentists came from Toronto, but the museum has been able to contact many of the dentist, dental assistants, and their families who came in contact with the car. The museum held a reunion for the dentist several years ago. The contact with the various dentists has provided valuable information and artifacts from the Dental car. Pictures, stories, artifacts, and donations have helped in the restoration of the dental car to its former grandeur. For example the former dentists and/or family members have been kind enough to provide the dental equipment for the exhibit.