Saturday 12 March 2022

1979: The Royal Hudson Visits McBride

    The Royal Hudson is British Columbia’s most famous steam train.  It is famous because in 1939 it became the train that carried King George VI and Queen Elizabeth across Canada, a tour that ended in Vancouver.  It was the first time a reigning monarch had visited Canada, so it was a big deal.  King George was a bit of a train enthusiast and happily spent some of the trip riding in the cab.

    In 1970’s BC used the famous train to tour around to drum up tourism.  Its passenger cars carried displays with historical photographs and artifacts.   Residents of the Robson Valley were thrilled when they learned that the Royal Hudson would be coming to McBride on April 20th, 1979.  When the big day came, teachers with their students and other residents gathered around the CN station to see the famous train.  The steam train was in McBride to pick up water and as it turned out, that’s all they did.

    No one was allowed inside the train to see the displays.  They had to be happy with just looking at the massive beast from the outside.  The largely anticipated event was a bust. 

    Big events like the visit of the Royal Hudson, rarely happen in small communities and when they do, it probably means more to the people who live there, than for those people who live in big urban centers where things happen all of the time. 

    The visit of the Royal Hudson felt like a snub.  Oh well, I guess we got to “see” the train.

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