It seems strange that this pass was completely ignored by Thomas Blakiston when he journeyed south from the Bow Valley in August, 1858 searching for a railway route across the Continental Divide. The only reference to the Crowsnest Pass in his report is near the end where he writes, "The Crow-nest Pass, of which I have marked the general direction on he plan, follows up Crow-nest River, a tributary of Belly River, into the mountains, and gains the west side near "The Steeples." By report of the natives it is a very bad road, and seldom used. I observed the old trail coming in from the plains on the left bank of Crow-nest River.
The earliest written reference to the name is in Thomas Blakiston's journal where he refers to the Crow-Nest River. George Dawson did surveying work in the area on behalf of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1883-1884. He noted that the mountain, as well as the pass and the river, were named by the Cree Indians because of the big black birds which nested in the area. According to "Place Names of the Canadian Alps," the Cree were referring to ravens. Perhaps the name should have been Ravensnest.
Highway #3 and the Canadian Pacific Railway travel through this pass.
The railway was completed in 1898.