Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Royal Hudson Steam Train

Photo: John MacDonald

Like many Canadian artifacts, the Royal Hudson has a balance of British and American influences. Hudson locomotives were named for the Hudson River in the US (which, in its turn, was named for the British explorer.)

The Royal appellation was granted to the entire fleet of Hudson locomotives following the cross-Canada tour of King George VI and his Queen Elizabeth in 1939. At that time, the Royal couple admired the engine that could carry them across the entire nation without being spelled off by other engines.

According to Don Evans of the West Coast Railway Association, as a follow-up of this royal appreciation of their equipment, the CPR applied for permission to designate the Hudson engines "Royal." Permission was granted not only for the name, but for the Royal Hudson locomotives to wear crowns on their running boards, and become the only "Royal" engines outside of the U.K.

The journey from North Vancouver to Squamish on the Royal Hudson steam train was magnificently memorable, both times I made it. The first time, I was a young teacher accompanying a bunch of high school kids on this jaunt. My male colleague scandalized the kids by peeing beside the track on the far side; he crossed away from the rest of us just before the train came, and could be glimpsed but not seen, because the passing train effectively blocked the view.

The next time I travelled on the train was with my husband and young daughter. We had a wonderful day, after screaming into the parking lot just before train time. Unfortunately, in my rush, I failed to purchase enough parking time to last the day. Upon returning from our jaunt, we found a ticket on the car.

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