Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Royal Train, September 1984

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Loyalist settlement in Ontario, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh travelled by train to several communities on CN's Kingston Sub. September 28 found the royal couple coming ashore at Morrisburg, Ontario from HMY Britannia, then boarding the royal train, whistle-stopping through Cardinal, Prescott, Brockville, Mallorytown and Gananoque, seen by more than 30,000 Ontario residents:
I was stationed at the [blowing bunting-bedecked] Kingston station. The Queen and Prince Philip would detrain here, travelling by car a few miles west to Amherstview to open the eastern end on the Loyalist Parkway. I was standing where VIA buses from Ottawa usually connected, now the end of the red carpet. The pilot train - 6790-3242 arrived a few minutes ahead of the royal train. This pilot train ensures the Queen's safe passage over spiked switches and past cleared adjacent tracks:
The royal train soon arrived, pulled by an all-MLW consist: 6761-6871-6770. 6761 is flying the Royal Standard, which was then transferred to the waiting limousine.
Accompanied by MPP Keith Norton and MP Flora MacDonald, the royal couple walks to their limousine directly in front of me, waving to the large assembled crowd:
More waving, as the limousine and a squadron of late-model sedans forms up to head west:
With the excitement ebbing, here's why I was really here - to photograph the train's consist: 15205 - 91 - 9480 - 1347 - 5738 - Endeavour - 5 - Vice Regal car 2 - Vice Regal car 1. Space on the train was allocated to Royal Household staff, an RCMP security detail, media and railway personnel. Looking west towards the Princess Street overpass, the white-overalled CN mechanical crew gathers in front of the battery-charging car near the head-end:
Looking east towards Queens West interlocking. Check out the multiple Sinclair radio antennae and cabling on the roof of E-series sleeper Endeavour.
Each car bore a small black-and-white numeral in a side window to denote its order in the consist of the royal train. Note this part of the platform was cordoned-off:
A plethora of Ontario Provincial Police cruisers fills the parking lot. OPP constables board the waiting Trentway-Wagar bus for the next stop on the tour. Check out the postscript for more coverage, including Ron Barrett photos. And a Postscript II with Scott Haskill's photos.

The platform of Vice-Regal car 1, occupied by the white-gloved attendant (top photo) was occupied by the royal couple on an earlier royal train. This time it's 1973 and the train is travelling east from Toronto towards Kingston, seen here passing through Napanee. The occasion was the Queen's participation in Kingston's tercentenary. The Vice-Regal cars would be transferred to VIA ownership in 1987, and made available for tour groups of 12 or more in the Rockies.

A 1973 commemorative envelope and press photo taken at Waterloo (both, above). One more from 1984. Coming to Kingston. Likely at Cornwall, (Toronto Public Library photo) the Royal Couple waving to the assembled crowd from the rear platform:

The Bytown Railway Society's November, 1984 issue of Branchline included photos of both the pilot train and the Royal Train in the Cornwall-Prescott area. The article notes that all signal pasts and associated lineside equipment had been painted by section forces, stations spruced up, and overpasses and level crossing patrolled by the OPP: 

Thirty-six years later, I found out that Scott Haskill was standing just to my left at Kingston station. Scott kindly shared his photo. Notice the three conductors for the train, no doubt high-seniority men, and the uniformed car attendant on the steps. (Only uberVIAphiles will be interested in the VIA bus parking signs!) I'll be sharing more of Scott's photos in a postscript.
Paul Charland kindly shared this photo of the pilot train, taken at Brockville:

Running extra...

The most famous royal visit to Canada was that of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. CPR Hudson 2850 was one of the locomotives CNR and CPR provided to pull the royal train; the class was later given the title "Royal Hudson".

After leaving the station, I didn't brave the crowds at Amherst View, but I was able to see HMY Britannia moored near the Brother Islands, just offshore. I passed through the Loyalist Parkway gates this morning, just before our Easter sunrise service held at Fairfield Park.

Welcome new blog partner Adam Walker from Durham region. Adam's Walker Express blog covers railfanning, local train shows and other news from the Oshawa, Ajax, Whitby area. Welcome aboard, Adam - always nice to welcome a fellow blogger with interesting Canadian content to Trackside Treasure's blogroll.


Zartok-35 said...

Finally, I can actually READ this post! What the heck was going on there?! Were you saving this one for a time closer to the royal wedding?

This is very thought provoking. I've never considered her majesty as a target of any sort before, but here they are, spiking switches! This seems very very odd and overprotective; I guess they'd have to be though, what with all those seperationists running around!

I'm sorry the unwashed masses didn't stay out of your way.

Eric said...

Elijah, sorry for the technical problems you may have encountered. I came down with a bad case of Royal Wedding Fever, and posted before I should have. Glad you can enjoy the post now.

Any Royal Train has a high level of protection, in the UK too. Back in the day, section forces would have been out painting everything, clearing brush and really making the right-of-way look good for royal eyes. This was a measure of the pride the railways took in their physical plant, as well as ensuring safety of the special movement. I'm sure no railway official wanted to be responsible for any accidents or incidents.

I was part of the surging unwashed masses that day. Even today I'm surprised by the size of the crowd that turned out. That's Kingston for you. Even larger when Charles and Diana visited in 1991 (sadly, not by train.) I'd just bought my first 35 mm camera, and forgot about focusing on the limo. Of course, most railway photography is at infinity (and beyond?)

Oh, and yes I will be up at 0300 hrs on Friday. God save the Queen and long may she reign.


Canadian Train Geek said...

God Save the Queen, indeed. Very nice! I like how the Queen, resplendent in purple, was doing the Royal Wave while Prince Philip was off to the side looking confused. Perfect.

Eric said...

Llike screwing in a lightbulb, Steve.

I had rotten luck trying to find photos of the Governor-General's cars online. There are a couple of photos of the train in the Dudley Witney Railway Country book from the mid-eighties.

Unknown said...

How many royal visits to Canada were on a train?

Eric said...

Hi thepowmill (aka Christine?) Thanks for your question and for following Trackside Treasure. King George VI's 1939 visit was the first by a reigning monarch. The Prince of Wales in 1860, the Duke of York in 1901, and the Duke of Connaught in 1906 were visits made by other members of the royal family to Canada in earlier years.

The Queen toured by train in 1951, and Princess Anne travelled by train in Manitoba in 1982. I'm no historian, but those are a few that come to mind. I think it's safe to say that the earlier the visit, the greater the chance trains were the mode of transport for royal visits.

Hope this helps, and I enjoyed visiting your Section House blog.

Adam Walker said...

Hi Eric,
Thanks for the write up; hopefully I mix well with the current crop that you have linked on the side of your site; it's a privilege to be in such company!
That aside, this is a great piece though I feel a little late to the party on commenting on it.
In the center of Ajax, near some of the war housing, is a factory that has a bunch of old train cars out the back. The word on the street (or in this article is that one of the cars was used for the royal visit in 1939.
I've been trying to get at them to get some pictures, but have failed so far. They're blocked from access, even more now than what is described in the article.

Karen said...

Hi Adam,

Walker Express definitely fits in to the Trackside Treasure blog roll.

Thanks for the Ajax private car article link. It was the topic of discussion over on Yahoogroups some time ago. I have a copy of the 1985 Star article the recent article refers to. The three cars sound fairly inaccessible. There's always Google Earth:)

Unknown said...

If anyone wants to tour the tail end car, it still exists to this day at Three Valley Chateau on Highway 1 just outside of Revelstoke, BC.

The car also happens to be the one that Pierre Elliott Trudeau gave the finger to Salmon Arm from as he passed through.

I thought for sure that the two governor general cars were scrapped, but thankfully, that one has survived...


Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Jon. Vice-regal car 1 was shipped to Three Valley Gap in 2005, and the last report I have is that Vice-regal car 2 was still at VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre.


Dauphin Rail Museum said...

Do you have any pictures/information on the Royal Visit of 1973? I'm the President of the Dauphin Rail Museum in Dauphin, MB and trying to create a bit more of a an exhibit around 2 of the phones that were in one of the private cars on the train that the Royals traveled on during that trip. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jason

Eric said...

We were at Kingston's CN station in 1973 to meet the Royal Train, Jason.

Can you email me at mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca ?
I should be able to help you out,

Elliott Blancher said...

I didn't know that the Royal train started in Morrisburg that is astonishing.

Elliott Blancher said...

You mean the Trudeau Salute.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the very honoured & lucky persons to be picked to work on board the Royal Train 1970. The Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles & Princess Ann were in our charge. It was the Centennial of Manitoba & the Royals travelled through Manitoba by Train for 21 days & 20 nights. It was an honour of a life time.

Eric said...

That sounds like a great honour, A. Great to have you aboard and stirring some memories.
Thanks very much for your comment,